SOMETHING UNEXPECTED HAPPENS
Uncle went out early the next morning to see what kind of a day
it was going to be. There was a reddish gold light over the
higher peaks; a light breeze springing up and the branches of the
fir trees moved gently to and fro the sun was on its way.
The old man stood and watched the green slopes under the higher
peaks gradually growing brighter with the coming day and the dark
shadows lifting from the valley, until at first a rosy light
filled its hollows, and then the morning gold flooded every
height and depth--the sun had risen.
Uncle wheeled the chair out of the shed ready for the coming
journey, and then went in to call the children and tell them what
a lovely sunrise it was.
Peter came up at this moment. The goats did not gather round him
so trustfully as usual, but seemed to avoid him timidly, for
Peter had reached a high pitch of anger and bitterness, and was
laying about him with his stick very unnecessarily, and where it
fell the blow was no light one. For weeks now he had not had
Heidi all to himself as formerly. When he came up in the morning
the invalid child was always already in her chair and Heidi fully
occupied with her. And it was the same thing over again when he
came down in the evening. She had not come out with the goats
once this summer, and now to-day she was only coming in company
with her friend and the chair, and would stick by the latter's
side the whole time. It was the thought of this which was making
him particularly cross this morning. There stood the chair on its
high wheels; Peter seemed to see something proud and distainful
about it, and he glared at it as at an enemy that had done him
harm and was likely to do him more still to-day. He glanced
round--there was no sound anywhere, no one to see him. He sprang
forward like a wild creature, caught hold of it, and gave it a
violent and angry push in the direction of the slope. The chair
rolled swiftly forward and in another minute had disappeared.
Peter now sped up the mountain as if on wings, not pausing till
he was well in shelter of a large blackberrybush, for he had no
wish to be seen by Uncle. But he was anxious to see what had
become of the chair, and his bush was well placed for that.
Himself hidden, he could watch what happened below and see what
Uncle did without being discovered himself. So he looked, and
there he saw his enemy running faster and faster down hill, then
it turned head over heels several times, and finally, after one
great bound, rolled over and over to its complete destruction.
The pieces flew in every direction--feet, arms, and torn
fragments of the padded seat and bolster--and Peter experienced a
feeling of such unbounded delight at the sight that he leapt in
the air, laughing aloud and stamping for joy; then he took a run
round, jumping over bushes on the way, only to return to the same
spot and fall into fresh fits of laughter. He was beside himself
with satisfaction, for he could see only good results for himself
in this disaster to his enemy. Now Heidi's friend would be
obliged to go away, for she would have no means of going about,
and when Heidi was alone again she would come out with him as in
the old days, and everything would go on in the proper way again.
But Peter did not consider, or did not know, that when we do a
wrong thing trouble is sure to follow.
Heidi now came running out of the hut and round to the shed.
Grandfather was behind with Clara in his arms. The shed stood
wide open, the two loose planks having been taken down, and it
was quite light inside. Heidi looked into every corner and ran
from one end to the other, and then stood still wondering what
could have happened to the chair. Grandfather now came. up.
"How is this, have you wheeled the chair away, Heidi?"
"I have been looking everywhere for it, grandfather; you said it
was standing ready outside," and she again searched each corner
of the shed with her eyes.
At that moment the wind, which had risen suddenly, blew open the
shed door and sent it banging back against the wall.
"It must have been the wind, grandfather," exclaimed Heidi, and
her eyes grew anxious at this sudden discovery. "Oh! if it has
blown the chair all the way down to Dorfli we shall not get it
back in time, and shall not be able to go."
"If it has rolled as far as that it will never come back, for it
is in a hundred pieces by now," said the grandfather, going round
the corner and looking down. "But it's a curious thing to have
happened!" he added as he thought over the matter, for the chair
would have had to turn a corner before starting down hill.
"Oh, I am sorry," lamented Clara, "for we shall not be able
to-day, or perhaps any other day. I shall have to go home, I
suppose, if I have no chair. Oh, I am so sorry, I am so sorry!"
But Heidi looked towards her grandfather with her usual
expression of confidence.
"Grandfather, you will be able to do something, won't you, so
that it need not be as Clara says, and so that she is not obliged
to go home?"
"Well, for the present we will go up the mountain as we had
arranged, and then later on we will see what can be done," he
answered, much to the children's delight.
He went indoors, fetched out a pile of shawls, and laying them on
the sunniest spot he could find set Clara down upon them. Then he
fetched the children's morning milk and had out his two goats.
"Why is Peter not here yet?" thought Uncle to himself, for
Peter's whistle had not been sounded that morning. The
grandfather now took Clara up on one arm, and the shawls on the other.
