THE WONDERFUL ADVENTURES
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA LIBRARIES
Adventures of Nils
From the Swedish of
VELMA SWANSTON HOWARD
GROSSET & DUNLAP
COPYRIGHT, 1907, BY DOUBLEDAY, PAGE
& COMPANY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OP AMERICA
"The Wonderful Adventures of Nils" was
written for use in schools as "supplementary
reading," with the special idea of introducing
such subjects as would be educative as well
as entertaining to the minds of children from
the ages of nine to eleven. The book has
been adopted in the public schools of Sweden,
but older people have found in it a book of
In so far as possible, the translator has
faithfully interpreted the author's local and
Newerry High School Llubrary
THIS book, which is the latest work of
Sweden's greatest fiction writer, was published
in Stockholm, December, 1906. It became
immediately the most popular book of the
year in Scandinavia.
Four years ago the author received a com-
mission from the National Teachers' Associa-
tion to write a reader for the public schools.
She devoted three years to Nature study
and to familiarising herself with animal and
bird life. She sought out hitherto unpublished
folk-lore and legends of the different provinces.
These she has ingeniously woven into her
The book has been translated into German
and Danish, and the book reviewers of Ger-
many and Denmark, as well as those of
Sweden, are unanimous in proclaiming this
Selma Lagerl6f's best work.
One reviewer has said: "Since the days
ADVENTURES OF NILS
of Hans Christian Andersen, we have had
nothing in Scandinavian juvenile literature
to compare with this remarkable book."
Another reviewer wrote: "Miss Lagerldf has
the keen insight into animal psychology of
a Rudyard Kipling."
Stockholm's Dagblad said among other
things: "The great author stands as it
were in the background. The prophetess
is forgotten for the voices that speak through
her. It is as though the book had sprung
direct from the soul of the Swedish nation."
Sydsvenska Dagbladet writes: "The signifi-
cant thing about this book is: while one
follows with breathless interest the shift-
ing scenes and adventures, one learns many
things without being conscious of it. . .
The author's imagination unfolds an almost
inexhaustible wealth in invention of new,
and ever-changing adventures, told in such a
convincing way that we almost believe them.
S. As amusement reading for the
young, this book is a decided acquisition.
The intimate blending of fiction and fact is
so subtle that one finds it hard to distinguish
ADVENTURES OF NILS
where one ends, and the other begins. It
is a classic. . A masterwork."
From Gefle Posten: "The author is here-
as always, the great story-teller, the great-
est, perhaps, in Scandinavian literature since
the days of Hans Christian Andersen. To
children whose imaginations have been fos-
tered by Ashbjdrnsen, Andersen, and 'Thou-
sand-and-One Nights,' Nils Holgersson will
always be precious, as well as to those of us
who are older."
From Giteborg Posten: "Selma Lagerl6f
has given us a good lift onward. She is the
one whom we, in these days, place first and
foremost. . Among the other work which
she has done for us, and for our children, she
has re-created our geography for us. . Up-
on imagination's road she has sought to open
the child-heart to an understanding of animals,
while she tactfully and playfully drops into
little knowledge-thirsty minds a comprehen-
sive understanding of the habits and char-
acteristics of different animals. She carries
us with her . and shapes for us-old
and young--a new childhood in tune with the
x ADVENTURES OF NILS
thought of our time. What does she not
touch upon in this wonderful book? . As
Mowgli, who had the key to all the languages
of the Jungle, once found his way to all
his little brother and sister-hearts in the
great civilized world, so shall the Thum-
bietot of Swedish fairyland lead many little
thirsting child-souls, not only on the high-
ways of adventure, but also upon the road
of seriousness and learning."
Another critic says: "Beyond all doubt,
'Nils Holgersson's Journey' is one of the most
noteworthy books ever published in our
language. I take it, that no other nation has
a book of this sort. One can make this or
that comment on one and another phase of
it, but the whole impresses one as so master-
ful, so great, and so Swedish, that one lays
the book down with a sense of gratitude for
the privilege of reading such a thing. There
is a deep undercurrent of Swedish earnestness
all through this tale of Nils Holgersson. It
belongs to us. It is a part of us."
Ny Tid writes: "Selma Lagerl6f's book
contains just as much information-no, twice
ADVENTURES OF NILS
as much-as the old readers. It acquaints
the children with Sweden's nature; it interests
them in its bird world-both tame and wild;
in its domestic and forest animals, even in
its rats. It explains its vegetation, its soil,
its mountain-formations, it climatic con-
ditions. It gives you customs, superstitions
and the folk-lore in different sections of the
country. It takes in farming industry, man-
ors and factories; cities and peasant-cabins,
and even dog-kennels. It has a word for
everything; an interest in, and for, every-
thing. For, mark you, this book has not
been patched together by the dilettante, by
committees. . It was written by a
highly gifted, warm-hearted seer, to whom
the child-nature has not been a murky pool
to fish in, but a clear, impressionable mirror.
The author has fulfilled her mission in
a wholly convincing manner. She has
had enough imagination and skill to
blend all the dry travel and nature ma-
terial into the harmonious beauty of fable.
She knew how to combine the useful with
the beautiful, as no pedant of the prac-
ADVENTURES OF NILS
tical, or the aesthetic, has ever dreamed if.
She has converted the absorption of knowl-
edge into a child's game-a pleasure. Her
style throughout is the simplest, the most
facile for children to grasp. . Her
utterances are hearty without being bois-
terous; most playful and humorous with-
out being loquacious. Her work is a model
text-book; and just, therefore, a finished
work of art."
From Goteborg Morgon Posten: "The fame
of her literary greatness goes forward without a
dissenting voice; fills her own land, and travels
far and wide outside its borders. . Just
as modestly as she points a moral, just so deli-
cately and unobtrusively does she give infor-
mation. Everything comes to you through the
adventures, or through the concrete images of
imagination's all-compelling form. . .
No one who has retained a particle of his child
mind can escape the genuine witchery of the
poesy in 'Nils Holgersson.' "
A new history of literature, entitled "Frauen
der Gegenwart", by Dr. Theodore Klaiber,
mentions Miss LagerlSf as the foremost woman
ADVENTURES OF NILS xiii
writer of our time, and says that she is
receiving the same affectionate homage for
her art in other lands, that has been accorded
to her in Sweden. Dr. Klaiber does not see
in her merely "a dreaming poetess far
removed from the world." He finds her too
forceful and courageous for this.
"But she sees life with other eyes than do
our up-to-date people. All her world becomes
saga and legend. . .More than all other
modern authors, she has that all-embracing
love for everything which never wanes and
never wearies," says Dr. Klaiber.
Torsten FAgelqvist, a well-known Swedish
writer, ends his review of the book with these
remarks: "Our guide is clear-visioned,
many-sided and maternal. She can speak
all languages: the language of animals, and
the language of flowers; but first and last,
childhood's language. And the best of all
is, that under her spell all are compelled to
VELMA SWANSTON HOWARD.
Comments translated from Swedish and German.
"They bore on toward the
"The goosey-gander got in-
head first" 44
"......and the wild goose got
In Glimminge Castle 128
"The wild geese, too. were glad
of the rain" 16
"The boy rode along-high up
in the air" 198
"A tiny wooden shoe that had
fallen from the skies" 426
Sunday, March twentieth.
ONCE there was a boy. He was-let us
say-something like fourteen years old;
long and loose jointed and towheaded. He
wasn't good for much, that boy. His chief
delight was to eat and sleep; and after that
-he liked best to make mischief.
It was a Sunday morning and the boy's
parents were getting ready to go to church.
The boy sat on the edge of the table, in his
shirt sleeves, and thought how lucky it was
that both father and mother were going away,
and the coast would be clear for a couple of
hours. "Good! Now I can take down pop's
gun and fire off a shot, without anybody's
meddling interference," he said to himself.
But it was almost as if father should have
4 ADVENTURES OF NILS
guessed the boy's thoughts, for just as he
was on the threshold-ready to start-he
stopped short, and turned toward the boy:
"Since you won't come to church with
mother and me," he said, "the least you can
do, is to read the service at home. Will you
promise to do so?" "Yes," said the boy,
"that I can do easy enough." And he
thought, of course, that he wouldn't read
any more than he felt like reading.
The boy thought that never had he seen
his mother so persistent. In a second she
was over by the shelf near the fireplace, and
took down Luther's Commentary and laid it
on the table, in front of the window-opened
at the service for the day. She also opened
the New Testament, and placed it beside the
Commentary. Finally, she drew up the biM
arm-chair, which was bought at the parish
auction the year before, and which, as a rule
no one but father was permitted to occupy.
The boy sat thinking that his mother was
giving herself altogether too much trouble
with this spread; for he had no intention of
reading more than a page or so. But now,
ADVENTURES OF NILS
for the second time, it was almost as if his
father were able to see right through him.
He walked up to the boy, and said in a severe
tone: "Now, remember, that you are to
read carefully! For when we come back, I
shall question you thoroughly; and if you
have skipped a single page, it will not go well
"The service is fourteen and a half pages
long," said his mother, just as if she wanted
to heap up the measure of his misfortune.
"You'll have to sit down and begin the read-
ing at once, if you expect to get through with
With that they departed. And as the boy
stood in the doorway watching them, he
thought that he had been caught in a trap.
"There they go congratulating themselves,
I suppose, in the belief that they've hit upon
something so good that I'll be forced to sit
and hang over the sermon the whole time that
they are away," thought he.
But his father and mother were certainly
not congratulating themselves upon anything
of the sort; but, on the contrary, they were
6 ADVENTURES OF NILS
very much distressed. They were poor farm-
ers, and their place was not much bigger
than a garden-plot. When they first moved
there, the place couldn't feed more than one
pig and a pair of chickens; but they were
uncommonly industrious and capable folk-
and now they had both cows and geese.
