“Look,” exclaimed Gerda when she saw what it was; “it is a perfect little reindeer!”
And so, indeed, it was,—a tiny animal made from a bit of bone, with hoofs, head and antlers all perfectly carved.
The child held it out toward Gerda, nodding her head shyly to show that she wished to have her take it. But Gerda hesitated to do so until Erik said, “My father will make her another. You gave her the string of shells, and she will not like it if you refuse her gift.”
So Gerda took the little reindeer, and many a time in Stockholm, the next winter, she looked at it and thought of the child who gave it to her, and of the curious day she spent with the Lapps in far away Lapland.
“How would you like to spend a whole summer here in the forest, watching the reindeer?” Lieutenant Ekman asked Gerda, after the milking was over and the Lapp mother had gone back to the tent with her children.
“Not very well, if I had to live in that tent,” Gerda answered. Then suddenly something attracted her attention, and she held up her hand, saying, “Listen!”
A faint call sounded in the distance,—a call for help.
“This way,” cried Erik, and dashed off down a path which led toward the river.
All the others followed him. “It must be one of the lumbermen,” said Erik’s father. “They often get hurt in the log jams.”
He was right. When they reached the riverbank they found several men trying to drive some logs out into the current, so as to release a man who had slipped and was pinned against a rock.
The bed of the river was rilled with rocks, over which the water was rushing with great force, in just such a torrent as may be found on nearly all the rivers of northern Sweden. Starting from the melting snow on the mountains, these rivers flow rapidly down to the sea, and every summer millions of logs go sailing down the streams to the sawmills along the eastern coast.
Thousands of these logs are thrown into the water to drift down to the sea by themselves; but on some of the slower rivers the logs are made up into rafts which are guided down the stream by men who live on the raft during its journey.
It was one of the log-drivers who had been caught while he was trying to push the logs out into the channel; and now his leg was broken.
“We can take him to Gellivare in one of our kaerra,” said Lieutenant Ekman, when, with the help of Erik and his father, the man had finally been rescued and carried ashore.
Accordingly, he was lifted into the cart with Erik, while Gerda snuggled into the seat between Birger and her father; and the journey over the rough woodland road was made as carefully as possible.
Several interesting things were discovered while the doctor from the mines was setting the broken leg. The most important of all was that this stalwart lumberman had a father who was a lighthouse keeper.