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The snow was lying so high around the hut that the windows looked

level with the ground, and the door had entirely disappeared from

view. If Alm-Uncle had been up there he would have had to do what

Peter did daily, for fresh snow fell every night. Peter had to

get out of the window of the sitting-room every morning, and if

the frost had not been very hard during the night, he immediately

sank up to his shoulders almost in the snow and had to struggle

with hands, feet, and head to extricate himself. Then his mother

handed him the large broom, and with this he worked hard to make

a way to the door. He had to be careful to dig the snow well

away, or else as soon as the door was opened the whole soft mass

would fall inside, or, if the frost was severe enough, it would

have made such a wall of ice in front of the house that no one

could have gone in or out, for the window was only big enough for

Peter to creep through. The fresh snow froze like this in the

night sometimes, and this was an enjoyable time for Peter, for he

would get through the window on to the hard, smooth, frozen

ground, and his mother would hand him out the little sleigh, and

he could then make his descent to Dorfli along any route he

chose, for the whole mountain was nothing but one wide, unbroken

sleigh road.

Alm-Uncle had kept his word and was not spending the winter in

his old home. As soon as the first snow began to fall, he had

shut up the hut and the outside buildings and gone down to Dorfli

with Heidi and the goats. Near the church was a straggling

half-ruined building, which had once been the house of a person

of consequence. A distinguished soldier had lived there at one

time; he had taken service in Spain and had there performed many

brave deeds and gathered much treasure. When he returned home to

Dorfli he spent part of his booty in building a fine house, with

the intention of living in it. But he had been too long

accustomed to the noise and bustle of arms and the world to care

for a quiet country life, and he soon went off again, and this

time did not return. When after many long years it seemed certain

that he was dead, a distant relative took possession of the

house, but it had already fallen into disrepair, and he had no

wish to rebuild it. So it was let to poor people, who paid but a

small rent, and when any part of the building fell it was allowed

to remain. This had now gone on for many years. As long ago as

when his son Tobias was a child Alm-Uncle had rented the tumble-

down old place. Since then it had stood empty, for no one could

stay in it who had not some idea of how to stop up the holes and

gaps and make it habitable. Otherwise the wind and rain and snow

blew into the rooms, so that it was impossible even to keep a

candle alight, and the indwellers would have been frozen to death

during the long cold winters. Alm-Uncle, however, knew how to

mend matters. As soon as he made up his mind to spend the winter

in Dorfli, he rented the old place and worked during the autumn

to get it sound and tight. In the middle of October he and Heidi

took up their residence there.

On approaching the house from the back one came first into an

open space with a wall on either side, of which one was half in

ruins. Above this rose the arch of an old window thickly

overgrown with ivy, which spread over the remains of a domed roof

that had evidently been part of a chapel. A large hall came next,

which lay open, without doors, to the square outside. Here also

walls and roof only partially remained, and indeed what was left

of the roof looked as if it might fall at any minute had it not

been for two stout pillars that supported it. Alm-Uncle had here

put up a wooden partition and covered the floor with straw, for

this was to be the goats' house. Endless passages led from this,

through the rents of which the sky as well as the fields and the

road outside could be seen at intervals; but at last one came to

a stout oak door that led into a room that still stood intact.

Here the walls and the dark wainscoting remained as good as ever,

and in the corner was an immense stove reaching nearly to the

ceiling, on the white tiles of which were painted large pictures

in blue. These represented old castles surrounded with trees, and

huntsmen riding out with their hounds; or else a quiet lake

scene, with broad oak trees and a man fishing. A seat ran all

round the stove so that one could sit at one's ease and study the

pictures. These attracted Heidi's attention at once, and she had

no sooner arrived with her grandfather than she ran and seated

herself and began to examine them. But when she had gradually

worked herself round to the back, something else diverted her

attention. In the large space between the stove and the wall four

planks had been put together as if to make a large receptacle for

apples; there were no apples, however, inside, but something

Heidi had no difficulty in recognising, for it was her very own

bed, with its hay mattress and sheets, and sack for a coverlid,

just as she had it up at the hut. Heidi clapped her hands for joy

and exclaimed, "O grandfather, this is my room, how nice! But

where are you going to sleep?"

"Your room must be near the stove or you will freeze," he

replied, "but you can come and see mine too."