"Now then we will start," he said; "the goats can come with
Heidi was pleased at this and walked on after her grandfather
with an arm over either of the goats' necks, and the animals were
so overjoyed to have her again that they nearly squeezed her flat
between them out of sheer affection. When they reached the spot
where the goats usually pastured they were surprised to find them
already feeding there, climbing about the rocks, and Peter with
them, lying his full length on the ground.
"I'll teach you another time to go by like that, you lazy rascal!
What do you mean by it?" Uncle called to him.
Peter, recognising the voice, jumped up like a shot. "No one was
up," he answered.
"Have you seen anything of the chair?" asked the grandfather.
"Of what chair?" called Peter back in answer in a morose tone
Uncle said no more. He spread the shawls on the sunny slope, and
setting Clara upon them asked if she was comfortable.
"As comfortable as in my chair," she said, thanking him, "and
this seems the most beautiful spot. O Heidi, it is lovely, it is
lovely!" she cried, looking round her with delight.
The grandfather prepared to leave them. They would now be safe
and happy together, he said, and when it was time for dinner
Heidi was to go and fetch the bag from the shady hollow where he
had put it; Peter was to bring them as much milk as they wanted,
but Heidi was to see that it was Little Swan's milk. He would
come and fetch them towards evening; he must now be off to see
after the chair and ascertain what had become of it.
The sky was dark blue, and not a single cloud was to be seen from
one horizon to the other. The great snow-field overhead sparkled
as if set with thousands and thousands of gold and silver stars.
The two grey mountains peaks lifted their lofty heads against the
sky and looked solemnly down upon the valley as of old; the great
bird was poised aloft in the clear blue air, and the mountain
wind came over the heights and blew refreshingly around the
children as they sat on the sunlit slope. It was all
indescribably enjoyable to Clara and Heidi. Now and again a young
goat came and lay down beside them; Snowflake came oftenest,
putting her little head down near Heidi, and only moving because
another goat came and drove her away. Clara had learned to know
them all so well that she never mistook one for the other now,
for each had an expression and ways of its own. And the goats had
also grown familiar with Clara and would rub their heads against
her shoulder, which was always a sign of acquaintanceship and goodwill.
Some hours went by, and Heidi began to think that she might just
go over to the spot where all the flowers grew to see if they
were fully blown and looking as lovely as the year before. Clara
could not go until grandfather came back that evening, when the
flowers probably would be already closed. The longing to go
became stronger and stronger, till she felt she could not resist it.
"Would you think me unkind, Clara," she said rather hesitatingly,
"if I left you for a few minutes? I should run there and back
very quickly. I want so to see how the flowers are looking--but
wait--" for an idea had come into Heidi's head. She ran and
picked a bunch or two of green leaves, and then took hold of
Snowflake and led her up to Clara.
"There, now you will not be alone," said Heidi, giving the goat
little push to show her she was to lie down near Clara, which the
animal quite understood. Heidi threw the leaves into Clara's lap,
and the latter told her friend to go at once to look at the
flowers as she was quite happy to be left with the goat; she
liked this new experience. Heidi ran off, and Clara began to hold
out the leaves one by one to Snowflake, who snoozled up to her
new friend in a confiding manner and slowly ate the leaves from
her hand. It was easy to see that Snowflake enjoyed this peaceful
and sheltered way of feeding, for when with the other goats she
had much persecution to endure from the larger and stronger ones
of the flock. And Clara found a strange new pleasure in sitting
all alone like this on the mountain side, her only companion a
little goat that looked to her for protection. She suddenly felt
a great desire to be her own mistress and to be able to help
others, instead of herself being always dependent as she was now.
Many thoughts, unknown to her before, came crowding into her
mind, and a longing to go on living in the sunshine, and to be
doing something that would bring happiness to another, as now she
was helping to make the goat happy. An unaccustomed feeling of
joy took possession of her, as if everything she had ever known
or felt became all at once more beautiful, and she seemed to see
all things in a new light, and so strong was the sense of this
new beauty and happiness that she threw her arms round the little
goat's neck, and exclaimed, "O Snowflake, how delightful it is up
here! if only I could stay on for ever with you beside me!"
