Here Bernhard ended his story. He received praise from all sides and it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that he would get the prize. The majority thought it almost a pity that Clement had to compete with him.
But Clement, undaunted, began:
“One day, while I was living at Skansen, just outside of Stockholm, and longing for home—” Then he told about the tiny midget he had ransomed so that he would not have to be confined in a cage, to be stared at by all the people. He told, also, that no sooner had he performed this act of mercy than he was rewarded for it. He talked and talked, and the astonishment of his hearers grew greater and greater; but when he came to the royal lackey and the beautiful book, all the dairymaids dropped their needle-work and sat staring at Clement in open-eyed wonder at his marvellous experiences.
As soon as Clement had finished, the eldest of the dairymaids announced that he should have the muffler.
“Bernhard related only things that happened to another, but Clement has himself been the hero of a true story, which I consider far more important.”
In this all concurred. They regarded Clement with very different eyes after hearing that he had talked with the King, and the little fiddler was afraid to show how proud he felt. But at the very height of his elation some one asked him what had become of the midget.
“I had no time to set out the blue bowl for him myself,” said Clement, “so I asked the old Laplander to do it. What has become of him since then I don’t know.”
No sooner had he spoken than a little pine cone came along and struck him on the nose. It did not drop from a tree, and none of the peasants had thrown it. It was simply impossible to tell whence it had come.
“Aha, Clement!” winked the dairymaid, “it appears as if the tiny folk were listening to us. You should not have left it to another to set out that blue bowl!”
Friday, June seventeenth.
The boy and the eagle were out bright and early the next morning. Gorgo hoped that he would get far up into West Bothnia that day. As luck would have it, he heard the boy remark to himself that in a country like the one through which they were now travelling it must be impossible for people to live.
The land which spread below them was Southern Medelpad. When the eagle heard the boy’s remark, he replied:
“Up here they have forests for fields.”
The boy thought of the contrast between the light, golden-rye fields with their delicate blades that spring up in one summer, and the dark spruce forest with its solid trees which took many years to ripen for harvest.
“One who has to get his livelihood from such a field must have a deal of patience!” he observed.
Nothing more was said until they came to a place where the forest had been cleared, and the ground was covered with stumps and lopped-off branches. As they flew over this ground, the eagle heard the boy mutter to himself that it was a mighty ugly and poverty-stricken place.