It occurred to Nils again, that unless the Nixy took pity on him and taught him that marvellous, airy strain he would never catch it. Would he then ever be good enough to win the favor of the Nixy?
For in the fairy tales it is always the bad people who come to grief, while the good and merciful ones are somehow rewarded.
It was evidently because he was yet far from being good enough that both Hulder and Nixy eluded him. Sunday child though he was, there seemed to be small chance that he would ever be able to propound his three wishes.
Only now, the third wish was no longer a five-bladed pocket-knife, but a violin of so fine a ring and delicate modulation that it might render the Nixy's strain.
While these desires and fancies fought in his heart, Nils grew to be a young man; and he still was, what he had always been--a charcoal-burner. He went to the parson for half a year to prepare for confirmation; and by his gentleness and sweetness of disposition attracted not only the good man himself, but all with whom he came in contact. His answers were always thoughtful, and betrayed a good mind.
He was not a prig, by any means, who held aloof from sport and play; he could laugh with the merriest, run a race with the swiftest, and try a wrestling match with the strongest.
There was no one among the candidates for confirmation, that year, who was so well liked as Nils. Gentle as he was and soft-spoken, there was a manly spirit in him, and that always commands respect among boys.
He received much praise from the pastor, and no one envied him the kind words that were addressed to him; for every one felt that they were deserved. But the thought in Nils's mind during all the ceremony in the church and in the parsonage was this: