And so Karen and Erik both went to Stockholm on the boat with Herr Ekman and the twins.
“You know I told you that I never see my brothers very long at one time,” Karen said to Gerda, after the children had been greeted and gladly welcomed by Fru Ekman, and they had all tried to make the strangers feel at home among them.
“Yes,” said Gerda; “but when you next see Josef you may be so well and strong that you can go off to the lumber camp with him and help him saw down the trees.”
Karen shook her head sadly. She could not believe that she would ever walk without a crutch, and it was the first time that she had been away from her mother in all her life. She turned to the window so that Gerda might not see the tears that came into her eyes, and looked down at the strange city sights.
Just then Lieutenant Ekman came into the room. “Oh, Father, may we take Erik to the Djurgard to-morrow?” Birger asked. “I want to show him the Lapp tent and the reindeer out there. He seems to be rather homesick for the forest, and says that we live up in the air like the birds in their nests.”
When the four children were asleep for the night, and the father and mother were left alone, they laughed softly together over the situation.
“Who ever heard of bringing a Lapp boy to Stockholm!” exclaimed Herr Ekman; and his wife added, “Who but Gerda would think of bringing a strange child here, to be cured of her lameness?”
A DAY IN SKANSEN
It was in the Djurgard that poor Erik first learned that he was a Lapp,—a dirty Lapp.
Of course he knew that his ancestors had lived in Lapland for hundreds of years; but before he went to the Djurgard that day with Birger and Gerda, he had never heard himself called a Lapp in derision.
The Djurgard, or Deer Park, is a beautiful public park on one of the wooded islands near Stockholm. There one finds forests of gigantic oaks, dense groves of spruce, smiling meadows, winding roads and shady paths. Through the tree-branches one catches a glimpse of the blue waters of the fjord, rippling and sparkling in the sun; little steamers go puffing briskly to and fro; and great vessels sail slowly down to the sea.
In summer, steamers and street cars are constantly carrying people back and forth between the Deer Park and other parts of the city. It is not a long trip; from the quay in front of the Royal Palace it takes only ten minutes to reach the park, and day and night the boats are crowded with passengers.
People go there to dine in the open-air restaurants and listen to the bands; they go to walk along the beautiful, tree-shaded paths; or they go to visit Skansen, one of the most interesting museums in the world.
It was to look at the Lapp encampment in Skansen that Birger and Gerda took Erik to the Djurgard. It was to see the birthday celebration in honor of Sweden’s beloved poet, Karl Bellman, that they took Karen, for Gerda had already discovered that Karen knew many of Bellman’s verses and songs.