HEIDI





OF FURTHER EVENTS ON THE ALP

 

The sun was just rising, and the Alm-Uncle was watching how mountain and dale awoke to the new day, and the clouds above grew brighter.

Next, the old man turned to go back into the hut, and softly climbed the ladder. Clara, having just a moment ago opened her eyes, looked about her in amazement. Bright sunbeams danced on her bed. Where was she? But soon she discovered her sleeping friend, and heard the grandfather's cheery voice:

"How did you sleep? Not tired?"

Clara, feeling fresh and rested, said that she had never slept better in all her life. Heidi was soon awake, too, and lost no time in coming down to join Clara, who was already sitting in the sun.

A cool morning breeze fanned their cheeks, and the spicy fragrance from the fir-trees filled their lungs with every breath. Clara had never experienced such well-being in all her life. She had never breathed such pure, cool morning air and never felt such warm, delicious sunshine on her feet and hands. It surpassed all her expectations.

"Oh, Heidi, I wish I could always stay up here with you!" she said.

"Now you can see that everything is as beautiful as I told you," Heidi replied triumphantly. "Up on the Alp with grandfather is the loveliest spot in all the world."

The grandfather was just coming out of the shed with two full bowls of steaming, snow-white milk. Handing one to each of the children, he said to Clara: "This will do you good, little girl. It comes from Schwänli and will give you strength. To your health! Just drink it!" he said encouragingly, for Clara had hesitated a little. But when she saw that Heidi's bowl was nearly empty already, she also drank without even stopping. Oh, how good it was! It tasted like cinnamon and sugar.

"We'll take two tomorrow," said the grandfather.

After their breakfast, Peter arrived. While the goats were rushing up to Heidi, bleating loudly, the grandfather took the boy aside.

"Just listen, and do what I tell you," he said. "From now on you must let Schwänli go wherever she likes. She knows where to get the richest herbs, and you must follow her, even if she should go higher up than usual. It won't do you any harm to climb a little more, and will do all the others good. I want the goats to give me splendid milk, remember. What are you looking at so furiously?"

Peter was silent, and without more ado started off, still angrily looking back now and then. As Heidi had followed a little way, Peter called to her: "You must come along, Heidi, Schwänli has to be followed everywhere."

"No, but I can't," Heidi called back: "I won't be able to come as long as Clara is with me. Grandfather has promised, though, to let us come up with you once."

With those words Heidi returned to Clara, while the goatherd was hurrying onward, angrily shaking his fists.

The children had promised to write a letter to grandmama every day, so they immediately started on their task. Heidi brought out her own little three-legged stool, her school-books and her papers, and with these on Clara's lap they began to write. Clara stopped after nearly every sentence, for she had to look around. Oh, how peaceful it was with the little gnats dancing in the sun and the rustling of the trees! From time to time they could hear the shouting of a shepherd re-echoed from many rocks.

The morning had passed, they knew not how, and dinner was ready. They again ate outside, for Clara had to be in the open air all day, if possible. The afternoon was spent in the cool shadow of the fir-trees. Clara had many things to relate of Frankfurt and all the people that Heidi knew. It was not long before Peter arrived with his flock, but without even answering the girls' friendly greeting, he disappeared with a grim scowl.

While Schwänli was being milked in the shed, Clara said:

"Oh, Heidi, I feel as if I could not wait for my milk. Isn't it funny? All my life I have only eaten because I had to. Everything always tasted to me like cod-liver oil, and I have often wished that I should never have to eat. And now I am so hungry!"

"Oh yes, I know," Heidi replied. She had to think of the days in Frankfurt when her food seemed to stick in her throat.

When at last the full bowls were brought by the old man, Clara, seizing hers, eagerly drank the contents in one draught and even finished before Heidi.

"Please, may I have a little more?" she asked, holding out the bowl.

Nodding, much pleased, the grandfather soon refilled it. This time he also brought with him a slice of bread and butter for the children. He had gone to Maiensass that afternoon to get the butter, and his trouble was well rewarded: they enjoyed it as if it had been the rarest dish.

This evening Clara fell asleep the moment she lay down. Two or three days passed in this pleasant way. The next brought a surprise. Two strong porters came up the Alp, each carrying on his back a fresh, white bed. They also brought a letter from grandmama, in which she thanked the children for their faithful writing, and told them that the beds were meant for them. When they went to sleep that night, they found their new beds in exactly the same position as their former ones had been.

Clara's rapture in her new life grew greater every day, and she could not write enough of the grandfather's kindly care and of Heidi's entertaining stories. She told her grandmama that her first thought in the morning always was: "Thank God, I am still in the Alm-hut."

Grandmama was highly pleased at those reports, and put her projected visit off a little while, for she had found the ride pretty tiring.

The grandfather took excellent care of his little patient, and no day passed on which he did not climb around to find the most savory herbs for Schwänli. The little goat thrived so that everybody could see it in the way her eyes were flashing.

It was the third week of Clara's stay. Every morning after the grandfather had carried her down, he said to her: "Would my Clara try to stand a little?" Clara always sighed, "Oh, it hurts me so!" but though she would cling to him, he made her stand a little longer every day.

This summer was the finest that had been for years. Day after day the sun shone on a cloudless sky, and at night it would pour its purple, rosy light down on the rocks and snow-fields till everything seemed to glow like fire.

Heidi had told Clara over and over again of all the flowers on the pasture, of the masses of golden roses and the blue-flowers that covered the ground. She had just been telling it again, when a longing seized her, and jumping up she ran over to her grandfather, who was busy carving in the shop.

"Oh, grandfather," she cried from afar, "won't you come with us to the pasture tomorrow? Oh, it's so beautiful up there now."

"All right, I will," he replied; "but tell Clara that she must do something to please me; she must try to stand longer this evening for me."

Heidi merrily came running with her message. Of course, Clara promised, for was it not her greatest wish to go up with Heidi to the pasture! When Peter returned this evening, he heard of the plan for the morrow. But for answer Peter only growled, nearly hitting poor Thistlefinch in his anger.

The children had just resolved to stay awake all night to talk about the coming day, when their conversation suddenly ceased and they were both peacefully slumbering. In her dreams Clara saw before her a field that was thickly strewn with light-blue flowers, while Heidi heard the eagle scream to her from above, "Come, come, come!"



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