“Now it must be warm up in Lapland,” thought the boy. “I should like to be seated on Morten Goosey-Gander’s back on a fine morning like this! It would be great fun to ride around in the warm, still air, and look down at the ground, as it now lies decked with green grass, and embellished with pretty blossoms.”
He sat musing on this when the eagle suddenly swooped down from the sky, and perched beside the boy, on top of the cage.
“I wanted to try my wings to see if they were still good for anything,” said Gorgo. “You didn’t suppose that I meant to leave you here in captivity? Get up on my back, and I’ll take you to your comrades.”
“No, that’s impossible!” the boy answered. “I have pledged my word that I would stay here till I am liberated.”
“What sort of nonsense are you talking?” protested Gorgo. “In the first place they brought you here against your will; then they forced you to promise that you would remain here. Surely you must understand that such a promise one need not keep?”
“Oh, no, I must keep it,” said the boy. “I thank you all the same for your kind intention, but you can’t help me.”
“Oh, can’t I?” said Gorgo. “We’ll see about that!” In a twinkling he grasped Nils Holgersson in his big talons, and rose with him toward the skies, disappearing in a northerly direction.
THE PRECIOUS GIRDLE
Wednesday, June fifteenth.
The eagle kept on flying until he was a long distance north of Stockholm. Then he sank to a wooded hillock where he relaxed his hold on the boy.
The instant Thumbietot was out of Gorgo’s clutches he started to run back to the city as fast as he could.
The eagle made a long swoop, caught up to the boy, and stopped him with his claw.
“Do you propose to go back to prison?” he demanded.
“That’s my affair. I can go where I like, for all of you!” retorted the boy, trying to get away. Thereupon the eagle gripped him with his strong talons, and rose in the air.
Now Gorgo circled over the entire province of Uppland and did not stop again until he came to the great water-falls at Aelvkarleby where he alighted on a rock in the middle of the rushing rapids below the roaring falls. Again he relaxed his hold on the captive.
The boy saw that here there was no chance of escape from the eagle. Above them the white scum wall of the water-fall came tumbling down, and round about the river rushed along in a mighty torrent. Thumbietot was very indignant to think that in this way he had been forced to become a promise-breaker. He turned his back to the eagle and would not speak to him.
Now that the bird had set the boy down in a place from which he could not run away, he told him confidentially that he had been brought up by Akka from Kebnekaise, and that he had quarrelled with his foster-mother.