“Please Mika, let’s stay a little bit longer!” The truth was that they had stayed for a whole day under this natural tent formed by trees and bushes, and even Mika had begun to feel comfortable. It was dry and warm, plus it kept the snow and icy wind outside - it was almost as good as the secret cave that they had stayed in with all the gnomes and elves on their way to Santa Claus’ workshop.
The little magpie had also discovered another benefit of this shelter, which was its ability to silence the gusts of wind outside. This meant that he could repeat his amazing story without having to shout over the wind or have large snowflakes land inside his mouth. Matti had also been willing to gather any fresh grass and leaves he could find for Mika in exchange for the moose’s daily chocolate biscuit.
However, there were times when the little bird was looking beyond the trees and the snow, he was staring at the horizon lost in his thoughts. Mika could see in his eyes a mixture of feelings that made him worry, “We won’t get there by staring, Matti! We must leave now, while there is a break in the snow. I can see blue sky and sunshine in the distance, can’t you?” Matti shrugged his shoulders and kicked a small pebble beside him, “How do you know it will still be there when we arrive and we might not find another place like this.” Matti sighed, pulled his little hat down and walked out of the shelter; Mika was really worrying about his little friend.
The strange day continued. They crossed a long valley stopping only once for some fresh sandwiches that appeared from inside the magic hat, but all this time Matti hadn’t said a single word, even when his daily chocolate biscuit arrived. “Matti, are you ok? Are you tired? Is there something wrong?” The magpie turned around and said, “Wait.” He then opened his wings, flew over Mika’s head and disappeared intot the distance, until he became a tiny black dot to Mika.
Mika didn’t know how long his friend had been gone, but when he heard the unmistakable squawk of the magpie he was speechless. Matti seemed like a completely different bird, he had the same look on his face after tasting his first homemade chocolate biscuit, “Mika! Mika! Wahoo! We’ve found life! Mika, Mika, there is somebody on the lake behind that hill! By the way, you are looking great today!” Mika was baffled, “What’s going on? One minute you are sad and now, and now this!” The bird looked up, “Don’t know what you are talking about, Mika! Anyway, there’s life on the lake! Let’s go!”
Mika knew his friends wouldn’t lie about anything, but the elves had told him it should take them a couple more days before they reached the land with the lakes. “are you sure you saw it right, Matti? I mean, maybe you imagined it.” Matti flew up into the air and jumped on a snow-covered branch above Mika’s head covering the poor moose below, “I know what I saw and I even pinched myself to check if I wasn’t dreaming. It is a lake and there is somebody walking around the lake testing the ice, which means that the cold is going.”
After shaking the snow from his head, Mika said, “Ok, ok, I’m sorry I doubted you, but I don’t think the snow is going away very soon, Matti. February has only just started, there is no way that the ice will melt so quickly…maybe in three four months!” The magpie flashed Mika a really angry look and flew back into the air. Mika couldn’t really understand his friend’s strange behavior, but the idea of a lake sounded so good to him, since it meant food and water and maybe even the company of somebody who might cheer Matti up.
Their speed had increased, mainly because Matti was now flying and Mika had to walk quickly to keep up. Suddenly they were standing on the shores of a frozen lake, although Mika thought it was more of a large pond, but he didn’t dare say anything. Matti had been right about life at the pond, since there was a beautiful swan testing the ice with its beak. Matti flew over to the swan, “Good afternoon, Mrs. Swan. How are you today?” The swan slowly turned around, looked the magpie up and down, and then growled, “My name is Whitey, Mr. Whitey!” Mr. Whitey was obviously not the talkative type because he totally ignored the little magpie and continued to hit the ice with his beak. He stood up, looked at the sky and walked slowly passed Mika, who was still standing watching the rude bird. Mika gave a loud cough and the swan looked up, “That's a nasty cough you have Mr Moose. Anyway, what is a moose doing in the company of a bird that should be in the south this time of the year?” The magpie shot an angry at Mika, “You see! You see!"
The bad-mannered swan didn't seem to notice that Matti had spoken and continued in his annoying voice, “You are not even white! I would understand it if you were white, but a black bird at this time of the year? Ha!” The laugh seemed to hit Matti's heart like an arrow, “You think I should be in the south?” he asked quietly. Again the swan ignored Matti, “It will take months for this ice to melt! How are you going to survive all these months? Are you going to survive on cookies?"
The magic hat that stored Matti's precious chocolate cookies suddenly felt very heavy and uncomfortable, but the swan wasn't finished yet, "All the good food is hidden under the ice and snow, but I can see you don’t have the skill to find even that food - you are just a magpie, you should go where food is easy to find!” Matti barely heard the words coming from the swan because he was lost in his own thoughts, “Should I go south now?” Mika had the feeling that this conversation was going in a bad direction, “We are heading south together, Matti! We're going to the lakes, remember?"
“Ha! And what will a moose do in the south?" laughed the swan. "A moose should stay in the north!” Mika looked lost with this quick answer and Matti's imagination was already dreaming of a tropical beaches and delicious food. “Of course, Mika! Can’t you see it? You have fur, so you stay here. I have wings, so I fly south!” It was at this moment that the bird realized two things. The first was that he wanted, no, needed to go south and the second was separation from his best friend, actually, his only friend in the world.
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