“Yes,” he said, after a moment; “if you will give up the furs, we will see what can be done. On the way home we will stop at the lighthouse and ask Hans Klasson to lend Karen to us for a little while.”
Gerda clapped her hands. “Oh, a promise! A promise!” she cried joyously. “What a good souvenir of Polcirkel!” and she ran to tell Birger the news.
THE MIDNIGHT SUN
“What time is it, Father?” asked Gerda, as they reached the top of Mount Dundret, and Lieutenant Ekman took the key out of his pocket to open the door of the Tourists’ Hut.
“It is half past eleven,” replied her father, looking at his watch.
“At noon or at night?” questioned Gerda.
“Look at the sun, and don’t ask such foolish questions,” Birger told her. “When the sun is high up in the heavens it is noon; but when it is down on the horizon it is night.”
Gerda looked off at the sun which hung like a huge red moon on the northern horizon. “Then I suppose it is almost midnight,” she said, “and time to go to bed. I was wishing it was nearer noon and dinner-time.”
“You’ll have to wait for dinner-time and bedtime, too, until we get back to Gellivare,” her father told her.
“When you have travelled so far just to see the sun shining at midnight, you should spend all your time looking at it,” said Birger, opening his camera to take some pictures.
Gerda looked down into the valleys below, where a thick mist hung over the lakes and rivers; then turned her eyes toward the sun, which was becoming paler and paler, its golden glow shedding a drowsy light over the hills.
“How still it is!” she said softly. “All the world seems to have gone to sleep in the midst of sunshine.”
“It is exactly midnight,” said her father, looking at the watch which he had been holding in his hand.
Birger closed his camera and slipped it into his pocket. “There,” he said, “I have a picture of the sun shining at midnight, to prove to Oscar that it really does shine. Now I am going to gather some flowers to press for Mother;” and he ran off down the side of the hill.
Gerda found a seat on a rock beside the hut, and sat down to watch the beginning of the new day. The sun gradually brightened and became a magnificent red, tinging the clouds with gold and crimson, and gilding the distant hills. A fresh breeze sprang up, the swallows in their nests under the eaves of the hut twittered softly,—all nature seemed to be awake again.
“I’ve been thinking,” said Gerda, after a long silence, “that I told Hilma I should understand about the midnight sun if I should see it; but I’m afraid I don’t understand it, after all.”
“It is this way,” Lieutenant Ekman began. “The earth moves around the sun once every year, and turns on its own axis once every twenty-four hours.”