THE CITY THAT FLOATS ON THE WATER
Friday, May sixth.
No one could be more gentle and kind than the little gray goose Dunfin. All the wild geese loved her, and the tame white goosey-gander would have died for her. When Dunfin asked for anything not even Akka could say no.
As soon as Dunfin came to Lake Maelar the landscape looked familiar to her. Just beyond the lake lay the sea, with many wooded islands, and there, on a little islet, lived her parents and her brothers and sisters. She begged the wild geese to fly to her home before travelling farther north, that she might let her family see that she was still alive. It would be such a joy to them.
Akka frankly declared that she thought Dunfin’s parents and brothers and sisters had shown no great love for her when they abandoned her at Oeland, but Dunfin would not admit that Akka was in the right. “What else was there to do, when they saw that I could not fly?” she protested. “Surely they couldn’t remain at Oeland on my account!”
Dunfin began telling the wild geese all about her home in the archipelago, to try to induce them to make the trip. Her family lived on a rock island. Seen from a distance, there appeared to be nothing but stone there; but when one came closer, there were to be found the choicest goose tidbits in clefts and hollows, and one might search long for better nesting places than those that were hidden in the mountain crevices or among the osier bushes. But the best of all was the old fisherman who lived there. Dunfin had heard that in his youth he had been a great shot and had always lain in the offing and hunted birds. But now, in his old age—since his wife had died and the children had gone from home, so that he was alone in the hut—he had begun to care for the birds on his island. He never fired a shot at them, nor would he permit others to do so. He walked around amongst the birds’ nests, and when the mother birds were sitting he brought them food. Not one was afraid of him. They all loved him.
Dunfin had been in his hut many times, and he had fed her with bread crumbs. Because he was kind to the birds, they flocked to his island in such great numbers that it was becoming overcrowded. If one happened to arrive a little late in the spring, all the nesting places were occupied. That was why Dunfin’s family had been obliged to leave her.
Dunfin begged so hard that she finally had her way, although the wild geese felt that they were losing time and really should be going straight north. But a little trip like this to the cliff island would not delay them more than a day.
So they started off one morning, after fortifying themselves with a good breakfast, and flew eastward over Lake Maelar. The boy did not know for certain where they were going; but he noticed that the farther east they flew, the livelier it was on the lake and the more built up were the shores.