Heidi got down and skipped across the large room after her

grandfather, who opened a door at the farther end leading into a

smaller one which was to be his bedroom. Then came another door.

Heidi pushed it open and stood amazed, for here was an immense

room like a kitchen, larger than anything of the kind that Heidi

had seen before. There was still plenty of work for the

grandfather before this room could be finished, for there were

holes and cracks in the walls through which the wind whistled,

and yet he had already nailed up so many new planks that it

looked as if a lot of small cupboards had been set up round the

room. He had, however, made the large old door safe with many

screws and nails, as a protection against the outside air, and

this was very necessary, for just beyond was a mass of ruined

buildings overgrown with tall weeds, which made a dwelling-place

for endless beetles and lizards.

Heidi was very delighted with her new home, and by the morning

after their arrival she knew every nook and corner so thoroughly

that she could take Peter over it and show him all that was to be

seen; indeed she would not let him go till he had examined every

single wonderful thing contained in it.

Heidi slept soundly in her corner by the stove; but every morning

when she first awoke she still thought she was on the mountain,

and that she must run outside at once to see if the fir trees

were so quiet because their branches were weighed down with the

thick snow. She had to look about her for some minutes before she

felt quite sure where she was, and a certain sensation of trouble

and oppression would come over her as she grew aware that she was

not at home in the hut. But then she would hear her grandfather's

voice outside, attending to the goats, and these would give one

or two loud bleats, as if calling to her to make haste and go to

them, and then Heidi was happy again, for she knew she was still

at home, and she would jump gladly out of bed and run out to the

animals as quickly as she could. On the fourth morning, as soon

as she saw her grandfather, she said, "I must go up to see

grandmother to-day; she ought not to be alone so long."

But the grandfather would not agree to this. "Neither to-day nor

to-morrow can you go," he said; "the mountain is covered

fathom-deep in snow, and the snow is still falling; the sturdy

Peter can hardly get along. A little creature like you would soon

be smothered by it, and we should not be able to find you again.

Wait a bit till it freezes, then you will be able to walk over the hard snow."

Heidi did not like the thought of having to wait, but the days

were so busy that she hardly knew how they went by.

Heidi now went to school in Dorfli every morning and afternoon,

and eagerly set to work to learn all that was taught her. She

hardly ever saw Peter there, for as a rule he was absent. The

teacher was an easy-going man who merely remarked now and then,

"Peter is not turning up to-day again, it seems, but there is a

lot of snow up on the mountain and I daresay he cannot get

along." Peter, however, always seemed able to make his way

through the snow in the evening when school was over, and he then

generally paid Heidi a visit.

At last, after some days, the sun again appeared and shone

brightly over the white ground, but he went to bed again behind

the mountains at a very early hour, as if he did not find such

pleasure in looking down on the earth as when everything was

green and flowery. But then the moon came out clear and large and

lit up the great white snowfield all through the night, and the

next morning the whole mountain glistened and sparkled like a

huge crystal. When Peter got out of his window as usual, he was

taken by surprise, for instead of sinking into the soft snow he

fell on the hard ground and went sliding some way down the

mountain side like a sleigh before he could stop himself. He

picked himself up and tested the hardness of the ground by

stamping on it and trying with all his might to dig his heels

into it, but even then he could not break off a single little

splinter of ice; the Alm was frozen hard as iron. This was just

what Peter had been hoping for, as he knew now that Heidi would

be able to come up to them. He quickly got back into the house,

swallowed the milk which his mother had put ready for him, thrust

a piece of bread in his pocket, and said, "I must be off to

school." "That's right, go and learn all you can," said the

grandmother encouragingly. Peter crept through the window

again--the door was quite blocked by the frozen snow

outside--pulling his little sleigh after him, and in another

minute was shooting down the mountain.

He went like lightning, and when he reached Dorfli, which stood

on the direct road to Mayenfeld, he made up his mind to go on

further, for he was sure he could not stop his rapid descent

without hurting himself and the sleigh too. So down he still went

till he reached the level ground, where the sleigh came to a

pause of its own accord. Then he got out and looked round. The

impetus with which he had made his journey down had carried him

some little way beyond Mayenfeld. He bethought himself that it

was too late to get to school now, as lessons would already have

begun, and it would take him a good hour to walk back to Dorfli.

