“And now for your treasures,” said Lieutenant Ekman, when they were once more on the boat and it was steaming down the Goeta River to Goeteborg.
“I bought post-cards,” Birger announced, and took a handful from his pocket. “Here are pictures of the giant staircase of locks at Trollhaettan, Lake Vener at sunset, the fortress at Karlsborg, the castle at Vettersborg, and the great iron works at Motala.”
While Herr Ekman was examining the cards and asking Birger all sorts of questions about them, Gerda was busy spreading out her souvenirs on one of the deck chairs; and such a variety as she had! There was a box of soap, a bag filled with squares of beet-sugar, a tiny hammer made in the shape of the giant steam-hammer “Wrath” at Motala, a package of paper made at one of the great paper-mills, lace collars, a lace cap and some beautiful handkerchiefs from Vadstena.
When her father turned his attention to her collection, he held up his hands in amazement. “Are all these things made in Sweden?” he asked. “And did you buy them all with one krona?”
“They are all made in the towns and cities which we have visited,” Gerda replied; “but they cost more than one krona. Mother gave me five kronor before we left home and asked me to buy handkerchiefs and laces at Vadstena. They are the best to be found anywhere in Sweden.”
“And how about your treasures, Erik?” asked Lieutenant Ekman, after he had admired Gerda’s.
Erik put his hand into his coat pocket and took out a box of matches. “These are from Norrkoeping,” he said.
From another pocket he took another box of matches. “And these are from Soederkoeping,” he added. Then from one pocket and another he took boxes of matches of all sizes and kinds, each time naming the town where they were manufactured; while the twins and their father gazed at him in surprise.
“But why so many matches?” asked Lieutenant Ekman, when at last the supply seemed to be exhausted. “You have matches enough there to light the whole world.”
“My father will use them to light his fires,” replied Erik. “Matches are a great luxury in Lapland.
“And besides,” he added, “Sweden manufactures enough matches to light the whole world. The captain told me that they are made in twenty-one different cities and towns, and that they have taken prizes everywhere.”
“That is true,” said Herr Ekman. “Swedish matches are famous the world over. My young Vikings have each made a good collection of souvenirs.”
At that moment a pretty little maid curtsied before them, saying, “Goeteborg, if you please.”
“Oh dear,” sighed Gerda, gathering up her treasures, “here’s the end of our long journey over the wonderful canal!”
But Erik looked down the river to the tall chimneys of the iron-works and said to himself, “And here’s the beginning of my work in the world.”