The Swiss Twins
Lucy Fitch Perkins
This PG project is dedicated to retired teacher Betty Sheridan,
who introduced me to the "Twins" stories. She generously loaned
this book to be produced for PG.
THE SWISS TWINS
By Lucy Fitch Perkins
Also by Lucy Fitch Perkins
THE DUTCH TWINS PRIMER. Grade!.
THE DUTCH TWINS AND LITTLE BROTHER. Grade II.
THE FARM TWINS. Grades I-III.
THE ESKIMO TWINS. Grade II.
THE DUTCH TWINS. Grade III.
THE PICKANINNY TWINS. Grades III-IV.
THE CHINESE TWINS. Grades III-IV.
THE JAPANESE TWINS. Grade IV.
THE SWISS TWINS. Grade IV.
THE NORWEGIAN TWINS. Grades IV-V.
THE FILIPINO TWINS. Grade V.
THE IRISH TWINS. Grade V.
THE ITALIAN TWINS. Grade V.
THE MEXICAN TWINS. Grade V.
THE SCOTCH TWINS. Grade VI.
THE SPANISH TWINS. Grades VI-VII.
THE BELGIAN TWINS. Grade VII.
THE FRENCH TWINS. Grade VII.
THE INDIAN TWINS. Grades III-IV.
THE CAVE TWINS. Grade IV.
THE SPARTAN TWINS. Grade V.
THE COLONIAL TWINS OF VIRGINIA. Grade VI.
THE AMERICAN TWINS OF1812. Grade VI.
THE PIONEER TWINS. Grade VI.
THE AMERICAN TWINS OF THE REVOLUTION. Grade VII.
THE PURITAN TWINS. Grade VII.
Each volume is illustrated by the author
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
COPYRIGHT, 1922, BY LUCY FITCH PERKINS
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO REPRODUCE
THIS BOOK OR PARTS THEREOF IN ANY FORM
The Riverside Press
CAMBRIDGE - MASSACHUSETTS
PRINTED IN THE U.S.A.
I. THE RESPONSIBLE CUCKOO
II. THE TWINS LEARN A NEW TRADE
III. A MOUNTAIN STORM
IV. THE LONELY HERDSMAN
V. THE PASS
VI. NEW FRIENDS AND OLD
This book belongs to
I. THE RESPONSIBLE CUCKOO
THE RESPONSIBLE CUCKOO
High on the kitchen wall of an old farm-house on a mountainside
in Switzerland there hangs a tiny wooden clock. In the tiny
wooden clock there lives a tiny wooden cuckoo, and every hour he
hops out of his tiny wooden door, takes a look about to see what
is going on in the world, shouts out the time of day, and pops
back again into his little dark house, there to wait and tick
away the minutes until it is time once more to tell the hour.
Late one spring afternoon, just as the sun was sinking out of
sight, lighting up the snow-capped mountains with beautiful
colors and sending long shafts of golden light across the
valleys, the cuckoo woke with a start.
"Bless me!" he said to himself, "Here it is six o'clock and not a
sound in the kitchen! It's high time for Mother Adolf to be
getting supper. What in the world this family would do without me
I really cannot think! They'd never know it was supper time if I
didn't tell them, and would starve to death as likely as not. It
is lucky for them I am such a responsible bird." The tiny wooden
door flew open and he stuck out his tiny wooden head. There was
not a sound in the kitchen but the loud ticking of the clock.
"Just as I thought," said the cuckoo. "Not a soul here."
There stood the table against the kitchen wall, with a little
gray mouse on it nibbling a crumb of cheese. Along finger of
sunlight streamed through the western window and touched the
great stone stove, as if trying to waken the fire within. A beam
fell upon a pan of water standing on the floor and sent gay
sparkles of light dancing over the shining tins in the cupboard.
The cuckoo saw it all at a glance. "This will never do," he
ticked indignantly. There was a queer rumbling sound in his
insides as if his feelings were getting quite too much for him,
and then suddenly he sent a loud "cuckoo" ringing through the
silent room. Instantly the little gray mouse leaped down from the
table and scampered away to his hole in the wall, the golden
sunbeam flickered and was gone, and shadows began to creep into
the corners. "Cuckoo, cuckoo," he shouted at the top of his
voice, "cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo,"--six times in all,--and then,
his duty done, he popped back again into his little dark house,
and the door clicked behind him.
Out in the garden Mother Adolf heard him and, raising her head
from the onion-bed, where she was pulling weeds, she counted on
her fingers, "One, two, three, four, five, six! Bless my soul,
six o'clock and the sun already out of sight behind old Pilatus,"
she said, and, rising from her knees a little stiffly, she stood
for a moment looking down the green slopes toward the valley.
Far, far below, the blue waters of Lake Lucerne mirrored the
glowing colors of the mountain-peaks beyond its farther shore,
and nearer, among the foothills of old Pilatus itself, a little
village nestled among green trees, its roofs clustered about a
white church-spire. Now the bells in the steeple began to ring,
and the sound floated out across the green fields spangled with
yellow daffodils, and reached Mother Adolf where she stood. Bells
from more distant villages soon joined in the clamor, until all
the air was filled with music and a hundred echoes woke in the
The tiny wooden cuckoo heard them and ticked loudly with
satisfaction. "Everybody follows me," he said to himself proudly.
"I wake all the bells in the world."
"Where can the children be?" said Mother Adolf aloud to herself,
looking about the garden. "I haven't heard a sound from either
the baby or the Twins for over an hour," and, making a hollow
between her lands, she added her own bit of music to the chorus
of the hills.
(line of music notation)
she sang, and immediately from behind the willows which fringed
the brook at the end of the garden two childish voices gave back
an answering strain.
(line of music notation)
A moment later two sunburned, towheaded, blue-eyed children, a
boy and girl of ten, appeared, dragging after them a box mounted
on rough wooden wheels in which there sat a round, pink, blue-
eyed cherub of a baby. Shouting with laughter, they came tearing
up the garden path to their mother's side.
"Hush, my children," said Mother Adolf, laying her finger on her
lips. "It is the Angelus."
The shouts were instantly silenced, and the two children stood
beside the mother with clasped hands and bowed heads until the
echoes of the bells died away in the distance.
Far down on the long path to the village a man, bending under the
weight of a huge basket, also stood still for a moment in silent
prayer, then toiled again up the steep slope.