Things had turned out very well for them;
and they would have gone to church that
beautiful morning-satisfied and happy-if
they hadn't had their son to think of. Father
complained that he was dull and lazy; he had
not cared to learn anything at school, and
he was such an all-round good-for-nothing,
that he could barely be made to tend geese.
Mother did not deny that this was true; but
she was most distressed because he was wild
and bad; cruel to animals, and ill-willed
toward human beings. "May God soften
his hard heart, and give him a better dis-
position!" said the mother, "or else he will
be a misfortune, both to himself and to us."
The boy stood for a long time and pon-
dered whether he should read the service or
not. Finally, he came to the conclusion
ADVENTURES OF NILS
that, this time, it was best to be obedient.
He seated himself in the easy chair, and began
to read. But when he had been rattling
away in an undertone for a little while, this'
mumbling seemed to have a soothing effect
upon him-and he began to nod.
It was the most beautiful weather outside!
It was only the twentieth of March; but the
boy lived in West Vemmingh6g Township,
down in Southern SkAne, where the spring
was already in full swing. It was not as yet
green, but it was fresh and budding. There
was water in all the trenches, and the colt's-,
foot on the edge of the ditch was in bloom.
All the weeds that grew in among the stones
were brown and shiny. The beech-woods
in the distance seemed to swell and grow
thicker with every second. The skies were
high-and a clear blue. The cottage door
stood ajar, and the lark's trill could be heard
in the room. The hens and geese pattered
about in the yard, and the cows, who felt
the spring air away in their stalls, lowed
their approval every now and then.
The boy read and nodded and fought
8 ADVENTURES OF NILS
against drowsiness. "No! I don't want to
fall asleep," thought he, "for then I'll not
get through with this thing the whole
But-somehow-he fell asleep.
He did not know whether he had slept a
short while, or a long while; but he was
awakened by hearing a slight noise back of him.
On the window-sill, facing the boy, stood
a small looking-glass; and almost the entire
cottage could be seen in this. As the boy
raised his head, he happened to look in the
glass; and then he saw that the cover to
his mother's chest had been opened.
His mother owned a great, heavy, iron-
bound oak chest, which she permitted no
one but herself to open. Here she treasured
all the things she had inherited from her
mother, and of these she was especially
careful. Here lay a couple of old-time peasant
dresses, of red homespun cloth, with short
bodice and plaited shirt, and a pearl-bedecked
breast pin. There were starched white-linen
head-dresses, and heavy silver ornaments
and chains. Folks don't care to go about
ADVENTURES OF NILS
dressed like that in these days, and several
times his mother had thought of getting rid
of the old things; but somehow, she hadn't
had the heart to do it.
Now the boy saw distinctly-in the glass-
that the chest-lid was open. He could not
understand how this had happened, for his
mother had closed the chest before she went
away. She never would have left that pre-
cious chest open when he was at home, alone.
He became low-spirited and apprehensive.
He was afraid that a thief had sneaked his
way into the cottage. He didn't dare to
move; but sat still and stared into the looking-
While he sat there and waited for the thief
to make his appearance, he began to wonder
what that dark shadow was which fell across
the edge of the chest. He looked and looked
-and did not want to believe his eyes. But
the thing, which at first seemed shadowy,
became more and more clear to him; and
soon he saw that it was something real. It
was no less a thing than an elf who sat there
-astride the edge of the chest!
1o ADVENTURES OF NILS
To be sure, the boy had heard stories about
elves, but he had never dreamed that they
were such tiny creatures. He was no taller
than a hand's breadth-this one, who sat on
the edge of the chest. He had an old,
wrinkled and beardless face, and was dressed
in a black frock coat, knee-breeches and a
broad-brimmed black hat. He was very
trim and smart, with his white laces about
the throat and wrist-bands, his buckled shoes,
and the bows on his garters. He had taken
from the chest an embroidered piece, and sat
and looked at the old-fashioned handiwork
with such an air of veneration, that he did
not observe the boy had awakened.
The boy was somewhat surprised to see the
elf, but, on the other hand, he was not par-
ticularly frightened. It was impossible to
be afraid of one who was so little. And since
the elf was so absorbed in his own thoughts
that he neither saw nor heard, the boy thought
that it would be great fun to play a trick on
him; to push him over into the chest and shut
the lid on him, or something of that kind.
But the boy was not so courageous that he
ADVENTURES OF NILS
dared to touch the elf with his hands, instead
he looked around the room for something to
poke him with. He let his gaze wander from
the sofa to the leaf-table; from the leaf-
table to the fireplace. He looked at the
kettles, then at the coffee-urn, which stood
on a shelf, near the fireplace; on the water
bucket near the door; and on the spoons
and knives and forks and saucers and plates,
which could be seen through the half-open
cupboard door. He looked at his father's
gun, which hung on the wall, beside the
portrait of the Danish royal family, and on
the geraniums and fuchsias, which blossomed
in the window. And last, he caught sight
of an old butterfly-snare that hung on the
window frame. He had hardly set eyes on
that butterfly-snare, before he reached over
and snatched it and jumped up and swung
it alongside the edge of the chest. He was
himself astonished at the luck he had. He
hardly knew how he had managed it-but
he had actually snared the elf. The poor
little chap lay, head downward, in the bottom
of the long snare, and could not free himself.
12 ADVENTURES OF NILS
The first moment the boy hadn't the least
idea what he should do with his prize. He
was only particular to swing the snare back-
ward and forward, to prevent the elf from
getting a foothold and clambering up.
The elf began to speak, and begged, oh!
so pitifully, for his freedom. He had brought
them good luck-these many years-he said,
and deserved better treatment. Now, if the
boy would set him free, he would give him an
'old coin, a silver spoon, and a gold penny,
as big as the case on his father's silver watch.
The boy didn't think that this was much
of an offer; but it so happened-that after
he had gotten the elf in his power, he was
afraid of him. He felt that he had entered
into an agreement with something weird and
uncanny; something which did not belong to
his world, and he was only too glad to get
rid of the horrid thing.
For this reason he agreed at once to the
bargain, and held the snare still, so the elf
could crawl out of it. But when the elf
was almost out of the snare, the boy happened
to think that he ought to have bargained for
ADVENTURES OF NILS
large estates, and all sorts of good things.
He should at least have made this stipula-
tion: that the elf must conjure the sermon
into his head. "What a fool I was to let
him go!" thought he, and began to shake
the snare violently, so the elf would tumble
But the instant the boy did this, he
received such a stinging box on the ear, that
he thought his head would fly in pieces. He
was dashed-first against one wall, then
against the other; he sank to the floor, and
When he awoke, he was alone in the cottage.
The chest-lid was down, and the butterfly-
snare hung in its usual place by the window.
If he had not felt how the right cheek burned,
from that box on the ear, he would have been
tempted to believe the whole thing had been
a dream. "At any rate, father and mother
will be sure to insist that it was nothing else,"
thought he. "They are not likely to make
any allowances for that old sermon, on
account of the elf. It's best for me to get
at that reading again," thought he.
14 ADVENTURES OF NILS
But as he walked toward the table, he
noticed something remarkable. It couldn't
be possible that the cottage had grown. But
why was he obliged to take so many more
steps than usual to get to the table? And
what was the matter with the chair? It
looked no bigger than it did a while ago; but
now he had to step on the rung first, and then
clamber up in order to reach the seat. It was
the same thing with the table. He could
not look over the top without climbing to
the arm of the chair.
"What in all the world is this?" said the boy.
"I believe the elf has bewitched both the arm-
chair and the table-and the whole cottage."
The Commentary lay on the table and, to
all appearances, it was not changed; but
there must have been something queer about
that too, for he could not manage to read a
single word of it, without actually standing
right in the book itself.
He read a couple of lines, and then he
chanced to look up. With that, his glance
fell on the looking-glass; and then he cried
aloud: "Lookl There's another one!"
ADVENTURES OF NILS
For in the glass he saw plainly a little,
little creature who was dressed in a hood and
"Why, that one is dressed exactly like me!"
said the boy, and clasped his hands in aston-
ishment. But then he saw that the thing in
the mirror did the same thing. Then he
began to pull his hair and pinch his arms and
swing round; and instantly he did the same
thing after him; he, who was seen in the
The boy ran around the glass several
times, to see if there wasn't a little man hid-
den behind it, but he founa no one there; and
then he began to shake with terror. For now
he understood that the elf had bewitched
him, and that the creature whose image he
saw in the glass-was he, himself.
THE WILD GEESE
THE boy simply could not. make himself
believe that he had been transformed into
an elf. "It can't be anything but a dream
-a queer fancy," thought he. "If I wait a
16 ADVENTURES OF NILS
few moments, I'll surely be turned back into
a human being again."
He placed himself before the glass and
closed his eyes. He opened them again after
a couple of minutes, and then expected to
find that it had all passed over-but it
hadn't. He was-and remained-just as
little. In other respects, he was the same as
before. The thin, straw-coloured hair; the
freckles across his nose; the patches on his
leather breeches and the darns on his stock-
ings, were all like themselves, with this excep-
tion-that they had become diminished.
No, it would do no good for him to stand
still and wait, of this he was certain. He
must try something else. And he thought
the wisest thing that he could do was to try
and find the elf, and make his peace with him.
And while he sought, he cried and prayed
and promised everything he could think of.
Nevermore would he break his word to any-
one; never again would he be naughty; and
never, never would he fall asleep again over
the sermon. If he might only be a
human being once more, he would be such a
ADVENTURES OF NILS
good and helpful and obedient boy. But no
matter how much he promised-it did not
help him the least little bit.