Heidi had meanwhile reached her field of flowers, and as she
caught sight of it she uttered a cry of joy. The whole ground in
front of her was a mass of shimmering gold, where the cistus
flowers spread their yellow blossoms. Above them waved whole
bushes of the deep blue bell-flowers; while the fragrance that
arose from the whole sunlit expanse was as if the rarest balsam
had been flung over it. The scent, however, came from the small
brown flowers, the little round heads of which rose modestly here
and there among the yellow blossoms. Heidi stood and gazed and
drew in the delicious air. Suddenly she turned round and reached
Clara's side out of breath with running and excitement. "Oh, you
must come," she called out as soon as she came in sight, "it is
more beautiful than you can imagine, and perhaps this evening it
may not be so lovely. I believe I could carry you, don't you
think I could?" Clara looked at her and shook her head. "Why,
Heidi, what can you be thinking of! you are smaller than I am.
Oh, if only I could walk!"
Heidi looked round as if in search of something, some new idea
had evidently come into her head. Peter was sitting up above
looking down on the two children. He had been sitting and staring
before him in the same way for hours, as if he could not make out
what he saw. He had destroyed the chair so that the friend might
not be able to move anywhere and that her visit might come to an
end, and then a little while after she had appeared right up here
under his very nose with Heidi beside her. He thought his eyes
must deceive him, and yet there she was and no mistake about it.
Heidi now looked up to where he was sitting and called out in a
peremptory voice, "Peter, come down here!"
"I don't wish to come," he called in reply.
"But you are to, you must; I cannot do it alone, and you must
come here and help me; make haste and come down," she called
again in an urgent voice,
"I shall do nothing of the kind," was the answer.
Heidi ran some way up the slope towards him, and then pausing
called again, her eyes ablaze with anger, "If you don't come at
once, Peter, I will do something to you that you won't like; I
mean what I say."
Peter felt an inward throe at these words, and a great fear
seized him. He had done something wicked which he wanted no one
to know about, and so far he had thought himself safe. But now
Heidi spoke exactly as if she knew everything, and whatever she
did know she would tell her grandfather, and there was no one he
feared so much as this latter person. Supposing he were to
suspect what had happened about the chair! Peter's anguish of
mind grew more acute. He stood up and went down to where Heidi
was awaiting him.
"I am coming and you won't do what you said."
Peter appeared now so submissive with fear that Heidi felt quite
sorry for him and answered assuringly, "No, no, of course not;
come along with me, there is nothing to be afraid of in what I
want you to do."
As soon as they got to Clara, Heidi gave her orders: Peter was to
take hold of her under the arms on one side and she on the other,
and together they were to lift her up. This first movement was
successfully carried through, but then came the difficulty. As
Clara could not even stand, how were they to support her and get
her along? Heidi was too small for her arm to serve Clara to lean upon.
"You must put one arm well around my neck so, and put the other
through Peter's and lean firmly upon it, then we shall be able to carry
Peter, however, had never given his arm to any one in his life.
Clara put hers in his, but he kept his own hanging down straight
beside him like a stick.
"That's not the way, Peter," said Heidi in an authoritative
voice. "You must put your arm out in the shape of a ring, and
Clara must put hers through it and lean her weight upon you, and
whatever you do, don't let your arm give way; like that. I am
sure we shall be able to manage."
Peter did as he was told, but still they did not get on very
well. Clara was not such a light weight, and the team did not
match very well in size; it was up one side and down the other,
so that the supports were rather wobbly.
Clara tried to use her own feet a little, but each time drew them
"Put your foot down firmly once," suggested Heidi, "I am
will hurt you less after that."
"Do you think so?" said Clara hesitatingly, but she followed
Heidi's advice and ventured one firm step on the ground and then
another; she called out a little as she did it; then she lifted
her foot again and went on, "Oh, that was less painful already,"
she exclaimed joyfully.
"Try again," said Heidi encouragingly.
And Clara went on putting one foot out after another until all at
once she called out, "I can do it, Heidi! look! look! I can make
proper steps!" And Heidi cried out with even greater delight,
"Can you really make steps, can you really walk? really walk by
yourself? Oh, if only grandfather were here!" and she continued
gleefully to exclaim, "You can walk now, Clara, you can walk!"
Clara still held on firmly to her supports, but with every step
she felt safer on her feet, as all three became aware, and Heidi
was beside herself with joy.
"Now we shall be able to come up here together every day, and go
just where we like; and you will be able all your life to walk
about as I do, and not have to be pushed in a chair, and you will
get quite strong and well. It is the greatest happiness we could have had!"
And Clara heartily agreed, for she could think of no greater joy
in the world than to be strong and able to go about like other
people, and no longer to have to lie from day to day in her invalid chair.
They had not far to go to reach the field of flowers, and could
already catch sight of the cistus flowers glowing gold in the
sun. As they came to the bushes of the blue bell flowers, with
sunny, inviting patches of warm ground between them, Clara said,
"Mightn't we sit down here for a while?"