"See," cried Mother Adolf as she lifted her head, "there comes
Father from the village with bread for our supper in his basket.
Run, Seppi, and help him bring the bundles home. Our Fritz will
soon be coming with the goats, too, and he and Father will both
be as hungry as wolves and in a hurry for their supper. Hark!"
she paused to listen.
Far away from out the blue shadows of the mountain came the sound
of a horn playing a merry little tune.
"There's Fritz now," cried Mother Adolf. "Hurry, Seppi, and you,
Leneli, come with me to the kitchen. You can give little Roseli
her supper, while I spread the table and set the soup to boil
before the goats get here to be milked." She lifted the baby in
her arms as she spoke, and set off at a smart pace toward the
house, followed by Leneli dragging the cart and playing peek-a-
boo with the baby over her mother's shoulder.
When they reached the door, Leneli sat down on the step, and
Mother Adolf put the baby in her arms and went at once into the
quiet house. Then there was a sound of quick steps about the
kitchen, a rattling of the stove, and a clatter of tins which
must have pleased the cuckoo, and soon she reappeared in the door
with a bowl and spoon in her hands.
The bowl she gave to Leneli, and little Roseli, crowing with
delight, seized the spoon and stuck it first into an eye, and
then into her tiny pink button of a nose, in a frantic effort to
find her mouth. It was astonishing to Baby Roseli how that
rosebud mouth of hers managed to hide itself, even though she was
careful to keep it wide open while she searched for it. When she
had explored her whole face with the spoon in vain, Leneli took
the tiny hand in hers and guided each mouthful down the little
Over their heads the robin in the cherry tree by the door sat
high up on a twig and chirped a good-night song to his nestlings.
"Cherries are ripe, cherries are ripe, cherries are ripe in
June," sang the robin. At least that is what Leneli told the baby
he said, and surely she ought to know.
Before Baby Roseli had finished the last mouthful of her supper,
Father and Seppi appeared with the bundles, and then there was
the clatter of many little hoofs on the hard earth of the door-
yard, and round the corner of the old gray farm-house came big
brother Fritz with the goats. With Fritz came Bello, his faithful
dog, barking and wagging his tail for joy at getting home again.
Bello ran at once to Leneli and licked her hand, nearly upsetting
the bowl of milk in his noisy greeting, and the baby crowed with
delight and seized him by his long, silky ears.
"Down, Bello, down," cried Leneli, holding the bowl high out of
reach; "you'll spill the baby's supper!" And Bello, thinking she
meant that he should beg for it, sat up on his hind legs with his
front paws crossed and barked three times, as Fritz had taught
him to do.
"He must have a bite or he'll forget his manners," laughed Fritz,
and Leneli broke off a crumb of bread and tossed it to him. Bello
caught it before it fell, swallowed it at one gulp, and begged
"No, no," said Leneli, "good old Bello, go now with Fritz and
help him drive the goats to the milking-shed, and by and by you
shall have your supper."
Fritz whistled, and instantly Bello was off like a shot after
Nanni, the brown goat, who was already on her way to the garden
to eat the young green carrot-tops she saw peeping out of the
"It's time that child was in bed," said the cuckoo to himself,
and out he came from his little house and called "cuckoo" seven
times so reproachfully that Leneli hastened upstairs with the
baby and put her down in her crib at once.
Baby Roseli did not agree with the cuckoo. She wanted to stay up
and play with Bello, and hear the robin sing, but Leneli sat down
beside the crib, and while Mother Adolf milked the goats she sang
over and over again an old song.
"Sleep, baby, sleep!
Thy father watches the sheep,
Thy mother is shaking the dreamland tree
And down falls a little dream on thee.
Sleep, baby, sleep!"
"Sleep, baby, sleep!
The large stars are the sheep,
The little stars are the lambs, I guess,
And the silver moon is the shepherdess.
Sleep, baby, sleep!"
Over and over she sang it, until at last the heavy lids closed
over the blue eyes. Then she crept quietly down the creaking
stairs in the dark, and ate her bread and cheese and drank her
soup by candle-light with her father and mother, Seppi and Fritz,
all seated about the kitchen table.
By nine o'clock the room was once more silent and deserted, the
little mouse was creeping quietly from his hole in the wall, and
Bello lay by the door asleep with his nose on his paws. High over
Mt. Pilatus the moon sailed through the star-lit sky, bathing the
old gray farm-house in silver light and playing hide and seek
with shadows on the snow-capped peaks.
"Cuckoo," called the tiny wooden cuckoo nine times, and at once
the bells in the village steeple answered him. "That's as it
should be," ticked the cuckoo. "That church-bell is really very
intelligent. Let me see; to-morrow morning I must wake the
roosters at three, and the sun at four, and the family must be up
by five. I'll just turn in and get a wink of sleep myself while I
can," and he popped into the clock ones more and shut the door.
II. THE TWINS LEARN A NEW TRADE
THE TWINS LEARN A NEW TRADE
At five o'clock the next morning Father and Mother Adolf were
already up, and the cuckoo woke Fritz, but though he shouted five
times with all his might and main, neither Seppi nor Leneli
stirred in their sleep.
"Fritz, go wake the Twins," said Mother Adolf, when he came to
the door of the shed where she was milking the goats. "Only don't
wake the baby. I want her to sleep as long as she will."
"Yes, Mother," said Fritz dutifully, and he was off at once,
leaping up the creaky stairs three steps at a time.
He went first to Leneli's bed and tickled her toes. She drew up
her knees and slept on. Then he went to Seppi's bed, and when
shaking and rolling over failed to rouse him, he took him by one
leg and pulled him out of bed. Seppi woke up with a roar and cast
himself upon Fritz, and in a moment the two boys were rolling
about on the floor, yelling like Indians. The uproar woke Leneli,
and the baby too, and Mother Adolf, hearing the noise, came
running from the goat-shed just in time to find Seppi sitting on
top of Fritz beating time on his stomach to a tune which he was
singing at the top of his lungs. The baby was crowing with
delight as she watched the scuffle from Leneli's arms.