Suddenly he remembered that he had heard
his mother say, all the tiny folk made their
home in the cowsheds; and, at once, he con-
cluded to go there, and see if he couldn't
find the elf. It was a lucky thing that the
cottage-door stood partly open, for he never
could have reached the bolt and opened it;
but now he slipped through without any
When he came out in the hallway, he looked
around for his wooden shoes; for in the house,
to be sure, he had gone about in his stocking-
feet. He wondered how he should manage
with these big, clumsy wooden shoes; but
just then, he saw a pair of tiny shoes on the
doorstep. When he observed that the elf had
been so thoughtful that he had also bewitched
the wooden shoes, he was even more troubled.
It was evidently his intention that this afflic-
tion should last a long time.
On the wooden board-walk in front of the
cottage, hopped a gray sparrow. He had
18 ADVENTURES OF NILS
hardly set eyes on the boy before he called
out: "Teetee! Teetee! Look at Nils goosey-
boy! Look at Thumbietot! Look at Nils
Instantly, both the geese and the chickens
turned and stared at the boy; and then they
set up a fearful cackling. "Cock-el-i-coo,"
crowed the rooster, "good enough for him!
Cock-el-i-coo, he has pulled my comb." "Ka,
ka, kada, serves him right!" cried the hens;
and with that they kept up a continuous
cackle. The geese got together in a tight
group, stuck their heads together and asked:
"Who can have done this? Who can have
But the strangest thing of all was, that the
boy understood what they said. He was so
astonished, that he stood there as if rooted
to the doorstep, and listened. "It must be
because I am changed into an elf," said he.
"This is probably why I understand bird-talk."
He thought it was unbearable that the hens
would not stop saying that it served him
right. He threw a stone at them and shouted:
"Shut up, you pack!"
ADVENTURES OF NILS
But it hadn't occurred to him before, that
he was no longer the sort of boy the hens
need fear. The whole henyard made a rush
for him, and formed a ring around him; then
they all cried at once: "Ka, ka, kada, served
you right! Ka, ka, kada, served you right!"
The boy tried to get away, but the chickens
ran after him and screamed, until he thought
he'd lose his hearing. It is more than likely
that he never could have gotten away from
them, if the house cat hadn't come along
just then. As soon as the chickens saw the
cat, they quieted down and pretended to
be thinking of nothing else than just to
scratch in the earth for worms.
Immediately the boy ran up to the cat.
"You dear pussy!" said he, "you must know
all the corners and hiding places about here?
You'll be a good little kitty and tell me where
I can find the elf."
The cat did not reply at once. He seated
himself, curled his tail into a graceful ring
around his paws-and stared at the boy. It
was a large black cat with one white spot on
his chest. His fur lay sleek and soft, and
20 ADVENTURES OF NILS
shone in the sunlight. The claws were drawn
in, and the eyes were a dull gray, with just
a little narrow dark streak down the centre.
The cat looked thoroughly good-natured and
"I know well enough where the elf lives,"
he said in a soft voice, "but that doesn't say
that I'm going to tell you about it."
"Dear pussy, you must tell me where the
elf lives!" said the boy. "Can't you see
how he has bewitched me?"
The cat opened his eyes a little, so that the
green wickedness began to shine forth. He
spun round and purred with satisfaction
before he replied. "Shall I perhaps help you
because you have so often grabbed me by the
tail?" he said at last.
Then the boy was furious and forgot
entirely how little and helpless he was now.
"Oh! I can pull your tail again, I can," said
he, and ran toward the cat.
The next instant the cat was so changed
that the boy could scarcely believe it was the
same animal. Every separate hair on his
body stood on end. The back was bent; the
ADVENTURES OF NILS
legs had become elongated; the claws scraped
the ground; the tail had grown thick and
short; the ears were laid back; the mouth
was frothy; and the eyes were wide open and
glistened like sparks of red fire.
The boy didn't want to let himself be
scared by a cat, and he took a step forward.
Then the cat made one spring and landed
right on the boy; knocked him down and
stood over him-his forepaws on his chest,
and his jaws wide apart-over his throat.
The boy felt how the sharp claws sank
through his vest and shirt and into his skin;
and how the sharp eye-teeth tickled his throat.
He shrieked for help, as loudly as he could,
but no one came. He thought surely
that his last hour had come. Then he felt
that the cat drew in his claws and let go the
hold on his throat.
"There!" he said, "that will do now. I'll
let you go this time, for my mistress's sake.
I only wanted you to know which one of us
two has the power now."
With that the cat walked away-looking as
smooth and pious as he did when he first
22 ADVENTURES OF NILS
appeared on the scene. The boy was so
crestfallen that he didn't say a word, but
only hurried to the cowhouse to look for the
There were not more than three cows, all
told. But when the boy came in, there was
such a bellowing and such a kick-up, that one
might easily have believed that there were
at least thirty.
"Moo, moo, moo," bellowed Mayrose. "It
is well there is such a thing as justice in this
"Moo, moo, moo," sang the three of them
in unison. He couldn't hear what they said,
for each one tried to out-bellow the others.
The boy wanted to ask after the elf, but he
couldn't make himself heard because the cows
were in full uproar. They carried on as they
used to do when he let a strange dog in on
them. They kicked with their hind legs,
shook their necks, stretched their heads, and
measured the distance with their horns.
"Come here, you!" said Mayrose, "And
you'll get a kick that you won't forget in a
ADVENTURES OF NILS
"Come here," said Gold Lily, "and you
shall dance on my horns!"
"Come here, and you shall taste how it felt
when you threw your wooden shoes at me,
as you did last summer!" bawled Star.
"Come here, and you shall be repaid for
that wasp you let loose in my ear growled
Mayrose was the oldest and the wisest of
them, and she was the very maddest. "Come
here!" said she, "that I may pay you back
for the many times that you have jerked the
milk pail away from your mother; and for
all the snares you laid for her, when she came
carrying the milk pails; and for all the tears
which she has stood here and wept over
The boy wanted to tell them how he
regretted that he had been unkind to them;
and that never, never-from now on-should
he be anything but good, if they would only
tell him where the elf was. But the cows
didn't listen to him. They made such a
racket that he began to fear one of them
would succeed in breaking loose; and he
24 ADVENTURES OF NILS
thought that the best thing for him to do
was to go quietly away from the cowhouse.
When he came out, he was thoroughly
disheartened. He could understand that no
one on the place wanted to help him find
the elf. And little good would it do him,
probably, if the elf were found.
He crawled up on the broad hedge which
fenced in the farm, and which was overgrown
with briers and lichen. There he sat down
to think about how it would go with him, if
he never became a human being again. When
father and mother came home from church,
there would be a surprise for them. Yes,
a surprise-it would be all over the land; and
people would come flocking from East Vem-
minghdg, and from Torp, and from Skerup.
The whole Vemmingh6g township would come
to stare at him. Perhaps father and mother
would take him with them, and show him at
the market place in Kivik.
No, that was too horrible to think about.
He would rather that no human being should
ever see him again.
His unhappiness was simply frightful! No
ADVENTURES OF NILS
one in all the world was so unhappy as he.
He was no longer a human being-but a
Little by little he began to comprehend
what it meant-to be no longer human. He
was separated from everything now; he could
no longer play with other boys, he could
not take charge of the farm after his parents
were gone; and certainly no girl would think
of marrying him.
He sat and looked at his home. It was a
little log house, which lay as if it had been
crushed down to earth, under the high, sloping
roof. The outhouses were also small; and
the patches of ground were so narrow that
a horse could barely turn around on them.
But little and poor though the place was,
it was much too good for him now. He
couldn't ask for any better place than a hole
under the stable floor.
It was wondrously beautiful weather! It
budded, and it rippled, and it murmured, and
it twittered-all around him. But he sat there
with such a heavy sorrow. He should never
be happy any more about anything.
26 ADVENTURES OF NILS
Never had he seen the skies as blue as they
were to-day. Birds of passage came on their
travels. They came from foreign lands, and
had travelled over the East sea, by way of
Smygahuk, and were now on their way North.
They were of many different kinds; but he
was only familiar with the wild geese, who
came flying in two long rows, which met at
Several flocks of wild geese had already
flown by. They flew very high, still he
could hear how they shrieked: "To the hills!
Now we're off to the hills!"
When the wild geese saw the tame geese,
who walked about the farm, they sank nearer
the earth, and called: "Come along! Come
along! We're off to the hills!"
The tame geese could not resist the tempta-
tion to raise their heads and listen, but they
answered very sensibly: "We're pretty well
off where we are. We're pretty well off
where we are."
It was, as we have said, an uncommonly
fine day, with an atmosphere that it must
have been a real delight to fly in, so light and
ADVENTURES OF NILS
bracing. And with each new wild geese-
flock that flew by, the tame geese became
more and more unruly. A couple of times
they flapped their wings, as if they had half
a mind to fly along. But then an old mother-
goose would always say to them: "Now
don't be silly. Those creatures will have to
suffer both hunger and cold."
There was a young gander whom the wild
geese had fired with a passion for adventure.
"If another flock comes this way, I'll follow
them," said he.
Then there came a new flock, who shrieked
like the others, and the young gander
answered: "Wait a minute! Wait a minute!
He spread his wings and raised himself
into the air; but he was so unaccustomed to
flying, that he fell to the ground again.
At any rate, the wild geese must have heard
his call, for they turned and flew back slowly
to see if he was coming.
"Wait, wait!" he cried, and made another
attempt to fly.
All this the boy heard, where he lay on
ADVENTURES OF NILS
the hedge. "It would be a great pity,"
thought he, "if the big goosey-gander should
go away. It would be a big loss to father and
mother if he was gone when they came home
When he thought of this, once again he
entirely forgot that he was little and helpless.
He took one leap right down into the goose-
flock, and threw his arms around the neck
of the goosey-gander. "Oh, no! You don't
fly away this time, sir!" cried he.
But just about then, the gander was con-
sidering how he should go to work to raise
himself from the ground. He couldn't stop
to shake the boy off, hence he had to go
along with him-up in the air.
