The Wonderful Adventures of Nils

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Jenkyn Thomas. Howard Pyle. Home Contact us Help Free delivery worldwide. Free delivery worldwide. Bestselling Series. Harry Potter. Popular Features. New Releases. The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. She secured her reputation as a children's-book author with The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, long considered a masterpiece of children's literature.

Written at the request of Swedish school authorities and first published in , it is the enchanting and remarkably original tale of Nils Holgersson, a mischievous boy of 14 who is changed by an elf into a tiny being able to understand the speech of birds and animals. Brilliantly weaving fact and fiction into a breathtaking and beautiful fable, the story recounts Nils's adventures as he is transported over the countryside on the back of a goose.

From this vantage point, Nils witnesses a host of events that provide young readers with an abundance of information about nature, geography, folklore, animal life, and more. Reset in easy-to-read type and enhanced with 10 new illustrations, this inexpensive, unabridged edition will bring new generations of readers under the magical spell of a timeless classic. Other books in this series. Folks don't care to go about 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 precious 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-glass. 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! 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 particularly 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 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. The first moment the boy hadn't the least idea what he should do with his prize.

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He was only particular to swing the snare backward and forward; to prevent the elf from getting a foothold and clambering up. The elf began to speak, and begged, oh! 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 large estates, and all sorts of good things.

He should at least have made this stipulation: that the elf must conjure the sermon into his head. 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 lay there--senseless. 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. It's best for me to get at that reading again," thought he. 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. 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: "Look!

There's another one! 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 mirror. The boy ran around the glass several times, to see if there wasn't a little man hidden behind it, but he found 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. 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 stockings, were all like themselves, with this exception--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 anyone; 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 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 concluded 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 difficulty.

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 affliction should last a long time. On the wooden board-walk in front of the cottage, hopped a gray sparrow.

He had hardly set eyes on the boy before he called out: "Teetee! Look at Nils goosey-boy! Look at Thumbietot! Look at Nils Holgersson Thumbietot! Cock-el-i-coo, he has pulled my comb. The geese got together in a tight group, stuck their heads together and asked: "Who can have done this? Who can have done this? He was so astonished, that he stood there as if rooted to the doorstep, and listened. He threw a stone at them and shouted: "Shut up, you pack! 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!

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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'll be a good little kitty and tell me where I can find the elf. 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 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 inoffensive. He spun round and purred with satisfaction before he replied. Then the boy was furious and forgot entirely how little and helpless he was now. 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 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. 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. The boy was so crestfallen that he didn't say a word, but only hurried to the cowhouse to look for the elf. 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. 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. Mayrose was the oldest and the wisest of them, and she was the very maddest.

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 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 Vemminghoeg, and from Torp, and from Skerup. The whole Vemminghoeg 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 one in all the world was so unhappy as he. He was no longer a human being--but a freak. Little by little he began to comprehend what it meant--to be no longer human. 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.

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. 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 an angle. 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! Come along!

The Wonderful Adventure of Nils Holgersson by Selma Lagerlöf – review

We're off to the hills! We're pretty well off where we are. 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. Then there came a new flock, who shrieked like the others, and the young gander answered: "Wait a minute! Wait a minute! I'm coming. At any rate, the wild geese must have heard his call, for they turned and flew back slowly to see if he was coming.

All this the boy heard, where he lay on the hedge. It would be a big loss to father and mother if he was gone when they came home from church.

The Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Selma Lagerlöf

He took one leap right down into the goose-flock, and threw his arms around the neck of the goosey-gander. You don't fly away this time, sir! But just about then, the gander was considering 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 rapidly, 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 he wriggled himself forthwith; but not without 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 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. 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 usual. 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. 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. But instantly the wild geese who flew about him called out: "Fields and meadows. Fields and meadows. The bright green checks he recognised first; they were rye fields that had been sown in the fall, and had kept themselves 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 encircled by the small cottages with their blackening straw roofs, and their stone-divided land-plots.

And then there were checks green in the middle with brown borders: these were the orchards, where the grass-carpets were already turning green, although the trees and bushes around them were still in their nude, brown bark. 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. And for a moment he was pretty serious; but it wasn't long before he was laughing again. Now that he had grown somewhat accustomed 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. 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? 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. 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 year. 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.

The boy shuddered as he sat there on the goose's back. He ought to have recognised 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 their heads! Soon Jordberga was lost to sight, and they travelled towards Svedala and Skaber Lake and back again over Goerringe Cloister and Haeckeberga. 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? You're out too soon. Fly back! We'll teach you how to fly and swim. 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. They were only sheep, they were only sheep. The whole lot o' you! 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 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.

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It was just like flying away from sorrow and trouble and annoyances of every kind that could be thought of. 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 Kebnekaise!

Akka from Kebnekaise! 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. The goosey-gander tried also to follow this advice; but when he wanted to raise himself, he became so winded that he almost burst his breast. She certainly had no idea of decreasing her speed--but raced on as before. He understood at once that the wild geese had never intended to take him along up to Lapland. 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 something! But the most provoking thing of all was that he had fallen in with Akka from Kebnekaise. 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 contempt 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 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 Lapland.

Won't you turn back before you kill yourself? 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 Lake. 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. 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 wild beasts?

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 travelling 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. It isn't two steps to the lake. 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 succeeded.

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.

The white goosey-gander had the good fortune to spy a perch. He grabbed it quickly, swam ashore with it, and laid it down in front of the boy. 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. While the boy ate, the goosey-gander stood silently beside him. But when he had swallowed 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. But this the goosey-gander seemed to have forgotten entirely. He only remembered that the boy had but just saved his life.

I'll get you back to them some time in the fall," said the goosey-gander. He was not disinclined 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 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 evident 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!

When the wild geese had stopped in front of them, they curtsied with their necks many times, and the goosey-gander did likewise 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. Possibly you are strong in a swimming match? 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.

The big white one was sure now that the leader-goose would say that under no circumstances could they take him along.

The Wonderful Adventures of Nils - Book One

He was very much astonished when she said: "You answer questions courageously; and he who has courage can become a good travelling 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? 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. He'll be useful all right to take with us on the trip. Her entire feather outfit was ice-gray, without any dark streaks.

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