Mother Adolf gazed upon this lively scene with dismay. Then she
picked Seppi off Fritz's stomach and gazed sternly at her oldest
son. "Fritz," said she, "I told you to be quiet and not wake the
"I was quiet," said Fritz, sitting up. "I was just as quiet as I
could be, but they wouldn't wake up that way, so I had to pull
Seppi out of bed; there was no other way to get him up." He
looked up at his mother with such honest eyes that in spite of
herself her lips twitched and then she smiled outright.
"I should have known better than to send such a great overgrown
pup of a boy as you on such an errand," she said. "Bello would
have done it better. Next time I shall send him.
"And now, since you are all awake, I will tell you the great news
that Father told me last night. He has been chosen by the commune
to take the herds of the village up to the high alps to be gone
all summer. He will take Fritz with him to guard the cattle while
he makes the cheese. There is no better cheese-maker in all the
mountains than your father, and that is why the commune chose
him," she finished proudly.
More than anything else in the world, every boy in that part of
Switzerland longs to go with the herds to the high mountain
pastures for the summer, and Fritz was so delighted that he
turned a somersault at once to express his feelings. When he was
right side up again, a puzzled look came over his face, and he
said, "Who will take care of our own goats?"
"Ah," answered his mother, and she sighed a little. "There is no
one but Seppi and Leneli. Together they must fill your place, and
you, Fritz, must take them with you to-day up the mountain to
learn the way and begin their work."
"To-day! This very day?" screamed the Twins. They had never been
up to the goat-pastures in their lives, and it was a most
Then Leneli thought of her mother. She flung her arms about her
neck. "But who will stay with you, dear Mother?" she cried. "All
day you will be alone, with everything to do and no one to speak
to but the baby."
"Yes," sighed the mother, "that is true. It will be a long,
lonely summer for me, but there is no other way, so we must each
do our part bravely and not complain. It is good fortune that
Father and Fritz will both be earning money in the alps, and,
with wise old Bello to help you, you will soon be as good
goatherds as your brother. Come, now, hurry and eat your
breakfasts, for the goats are already milked and impatient to be
She took Roseli in her arms and disappeared down the stairs, and
when, a few moments later, the Twins and Fritz came into the
kitchen, she had their breakfast of bread and milk ready for
them, and their luncheon of bread and cheese wrapped in a clean
white cloth for Fritz to put in his pocket.
Father Adolf came back from the garden, where he had been hoeing
potatoes, to see the little procession start away for the hills.
First came the goats, frisking about in the fresh morning air and
jingling all their bells. Then came Bello, looking very
important, then Fritz with a cock's feather in his cap and his
little horn and his cup slung over his shoulder, and last of all
"It's a long way, my children," said Mother Adolf, as she kissed
them good-bye. "Your legs will get tired, but you must climb on
just the same. If every one stopped when he was tired, the
world's work would never be done. Learn the way carefully and
remember always to pray if any danger comes. You are very near
the good God on the mountain, and He will take care of you if you
ask Him, never fear."
"Obey Fritz," said Father Adolf, "and do not stray off by
yourselves. Stay always with Fritz and the goats."
"We will," cried the Twins, and away they ran to join their
brother, who was already some little distance ahead of them. They
turned as the path rounded the great cliff where the echoes
lived, and the Twins waved their hands, while Fritz played his
merry little tune on the horn. Then the rocks hid them from view,
and the long climb began in earnest.
It was many rough uphill miles to the alps where the goats were
pastured, and the stout little legs ached with weariness long
before they reached the patches of green grass which were
reserved for them. On the way up they passed fields where cows
were grazing, and Bello had hard work to keep the goats in the
path, but these pastures were only for cows, and goats were not
allowed in them. For two hours they climbed steadily up and up,
following a mountain path that led sometimes beside a rushing
brook, sometimes along the edges of dizzy precipices, and always
among rocks with wonderful views of distant snow-capped peaks
above them and green, green valleys below.
At last, when it seemed to the weary children that they could not
go another step, they came out upon a high pasture, where Fritz
called a halt. The goats leaped joyfully forward, snatching
greedy mouthfuls of the rich green grass which grew among the
rocks. Bello flopped heavily down on a flat stone with his tongue
hanging out, and Fritz and the Twins rolled over on their backs
on a soft carpet of grass to rest.
Almost at once Seppi said, "I'm hungry."
"So 'm I," said Leneli.
"You'll be hungry all the time up here," said Fritz
encouragingly. "It's the air."
"Let's eat," urged Seppi.
Fritz took the package of luncheon from his pocket and opened it.
"It looks very small. It looks a great deal smaller than it did
at home," said Leneli. "I wonder why?"
"You are hungrier now than you were then," said Fritz.
"I could eat it all myself," said Seppi.
"But you won't," laughed Fritz; "I'll see to that." He divided
the bread and cheese into three equal portions and handed one to
each of the Twins. The third he put in his own pocket. "Now I
don't care what you do with yours," he said; "only, if you eat it
all now, you'll be hungry enough to browse with the goats before
it's time to go home. Better take just a bite and a drink of
water and eat more by and by."
Seppi looked hungrily at his portion and took a bite. Then he
just couldn't stop, and before he knew it his whole luncheon was
gone and it was only nine o'clock in the morning!
Leneli took two bites of hers, and then, wrapping it carefully in
the piece of cloth, placed it high up on an overhanging rock out
of the way of temptation. Then, while Fritz was teaching Seppi
all the tricks of a goat-boy's trade, she found a soft patch of
grass all spangled with blue gentians and fell asleep with her
head on her arm. She slept for some time, and Fritz and Seppi,
seeing how tired she was, did not disturb her.
She was roused at last by the tinkling of a goat-bell almost over
her head, and woke up just in time to see her luncheon, cloth and
all, disappearing into the mouth of Nanni, the brown goat! Poor
Leneli screamed with dismay, and Fritz and Seppi, thinking
perhaps she had hurt herself, came dashing to her side. Leneli
was boiling with rage. She could only point at Nanni, who stood
calmly out of reach above them with the last scrap of cloth
dangling from her lips.
"You wretched, black-hearted pig of a goat!" she screamed,
stamping her foot. "You've eaten every bit of my lunch, and I'd
only taken two little teeny bites! Oh, I wish I'd eaten it all
like that greedy Seppi!"
Fritz and Seppi were sorry, but when they saw the goat looking
down at Leneli so calmly while she stormed and scolded below,
they rolled over on the ground helpless with laughter.
