“It is cruel of the elf to make the conditions so hard for me that I can not go home and relieve my parents, but he sha’n’t turn me into a traitor to a friend! My father and mother are square and upright folk. I know they would rather forfeit my help than have me come back to them with a guilty conscience.”
THE JOURNEY TO VEMMINGHOeG
Thursday, November third.
One day in the beginning of November the wild geese flew over Halland Ridge and into Skane. For several weeks they had been resting on the wide plains around Falkoeping. As many other wild goose flocks also stopped there, the grown geese had had a pleasant time visiting with old friends, and there had been all kinds of games and races between the younger birds.
Nils Holgersson had not been happy over the delay in Westergoetland. He had tried to keep a stout heart; but it was hard for him to reconcile himself to his fate.
“If I were only well out of Skane and in some foreign land,” he had thought, “I should know for certain that I had nothing to hope for, and would feel easier in my mind.”
Finally, one morning, the geese started out and flew toward Halland.
In the beginning the boy took very little interest in that province. He thought there was nothing new to be seen there. But when the wild geese continued the journey farther south, along the narrow coast-lands, the boy leaned over the goose’s neck and did not take his glance from the ground.
He saw the hills gradually disappear and the plain spread under him, at the same time he noticed that the coast became less rugged, while the group of islands beyond thinned and finally vanished and the broad, open sea came clear up to firm land. Here there were no more forests: here the plain was supreme. It spread all the way to the horizon. A land that lay so exposed, with field upon field, reminded the boy of Skane. He felt both happy and sad as he looked at it.
“I can’t be very far from home,” he thought.
Many times during the trip the goslings had asked the old geese:
“How does it look in foreign lands?”
“Wait, wait! You shall soon see,” the old geese had answered.
When the wild geese had passed Halland Ridge and gone a distance into Skane, Akka called out:
“Now look down! Look all around! It is like this in foreign lands.”
Just then they flew over Soeder Ridge. The whole long range of hills was clad in beech woods, and beautiful, turreted castles peeped out here and there.
Among the trees grazed roe-buck, and on the forest meadow romped the hares. Hunters’ horns sounded from the forests; the loud baying of dogs could be heard all the way up to the wild geese. Broad avenues wound through the trees and on these ladies and gentlemen were driving in polished carriages or riding fine horses. At the foot of the ridge lay Ring Lake with the ancient Bosjoe Cloister on a narrow peninsula.