This was just what Heidi enjoyed, and so the children sat down in
the midst of the flowers, Clara for the first time on the dry,
warm mountain grass, and she found it indescribably delightful.
Around her were the blue flowers softly waving to and fro, and
beyond the gleaming patches of the cistus flowers and the red
centaury, while the sweet scent of the brown blossoms and of the
fragrant prunella enveloped her as she sat. Everything was so
lovely! so lovely! And Heidi, who was beside her, thought she had
never seen it so perfectly beautiful up here before, and she did
not know herself why she felt so glad at heart that she longed to
shout for joy. Then she suddenly remembered that Clara was cured;
that was the crowning delight of all that made life so delightful
in the midst of all this surrounding beauty. Clara sat silent,
overcome with the enchantment of all that her eye rested upon,
and with the anticipation of all the happiness that was now
before her. There seemed hardly room in her heart for all her
joyful emotions, and these and the ecstasy aroused by the
sunlight and the scent of the flowers, held her dumb.
Peter also lay among the flowers without moving or speaking, for
he was fast asleep. The breeze came blowing softly and
caressingly from behind the sheltering rocks, and passed
whisperingly through the bushes overhead. Heidi got up now and
then to run about, for the flowers waving in the warm wind seemed
to smell sweeter and to grow more thickly whichever way she went,
and she felt she must sit down at each fresh spot to enjoy the
sight and scent. So the hours went by.
It was long past noon when a small troop of goats advanced
solemnly towards the plain of flowers. it was not a feeding place
of theirs, for they did not care to graze on flowers. They looked
like an embassy arriving, with Greenfinch as their leader. They
had evidently come in search of their companions who had left
them in the lurch, and who had, contrary to all custom, remained
away so long, for the goats could tell the time without mistake.
As soon as Greenfinch caught sight of the three missing friends
amid the flowers she set up an extra loud bleat, whereupon all
the others joined in a chorus of bleats, and the whole company
came trotting towards the children. Peter woke up, rubbing his
eyes, for he had been dreaming that he saw the chair again with
its beautiful red padding standing whole and uninjured before the
grandfather's door, and indeed just as he awoke he thought he was
looking at the brass-headed nails that studded it all round, but
it was only the bright yellow flowers beside him. He experienced
again a dreadful fear of mind that he had lost in this dream of
the uninjured chair. Even though Heidi had promised not to do
anything, there still remained the lively dread that his deed
might be found out in some other way. He allowed Heidi to do what
she liked with him, for he was reduced to such a state of low
spirits and meekness that he was ready to give his help to Clara
without murmur or resistance.
When all three had got back to their old quarters Heidi ran and
brought forward the bag, and proceeded to fulfil her promise, for
her threat of the morning had been concerned with Peter's dinner.
She had seen her grandfather putting in all sorts of good things,
and had been pleased to think of Peter having a large share of
them, and she had meant him to understand when he refused at
first to help her that he would get nothing for his dinner, but
Peter's conscience had put another interpretation upon her words.
Heidi took the food out of the bag and divided it into three
portions, and each was of such a goodly size that she thought to
herself, "There will be plenty of ours left for him to have more still."
She gave the other two their dinners and sat down with her own
beside Clara, and they all three ate with a good appetite after
their great exertions.
It ended as Heidi had expected, and Peter got as much food again
as his own share with what Clara and Heidi had over from theirs
after they had both eaten as much as they wanted. Peter ate up
every bit of food to the last crumb, but there was something
wanting to his usual enjoyment of a good dinner, for every
mouthful he swallowed seemed to choke him, and he felt something
gnawing inside him.
They were so late at their dinner that they had not long to wait
after they had finished before grandfather came up to fetch them.
Heidi rushed forward to meet him as soon as he appeared, as she
wanted to be the first to tell him the good news. She was so
excited that she could hardly get her words out when she did get
up to him, but he soon understood, and a look of extreme pleasure
came into his face. He hastened up to where Clara was sitting and
said with a cheerful smile, "So we've made the effort, have we,
and won the day!"
Then he lifted her up, and putting his left arm behind her and
giving her his right to lean upon, made her walk a little way,
which she did with less trembling and hesitation than before now
that she had such a strong arm round her.
Heidi skipped along beside her in triumphant glee, and the
grandfather looked too as, if some happiness had befallen him.
But now he took Clara up in his arms. "We must not overdo it,"
said, "and it is high time we went home," and he started off down
the mountain path, for he was anxious to get her indoors that she
might rest after her unusual fatigue.
