When he had gone beyond the city, he found that the ground was no longer hidden by clouds, but that shores, streams, and islands were again plainly visible. He turned to see the city better, but could not, for now it looked quite enchanted. The mists had taken on colour from the sunshine and were rolling forward in the most brilliant reds, blues, and yellows. The houses were white, as if built of light, and the windows and spires sparkled like fire. All things floated on the water as before.
The geese were travelling straight east. They flew over factories and workshops; then over mansions edging the shores. Steamboats and tugs swarmed on the water; but now they came from the east and were steaming westward toward the city.
The wild geese flew on, but instead of the narrow Maelar fiords and the little islands, broader waters and larger islands spread under them. At last the land was left behind and seen no more.
They flew still farther out, where they found no more large inhabited islands—only numberless little rock islands were scattered on the water. Now the fiords were not crowded by the land. The sea lay before them, vast and limitless.
Here the wild geese alighted on a cliff island, and as soon as their feet touched the ground the boy turned to Dunfin.
“What city did we fly over just now?” he asked.
“I don’t know what human beings have named it,” said Dunfin. “We gray geese call it the ’City that Floats on the Water’.”
Dunfin had two sisters, Prettywing and Goldeye. They were strong and intelligent birds, but they did not have such a soft and shiny feather dress as Dunfin, nor did they have her sweet and gentle disposition. From the time they had been little, yellow goslings, their parents and relatives and even the old fisherman had plainly shown them that they thought more of Dunfin than of them. Therefore the sisters had always hated her.
When the wild geese landed on the cliff island, Prettywing and Goldeye were feeding on a bit of grass close to the strand, and immediately caught sight of the strangers.
“See, Sister Goldeye, what fine-looking geese have come to our island!” exclaimed Prettywing, “I have rarely seen such graceful birds. Do you notice that they have a white goosey-gander among them? Did you ever set eyes on a handsomer bird? One could almost take him for a swan!”
Goldeye agreed with her sister that these were certainly very distinguished strangers that had come to the island, but suddenly she broke off and called: “Sister Prettywing! Oh, Sister Prettywing! Don’t you see whom they bring with them?”
Prettywing also caught sight of Dunfin and was so astounded that she stood for a long time with her bill wide open, and only hissed.
“It can’t be possible that it is she! How did she manage to get in with people of that class? Why, we left her at Oeland to freeze and starve.”