They bore on toward the heights so rap-
idly, that the boy fairly gasped. Before he
had time to think that he ought to let go his
hold around the gander's neck, he was so high
up that he would have been killed instantly,
if he had fallen to the ground.
The only thing that he could do to make
himself a little more comfortable, was to try
and get upon the gander's back. And there
ADVENTURES OF NILS
he wriggled himself forthwith; but not with-
out considerable trouble. And it was not
an easy matter, either, to hold himself secure
on the slippery back, between two swaying
wings. He had to dig deep into feathers and
down with both hands, to keep from tumbling
to the ground.
THE BIG CHECKED CLOTH
THE boy had grown so giddy that it was a
long while before he came to himself. The
winds howled and beat against him, and the
rustle of feathers and swaying of wings
sounded like a whole storm. Thirteen geese
flew around him, flapping their wings and
honking. They danced before his eyes and they
buzzed in his ears. He didn't know whether
they flew high or low, or in what direction
they were travelling.
After a bit, he regained just enough sense
to understand that he ought to find out where
the geese were taking him. But this was not
so easy, for he didn't know how he should
ever muster up courage enough to look down.
He was sure he'd faint if he attempted it.
30 ADVENTURES OF NILS
The wild geese were not flying very high
because the new travelling companion could
not breathe in the very thinnest air. For
his sake they also flew a little slower than
At last the boy just made himself cast one
glance down to earth. Then he thought that
a great big rug lay spread beneath him,
which was made up of an incredible number
of large and small checks.
"Where in all the world am I now?" he
He saw nothing but check upon check.
Some were broad and ran crosswise, and some
were long and narrow-all over, there were
angles and corners. Nothing was round,
and nothing was crooked.
"What kind of a big, checked cloth is this
that I'm looking down on?" said the boy to
himself without expecting anyone to answer
But instantly, the wild geese who flew
about him, called out: "Fields and meadows.
Fields and meadows."
Then he understood that the big, checked
ADVENTURES OF NILS
cloth he was travelling over was the flat
land of southern Sweden; and he began to
comprehend why it looked so checked and
multi-coloured. The bright green checks he
recognized first; they were rye fields that
had been sown in the fall, and had kept them-
selves green under the winter snows. The
yellowish-gray checks were stubble-fields-
the remains of the oat-crop which had grown
there the summer before. The brownish
ones were old clover meadows: and the black
ones, deserted grazing lands or ploughed-up
fallow pastures. The brown checks with
the yellow edges were, undoubtedly, beech-
tree forests; for in these you'll find the big
trees which grow in the heart of the forest
-naked in winter; while the little beech-
trees, which grow along the borders, keep
their dry, yellowed leaves way into the spring.
There were also dark checks with gray centres:
these were the large, built-up estates en-
circled by the small cottages with their blacken-
ing straw roofs, and their stone-divided land-
plots. And then there were checks green in
the middle with brown borders: these were
32 ADVENTURES OF NILS
the orchards, where the grass-carpets were
already turning green, although the trees and
bushes around them were still in their nude,
The boy could not keep from laughing
when he saw how checked everything looked.
But when the wild geese heard him laugh,
they called out-kind o' reprovingly: "Fertile
and good land. Fertile and good land."
The boy had already become serious.
"To think that you can laugh; you, who
have met with the most terrible misfortune
that can possibly happen to a human being!"
thought he. And for a moment he was pretty
serious; but it wasn't long before he was
Now that he had grown somewhat accus-
tomed to the ride and the speed, so that he
could think of something besides holding
himself on the gander's back, he began to
notice how full the air was of birds flying
northward. And there was a shouting and
a calling from flock to flock. "So you came
over to-day?" shrieked some. "Yes," answered
the geese. "How do you think the spring's
ADVENTURES OF NILS
getting on?" "Not a leaf on the trees and
ice-cold water in the lakes," came back the
When the geese flew over a place where
they saw any tame, half-naked fowl, they
shouted: "What's the name of this place?
What's the name of this place?" Then the
roosters cocked their heads and answered:
"Its name's Lillgarde this year-the same as
last year; the same as last year."
Most of the cottages were probably named
after their owners-which is the custom in
Skane. But instead of saying this is "Per
Matssons," or "Ola Bossons," the roosters
hit upon the kind of names which, to their
way of thinking, were more appropriate.
Those who lived on small farms, and belonged
to poor cottagers, cried: "This place is
called Grainscarce." And those who belonged
to the poorest hut-dwellers screamed: "The
name of this place is Little-to-eat, Little-to-
The big, well-cared-for farms got high-
sounding names from the roosters-such as
Luckymeadow, Eggberga and Moneyville.
ADVENTURES OF NILS
But the roosters on the great landed estates
were too high and mighty to condescend to
anything like jesting. One of them crowed
and called out with such gusto that it sounded
as if he wanted to be heard clear up to the
sun: "This is Herr Dybeck's estate; the
same this year as last year; this year as last
A little further on strutted one rooster who
crowed: "This is Swanholm, surely all the
world knows that!"
The boy observed that the geese did not
fly straight forward; but zigzagged hither
and thither over the whole South country,
just as though they were glad to be in SkAne
again and wanted to pay their respects to
every separate place.
They came to one place where there were
a number of big, clumsy-looking buildings
with great, tall chimneys, and all around
these were a lot of smaller houses. "This
is Jordberga Sugar Refinery," cried the
roosters. The boy shuddered as he sat there
on the goose's back. He ought to have
ADVENTURES OF NILS
recognized this place, for it was not very far
from his home.
Here he had worked the year before as a
watch boy; but, to be sure, nothing was
exactly like itself when one saw it like that-
from up above.
And think! Just think! Osa the goose
girl and little Mats, who were his comrades
last year! Indeed the boy would have been
glad to know if they still were anywhere about
here. Fancy what they would have said,
had they suspected that he was flying over
Soon Jordberga was lost to sight, and they
travelled towards Svedala and Skaber Lake
and back again over Gdrringe Cloister and
Hickeberga. The boy saw more of SkAne
in this one day than he had ever seen before
-in all the years that he had lived.
Whenever the wild geese happened across
any tame geese, they had the best fun! They
flew forward very slowly and called down:
"We're off to the hills. Are you coming
along? Are you coming along?"
But the tame geese answered: "It's still
36 ADVENTURES OF NILS
winter in this country. You're out too soon.
Fly back! Fly back!"
The wild geese lowered themselves that
they might be heard a little better, and called:
"Come along! We'll teach you how to fly
Then the tame geese got mad and wouldn't
answer them with a single honk.
The wild geese sank themselves still lower-
until they almost touched the ground-then,
quick as lightning, they raised themselves,
just as if they'd been terribly frightened.
"Oh, oh, oh!" they exclaimed. "Those things
were not geese. They were only sheep, they
were only sheep."
The ones on the ground were beside them-
selves with rage and shrieked: "May you
be shot, the whole lot o' you! The whole
lot o' you!"
When the boy heard all this teasing he
laughed. Then he remembered how badly
things had gone with him, and he cried.
But the next second, he was laughing again.
Never before had he ridden so fast; and to
ride fast and recklessly-that he had always
ADVENTURES OF NILS 37
liked. And, of course, he had never dreamed
that it could be as fresh and bracing as it
was, up in the air; or that there rose from
the earth such a fine scent of resin and soil.
Nor had he ever dreamed what it could be
like-to ride so high above the earth. It was
just like flying away from sorrow and trouble
and annoyances of every kind that could be
AKKA FROM KEBNEKAISE
T HE big tame goosey-gander that had
followed them up in the air, felt very
proud of being permitted to travel back and
forth over the South country with the wild
geese, and crack jokes with the tame birds.
But in spite of his keen delight, he began to
tire as the afternoon wore on. He tried to
take deeper breaths and quicker wing-strokes,
but even so he remained several goose-lengths
behind the others.
When the wild geese who flew last, noticed
that the tame one couldn't keep up with
them, they began to call to the goose who
rode in the centre of the angle and led the
procession: "Akka from Kebnekaisc! Akka
from Kebnekaise!" "What do you want of
me ?" asked the leader. "The white one will be
ADVENTURES OF NILS
left behind; the white one will be left behind."
"Tell him it's easier to fly fast than slow!"
called the leader, and raced on as before.
The goosey-gander certainly tried to follow
the advice, and increase his speed; but then
he became so exhausted that he sank away
down to the drooping willows that bordered the
fields and meadows.
"Akka, Akka, Akka from Kebnekaise!"
cried those who flew last and saw what a hard
time he was having. "What do you want
now?" asked the leader-and she sounded
awfully angry. "The white one sinks to the
earth; the white one sinks to the earth."
"Tell him it's easier to fly high than low!"
shouted the leader, and she didn't slow up
the least little bit, but raced on as before.
The goosey-gander tried also to follow this
advice; but when he wanted to raise him-
self, he became so winded that he almost
burst his breast.
"Akka, Akka!" again cried those who
flew last. "Can't you let me fly in peace?"
asked the leader, and she sounded even
madder than before.
ADVENTURES OF NILS
"The white one is ready to collapse."
"Tell him that he who has not the strength
to fly with the flock, can go back home"
cried the leader. She certainly had no idea
of decreasing her speed-but raced on as before.
"Oh! is that the way the wind blows,"
thought the goosey-gander. He understood
at once that the wild geese had never intended
to take him along up to Lappland. They
had only lured him away from home in sport.
He felt thoroughly exasperated. To think
that his strength should fail him now, so
he wouldn't be able to show these tramps
that even a tame goose was good for some-
thing! But the most provoking thing of all was
that he had fallen in with Akka from Kebne-
kaise. Tame goose that he was, he had heard
about a leader goose, named Akka, who was
more than a hundred years old. She had such
a big name that the best wild geese in the world
followed her. But no one had such a con-
tempt for tame geese as Akka and her flock,
and gladly would he have shown them that
he was their equal.
