“The fact is, I had thought of stopping here over night,” said the midget. “If you will only show me a safe sleeping place, I shall not be obliged to return to the forest before daybreak.”
“Must I show you a place to sleep? Are you not at home here?”
“I understand that you take me for one of the tiny folk,” said the midget, “but I’m a human being, like yourself, although I have been transformed by an elf.”
“That is the most remarkable thing I have ever heard! Wouldn’t you like to tell me how you happened to get into such a plight?”
The boy did not mind telling her of his adventures, and, as the narrative proceeded, she who listened to him grew more and more astonished and happy.
“What luck to run across one who has travelled all over Sweden on the back of a goose!” thought she. “Just this which he is relating I shall write down in my book. Now I need worry no more over that matter. It was well that I came home. To think that I should find such help as soon as I came to the old place!”
Instantly another thought flashed into her mind. She had sent word to her father by the doves that she longed for home, and almost immediately she had received help in the matter she had pondered so long. Might not this be the father’s answer to her prayer?
ON THEIR WAY TO THE SEA
Friday, October seventh.
From the very start of the autumn trip the wild geese had flown straight south; but when they left Fryksdalen they veered in another direction, travelling over western Vermland and Dalsland, toward Bohuslaen.
That was a jolly trip! The goslings were now so used to flying that they complained no more of fatigue, and the boy was fast recovering his good humour. He was glad that he had talked with a human being. He felt encouraged when she said to him that if he were to continue doing good to all whom he met, as heretofore, it could not end badly for him. She was not able to tell him how to get back his natural form, but she had given him a little hope and assurance, which inspired the boy to think out a way to prevent the big white gander from going home.
“Do you know, Morten Goosey-Gander, that it will be rather monotonous for us to stay at home all winter after having been on a trip like this,” he said, as they were flying far up in the air. “I’m sitting here thinking that we ought to go abroad with the geese.”
“Surely you are not in earnest!” said the goosey-gander. Since he had proved to the wild geese his ability to travel with them all the way to Lapland, he was perfectly satisfied to get back to the goose pen in Holger Nilsson’s cow shed.
The boy sat silently a while and gazed down on Vermland, where the birch woods, leafy groves, and gardens were clad in red and yellow autumn colours.