Although the boy was very glad to be released from the enchantment, still he thought it hard that because of this he should be parted from his old comrades.
He sat down on the sands and buried his face in his hands. What was the use of his gazing after them any more?
Presently he heard the rustle of wings. Old mother Akka had found it hard to fly away from Thumbietot, and turned back, and now that the boy sat quite still she ventured to fly nearer to him. Suddenly something must have told her who he was, for she lit close beside him.
Nils gave a cry of joy and took old Akka in his arms. The other wild geese crowded round him and stroked him with their bills. They cackled and chattered and wished him all kinds of good luck, and he, too, talked to them and thanked them for the wonderful journey which he had been privileged to make in their company.
All at once the wild geese became strangely quiet and withdrew from him, as if to say:
“Alas! he is a man. He does not understand us: we do not understand him!”
Then the boy rose and went over to Akka; he stroked her and patted her. He did the same to Yksi and Kaksi, Kolme and Neljae, Viisi and Kuusi—the old birds who had been his companions from the very start.
After that he walked farther up the strand. He knew perfectly well that the sorrows of the birds do not last long, and he wanted to part with them while they were still sad at losing him.
As he crossed the shore meadows he turned and watched the many flocks of birds that were flying over the sea. All were shrieking their coaxing calls—only one goose flock flew silently on as long as he could follow it with his eyes. The wedge was perfect, the speed good, and the wing strokes strong and certain.
The boy felt such a yearning for his departing comrades that he almost wished he were Thumbietot again and could travel over land and sea with a flock of wild geese.
TABLE OF PRONUNCIATION
The final e is sounded in Skane, Sirle, Gripe, etc.
The a in Skane and Smaland is pronounced like o in ore.
j is like the English y. Nuolja, Oviksfjaellen, Sjangeli, Jarro, etc., should sound as if they were spelled like this: Nuolya, Oviksfyellen, Syang [one syllable] elee, Yarro, etc.
g, when followed by e, i, y, ae, oe, is also like y. Example, Goeta is pronounced Yoeta.
When g is followed by a, o, u, or a, it is hard, as in go.
k in Norrkoeping, Linkoeping, Kivik (pronounced Cheeveek), etc., is like ch in cheer.
k is hard when it precedes a, o, u, or a. Example, Kaksi, Kolmi, etc.
ae is pronounced like ae in fare. Example, Faers.