When Peter got to Dorfli that evening he found a large group of
people collected round a certain spot, pushing one another and
looking over each other's shoulders in their eagerness to catch
sight of something lying on the ground. Peter thought he should
like to see too, and poked and elbowed till he made his way through.
There it lay, the thing he had wanted to see. Scattered about the
grass were the remains of Clara's chair; part of the back and the
middle bit, and enough of the red padding and the bright nails to
show how magnificent the chair had been when it was entire.
"I was here when the men passed carrying it up," said the baker
who was standing near Peter. "I'll bet any one that it was worth
twenty-five pounds at least. I cannot think how such an accident
could have happened."
"Uncle said the wind might perhaps have done it," remarked one
the women, who could not sufficiently admire the red upholstery.
"It's a good job that no one but the wind did it," said the baker
again, "or he might smart for it! No doubt the gentleman in
Frankfurt when he hears what has happened will make all inquiries
about it. I am glad for myself that I have not been seen up the
mountain for a good two years, as suspicion is likely to fall on
any one who was about up there at the time."
Many more opinions were passed on the matter, but Peter had heard
enough. He crept quietly away out of the crowd and then took to
his heels and ran up home as fast as he could, as if he thought
some one was after him. The baker's words had filled him with
fear and trembling. He was sure now that any day a constable
might come over from Frankfurt and inquire about the destruction
of the chair, and then everything would come out, and he would be
seized and carried off to Frankfurt and there put in prison. The
whole picture of what was coming was clear before him, and his
hair stood on end with terror.
He reached home in this disturbed state of mind. He would not
open his mouth in reply to anything that was said to him; he
would not eat his potatoes; all he did was to creep off to bed as
quickly as possible and hide under the bedclothes and groan.
"Peter has been eating sorrel again, and is evidently in pain by
the way he is groaning," said Brigitta.
"You must give him a little more bread to take with him; give him
a bit of mine to-morrow," said the grandmother sympathisingly.
As the children lay that night in bed looking out at the stars
Heidi said, "I have been thinking all day what a happy thing it
is that God does not give us what we ask for, even when we pray
and pray and pray, if He knows there is something better for us;
have you felt like that?"
"Why do you ask me that to-night all of a sudden?" asked Clara.
"Because I prayed so hard when I was in Frankfurt that I might go
home at once, and because I was not allowed to I thought God had
forgotten me. And now you see, if I had come away at first when I
wanted to, you would never have come here, and would never have
Clara had in her turn become thoughtful. "But, Heidi," she began
again, "in that case we ought never to pray for anything, as God
always intends something better for us than we know or wish for."
"You must not think it is like that, Clara," replied Heidi
eagerly. "We must go on praying for everything, for everything,
so that God may know we do not forget that it all comes from Him.
If we forget God, then He lets us go our own way and we get into
trouble; grandmamma told me so. And if He does not give us what
we ask for we must not think that He has not heard us and leave
off praying, but we must still pray and say, I am sure, dear God,
that Thou art keeping something better for me, and I will not be
unhappy, for I know that Thou wilt make everything right in the end."
"How did you learn all that?" asked Clara.
"Grandmamma explained it to me first of all, and then when it all
happened just as she said, I knew it myself, and I think, Clara,"
she went on, as she sat up in bed, "we ought certainly to thank
God to-night that you can walk now, and that He has made us so happy."
"Yes, Heidi, I am sure you are right, and I am glad you reminded
me; I almost forgot my prayers for very joy."
Both children said their prayers, and each thanked God in her own
way for the blessing He had bestowed on Clara, who had for so
long lain weak and ill.
The next morning the grandfather suggested that they should now
write to the grandmamma and ask her if she would not come and pay
them a visit, as they had something new to show her. But the
children had another plan in their heads, for they wanted to
prepare a great surprise for grandmamma. Clara was first to have
more practice in walking so that she might be able to go a little
way by herself; above all things grandmamma was not to have a
hint of it. They asked the grandfather how long he thought this
would take, and when he told them about a week or less, they
immediately sat down and wrote a pressing invitation to
grandmamma, asking her to come soon, but no word was said about
there being anything new to see.
The following days were some of the most joyous that Clara had
spent on the mountain. She awoke each morning with a happy voice
within her crying, "I am well now! I am well now! I shan't have
to go about in a chair, I can walk by myself like other people."
Then came the walking, and every day she found it easier and was
able to go a longer distance. The movement gave her such an
appetite that the grandfather cut his bread and butter a little
thicker each day, and was well pleased to see it disappear. He
now brought out with it a large jugful of the foaming milk and
filled her little bowl over and over again. And so another week
went by and the day came which was to bring grandmamma up the
mountain for her second visit.
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