He flew slowly behind the rest, while he
ADVENTURES OF NILS
deliberated whether he should turn back or
continue. Finally, the little creature that
he carried on his back said: "Dear Morten
Goosey-gander, you know well enough that
it is simply impossible for you, who have
never flown, to go with the wild geese all the
way up to Lappland. Won't you turn back
before you kill yourself?"
But the farmer's lad was about the worst
thing the goosey-gander knew anything about,
and as soon as it dawned on him that this
puny creature actually believed that he
couldn't make the trip, he decided to stick it
out. "If you say another word about this,
I'll drop you into the first ditch we ride over!"
said he, and at the same time his fury gave
him so much strength that he began to fly
almost as well as any of the others.
It isn't likely that he could have kept this
pace up very long, neither was it necessary;
for, just then, the sun sank quickly; and at
sunset the geese flew down, and before the
boy and the goosey-gander knew what had
happened, they stood on the shores of Vomb
42 ADVENTURES OF NILS
"They probably intend that we shall spend
the night here," thought the boy, and jumped
down from the goose's back.
He stood on a narrow beach by a fair-sized
lake. It was ugly to look upon, because it was
almost entirely covered with an ice-crust
that was blackened and uneven and full of
cracks and holes-as spring ice generally is.
The ice was already breaking up. It
was loose and floating and had a broad
belt of dark, shiny water all around it; but
there was still enough of it left to spread chill
and winter terror over the place.
On the other side of the lake there appeared
to be an open and light country, but where
the geese had lighted there was a thick pine-
growth. It looked as if the forest of firs and
pines had the power to bind the winter to
itself. Everywhere else the ground was bare;
but beneath the sharp pine-branches lay snow
that had been melting and freezing, melting
and freezing, until it was hard as ice.
The boy thought he had struck an arctic
wilderness, and he was so miserable that he
wanted to scream. He was hungry too.
ADVENTURES OF NILS
He hadn't eaten a bite the whole day. But
where should he find any food? Nothing
eatable grew on either ground or tree in the
month of March.
Yes, where was he to find food, and who
would give him shelter, and who would fix
his bed, and who would protect him from the
For now the sun was away and frost came
from the lake, and darkness sank down from
heaven, and terror stole forward on the
twilight's trail, and in the forest it began to
patter and rustle.
Now the good humour which the boy had
felt when he was up in the air, was gone, and
in his misery he looked around for his travel-
ling companions. He had no one but them
to cling to now.
Then he saw that the goosey-gander was
having even a worse time of it than he. He
was lying prostrate on the spot where he had
alighted; and it looked as if he were ready to
die. His neck lay flat against the ground, his
eyes were closed, and his breathing sounded
like a feeble hissing.
44 ADVENTURES OF NILS
"Dear Morten Goosey-Gander," said the
boy, "try to get a swallow of water! It
isn't two steps to the lake."
But the goosey-gander didn't stir.
The boy had certainly been cruel to all
animals, and to the goosey-gander in times
gone by; but now he felt that the goosey-
gander was the only comfort he had left,
and he was dreadfully afraid of losing him.
At once the boy began to push and drag
him, to get him into the water, but the goosey-
gander was big and heavy, and it was mighty
hard work for the boy; but at last he
The goosey-gander got in head first. For
an instant he lay motionless in the slime, but
soon he poked up his head, shook the water
from his eyes and sniffed. Then he swam,
proudly, between reeds and seaweed.
The wild geese were in the lake before him.
They had not looked around for either the
goosey-gander or for his rider, but had made
straight for the water. They had bathed
and primped, and now they lay and gulped
half-rotten pond-weed and water-clover.
ADVENTURES OF NILS
The white goosey-gander had the good for-
tune to spy a perch. He grabbed it quickly,
swam ashore with it, and laid it down in front
of the boy. "Here's a thank you for helping
me into the water," said he.
It was the first time the boy had heard a
friendly word that day. He was so happy
that he wanted to throw his arms around the
goosey-gander's neck, but he refrained; and
he was also thankful for the gift. At first
he must have thought that it would be
impossible to eat raw fish, and then he had
a notion to try it.
He felt to see, if he still had his sheath-knife
with him; and, sure enough, there it hung-
on the back button of his trousers, although
it was so diminished that it was hardly as
long as a match. Well, at any rate, it served
to scale and cleanse fish with; and it wasn't
long before the perch was eaten.
When the boy had satisfied his hunger, he
felt a little ashamed because he had been able
to eat a raw thing. "It's evident that I'm
not a human being any longer, but a real
elf," thought he.
46 ADVENTURES OF NILS
While the boy ate, the goosey-gander stood
silently beside him. But when he had swal-
lowed the last bite, he said in a low voice:
"It's a fact that we have run across a stuck-
up goose folk who despise all tame birds."
"Yes, I've observed that," said the boy.
"What a triumph it would be for me if I
could follow them clear up to Lappland, and
show them that even a tame goose can do
"Y-e-e-s," said the boy, and drawled it
out because he didn't believe the goosey-
gander could ever do it; yet he didn't wish
to contradict him. "But I don't think I can
get along all alone on such a journey," said
the goosey-gander. "I'd like to ask if you
couldn't come along and help me?" The boy,
of course, hadn't expected anything but to
return to his home as soon as possible, and
he was so surprised that he hardly knew what
he should reply. "I thought that we were
enemies, you and I," said he. But this
the goosey-gander seemed to have forgotten
entirely. He only remembered that the boy
had but just saved his life.
ADVENTURES OF NILS
"I suppose I really ought to go home to
father and mother," said the boy. "Oh! I'll
get you back to them some time in the fall,"
said the goosey-gander. "I shall not leave
you until I put you down on your own door-
The boy thought it might be just as well
for him if he escaped showing himself before
his parents for a while. He was not dis-
inclined to favour the scheme, and was just
on the point of saying that he agreed to it-
when they heard a loud rumbling behind
them. It was the wild geese who had come
up from the lake-all at one time-and stood
shaking the water from their backs. After
that they arranged themselves in a long row
-with the leader-goose in the centre-and
came toward them.
As the white goosey-gander sized up the
wild geese, he felt ill at ease. He had
expected that they should be more like tame
geese, and that he should feel a closer kinship
with them. They were much smaller than
he, and none of them were white. They were
all gray with a sprinkling of brown, He
48 ADVENTURES OF NILS
was almost afraid of their eyes. They were
yellow, and shone as if a fire had been kindled
back of them. The goosey-gander had always
been taught that it was most fitting to move
slowly and with a rolling motion, but these
creatures did not walk-they half ran. He
grew most alarmed, however, when he looked
at their feet. These were large, and the soles
were torn and ragged-looking. It was evi-
dent that the wild geese never questioned
what they tramped upon. They took no
by-paths. They were very neat and well
cared for in other respects, but one could see by
their feet that they were poor wilderness-folk.
The goosey-gander only had time to whisper
to the boy: "Speak up quickly for yourself,
but don't tell them who you are!"-before
the geese were upon them.
When the wild geese had stopped in front
of them, they curtsied with their necks
many times, and the goosey-gander did like-
wise many more times. As soon as the
ceremonies were over, the leader-goose said:
"Now I presume we shall hear what kind of
creatures you are."
ADVENTURES OF NILS
"There isn't much to tell about me," said
the goosey-gander. "I was born in Skanor
last spring. In the fall I was sold to Holger
Nilsson of West Vemminghag, and there I
have lived ever since." "You don't seem to
have any pedigree to boast of," said the leader-
goose. "What is it, then, that makes you
so high-minded that you wish to associate with
wild geese?" "It may be because I want to
show you wild geese that we tame ones may
also be good for something," said the goosey-
gander. "Yes, it would be well if you could
show us that," said the leader-goose, "We
have already observed how much you know
about flying; but you are more skilled, per-
haps, in other sports. Possibly you are
strong in a swimming match?" "No, I can't
boast that I am," said the goosey-gander.
It seemed to him that the leader-goose had
already made up her mind to send him home,
so he didn't much care how he answered.
"I never swam any farther than across a
marl-ditch," he continued. "Then I presume
you're a crack sprinter," said the goose. "I
have never seen a tame goose run, nor have
,so ADVENTURES OF NILS
I ever done it myself," said the goosey-
gander; and he made things appear much
worse than they really were.
The big white one was sure now that the
leader-goose would say that under no cir-
cumstances could they take him along. He
was very much astonished when she said:
"You answer questions courageously; and
he who has courage can become a good travel-
ling companion, even if he is ignorant in the
beginning. What do you say to stopping
with us for a couple of days, until we can
see what you are good for?" "That suits
me!" said the goosey-gander-and he was
Thereupon the leader-goose pointed with
her bill and said: "But who is that you
have with you? I've never seen anything
like him before." "That's my comrade,"
said the goosey-gander. "He's been a goose-
tender all his life. He'll be useful all right to
take with us on the trip." "Yes, he may be
all right for a tame goose," answered the wild
one. "What do you call him?" "He has
several names," said the goosey-gander-
ADVENTURES OF NILS
hesitatingly, not knowing what he should
hit upon in a hurry, for he didn't want to
reveal the fact that the boy had a human
name. "Oh! his name is Thumbietot," he
said at last. "Does he belong to the elf
family?" asked the leader-goose. "At what
time do you wild geese usually retire?" said
the goosey-gander quickly-trying to evade
that last question. "My eyes close of their
own accord about this time."
One could easily see that the goose who
talked with the gander was very old. Her
entire feather outfit was ice-gray, without any
dark streaks. The head was larger, the legs
coarser, and the feet were more worn than
any of the others. The feathers were stiff;
the shoulders knotty; the neck thin. All
this was due to age. It was only upon the
eyes that time had had no effect. They
shone brighter-as if they were younger-
than any of the others!
