She said this with such dignity, that the boy grew really embarrassed. “This surely can’t be any bird,” thought he. “It is certainly some bewitched princess.”
He was filled with a desire to help her, and ran his hand under the feathers, and felt along the wing-bone. The bone was not broken, but there was something wrong with the joint. He got his finger down into the empty cavity. “Be careful, now!” he said; and got a firm grip on the bone-pipe and fitted it into the place where it ought to be. He did it very quickly and well, considering it was the first time that he had attempted anything of the sort. But it must have hurt very much, for the poor young goose uttered a single shrill cry, and then sank down among the stones without showing a sign of life.
The boy was terribly frightened. He had only wished to help her, and now she was dead. He made a big jump from the stone pile, and ran away. He thought it was as though he had murdered a human being.
The next morning it was clear and free from mist, and Akka said that now they should continue their travels. All the others were willing to go, but the white goosey-gander made excuses. The boy understood well enough that he didn’t care to leave the gray goose. Akka did not listen to him, but started off.
The boy jumped up on the goosey-gander’s back, and the white one followed the flock—albeit slowly and unwillingly. The boy was mighty glad that they could fly away from the island. He was conscience-stricken on account of the gray goose, and had not cared to tell the goosey-gander how it had turned out when he had tried to cure her. It would probably be best if Morten goosey-gander never found out about this, he thought, though he wondered, at the same time, how the white one had the heart to leave the gray goose.
But suddenly the goosey-gander turned. The thought of the young gray goose had overpowered him. It could go as it would with the Lapland trip: he couldn’t go with the others when he knew that she lay alone and ill, and would starve to death.
With a few wing-strokes he was over the stone pile; but then, there lay no young gray goose between the stones. “Dunfin! Dunfin! Where art thou?” called the goosey-gander.
“The fox has probably been here and taken her,” thought the boy. But at that moment he heard a pretty voice answer the goosey-gander. “Here am I, goosey-gander; here am I! I have only been taking a morning bath.” And up from the water came the little gray goose—fresh and in good trim—and told how Thumbietot had pulled her wing into place, and that she was entirely well, and ready to follow them on the journey.
The drops of water lay like pearl-dew on her shimmery satin-like feathers, and Thumbietot thought once again that she was a real little princess.
THE BIG BUTTERFLY
Wednesday, April sixth.