So he might take his time about returning, which he did, and

reached Dorfli just as Heidi had got home from school and was

sitting at dinner with her grandfather. Peter walked in, and as

on this occasion he had something particular to communicate, he

began without a pause, exclaiming as he stood still in the middle

of the room, "She's got it now."

"Got it? what?" asked the Uncle. "Your words sound quite warlike, general."

"The frost," explained Peter.

"Oh! then now I can go and see grandmother!" said Heidi joyfully,

for she had understood Peter's words at once. "But why were you

not at school then? You could have come down in the sleigh," she

added reproachfully, for it did not agree with Heidi's ideas of

good behavior to stay away when it was possible to be there.

"It carried me on too far and I was too late," Peter replied.

"I call that being a deserter," said the Uncle, "and deserters

get their ears pulled, as you know."

Peter gave a tug to his cap in alarm, for there was no one of

whom he stood in so much awe as Alm-Uncle.

"And an army leader like yourself ought to be doubly ashamed of

running away," continued Alm-Uncle. "What would you think of your

goats if one went off this way and another that, and refused to

follow and do what was good for them? What would you do then?"

"I should beat them," said Peter promptly.

"And if a boy behaved like these unruly goats, and he got a

beating for it, what would you say then?"

"Serve him right," was the answer.

"Good, then understand this: next time you let your sleigh carry

you past the school when you ought to be inside at your lessons,

come on to me afterwards and receive what you deserve."

Peter now understood the drift of the old man's questions and

that he was the boy who behaved like the unruly goats, and he

looked somewhat fearfully towards the corner to see if anything

happened to be there such as he used himself on such occasions

for the punishment of his animals.

But now the grandfather suddenly said in a cheerful voice, "Come

and sit down and have something, and afterwards Heidi shall go

with you. Bring her back this evening and you will find supper

waiting for you here."

This unexpected turn of conversation set Peter grinning all over

with delight. He obeyed without hesitation and took his seat

beside Heidi. But the child could not eat any more in her

excitement at the thought of going to see grandmother. She pushed

the potatoes and toasted cheese which still stood on her plate

towards him while Uncle was filling his plate from the other

side, so that he had quite a pile of food in front of him, but he

attacked it without any lack of courage. Heidi ran to the

cupboard and brought out the warm cloak Clara had sent her; with

this on and the hood drawn over her head, she was all ready for

her journey. She stood waiting beside Peter, and as soon as his

last mouthful had disappeared she said, "Come along now." As the

two walked together Heidi had much to tell Peter of her two goats

that had been so unhappy the first day in their new stall that

they would not eat anything, but stood hanging their heads, not

even rousing themselves to bleat. And when she asked her

grandfather the reason of this, he told her it was with them as

with her in Frankfurt, for it was the first time in their lives

they had come down from the mountain. "And you don't know what

that is, Peter, unless you have felt it yourself," added Heidi.

The children had nearly reached their destination before Peter

opened his mouth; he appeared to be so sunk in thought that he

hardly heard what was said to him. As they neared home, however,

he stood still and said in a somewhat sullen voice, "I had rather

go to school even than get what Uncle threatened."

Heidi was of the same mind, and encouraged him in his good

intention. They found Brigitta sitting alone knitting, for the

grandmother was not very well and had to stay the day in bed on

account of the cold. Heidi had never before missed the old figure

in her place in the corner, and she ran quickly into the next

room. There lay grandmother on her little poorly covered bed,

wrapped up in her warm grey shawl.

"Thank God," she exclaimed as Heidi came running in; the poor old

woman had had a secret fear at heart all through the autumn,

especially if Heidi was absent for any length of time, for Peter

had told her of a strange gentleman who had come from Frankfurt,

and who had gone out with them and always talked to Heidi, and

she had felt sure he had come to take her away again. Even when

she heard he had gone off alone, she still had an idea that a

messenger would be sent over from Frankfurt to fetch the child.

Heidi went up to the side of the bed and said, "Are you very ill, grandmother?"

"No, no, child," answered the old woman reassuringly, passing her

hand lovingly over the child's head, "It's only the frost that

has got into my bones a bit."

"Shall you be quite well then directly it turns warm again?"