"It's all very well for you to laugh, sniffed Leneli; "you've
both got your lunches," and she went away quite sulkily and sat
down on a stone by herself. Bello came and sat beside her and
licked her hand.
Fritz had to dash away just then after a straying goat, but he
was soon back again with his luncheon in his hand. "Here," he
said, "you can have some of my bread and cheese."
"Oh, Fritzi," said Leneli gratefully, "you are as good and kind
as that goat is bad, but I'm going to take only a teeny mouthful,
just to keep me from starving!"
"All right," said Fritz, holding the slice of bread for her to
bite. "To-morrow we'll ask Mother to put up more bread and
cheese, and if you get hungry again, you can milk old Nanni
herself and get even with her that way."
"But I don't know how to milk," said Leneli with her mouth full.
"It's time you learned then," said Fritz briskly. "You've seen
Mother do it over and over again. Come, I'll teach you."
Nanni, the goat, had leaped down from her high perch, and was now
taking a drink from a little sparkling mountain rill which flowed
through the pasture.
"Come along," said Fritz. "There's no time like the present,"
and, taking his cup in his hand, he started toward her.
Leneli hung back a little. "Nanni is the naughtiest goat in the
whole flock," she said resentfully. "If it weren't for getting my
lunch back, I wouldn't try to milk her."
It may be that Nanni heard it and was offended, or it may be that
she knew that she had no milk to give them so early in the
morning. Anyway, she made up her mind she would not be bothered
at that time of day, so as fast as they came near her, she walked
on a few steps, and by the time they had reached that spot she
had moved farther still.
"We mustn't frighten her," said Fritz, "It's bad for the milk."
For some time they patiently followed her about, and at last just
as they were ready to lay hands upon her, she suddenly leaped
upon a rock and from that to a higher one, until she stood far
out of reach on a dizzy overhanging cliff.
"That Nanni!" cried Fritz wrathfully as he prepared to follow
her. "She'll break her pesky neck and mine too some day."
He climbed a tree for a short cut to the cliff and dropped from
an overhanging branch to the narrow shelf of rock in front of the
goat. Bello, meanwhile, ran back and forth below, barking like
everything, but quite unable either to follow Nanni up the steep
trail, or to climb the tree as Fritz had done.
"Come, Nanni," said Fritz, holding out his hand as he stepped
carefully toward her.
Nanni sniffed and backed. Leneli and Seppi watched from below,
breathless with anxiety. If she should back too much she might
fall over the cliff and be killed. If she should dash forward she
might knock Fritz over it instead. But Fritz was a wise goat-
boy! He put his hand in his pocket and drew out a handful of
salt, which he kept for just such times as this. He held it out
toward Nanni and carefully and slowly backed away from the edge
of the cliff, coaxing her to follow him. As she stepped forward,
he stepped back, and in this way led her by a roundabout path
down the farther side of the rocks to the place where the other
goats wore still feeding.
"Oh, Fritzi, I never could do that," said Leneli, hugging him
when he was on safe ground once more. "I should be so
"I could," said Seppi promptly; "I'm not afraid."
"Don't you try it, young man," said Fritz, "unless it's the only
thing you can do. The best goat-boy is the one who keeps his
goats from getting into such places. It's much cleverer to keep
out of trouble than to get out."
They gave up the milking lesson for the time being, but when the
long day was over and they were on their way down the mountain-
pass in the late afternoon, they came to a wide level space. Here
they paused, and, while Seppi stood with his arm about Nanni's
neck and fed her handfuls of green grass, Leneli really did milk
enough for a refreshing drink to sustain her on the long homeward
Singing, playing tunes on the horn, and rousing the ever-ready
echoes with their yodels, they ran down the steep mountain path
in a much shorter time than it had taken to climb it in the
morning, and came in sight of the old farm-house just as the
Angelus rang again in the little white village spire. They paused
on the mountain path and bent their heads, but Nanni was not a
religious goat! She remembered the glimpse she had had the night
before of green things growing in the garden and suddenly bolted
down the steep path at a break-neck speed. All the rest of the
flock followed pell-mell after her, and the children were obliged
to cut short their prayers in order to save the carrot-tops from
being eaten up.
The last mile was covered in record-breaking time, and before the
cuckoo clock struck seven the children and goats and dog all came
galloping into the yard together.
III. A MOUNTAIN STORM
A MOUNTAIN STORM
The next day, and the day after that, the same lesson was
repeated. The Twins went away with Fritz in the early morning and
stayed all day long with the goats and came home with him in the
sunset glow. But on the fourth day it was quite, quite different.
It was different not only because they were to go alone with the
goats for the first time, but also because it was the day when
the greatest event of the whole year was to happen.
On that very morning the cattle were to start away to the high
alps to be gone all summer! Every one in the little gray farm-
house was up with the dawn, and while Mother Adolf milked the
goats, the Twins took their breakfast to a high rock beside the
mountain path, where they could get a good view of the village
below. Father Adolf and Fritz had kissed Mother Adolf and the
baby good-bye before daylight, and had gone to the village to get
the cattle in line for their long march. They did not say good-
bye to the Twins, for they were to join the procession when it
passed the house; since for the first two miles the paths to the
high alps where the cattle grazed and to the goat-pastures were
Leneli and Seppi had finished their bread and milk and were
hopping about in great excitement on the hill-top, when suddenly
from the village below there was a burst of gay music and they
knew that the procession had begun to move. Seppi ran back to the
milking-shed as fast as his legs could carry him. "They're
coming, they're coming!" he shouted.
"Our goats are ready," said Mother Adolf. "You and Bello may take
them out to the path and wait there until the cattle have passed
by. Then you must fall in behind them with Father and Fritz and
go with them as far as the Giant Pine Tree that stands at the
parting of the paths. Father and Fritz will leave you there, and
you and Leneli must go on alone. You are sure you know the way?"
She looked anxiously into Seppi's blue eyes.
"Oh, yes, Mother," said Seppi, confidently. "Don't you worry. I
know it well, and so does Leneli. We can take care of the goats
just as well as Fritz. You'll see!"
