Everyone seemed charged with the electricity, and little Karen said softly, “I never felt so strange before. The lights go up and down my back to the tip of my toes.”
“It is the elves of light dancing round the room,” said Birger with a laugh.
“No,” said Gerda, “it is the Tomtar playing with the electric wires.”
Then, as they all stood watching the wonderful display in the heavens, the door opened and Lieutenant Ekman came into the room. “Here is a letter for Karen from her mother,” he said; “I have had it in my pocket all day.”
“Oh, let me see it,” said Karen, and she turned and ran across the room. Yes, ran,—with her crutch standing beside the chair at the window, and her two feet pattering firmly on the floor.
“Look at Karen,” cried Gerda. “She has forgotten her crutch!”
Karen held her mother’s letter in her hand, and her two eyes were shining like stars. “I feel as if I should never need my crutch again,” she said. Then she turned to Fru Ekman and asked breathlessly, “Do you believe that I will?”
“I am sure that you won’t,” replied Fru Ekman, stooping to kiss the happy child. “I have noticed for a long time that your back was growing straighter and stronger, and you were walking more easily.”
Gerda clapped her hands and ran to throw her arms around her friend. “Oh, Karen,” she exclaimed, “this is the best birthday gift of all! The Tomtar sent it on the electric wires.”
“No,” said Birger, “it was the elves of light dancing across the room.”
But Karen looked at the little family clustered so close around her. “It is my crown of joy and is from each one of you,” she said; “but from Gerda most of all.”
THE MIDSUMMER FESTIVAL
It was the middle of June. School was over and vacation had begun. Gerda and Birger were on their way to Raettvik, taking Karen with them so that she might see the great midsummer festival before going to spend the summer at the Sea-gull Light.
“Isn’t this the best fun we ever had,—to be travelling alone, without any one to take care of us?” asked Birger, as the train whizzed along past fields and forests, lakes and rivers.
“It feels just as if we were tourists,” replied Gerda, straightening her hat and nestling close to Karen.
Karen dimpled and smiled. “I don’t see your wonder-eyes, such as tourists always have,” she said.
“That is because we have been to Raettvik so many times that we know every house and tree and rail-fence along the way,” answered Birger. “We have stopped at Gefle and seen the docks with their great piles of lumber and barrels of tar; and we have been to Upsala, the ancient capital of Sweden, and seen the famous University which was founded fifteen years before Columbus discovered America.”
“Last summer Father took us to Falun to visit the wonderful copper mines,” added Gerda; “but I never want to go there again,” and she shivered as she thought of the dark underground halls and chambers.