"Yes, God willing, or even before that, for I want to get back to

my spinning; I thought perhaps I should do a little to-day, but

to-morrow I am sure to be all right again." The old woman had

detected that Heidi was frightened and was anxious to set her mind at ease.

Her words comforted Heidi, who had in truth been greatly

distressed, for she had never before seen the grandmother ill in

bed. She now looked at the old woman seriously for a minute or

two, and then said, "In Frankfurt everybody puts on a shawl to go

out walking; did you think it was to be worn in bed, grandmother?"

"I put it on, dear child, to keep myself from freezing, and I am

so pleased with it, for my bedclothes are not very thick," she answered.

"But, grandmother," continued Heidi, "your bed is not right,

because it goes downhill at your head instead of uphill."

"I know it, child, I can feel it," and the grandmother put up her

hand to the thin flat pillow, which was little more than a board

under her head, to make herself more comfortable; "the pillow was

never very thick, and I have lain on it now for so many years

that it has grown quite flat."

"Oh, if only I had asked Clara to let me take away my Frankfurt

bed," said Heidi. "I had three large pillows, one above the

other, so that I could hardly sleep, and I used to slip down to

try and find a flat place, and then I had to pull myself up

again, because it was proper to sleep there like that. Could you

sleep like that, grandmother?"

"Oh, yes! the pillows keep one warm, and it is easier to breathe

when the head is high," answered the grandmother, wearily raising

her head as she spoke as if trying to find a higher

resting-place. "But we will not talk about that, for I have so

much that other old sick people are without for which I thank

God; there is the nice bread I get every day, and this warm wrap,

and your visits, Heidi. Will you read me something to-day?"

Heidi ran into the next room to fetch the hymn book. Then she

picked out the favorite hymns one after another, for she knew

them all by heart now, as pleased as the grandmother to hear them

again after so many days. The grandmother lay with folded hands,

while a smile of peace stole over the worn, troubled face, like

one to whom good news has been brought.

Suddenly Heidi paused. "Grandmother, are you feeling quite well again already?"

"Yes, child, I have grown better while listening to you; read it to the end."

The child read on, and when she came to the last words:--

As the eyes grow dim, and darkness Closes round, the soul grows

clearer, Sees the goal to which it travels, Gladly feels its home is nearer."

the grandmother repeated them once or twice to herself, with a

look of happy expectation on her face. And Heidi took equal

pleasure in them, for the picture of the beautiful sunny day of

her return home rose before her eyes, and she exclaimed joyfully,

"Grandmother, I know exactly what it is like to go home." The old

woman did not answer, but she had heard Heidi's words, and the

expression that had made the child think she was better remained on her face.

A little later Heidi said, "It is growing dark and I must go

home; I am glad to think, that you are quite well again."

The grandmother took the child's hand in hers and held it

closely. "Yes," she said, "I feel quite happy again; even if I

have to go on lying here, I am content. No one knows what it is

to lie here alone day after day, in silence and darkness, without

hearing a voice or seeing a ray of light. Sad thoughts come over

me, and I do not feel sometimes as if I could bear it any longer

or as if it could ever be light again. But when you come and read

those words to me, then I am comforted and my heart rejoices once more."

Then she let the child go, and Heidi ran into the next room, and

bid Peter come quickly, for it had now grown quite dark. But when

they got outside they found the moon shining down on the white

snow and everything as clear as in the daylight. Peter got his

sleigh, put Heidi at the back, he himself sitting in front to

guide, and down the mountain they shot like two birds darting

through the air.

When Heidi was lying that night on her high bed of hay she

thought of the grandmother on her low pillow, and of all she had

said about the light and comfort that awoke in her when she heard

the hymns, and she thought: if I could read to her every day,

then I should go on making her better. But she knew that it would

be a week, if not two, before she would be able to go up the

mountain again. This was a thought of great trouble to Heidi, and

she tried hard to think of some way which would enable the

grandmother to hear the words she loved every day. Suddenly an

idea struck her, and she was so delighted with it that she could

hardly bear to wait for morning, so eager was she to begin

carrying out her plan. All at once she sat upright in her bed,

for she had been so busy with her thoughts that she had forgotten

to say her prayers, and she never now finished her day without saying them.

When she had prayed with all her heart for herself, her

grandfather and grandmother, she lay back again on the warm soft

hay and slept soundly and peacefully till morning broke.



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