She turned, very haughtily, toward the
goosey-gander. "Understand, Mr. Tame-goose
that I am Akka from Kebnekaise! And
that the goose who flies nearest me-to the
ADVENTURES OF NILS
right-is Iksi from Vassijaure, and the one
to the left, is Kaksi from Nuolja! Under-
stand, also, that the second right-hand goose
is Kolmi from Sarjektjakko, and the second,
left, is Nelja from Svappavaara; and behind
them fly Viisi from Oviksfjillen and Kuusi
from Sjangeli! And know that these, as
well as the six goslings who fly last-three to
the right, and three to the left-are all high
mountain geese of the finest breed! You
must not take us for land-lubbers who strike
up a chance acquaintance with any and every-
one! And you must not think that we per-
mit anyone to share our quarters, that will
not tell us who his ancestors were."
When Akka, the leader-goose, talked in
this way, the boy stepped briskly forward.
It had distressed him that the goosey-gander,
who had spoken up so glibly for himself,
should give such evasive answers when it
concerned him. "I don't care to make a
secret of who I am," said he. "My name is
Nils Holgersson. I'm a farmer's son, and,
until to-day, I have been a human being;
but this morning-" He got no further.
ADVENTURES OF NILS
As soon as he had said that he was human
the leader-goose staggered three steps back-
ward, and the rest of them even farther back.
They all extended their necks and hissed
angrily at him.
"I have suspected this ever since I first
saw you here on these shores," said Akka;
"and now you can clear out of here at once.
We tolerate no human beings among us."
"It isn't possible," said the goosey-gander,
meditatively, "that you wild geese can be
afraid of anyone who is so tiny! By
to-morrow, of course, he'll turn back home.
You can surely let him stay with us over-
night. None of us can afford to let such a
poor little creature wander off by himself in
the night-among weasels and foxes!"
The wild goose came nearer. But it was
evident that it was hard for her to master
her fear. "I have been taught to fear every-
thing in human shape-be it big or little,"
said she. "But if you will answer for this
one, and swear that he will not harm us, he
can stay with us to-night. But I don't
believe our night quarters are suitable
ADVENTURES OF NILS
either for him or you, for we intend to roost
on the broken ice out here."
She thought, of course, that the goosey-
gander would be doubtful when he heard
this, but he never let on. "She is pretty
wise who knows how to choose such a safe
bed," said he.
"You will be answerable for his return to
his own to-morrow."
"Then I, too, will have to leave you," said
the goosey-gander. "I have sworn that I
would not forsake him."
"You are free to fly whither you will,"
said the leader-goose.
With this, she raised her wings and flew
out over the ice and one after another the
wild geese followed her.
The boy was very sad to think that his trip
to Lappland would not come off, and, in the
bargain, he was afraid of the chilly night
quarters. "It will be worse and worse," said
he. "In the first place, we'll freeze to death
on the ice."
But the gander was in a good humour.
"There's no danger," said he. "Only make
ADVENTURES OF NILS
haste, I beg of you, and gather together as
much grass and litter as you can well carry."
When the boy had his arms full of dried
grass, the goosey-gander grabbed him by the
shirt-band, lifted him, and flew out on the
ice, where the wild geese were already fast
asleep, with their bills tucked under their wings.
"Now spread out the grass on the ice, so
there'll be something to stand on, to keep
me from freezing fast. You help me and
I'll help you," said the goosey-gander.
This the boy did. And when he had
finished, the goosey-gander picked him up,
once again, by the shirt-band, and tucked
him under his wing. "I think you'll lie snug
and warm there," said the goosey-gander as
he covered him with his wing.
The boy was so imbedded in down that he
couldn't answer, and he was nice and
comfy. Oh, but he was tired!-And in
less than two winks he was fast asleep.
IT IS a fact that ice is always treacherous
and not to be trusted. In the middle of the
56 ADVENTURES OF NILS
night the loosened ice-cake on Vomb Lake
moved about, until one corner of it touched
the shore. Now it happened that Mr. Smirre
Fox, who lived at this time in Ovid Cloister
Park--on the east side of the lake-caught
a glimpse of that one corner, while he was out
on his night chase. Smirre had seen the wild
geese early in the evening, and hadn't dared
to hope that he might get at one of them,
but now he walked right out on the ice.
When Smirre was very near to the geese,
his claws scraped the ice, and the geese awoke,
flapped their wings, and prepared for flight.
But Smirre was too quick for them. He
darted forward as though he'd been shot;
grabbed a goose by the wing, and ran toward
But this night the wild geese were not alone
on the ice, for they had a human being among
them-little as he was. The boy had awak-
ened when the goosey-gander spread his wings.
He had tumbled down on the ice and was
sitting there, dazed. He hadn't grasped the
whys and wherefores of all this confusion, until
he caught sight of a little long-legged dog
ADVENTURES OF NILS
who ran over the ice with a goose in his mouth.
In a minute the boy was after that dog, to
try and take the goose away from him. He
must have heard the goosey-gander call to
him: "Have a care, Thumbietot! Have a
care!" But the boy thought that such a
little runt of a dog was nothing to be afraid
of and he rushed ahead.
The wild goose that Smirre Fox tugged
after him, heard the clatter as the boy's
wooden shoes beat against the ice, and she
could hardly believe her ears. "Does that
infant think he can take me away from the
fox?" she wondered. And in spite of her
misery, she began to cackle right merrily, deep
down in her windpipe. It was almost as if
she had laughed.
"The first thing he knows, he'll fall through
a crack in the ice," thought she.
But dark as the night was, the boy saw dis-
tinctly all the cracks and holes there were, and
took daring leaps over them. This was because
he had the elf's good eyesight now, and could
see in the dark. He saw both lake and shore
just as clearly as if it had been daylight.
58 ADVENTURES OF NILS
Smirre Fox left the ice where it touched the
shore. And just as he was working his way
up to the land-edge, the boy shouted to him:
"Drop that goose, you sneak!" Smirre didn't
know who was calling to him, and wasted no
time in looking around, but increased his
The fox made straight for the forest and the
boy followed him, with never a thought of the
danger he was running. On the contrary, he
thought all the while about the contemptuous
way in which he had been received by the
wild geese that evening; and he made up his
mind to let them see that a human being was
something higher than all else created.
He shouted, again and again, to that dog,
to make him drop his game. "What kind of
a dog are you, who can steal a whole goose and
not feel ashamed of yourself? Drop her at
once! or you'll see what a beating you'll get.
Drop her, I say, or I'll tell your master how
When Smirre Fox saw that he had been mis-
taken for a scary dog, he was so amused that
he came near dropping the goose. Smirre
ADVENTURES OF NILS
was a great plunderer who wasn't satisfied
with only hunting rats and pigeons in the
fields, but he also ventured into the farm-
yards to steal chickens and geese. He knew
that he was feared throughout the district;
and anything as idiotic as this he had not
heard since he was a baby.
The boy ran so fast that the thick beech-
trees appeared to be running past him-back-
ward, but he caught up with Smirre. Finally,
he was so close to him that he got a hold on
'his tail. "Now I'll take the goose from you
anyway," cried he, and held on as hard as
ever he could, but he hadn't strength enough
to stop Smirre. The fox dragged him along
until the dry foliage whirled around him.
But now it began to dawn on Smirre how
harmless the thing was that pursued him.
He stopped short, put the goose on the ground,
and stood on her with his forepaws, so she
couldn't fly away. He was just about to bite
off her neck-but then he couldn't resist the
desire to tease the boy a little. "Hurry off
and complain to the master, for now I'm
going to bite the goose to death!" said he.
60 ADVENTURES OF NILS
Certainly the one who was surprised when
he saw what a pointed nose, and heard what
a hoarse and angry voice that dog which he
was pursuing had,-was the boy! But now
he was so enraged because the fox had made
fun of him, that he never thought of being
frightened. He took a firmer hold on the
tail, braced himself against a beech trunk;
and just as the fox opened his jaws over the
goose's throat, he pulled as hard as he could.
Smirre was so astonished that he let himself
be pulled backward a couple of steps-and
the wild goose got away. She fluttered
upward feebly and heavily. One wing was
so badly wounded that she could barely use
it. In addition to this, she could not see in
the night darkness of the forest but was as
helpless as the blind. Therefore she could
in no way help the boy; so she groped her way
through the branches and flew down to the
Then Smirre made a dash for the boy. "If
I don't get the one, I shall certainly have the
other," said he; and you could tell by his
voice how mad he was. "Oh, don't you
be 40* M rr
. and the wild goose
ADVENTURES OF NILS
believe it!" said the boy, who was in the best
of spirits because he had saved the goose. He
held himself fast by the fox-tail, and swung
with it-to one side-when the fox tried to
There was such a dance in that forest that
the dry beech-leaves fairly flew! Smirre swung
round and round, but the tail swung too;
while the boy kept a tight grip on it, so the
fox couldn't grab him.
The boy was so gay after his success that,
in the beginning, he only laughed and made
fun of the fox. But Smirre was persevering
-as old hunters generally are-and the boy
began to fear that he should be captured in the
Then he caught sight of a little, young
beech-tree that had shot up as slender as a
rod, that it might soon reach the free air
above the canopy of branches which the old
beeches spread above it.
Quick as a flash, he let go of the fox-tail
and climbed the beech tree. Smirre Fox was
so excited that he continued to dance around
after his tail for a long time.
62 ADVENTURES OF NILS
"Don't bother with the dance any longer!"
said the boy.
But Smirre couldn't endure the humilia-
tion of his failure to get the better of such a
little tot, so he lay down under the tree, that
he might keep a close watch on him.
The boy didn't have any too good a time
of it where he sat, astride a frail branch.
