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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 456 pages of information about The Wonderful Adventures of Nils.

Father Bear whispered a word or two into the boy’s ear and hurried away, for he thought he heard hounds and hunters pursuing him.

The boy stood in the forest, free and unharmed, and could hardly understand how it was possible.

The wild geese had been flying back and forth the whole evening, peering and calling, but they had been unable to find Thumbietot.  They searched long after the sun had set, and, finally, when it had grown so dark that they were forced to alight somewhere for the night, they were very downhearted.  There was not one among them but thought the boy had been killed by the fall and was lying dead in the forest, where they could not see him.

But the next morning, when the sun peeped over the hills and awakened the wild geese, the boy lay sleeping, as usual, in their midst.  When he woke and heard them shrieking and cackling their astonishment, he could not help laughing.

They were so eager to know what had happened to him that they did not care to go to breakfast until he had told them the whole story.  The boy soon narrated his entire adventure with the bears, but after that he seemed reluctant to continue.

“How I got back to you perhaps you already know?” he said.

“No, we know nothing.  We thought you were killed.”

“That’s curious!” remarked the boy.  “Oh, yes!—­when Father Bear left me I climbed up into a pine and fell asleep.  At daybreak I was awakened by an eagle hovering over me.  He picked me up with his talons and carried me away.  He didn’t hurt me, but flew straight here to you and dropped me down among you.”

“Didn’t he tell you who he was?” asked the big white gander.

“He was gone before I had time even to thank him.  I thought that Mother Akka had sent him after me.”

“How extraordinary!” exclaimed the white goosey-gander.  “But are you certain that it was an eagle?”

“I had never before seen an eagle,” said the boy, “but he was so big and splendid that I can’t give him a lowlier name!”

Morten Goosey-Gander turned to the wild geese to hear what they thought of this; but they stood gazing into the air, as though they were thinking of something else.

“We must not forget entirely to eat breakfast today,” said Akka, quickly spreading her wings.

THE FLOOD

THE SWANS

May first to fourth.

There was a terrible storm raging in the district north of Lake Maelar, which lasted several days.  The sky was a dull gray, the wind whistled, and the rain beat.  Both people and animals knew the spring could not be ushered in with anything short of this; nevertheless they thought it unbearable.

After it had been raining for a whole day, the snowdrifts in the pine forests began to melt in earnest, and the spring brooks grew lively.  All the pools on the farms, the standing water in the ditches, the water that oozed between the tufts in marshes and swamps—­all were in motion and tried to find their way to creeks, that they might be borne along to the sea.

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