“I never could understand about our long nights in winter and our long days in summer,” spoke Hilma Berling.
“It is because we live so near the North Pole,” Oscar told her. “Now that Commander Peary of the United States of America has really discovered the North Pole, perhaps the geographies will make it easier to understand how the sun juggles with the poles and circles.
“I am sorry that it has been discovered,” he added. “I always meant to do it myself, when I got old enough to discover anything.”
“If I could stand on the top of Mount Dundret and see the sun shining at midnight, I am sure I could understand about it without any geography,” Gerda declared.
“If you should go north with Herr Lighthouse-Inspector Ekman this summer, you might meet the little girl who receives this box,” said Sigrid.
“I should know her the minute I saw her,” Gerda said decidedly.
“How would you know her?” questioned Birger. “You don’t even know her name or where she lives. Father is going to give the box to the lighthouse-master at Lulea, and he will decide where to send it.”
“Oh, there are ways!” replied Gerda. “And besides, she would have on my rainbow skirt.”
That night, after the children had trooped down the stairs and away to their homes, and after Gerda and Birger had said good-night and gone to their beds, the father and mother sat by the table, talking over plans for the summer.
“I suppose we shall start for Dalarne the day after school closes,” suggested Fru Ekman.
“No,” answered her husband, “I have been thinking that the children are old enough now to travel a little; and I have decided to take them with me when I go north this summer. They ought to know more about the forests, and rivers, and shores of their good old Mother Svea.”
On board the “North star”
It was a sunny morning in late June. The waters of the Saltsjoe rippled and sparkled around the islands of Stockholm, and little steamers puffed briskly about in the harbor. The tide had turned, and the fresh water of the lake, mingled with the salt water of the fjord, was swirling and eddying under the bridges and beating against the stone quays; for Lake Maelar is only eighteen inches higher than the Salt Sea, and while the incoming tide brings salt water up the river from the ocean, the outgoing tide carries fresh water down from the lake.
Just as the great clock in the church tower began chiming the hour of nine, a group of children gathered on the granite pier opposite the King’s Palace.
A busy scene greeted their eyes. Vessels were being loaded and unloaded, passengers were arriving, men were hurrying to and fro, and boys selling newspapers were rushing about in the crowd.
“Do you see the North Star?” Sigrid asked the others. “That is the name of the boat they are going to take.”