“After the lark came the grouse, who had flown over the midlands.
“’I know neither what the lark means with his meadows nor the gull with his islands and points,’ said he. ’I have seen only pine forests on this whole trip. There are also many rushing streams and great stretches of moss-grown swamp land; but all that is not river or swamp is forest. If the forest birds follow my advice, they will move north immediately.’
“After the grouse came the loon, who had explored the borderland to the west.
“I don’t know what the grouse means by his forests, nor do I know where the eyes of the lark and the gull could have been,’ remarked the loon. There’s hardly any land up there—only big lakes. Between beautiful shores glisten clear, blue mountain lakes, which pour into roaring water-falls. If the fresh-water birds follow my advice, they will move north immediately.’
“The last speaker was the snow sparrow, who had flown along the western boundary.
“’I don’t know what the loon means by his lakes, nor do I know what countries the grouse, the lark, and the gull can have seen,’ he said. ’I found one vast mountainous region up north. I didn’t run across any fields or any pine forests, but peak after peak and highlands. I have seen ice fields and snow and mountain brooks, with water as white as milk. No farmers nor cattle nor homesteads have I seen, but only Lapps and reindeer and huts met my eyes. If the cliff birds follow my advice, they will move north immediately.’
“When the five scouts had presented their reports to the assembly, they began to call one another liars, and were ready to fly at each other to prove the truth of their arguments.
“But the old and wise birds who had sent them out, listened to their accounts with joy, and calmed their fighting propensities.
“‘You mustn’t quarrel among yourselves,’ they said. ’We understand from your reports that up north there are large mountain tracts, a big lake region, great forest lands, a wide plain, and a big group of islands. This is more than we have expected—more than many a mighty kingdom can boast within its borders.’”
Saturday, June eighteenth.
The boy had been reminded of the old Laplander’s story because he himself was now travelling over the country of which he had spoken. The eagle told him that the expanse of coast which spread beneath them was Westbottom, and that the blue ridges far to the west were in Lapland.
Only to be once more seated comfortably on Gorgo’s back, after all that he had suffered during the forest fire, was a pleasure. Besides, they were having a fine trip. The flight was so easy that at times it seemed as if they were standing still in the air. The eagle beat and beat his wings, without appearing to move from the spot; on the other hand, everything under them seemed in motion. The whole earth and all things on it moved slowly southward. The forests, the fields, the fences, the rivers, the cities, the islands, the sawmills—all were on the march. The boy wondered whither they were bound. Had they grown tired of standing so far north, and wished to move toward the south?