Seppi, with Bello's help, drove the goats to a place where they
could crop the grass beside the mountain path, and there a few
moments later Mother Adolf joined them, dragging the baby in the
wooden cart. The procession was already in plain sight, winding
up the steep mountain path from the village. First came three
fine brindled cows, each with a bell as big as a bucket hanging
from her neck and a wreath of flowers about her horns. After them
came thirty more, each with a smaller bell, marching proudly
along in single file behind the leaders. All the bells were
jingling, and all the people who followed them from the village
were singing and yodeling until the air was full of jolly sounds.
The last cow in line carried the milking-stool on her horns, and
behind her walked Father and Fritz.
Bello, who understood very well what was going on, kept the goats
herded together beside the path, and when Seppi and Leneli,
singing and shouting with the rest, drove them forward, Bello
marched proudly right behind the goats, barking and waving his
tail like a flag.
Mother Adolf's heart swelled with pride as she watched her
husband and children march away so gayly, but when they had
disappeared from view and the music sounded fainter and fainter
as it grew more distant, she wiped her eyes on her apron. picked
up the Twins' breakfast-bowls, and went slowly with little Roseli
back to the lonely farm-house. The people from the village walked
but a little way up the mountainside, and when they too returned
to their homes, there were no mare songs and yodels; and a great
silence settled over the mountain.
Up and up the rocky trail wound the long train of cattle and
goats, until they came to the Giant Pine Tree, and here Father
Adolf and Fritz stopped.
"Remember, my children," said Father Adolf solemnly to the Twins,
"the goats are our only wealth. If they stray away and are lost
or fall over a cliff and are killed, the fault will be yours. You
must be faithful, watchful, and brave, and let nothing happen to
the goats lest we go hungry when winter comes." Then he and Fritz
said good-bye, and the children, feeling very solemn and
important, went on their lonely way.
Bello was a wonderful dog. He could count, for he always knew
when one of the goats was missing and would run about with his
nose to the trail until he found her, then he would bark at her
heels until she came back to join the flock. But, clever as he
was, he was puzzled when he saw the goats going in one direction
and Fritz in another. He stood at the parting of the paths and
looked first one way, then the other, and whined; then he dashed
"No, no, Bello, go with the goats," cried Fritz. Bello's ears and
tail drooped, and he looked pleadingly up at Fritz.
Fritz had given his little horn to Seppi, and now he shouted to
him, "Blow your horn." Seppi could not play Fritz's merry little
tune, but he blew a terrific blast, and Bello knew that he must
follow the sound of the horn, even though it meant parting from
his dear Fritz.
"Good old dog!" said Fritz, patting him; "go find them," and
Bello licked his hand, then tore away up the mountain after the
When he reached them, he tried to round them up and drive them
back to Fritz, and it was some time before Seppi could make him
understand that the goats must go to the pastures as usual. Then,
though he followed them faithfully, he did not run about in
circles and bark down every hollow log as he usually did.
Instead, he walked along solemnly beside Leneli with his nose in
"See, Seppi," she said, "he knows he must help with the goats,
but he wants to go with Fritz."
"There are lots of people in the world that know less than
Bello," Seppi answered wisely. He put the horn to his lips,
puffed out his cheeks, and blew with all his might. It made a
fearful noise, which was echoed from all the surrounding cliffs
and was answered by Fritz's yodel far away on the mountain
path. Bello pricked up his ears and whined. They called back and
forth in this way, the sounds growing fainter and fainter in the
distance, until they could no longer hear each other at ail, and
the Twins were for the first time quite alone on the mountain
with Bello and the goats.
When at last they reached the pasture, they threw themselves down
on the grass, and Leneli at once took her knitting out of her
pocket and went to work. Bello sighed and lay down beside her,
with his eyes on the goats. The sun was warm and it was very
still on the mountain-side. There was no sound except the tearing
noise made by the goats as they cropped the grass and the tinkle
of their bells. Then Seppi began to practice on his horn. He blew
and blew until he was red in the face, trying to play Fritz's
tune, but only a hoarse bellow came from its throat.
Leneli stood the noise for some time. Then she plucked a blade of
grass, stretched it across a hollow between her two thumbs, and,
when Seppi was not looking, blew with all her might right by his
ear! It made a fearful screech, which echoed and reechoed until
it seemed as if the very air had been broken into a million bits.
Seppi gave a screech of his own and clapped his hands over his
ears. "What did you do that for?" he said crossly, "just when I
was beginning to get the tune."
"Well," said Leneli, "you may have begun, but you were still a
long, long way from getting it! My noise was just as good as
yours! I'll stop if you will."
Seppi grumpily laid aside his horn and sat hugging his knees and
looking at the wonderful view spread out before them. Across the
valley the Rigi lifted its crest to the sky. Little toy villages,
each with its white spire, lay sleeping silently in the sunshine.
On the shores of the lake far below he could see the city of
Lucerne. It might have been a painted city, for not a sound
reached them from its busy streets, and there was no movement to
be seen except here and there the waving of a tiny thread of
smoke. On the lake the white sails looked, at that distance, like
tiny white butterflies hovering over the blue water.
"I suppose we can see almost the whole world from here; don't
you?" said Leneli.
"Pooh! no," Seppi answered loftily. "There's lots more to it than
this, though this is the best part of it, of course. Why, there
are oceans bigger than Lake Lucerne and a mile deep, and there's
Paris and London besides."
"Dear, dear," said Leneli. "Mother says we are very near to God
on the mountains, and I suppose He can look down and see
everybody and know just what they are doing all the time, but I
don't see how He possibly can keep track of all of us at once."
"He can't, silly,' answered her brother, still more loftily.
"Don't you know that the earth is round, so He can't see but one
side at a time, if He looks ever so hard? I suppose that's why He
made the nighttime. He shuts some of the people up in the dark
whole He watches the rest of them on the other side." Seppi had
never thought this out before, but he always tried to have some
answer to give to Leneli when she asked questions, or else she
might get the idea that he didn't know any more than she did.
Leneli usually believed whatever he told her, and, this question
being settled, she went on with her knitting.
The goats grazed peacefully about them; the air was very still
and grew quite warm in the sunshine. About the snow-white crest
of the Rigi little wisps of clouds were gathering. They grew
longer and longer and sank lower on the mountain-side.
"It's raining in Lucerne," said Seppi.
The clouds fell still lower and spread over the whole valley,
until the children from their high seat looked out over a sea of
mist. There were sounds of distant thunder from the rolling
clouds and vivid flashes of lightning far below them.
