A Will of her Own
Rosa was a Swedish girl. She had so often heard people say, 'Rosa has a
will of her own,' that she began to think it rather a fine thing, and
when people think it is rather a fine thing to be naughty, trouble is
sure to follow.
One beautiful summer day Rosa's mother said to her: 'Put on your Sunday
frock, Rosa, and take these eggs to your grandmother. You may stay to
tea, and play a little; but you must be back by seven o'clock.'
This pleased Rosa, for she was not often sent alone to her
grandmother's, although she lived quite near. Soon she was ready. She
looked very smart in her scarlet petticoat, bright apron, and white
blouse, and started off proudly with her little basket of eggs.
Her grandmother was a beautiful old lady with gold spectacles and
enormous white cap. She thanked Rosa for the eggs, gave her delicious
tea with strawberries, cream, and cakes, and then said, 'You can play in
the garden until the bell rings. Only do not go near the river.'
'Thank you,' said Rosa, meekly, and walked away.
When she had shut, the door, she gave her head a little toss and her
shoulders a little shake, and said: 'I only said "Thank you," not "Yes,
thank you," for I mean to go near the river. There is nowhere else to
play. Mother always lets me go by the river, so why should Grandmother
Now, the stream where Rosa generally played was only a tributary, and
was not nearly so deep and wide as the main river where she now was.
Rosa stood on the bank watching the great pine-trunks, which, in Sweden,
are always floating down by the rivers to the sea. The woodmen cut the
trees down, mark them, and let them float where they will, and the
owners claim the logs when they reach the Baltic. Rosa and her brother
Rolf used to jump on these trees sometimes when they struck near the
shore, float down the stream a little way, and then jump off again. It
was always a dangerous game for children to play, but much more
dangerous on the large river than on the little tributary.
After a few minutes Rosa saw three large trunks, firmly bound together,
coming close up to her.
'What a lovely boat!' she cried. 'Oh, but I have on my best clothes!'
Rosa loved her clothes—but she loved floating on the river more; with a
skip and a little jump, there she was, perched like a bird on the
tree-trunks, floating away in the middle of the stream, with her scarlet
petticoat held out for a sail.
'Oh! how lovely,' she said to herself. 'I am going ever so much faster
than in our stream, and how far away the banks seem. I am like a big
steamer in the middle of the sea itself.'
For some time Rosa thoroughly enjoyed it. Then she became a little bit
afraid, though she was too proud to admit it, even to herself. There was
nothing on either side of the river, but deep pine forests that she did
not know. There was no sound but the rush of the river; and she wished
her little boat would go near the bank. Perhaps it would catch on that
bit of rock sticking out. No, the river gave it a wicked tug and swept
it round the point with a triumphant gurgle. Could Rosa catch an
overhanging tree? She tried to, but the effort nearly jerked her into
the water, and left nothing but a few crumpled leaves in her hand.
The thought of falling into that dark, cold water thoroughly frightened
her, and she now quite forgot even to pretend to enjoy herself. She
firmly stood on the logs, shutting her eyes tight, so as to try to
forget her fears.
Then a distant roar suddenly made Rosa scream with terror. 'The
waterfall! oh, the waterfall!'
Her father had told her of the great waterfall somewhere on the river.
She must be getting nearer and nearer to it every second. She looked
desperately to the banks; they seemed ever so far away, and the current
was swifter than ever, and looked dreadfully hungry and cruel.
'It will go quicker and quicker,' she thought, 'and the noise will be
louder and louder and louder, and there will be the edge, and then—— '
But Rosa never got any further; there was a jerk and a jar; the logs ran
into something with a bump and Rosa felt herself thrown off them on to
some hard, firm surface. She lay quite still for some time, for the
noise of the waterfall thundered in her ears, and she felt she must hold
on for dear life.
When at last she looked up, to her surprise she found herself on a tiny
beach, lying half in the water. She jumped to her feet, meaning to run
home as fast as she could; but she found that was impossible, for she
was on a little island just a few yards from the edge of the waterfall.
At first she could not think of anything but how glad she was to be on
dry land; but that feeling did not last long. She was soaking wet, and
very hungry; the weather had changed too—it was raining a little, and
the wind sighed through the great forest trees, making them creak and
All that Rosa could do was to make a poor little supper of a few wild
strawberries and beech-nuts, which grew on her island, rest against a
tree, and try to sleep. She woke early the next morning (for Swedish
summer nights are very short), and after eating some more strawberries
and beech-nuts, ran about in the sunshine to try to get warm.
Suddenly she spied a pair of little black eyes looking at her through
the leaves. It was a squirrel, very surprised to see a little girl in a
scarlet frock running about his island. He began to chatter to her, and
Rosa felt happier now she had a companion. She was so taken up with
watching him running up and down the trees, hunting for breakfast, that
she jumped when she suddenly heard a cry of 'Rosa, Rosa!' being shouted
behind her. It was her father on the mainland. She was so pleased to see
him that she nearly cried for joy. She could not get to him, however,
and it was some time before a boat could breast the current and rescue
her from her island.
Rosa was so pleased to be at home that she almost forgot how naughty she
had been, until her mother told her what a terribly anxious night she
and her father had had, and that they had not been to bed at all. That
made Rosa more sorry than her own unpleasant experiences had done; and
one result of her adventure was that she gave up thinking what a fine
thing it was to have a 'will of her own.'