The young beech did not, as yet, reach the
high branch-canopy, so the boy couldn't get
over to another tree, and he didn't dare to
come down again. He was so cold and numb
that he almost lost his hold around the
branch; and he was dreadfully sleepy; but
he didn't dare fall asleep for fear of tumbling
My! but it was dismal to sit in that way the
whole night through, out in the forest! He
never before understood the real meaning
of "night." It was just as if the whole world
had become petrified, and never could come
to life again.
Then it commenced to dawn. The boy
was glad that everything began to look like
itself once more; although the chill was
ADVENTURES OF NILS
even sharper than it had been during the
Finally, when the sun got up, it wasn't
yellow but red. The boy thought it looked
as though it were angry and he wondered
what it was angry about. Perhaps it was
because the night had made it so cold and
gloomy on earth, while the sun was away.
The sunbeams came down in great clusters,
to see what the night had been up to. It
could be seen how everything blushed-as if
they all had guilty consciences. The clouds
in the skies; the satiny beech-limbs; the
little intertwined branches of the forest-
canopy; the hoar-frost that covered the foli-
age on the ground-everything grew flushed
and red. More and more sunbeams came
bursting through space, and soon the night's
terrors were driven away, and such a mar-
vellous lot of living things came forward.
The black woodpecker, with the red neck,
began to hammer with its bill on the
branch. The squirrel glided from his nest with
a nut, and sat down on a branch and began
to shell it. The starling came flying with a
64 ADVENTURES OF NILS
worm, and the bulfinch sang in the tree-top.
Then the boy understood that the sun had
said to all these tiny creatures: "Wake up
now, and come out of your nests! I'm here!
Now you need be afraid of nothing."
The wild-goose call was heard from the lake,
as they were preparing for flight; and soon
all fourteen geese came flying through the
forest. The boy tried to call to them, but
they flew so high that his voice couldn't
reach them. They probably believed the
fox had eaten him up; and they didn't,
trouble themselves to look for him.
The boy came near crying with regret; but
the sun stood up there-orange-coloured and
happy-and put courage into the whole
world. "It isn't worth while, Nils Holgers-
son, for you to be troubled about anything, as
long as I'm here," said the sun.
Monday, March twenty-first.
EVERYTHING remained unchanged in the
forest-about as long as it takes a goose to
eat her breakfast. But just as the morning
ADVENTURES OF NILS
was verging on forenoon, a goose came flying,
all by herself, under the thick tree-canopy.
She groped her way, hesitatingly, between
the stems and branches, and flew very
slowly. As soon as Smirre Fox saw her, he
left his place under the beech tree, and sneaked
up toward her. The wild goose didn't avoid
the fox, but flew very close to him. Smirre made
a high jump for her but he missed her; and
the goose went on her way down to the lake
It was not long before another goose came
flying. She took the same route as the first
one; and flew still lower and slower. She,
too, flew close to Smirre Fox, and he made
such a high spring for her, that his ears
brushed her feet. But she, too, got away from
him unhurt, and went her way toward the
lake, silent as a shadow.
A little while passed and then there came
another wild goose. She flew still slower and
lower; and it seemed even more difficult for
her to find her way between the beech-
branches. Smirre made a powerful spring!
He was within a hair's breadth of catching her;
but that goose also managed to save herself.
66 ADVENTURES OF NILS
Just after she had disappeared, came a
fourth. She flew so slowly, and so badly,
that Smirre Fox thought he could catch
her without much effort, but he was afraid of
failure now, and concluded to let her fly past-
unmolested. She took the same direction
the others had taken; and just as she was
come right above Smirre, she sank down so
far that he was tempted to jump for her. He
jumped so high that he touched her with his
tail. But she flung herself quickly to one
side and saved her life.
Before Smirre got through panting, three
more geese come flying in a row. They flew
just like the rest, and Smirre made high
springs for them all, but he did not succeed
in catching any one of them.
After that came five geese; but these flew
better than the others. And although it
seemed as if they wanted to lure Smirre to
jump, he withstood the temptation. After
quite a long time came one single goose. It
was the thirteenth. This one was so old that
she was gray all over, without a dark speck
anywhere on her body. She didn't appear to
ADVENTURES OF NILS
use one wing very well, but flew so wretchedly
and crookedly, that she almost touched the
ground. Smirre not only made a high leap for
her, but he pursued her, running and jumping
all the way down to the lake. But not even
this time did he get anything for his trouble.
When the fourteenth goose came along,
it looked very pretty because it was white.
And as its great wings swayed, it glistened
like a light, in the dark forest. When
Smirre Fox saw this one, he mustered all his
resources and jumped half-way up to the tree-
canopy. But the white one flew by unhurt
like the rest.
Now it was quiet for a moment under the
beeches. It looked as if the whole wild-
goose-flock had travelled past.
Suddenly Smirre remembered his prisoner
and raised his eyes toward the young beech-
tree. And just as he might have expected-
the boy had disappeared.
But Smirre didn't have much time to think
about him; for now the first goose came back
again from the lake and flew slowly under the
canopy. In spite of all his ill luck, Smirre
68 ADVENTURES OF NILS
was glad that she came back, and darted
after her with a high leap. But he had been
in too much of a hurry, and hadn't taken the
time to calculate the distance, and he landed
at one side of the goose. Then there came
still another goose; then a third; a fourth;
a fifth; and so on, until the angle closed in
with the old ice-gray one, and the big white
one. They all flew low and slow. Just as
they swayed in the vicinity of Smirre Fox,
they sank down-kind of inviting-like-for
him to take them. Smirre ran after them and
made leaps a couple of fathoms high-but
he couldn't manage to get hold of a single
one of them.
It was the most awful day that Smirre Fox
had ever experienced. The wild geese kept
on travelling over his head. They came
and went-came and went. Great splendid
geese who had eaten themselves fat on the
German heaths and grain fields, swayed all
day through the woods, and so close to him
that he touched them many times; yet he
was not permitted to appease his hunger with
a single one of them.
ADVENTURES OF NILS
The winter was hardly gone yet, and Smirre
recalled nights and days when he had been
forced to tramp around in idleness, with not
so much as a hare to hunt, when the rats
hid themselves under the frozen earth; and
when the chickens were all shut up. But all
the winter's hunger had not been as hard to
endure as this day's miscalculations.
Smirre was no young fox. He had had the
dogs after him many a time, and had heard
the bullets whizz around his ears. He had
lain in hiding, down in the lair, while the
dachshunds crept into the crevices and all
but found him. But all the anguish that
Smirre Fox had been forced to suffer under this
hot chase, was not to be compared with what he
suffered every time that he missed one of the
In the morning, when the play began,
Smirre Fox had looked so stunning that the
geese were amazed when they saw him.
Smirre loved display. His coat was a bril-
liant red; his breast white; his nose black;
and his tail was as bushy as a plume. But
when the evening of this day was come,
70 ADVENTURES OF NILS
Smirre's coat hung in loose folds. He was
bathed in sweat; his eyes were without lustre;
his tongue hung far out from his gaping jaws;
and froth oozed from his mouth.
In the afternoon Smirre was so exhausted
that he grew delirious. He saw nothing
before his eyes but flying geese. He made
leaps for sun-spots which he saw on the
ground; and for a poor little butterfly that
had come out of his chrysalis too soon.
The wild geese flew and flew, unceasingly.
All day long they continued to torment
Smirre. They were not moved to pity because
Smirre was done up, fevered, and out of
his head. They continued without a let-up,
although they understood that he hardly saw
them, and that he jumped after their shadows.
When Smirre Fox sank down on a pile of
dry leaves, weak and powerless and almost
ready to give up the ghost, they stopped
"Now you know, Mr. Fox, what happens
to the one who dares to come near Akka of
Kebnekaise!" they shouted in his ear; and
with that they left him in peace.
THE WONDERFUL JOURNEY
ON THE FARM
Thursday, March twenty-fourth.
UST at that time a thing happened in
SkAne which created a good deal of
discussion and even got into the newspapers
but which many believed to be a fable,
because they had not been able to explain it.
It was about like this: A lady squirrel had
been captured in the hazelbrush that grew
on the shores of Vomb Lake, and was carried
to a farmhouse close by. All the folks on
the farm-both young and old-were de-
lighted with the pretty creature with the
bushy tail, the wise, inquisitive eyes, and the
natty little feet. They intended to amuse
themselves all summer by watching its nimble
movements; its ingenious way of shelling
72 ADVENTURES OF NILS
nuts; and its droll play. They immediately
put in order an old squirrel cage with a little
green house and a wire-cylinder wheel. The
little house, which had both doors and windows,
the lady squirrel was to use as a dining room
and bedroom. For this reason they placed
therein a bed of leaves, a bowl of milk and
some nuts. The cylinder wheel, on the other
hand, she was to use as a play-house, where
she could run and climb and swing round.
The people believed that they had arranged
things very comfortably for the lady squirrel,
and they were astonished because she didn't
seem to be contented; but, instead, she sat
there, downcast and moody, in a comer of
her room. Every now and again, she would
let out a shrill, agonised cry. She did not
touch the food; and not once did she swing
round on the wheel. "It's probably because
she's frightened," said the farmer folk. "To-
morrow, when she feels more at home, she
will both eat and play."
Meanwhile, the women folk on the farm
were making preparations for a feast; and
just on that day when the lady squirrel had
ADVENTURES OF NILS
been captured, they were busy with an
elaborate bake. They had had bad luck with
something: either the dough wouldn't rise,
or else they had been dilatory, for they were
obliged to work long after dark.
Naturally there was a great deal of excite-
ment and bustle in the kitchen, and probably
no one there took time to think about the
squirrel, or to wonder how she was getting
on. But there was an old grandma in the
house who was too aged to take a hand in the
baking; this she herself understood, but just
the same she did not relish the idea of being
left out of the game. She felt rather
downhearted; and for this reason she did not
go to bed but seated herself by the sitting-
room window and looked out.
They had opened the kitchen door on
account of the heat; and through it a clear
ray of light streamed out on the yard; and it
became so well lighted out there that the
old woman could see all the cracks and holes
in the plastering on the wall opposite. She
also saw the squirrel cage which hung just
where the light fell clearest. And she noticed
ADVENTURES OF NILS
how the squirrel ran from her room to the
wheel, and from the wheel to her room,
all night long, without stopping an instant.
She thought it was a strange sort of unrest
that had come over the animal; but she
believed, of course, that the strong light kept
Between the cow-house and the stable
there was a broad, handsome carriage-gate;
this too came within the light-radius. As
the night wore on, the old grandma saw a
tiny creature, no bigger than a hand's breadth,
cautiously steal his way through the gate.
He was dressed in leather breeches and
wooden shoes like any other working man.
The old grandma knew at once that it was
the elf, and she was not the least bit
frightened. She had always heard that the
elf kept himself somewhere about the place,
although she had never seen him before;
and an elf, to be sure, brought good luck
wherever he appeared.
As soon as the elf came into the stone-
paved yard, he ran right up to the squirrel-
cage. And since it hung so high that he
ADVENTURES OF NILS
could not reach it, he went over to the store-
house after a rod; placed it against the cage,
and swung himself up-in the same way
that a sailor climbs a rope. When he had
reached the cage, he shook the door of the
little green house as if he wanted to open it;
but the old grandma didn't move; for she
knew that the children had put a padlock
on the door, as they feared that the boys
on the neighboring farms would try to steal
the squirrel. The old woman saw that
when the boy could not get the door open,
the lady squirrel came out to the wire wheel.
iThere they held a long conference together.
And when the boy had listened to all that the
imprisoned animal had to say to him, he slid
down the rod to the ground, and ran out
through the carriage-gate.
The old woman didn't expect to see any-
thing more of the elf that night, neverthe-
less, she remained at the window. After a
few moments had gone by, he returned. He
was in such a hurry that it seemed to her as
though his feet hardly touched the ground;
and he rushed right up to the squirrel cage.
76 ADVENTURES OF NILS
The old woman, with her far-sighted eyes,
saw him distinctly; and she also saw that he
carried something in his hands; but what it
was she couldn't imagine. The thing he
carried in his left hand he laid down on the
pavement; but that which he held in his
right hand he took with him to the cage.
iHe kicked so hard with his wooden shoes on
the little window that the glass was broken.
He poked in the thing which he held in his
hand to the lady squirrel. Then he slid
down again, and took up that which he had
laid upon the ground, and climbed up to the
cage with that also. The next instant he
ran off again with such haste that the old
woman could hardly follow him with her eyes.
But now it was the old grandma who could
no longer sit still in the cottage; but who,
very slowly, went out to the back yard and
stationed herself in the shadow of the pump
to await the elf's return. And there was
one other who had also seen him and had
become curious. This was the house cat
He crept along slyly and stopped close to the
wall, just two steps away from the stream of
ADVENTURES OF NILS
light. They both stood and waited, long and
patiently, on that chilly March night, and
the old woman was just beginning to think
about going in again, when she heard a clatter
on the pavement, and saw that the little mite
of an elf came trotting along once more,
carrying a burden in each hand, as he had
done before. That which he bore squealed
and squirmed. And now a light dawned on
the old grandma. She understood that the
elf had hurried down to the hazel-grove
and brought back the lady squirrel's babies;
and that he was carrying them to her so they
shouldn't starve to death.
The old grandma stood very still, so as not
to disturb them; and it did not look as if the
elf had noticed her. He was just going to
lay one of the babies on the ground so that he
could swing himself up to the cage with the
other one-when he saw the house cat's
green eyes glisten close beside him. He stood
there, bewildered, with a young one in each
He turned around and looked in all direc-
tions; then he became aware of the old
78 ADVENTURES OF NILS
grandma's presence. Then he did not hesi-
tate long; but walked forward, stretched his
arms as high as he could reach, for her to take
one of the baby squirrels.
The old grandma did not wish to prove
herself unworthy of the confidence, so she
bent down and took the baby squirrel, and
stood there and held it until the boy had
swung himself up to the cage with the other
one. Then he came back for the one he had
entrusted to her care.
The next morning, when the farm folk had
gathered together for breakfast, it was im-
possible for the old woman to refrain from
telling them of what she had seen the night
before. They all laughed at her, of course,
and said that she had been only dreaming.
There were no baby squirrels this early in the
But she was sure of her ground, and begged
them to take a look into the squirrel cage
and this they did. And there lay on the bed
bf leaves, four tiny half-naked, half-blind
baby squirrels, who were at least a couple of
ADVENTURES OF NILS
When the farmer himself saw the young
ones, he said: "Be it as it may with this; but
one thing is certain, we, on this farm, have
behaved in such a manner that we are shamed
before both animals and human beings."
And, thereupon, he took the mother squirrel
and all her young ones from the cage, and
laid them in the old grandma's lap. "Go
thou out to the hazel-grove with them," said
he, "and let them have their freedom back
It was this event that was so much talked
about, and which even got into the news-
papers, but which the majority would not
credit because they were not able to explain
how anything like that could have happened.
Saturday, March twenty-sixth.
Two days later, another strange thing hap-
pened. A flock of wild geese came flying one
morning, and lit on a meadow down in East-
ern Skane not very far from Vittsk6vle
manor. In the flock were thirteen wild geese,
of the usual gray variety, and one white
8o ADVENTURES OF NILS
goosey-gander, who carried on his back a tiny
lad dressed in yellow leather breeches, green
vest, and a white woollen toboggan hood.
They were now very near the Eastern sea;
and on the meadow where the geese had
alighted the soil was sandy, as it usually is
on the sea-coast. It looked as if, formerly,
there had been flying sand in this vicinity
which had to be held down; for in several
directions large, planted pine-woods could
When the wild geese had been feeding a
while, several children came along, and
walked on the edge of the meadow. The
goose who was on guard at once raised her-
self into the air with noisy wing-strokes, so
the whole flock should hear that there was
danger on foot. All the wild geese flew
upward; but the white one trotted along on
the ground unconcerned. When he saw the
others fly he raised his head and called after
them: "You needn't fly :away from these!
They are only a couple of children!"
The little creature who had been riding on
his back, sat down upon a knoll on the
ADVENTURES OF NILS
outskirts of the wood and picked a pine-cone in
pieces, that he might get at the seeds. The
children were so close to him that he did not
dare to run across the meadow to the white
one. He concealed himself under a big, dry
thistle-leaf, and at the same time gave a
warning-cry. But the white one had evi-
dently made up his mind not to let himself
be scared. He walked along on the ground
all the while; and not once did he look to see
in what direction they were going.
Meanwhile, they turned from the path,
walked across the field, getting nearer and
nearer to the goosey-gander. When he finally
did look up, they were right upon him. He
was so dumbfounded, and became so confused,
he forgot that he could fly, and tried to get
out of their reach by running. But the
children followed, chasing him into a ditch,
and there they caught him. The larger of the
two stuck him under his arm and carried him
When the boy, who lay under the thistle-
leaf saw this, he sprang up as if he wanted to
take the goosey-gander away from them;
82 ADVENTURES OF NILS
then he must have remembered how little
and powerless he was, for he threw himself
on the knoll and beat upon the ground with
his clenched fists.
The goosey-gander cried with all his might
for help: "Thumbietot, come and help me!
Oh, Thumbietot, come and help me!" The
boy began to laugh in the midst of his dis-
tress. "Oh, yes! I'm just the right one to
help anybody, I am!" said he.
Anyway he got up and followed the goosey-
gander. "I can't help him," said he, "but
I shall at least find out where they are taking
The children had a good start; but the boy
had no difficulty in keeping them within
sight until they came to a hollow where a
brook gushed forth. But here he was obliged
to run alongside of it for some little time,
before he could find a place narrow enough
for him to jump over.
When he came up from the hollow the
children had disappeared. He could see their
footprints on a narrow path which led to the
woods, and these he continued to follow.
ADVENTURES OF NILS
Soon he came to a cross-road. Here the
children must have separated, for there were
footprints in two directions. The boy looked
now as if all hope had fled. Then he saw a
little white down on a heather-knoll, and he
understood that the goosey-gander had
dropped this by the wayside to let him know
in which direction he had been carried; and
therefore he continued his search. He fol-
lowed the children through the entire wood.
The goosey-gander he did not see; but where-
ever he was likely to miss his way, lay a little
white down to put him right.
The boy continued faithfully to follow the
bits of down. They led him out of the wood,
across a couple of meadows, up on a road, and
finally through the entrance of a broad allie.
At the end of the allee there were gables and
towers of red tiling, decorated with bright
borders and other ornamentations that glit-
tered and shone. When the boy saw that
this was some great manor, he thought he
knew what had become of the goosey-gander.
"No doubt the children have carried the
goosey-gander to the manor and sold him
84 ADVENTURES OF NILS
there. By this time he's probably butch-
ered," he said to himself. But he did not
seem to be satisfied with anything less than
proof positive, and with renewed courage
he ran forward. He met no one in the allIe-
and that was well, for such as he are generally
afraid of being seen by human beings.
The mansion which he came to was a
splendid, old-time structure with four great
wings which inclosed a courtyard. On the
east wing, there was a high arch leading into
the courtyard. This far the boy ran without
hesitation, but when he got there he stopped.
He dared not venture farther, but stood still
and pondered what he should do now.
There he stood, with his finger on his nose,
thinking, when he heard footsteps behind
him; and as he turned around he saw a whole
company march up the allMe. In haste he
stole behind a water-barrel which stood near
the arch, and hid himself.
Those who came up were some twenty
young men from a folk-high-school, out on a
pedestrian tour. They were accompanied
by one of the instructors. When they were