"It's a little lonesome up here with all the world shut away out
of sight, and nobody around but God; isn't it?" said Leneli
"There are the goats, and Bello," answered Seppi comfortingly. He
looked straight up into the sky. Little wisps of clouds were
gathering around the crest of old Pilatus now. The sun was
suddenly hidden, and he felt a drop of rain. "It's going to rain
here in a minute, and hard, too," he said.
"What shall we do?" cried Leneli, rolling up her knitting and
springing to her feet.
"Get wet, I guess," answered Seppi. "There's no shelter."
"There must be something," said Leneli. "I'll look, while you and
Bello get the goats together." She dashed away as she spoke, and
soon from a point farther down the mountain they heard her call.
Goats, Bello, and Seppi, all came thundering down the path
together and found her huddled under an overhanging rock,
sheltered by the branches of a spreading pine. Bello and Seppi
dived under the rock beside her, and the goats gathered close
about them just as the storm broke in earnest. The lightning
flashed, the thunder rolled, and the rain came down in torrents,
making a gray curtain of water about the rock. The children
shrank back under the shelter as far as they could go, and
neither one said a word, except once when a stream of water
suddenly ran down the back of Leneli's neck. Then she jumped and
said "Ow," in a voice that Seppi heard even above the roar of the
For a long time they sat there while the storm raged about them.
Then the thunder went roaring away farther and farther down the
valley, the rain ceased, and the sun came out.
"The storm's over," said Seppi. "Let's get out of here."
The goats had already scattered and were nibbling tufts of wet
grass, when the two children crawled out from under the rock.
Leneli's dress was quite muddy where the rain had come through
the crack and poured down her neck, and she was twisting herself
round, trying to see the extent of the damage, when suddenly
there was a terrific roar and rumble as if the thunder had begun
all over again, though the sky was blue and clear. Crash followed
crash, and there was a sound of great rocks falling from dizzy
mountain-heights far above them.
The children clung to each other in terror, the goats trembled,
and Bello crept farther under the rock. "The avalanche!" gasped
Leneli, shaking with fright. "Father thought there wouldn't be
any more this spring! Oh, I wish we were home!"
Far down the mountain-side there were sounds of mighty trees
being torn up by the roots and of rocks broken from the cliffs
and bounding from ledge to ledge.
It seemed as if the whole world were being torn to pieces. At
last the terrible roar ceased and a terrible silence settled over
the mountains. The children knew well the awful dangers of the
avalanche. Ever since they could remember they had heard stories
of travelers buried alive under masses of snow and ice, and of
whole villages swept away, or so covered with stones, trees, and,
earth that not a sign of them was ever seen again.
Their first thought was of their mother.
"Oh," shuddered Leneli, "do you suppose our house was in the path
Seppi thought a moment; then he said soberly, "No, that couldn't
be, for there is a wide hollow between our farm and the mountain-
slope that would have to be filled first. I'm quite sure no
avalanche could possibly carry the house away."
"Father--Fritz," sobbed Leneli.
"They are far round on the other side of the mountain by this
time," said Seppi, "where the sun has not yet had so much chance
to melt the snow and start avalanches. They could not have been
harmed by this one, for it fell on our side of the mountain."
"Let us start home anyway," said Leneli, "even if it is early. I
can't wait until night to know that Mother and Baby Roseli are
"We ought to keep the goats up here eating all day," objected
Seppi, "or they won't give any milk to-night."
"They may not give much anyway," answered Leneli, "because
they've been so frightened, but we will let them go slowly and
they can get a bite here and there as they go."
She took up her alpenstock, a long stick which she always carried
with her, hung the little bundle of lunch, tied up in a cloth,
from the end of it, put the stick over her shoulder, and, calling
Bello, began at once to herd the goats together.
Seppi followed her a little doubtfully, and soon they were all on
their way down the steep mountain path. The sun was now shining
again as brilliantly as ever; the white clouds were floating
lazily across the deep blue sky, and it did not seem as if
anything unusual could possibly have happened.
Seppi's conscience troubled him. "It was only a thunder-storm
after all," he said to Leneli, "and the avalanche is past and
gone. It can't do any more harm. I'm afraid Father wouldn't like
us to give up and go home now. He might think we were no better
than babies to be so scared when we know we aren't hurt."
Leneli did not answer, but she kept right on going, and for a
time they trudged along in silence. They had reached the Giant
Pine where the trails divided, and had rounded a bend in the
path, when Bello, who was a little way ahead with the goats,
suddenly set up a furious barking.
"It's that Nanni, I do not doubt," said Seppi. "She's probably
trying to break her neck somewhere." He dashed ahead and
disappeared around a high rock, Leneli following him at a slower
In a moment Seppi came running back to her, his face pale with
surprise and alarm.
"It isn't Nanni," he gasped, "it's the avalanche! It's all across
the pass! We can't get by."
He seized his sister's hand and dragged her to the top of the
rock which overlooked the pass, and there they gazed in dismay at
the scene before them. Where that morning the procession from the
village had so gayly followed the winding trail up the mountain-
side, there was now a great mass of rocks, ice, and snow
completely blocking the path. Worse than that, the avalanche had
made a dam across the bed of the mountain stream where the cattle
stopped to drink, turning it into a little lake which was growing
wider and deeper every moment. The goats were huddled together on
the brink, bleating anxiously, while Bello, completely
bewildered, ran back and forth, barking wildly.
The children knew well how serious their situation was; they were
alone on the mountain, the only pass to the village closed, and
without food except the lunch they had brought from home that
morning. For a few moments they watched the water rising steadily
in the little lake, too terrified to speak; then Leneli said,
"Let's go back to the Giant Pine and think."
Seppi blew his little horn, but, instead of rounding up the
goats, Bello only looked at him and whined. It had been a day of
tremendous surprises to Bello. First Fritz had left him; then
came the thunder-storm; then starting home in the middle of the
day instead of at the proper time; and now the path itself was
gone! No wonder he was bewildered. Seppi dashed down to the
water's edge and drove the goats up the trail again himself, and
while they snatched stray mouthfuls here and there about the pine
tree, he and Leneli sat down under it to think.
"We can't get home that way; that's certain," said Seppi,
pointing to the buried pass.
"And we can't stay here either," moaned Leneli; "not if there is
a way out in any direction."
