Thus it happened that all the grown-ups who had come to watch the children took part in the work. Then, of course, it became greater fun than before. By and by the children had even more help. Other implements were needed, so a couple of long-legged boys were sent down to the village for spades and hoes. As they ran past the cabins, the stay-at-homes came out and asked: “What’s wrong? Has there been an accident?”
“No, indeed! But the whole parish is up on the fire-swept mountain planting a forest.”
“If the whole parish is there, we can’t stay at home!”
So party after party of peasants went crowding to the top of the burnt mountain. They stood a moment and looked on. The temptation to join the workers was irresistible.
“It’s a pleasure to sow one’s own acres in the spring, and to think of the grain that will spring up from the earth, but this work is even more alluring,” they thought.
Not only slender blades would come from that sowing, but mighty trees with tall trunks and sturdy branches. It meant giving birth not merely to a summer’s grain, but to many years’ growths. It meant the awakening hum of insects, the song of the thrush, the play of grouse and all kinds of life on the desolate mountain. Moreover, it was like raising a memorial for coming generations. They could have left a bare, treeless height as a heritage. Instead they were to leave a glorious forest.
Coming generations would know their forefathers had been a good and wise folk and they would remember them with reverence and gratitude.
A LARGE GREEN LEAF
Thursday, June sixteenth.
The following day the boy travelled over Haelsingland. It spread beneath him with new, pale-green shoots on the pine trees, new birch leaves in the groves, new green grass in the meadows, and sprouting grain in the fields. It was a mountainous country, but directly through it ran a broad, light valley from either side of which branched other valleys—some short and narrow, some broad and long.
“This land resembles a leaf,” thought the boy, “for it’s as green as a leaf, and the valleys subdivide it in about the same way as the veins of a leaf are foliated.”
The branch valleys, like the main one, were filled with lakes, rivers, farms, and villages. They snuggled, light and smiling, between the dark mountains until they were gradually squeezed together by the hills. There they were so narrow that they could not hold more than a little brook.
On the high land between the valleys there were pine forests which had no even ground to grow upon. There were mountains standing all about, and the forest covered the whole, like a woolly hide stretched over a bony body.
It was a picturesque country to look down upon, and the boy saw a good deal of it, because the eagle was trying to find the old fiddler, Clement Larsson, and flew from ravine to ravine looking for him.