Those rogues succeeded in making Akka’s head swim. As near as the boy could make out, the wild geese flew round and round for a long time.
“Be careful! Can’t you see that you are flying up and down?” shouted a loon as he rushed by. The boy positively clutched the goosey-gander around the neck. This was something which he had feared for a long time.
No one can tell when they would have arrived, if they hadn’t heard a rolling and muffled sound in the distance.
Then Akka craned her neck, snapped hard with her wings, and rushed on at full speed. Now she had something to go by. The gray goose had told her not to light on Oeland’s southern point, because there was a cannon there, which the people used to shoot the mist with. Now she knew the way, and now no one in the world should lead her astray again.
April third to sixth.
On the most southerly part of Oeland lies a royal demesne, which is called Ottenby. It is a rather large estate which extends from shore to shore, straight across the island; and it is remarkable because it has always been a haunt for large bird-companies. In the seventeenth century, when the kings used to go over to Oeland to hunt, the entire estate was nothing but a deer park. In the eighteenth century there was a stud there, where blooded race-horses were bred; and a sheep farm, where several hundred sheep were maintained. In our days you’ll find neither blooded horses nor sheep at Ottenby. In place of them live great herds of young horses, which are to be used by the cavalry.
In all the land there is certainly no place that could be a better abode for animals. Along the extreme eastern shore lies the old sheep meadow, which is a mile and a half long, and the largest meadow in all Oeland, where animals can graze and play and run about, as free as if they were in a wilderness. And there you will find the celebrated Ottenby grove with the hundred-year-old oaks, which give shade from the sun, and shelter from the severe Oeland winds. And we must not forget the long Ottenby wall, which stretches from shore to shore, and separates Ottenby from the rest of the island, so that the animals may know how far the old royal demesne extends, and be careful about getting in on other ground, where they are not so well protected.
You’ll find plenty of tame animals at Ottenby, but that isn’t all. One could almost believe that the wild ones also felt that on an old crown property both the wild and the tame ones can count upon shelter and protection—since they venture there in such great numbers.
Besides, there are still a few stags of the old descent left; and burrow-ducks and partridges love to live there, and it offers a resting place, in the spring and late summer, for thousands of migratory birds. Above all, it is the swampy eastern shore below the sheep meadow, where the migratory birds alight, to rest and feed.