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:
"Now, perhaps, I shall be good enough to win the Nixy's favor. Now I shall catch the wondrous strain."
It did not occur to him, in his eagerness, that such a reflection was out of place in church; nor was it, perhaps, for the Nixy's strain was constantly associated in his mind with all that was best in him; with his highest aspirations, and his constant strivings for goodness and nobleness in thought and deed.
It happened about this time that the old schoolmaster died, and in his will it was found that he had bequeathed his fiddle to Nils. He had very little else to leave, poor fellow; but if he had been a Croesus he could not have given his favorite pupil anything that would have delighted him more.