"There's the path Father and Fritz took this morning," said
Seppi. "We might try that. It must go somewhere."
"Perhaps that is blocked too," said Leneli.
"I'll go a little way and see," said Seppi. "You stay here and
watch the goats."
"Give me your horn, then," said Leneli; "and I'll blow it every
little while so you can find your way back. You know Father
always tells us not to leave the path because it's so easy to get
"That's a good idea," said Seppi. "See if you can blow it."
Leneli put it to, her lips and blew until her face was purple,
but achieved only a dismal squawk.
"I'll keep the horn myself," said Seppi, taking it from her, "and
every little while I'll blow it. You can answer by blowing on a
grass stem the way you did up yonder. Girls can't manage a horn
Leneli was too miserable to reply, and in another minute Seppi
had disappeared up the strange path. For what seemed to her a
very long time, Leneli answered the horn, as it grew fainter and
fainter in the distance. Finally she could not hear it at all.
"Oh, what shall I do if Seppi's gone too?" she moaned when her
desperate signals brought no answer.
Then her Mother's words came back to her, and, plumping herself
down on her knees among the goats, she sent up a fervent prayer.
"Oh, dear God," she cried, clasping her hands, "Mother said we
should be very close to you on the mountain and I suppose you can
see me and Seppi both at the same time, from where you are.
Please, please send him back for I'm scared. Dear God, do please
hurry and help us find the way down the mountain before it gets
dark and you have to go away to watch the other side of the
She rose from her knees and listened. Far away there came the
sound of Seppi's horn. "Oh, thank you, God! There he comes!" she
dried joyfully, and, snatching a grass-blade, she put it between
her thumbs and gave an answering blast.
Soon Seppi himself came bounding into sight. "Come along," he
shouted, waving his hand frantically toward the path, and Leneli
at once called Bello, and together they started the goats.
"The avalanche must have begun on the other side of our pass,"
said Seppi when Leneli caught up with him. "There's no sign of it
on this side."
"Maybe if we follow far enough we'll find Father and Fritz," said
"I thought of that, too," answered Seppi, "but if there is any
way to get down the mountain, I think we ought to do it on
Mother's account. Father and Fritz won't know about it, so they
won't be anxious, but if we don't get home Mother will think we
"Oh, I wish we could fly," said Leneli.
"Then we must wish for wings on the goats too," said Seppi, "for
you know Father said we must take care of them whatever happens."
Sad and frightened though she was, Leneli giggled a little at
that. "Wouldn't they look funny flying through the air with you
and me and Bello all flopping after them?" she said. "Anyway,
they might go a little faster than they do now," she added
impatiently, giving Nanni a poke with her stick.
"They are hungry," said Seppi. "They hardly had time to eat
anything before the storm came up."
Then a bright idea came into his head. "I'm hungry, too," he
said, "and so are you. Let's eat our lunch while the goats get a
few mouthfuls among the rocks, and then we shall all have more
strength and shall get along faster."
IV. THE LONELY HERDSMAN
THE LONELY HERDSMAN
The sun was already dipping toward the west when they finished
the last crumb of their bread and cheese, washed it down with a
drink from the mountain stream, and started once more on their
journey. They followed the path without much difficulty, for it
had been trampled by the feet of many cattle that morning, and at
the end of an hour had covered several miles without meeting a
person or finding any sign of human habitation The way grew
wilder and wilder and wound slowly upward.
"It's going to be dark pretty soon," said Leneli at last, trying
hard to conceal the tremble in her voice, "and we are going up
instead of down. Seppi, do you suppose there are any bears and
wolves about here?"
"Maybe," said Seppi, and there was a little catch in his throat,
too. "But then," he added, trying hard to look on the bright side
of things, "if there are, they'd be much more likely to eat the
goats. I don't believe they care much about eating people."
"Well, anyway, if they do," quavered Leneli, "I hope they'll
begin with Nanni."
The afternoon waned; the shadows grew longer and longer, and they
wire just making up their minds that they must soon lie down
among the goats beside the trail and wait for morning, when a
turn in the path brought them out on a spur of the mountain where
they could look for miles across a deep valley towards the west.
On the farther side, range after range of snow-capped peaks gave
back the golden glory of the sunset, and from somewhere came the
sound of an Alpine horn playing the first few notes of the hymn
"Praise Ye the Lord."
"The Angelus!" cried Leneli clasping, her hands. "They can't hear
the church-bells up here, so they blow the horns instead."
Far away across the valley another horn answered, then another
and another, and the echoes took up the refrain until it seemed
as if the hills themselves were singing.
Following eagerly the direction of the sound the children were
overjoyed to see in the distance a lonely herdsman standing on a
great rock overlooking the valley, his long Alpine horn in his
hand, and his head bowed in prayer. Leneli and Seppi bowed their
heads too, and it comforted them to think that their mother in
the old farm-house, and Father and Fritz on the far-away alp,
were all at that same moment praying too. It seemed to bring them
near together in spite of the distance which separated them.
Their prayers said, the children hastened forward, driving the
goats before them, and now the sound of cow-bells mingled with
the tinkle of the bells on the goats. Another turn in the path
revealed a green pasture where a herd of cows was grazing, and,
just beyond, a rough shelter made of logs with the herdsman,
still holding his horn, standing beside it. He was gazing in
astonishment at the sight of two little children alone on the
mountains at so late an hour. He was an old man, with a shaggy
white beard, and strange kind eyes that seemed always looking for
something that he could not find. Beside him, his ears pointed
forward and his tail pointing back, was his dog. The dog was
For an instant the children stood still, not quite daring to go
nearer, but Bello, dear friendly old Bello, had no such fears. He
ran forward barking joyfully; the two dogs smelled each other,
and then trotted back down the path together as if they had been
friends since they were puppies.
The man followed at a slower pace. "What in the world are you
doing up here on the mountains with your goats at this time o'
day?" he said to the children.
The Twins told him their story, and he stood for a moment
scratching his head, as if he were much puzzled to know what to
do with them.
"Well," he said at length, "you can't get down the mountain
tonight, that's certain; and you must be hungry enough to eat an
ox roasted whole, that's certain too. And your goats are hungry
into the bargain. Goats aren't allowed in this pasture, but they
mustn't starve either. Nothing is as it should be."
He scratched his head again, and Leneli, fearing he was going to
turn them away, could not keep a large tear from rolling, down
her nose and splashing off her chin.
"There, there," said the old herdsman, comfortingly, "don't you
cry, sissy. Things aren't so bad but that they might be worse.
You can sleep in the hay up yonder," he jerked his thumb toward
the hut, "and I'll give you a bite to eat, and the goats will
help themselves, I've no manner of doubt."
"We can drink goat's milk," said Leneli timidly, "and you may
have all we don't take."
"We'll have to milk them first," said Seppi, "and we've never
done it before. Mother always does the milking."
"I know how," said Leneli proudly. "Don't you remember, Fritz
taught me the day Nanni swallowed my lunch?"
"I'll lend you a milk-pail," said the herdsman. "The cows were
all milked some time ago."
He went back to the but and soon reappeared with two pails, and
as Leneli struggled with one goat he milked another, while Seppi
fed both creatures with tufts of grass to keep them quiet. It was
the first good grass the goats had seen since morning, and
apparently they were determined to eat the pasture clean.
The herdsman looked at them anxiously and scratched his head
again. "They certainly have healthy appetites," he said woefully;
"they don't calculate to leave anything behind 'em but stones and
The milking took some time and after it was done, the old man
placed the sad and tired children on the bench beside his door,
and while they ate the food he gave them and watched the moon
rise over the mountains, he told them about his home in the
village fifteen miles away at the foot of the pass, and about his
wife and two grandchildren who lived there with him.
"The only thing you can do," he said, "is to go down the pass on
this side of the mountain. You can spend the night at my house or
at some farm-house on the way and it is only about ten miles back
to your own village from the foot of the pass."
"But how can we find the way?" quavered poor Leneli.
The old man scratched his head, as he always did when he was
puzzled, and finally said, "Well, I'm blest if I can tell you.
It's a hard pass. I'd go with you, but I'm alone here and I can't
leave the cows even for half a day. I'll start you right, the dog
and the goats have some sense of their own; and the good God will
guide you. Besides, Swiss boys and girls are never afraid."
"I'm a little afraid, I think," confessed Leneli. She looked at
the moon and thought how it must be shining down on the old farm-
house; and of her mother, who at that very moment must be frantic
with fears for their safety; and of the long and perilous journey
before they could see her again, and though she tried hard to
swallow them, three little sobs slipped out.
The old man heard them. "Why, bless me, bless me," he said,
rumpling his hair until it stood on end, "this will never do at
all! Why, bless us, think of William Tell! Think of Peter, who
lived long ago in your own Lucerne, and who saved the whole city!
To take a little herd of goats down a strange pass is child's
play compared with what he did; and he was only a boy like Seppi
here, and I always thought girls were braver than boys."
Leneli sat up and sniffed resolutely. "I think--I'm almost sure--
I'm going to be brave now," she said. "Tell us about Peter."
"Well, it was like this," said the herds- man. "Peter was a
smart, likely lad enough, but nobody thought he was a hero. In
fact, he never suspected it himself. You see, you can't tell
whether you are one or not until something happens that calls for
courage. Then if you do the right thing, whether you are afraid
or not, you'll know you are one. Well, one summer night this
Peter went out to have a swim in the lake, and when he crawled
upon the bank to dress again, he was so tired he fell asleep. By
and by he was wakened by voices and, opening his eyes, he saw
five or six men creeping stealthily along the lake-shore.
"'Aha,' says Peter to himself, 'that's not the walk of honest
"He got up on his elbow in the long grass and watched them
without being seen. He saw many more men steal silently after the
first group, and among them he recognized the Bailiff of
Rothenburg,whom he knew to be an Austrian and the sworn enemy of
Lucerne. He saw the men talk together and heard enough of what
they paid to be sure that danger threatened his beloved town. So
when they moved on, he followed them, slipping along behind rocks
and bushes, until suddenly they disappeared as if the earth had
swallowed them. Peter groped about hunting for them until at last
he saw a faint light shining from out a dark cavern among the
rocks. Then, though he knew how dangerous it was, he followed the
light and found himself in along, dark tunnel."
"Oh," shuddered Leneli. "I could never be as brave as that. I
don't like dark places."
"Peter knew that a tunnel ran underneath the walls of the town
and that the other end of it opened by a trap-door into a stable
in Lucerne," went on the old man without noticing Leneli's
interruption, "and at once he saw that some traitor must have
told the Austrians of this secret passage. He crept closer and
closer to the group of men, until he was near enough to hear what
they said. You may be sure his blood ran cold in his veins when
he heard the voice of a man he knew, telling the Austrians just
how best they could capture the town! He knew that terrible
things would happen in Lucerne that night if the enemy ever
reached the other end of the tunnel, and at once made up his mind
that he must alarm the town. He dropped on his hands and knees
and was beginning to crawl back toward the entrance, when he
heard some one coming into the tunnel! He sprang to his feet and
tried to run past, but the passage was narrow, and he was caught
at once and dragged into the light."
"Oh! Oh!" gasped the Twins, breathless with excitement. "It
sounds just like a bad dream."
"It was no dream," said the old herdsman, "for when the traitor,
whose name was Jean de Malters, saw Peter, he was terribly angry.
'How did you come here,' he roared, in a voice that made the
"'I was asleep on the bank and you woke me up, so I followed to
see what was going on,' said Peter.
"'I don't believe you. Some one sent you to spy upon us,' said
Jean de Matters, and he shook Peter. 'Who sent you?'
"'No one,' said Peter. 'I have told you the truth.'
"'You lie,' said his captor. "I give you just two minutes to tell
who sent you, and if you do not tell us then, you shall die!'
"Poor Peter thought of his home and his mother and father, and
there never was a more homesick boy in the world than he was at
that moment, but though he was terribly frightened, he did not
say a single word.
"'He shall die, then,' said Jean de Falters, when the two minutes
were up, and Peter had not spoken.
"One of the Austrians interfered. 'No,' he said. 'It would be bad
luck to begin the night's work by shedding the blood of a child.
Make him swear he will not tell what he has seen to any living
soul, and let him go.'
"In spite of Jean de Matters, who was bound that he should be
killed, that was what they did, and the moment he was free you
may be sure Peter ran like the wind for home.
"Now you see," said the old herdsman, and he shook his finger at
Seppi and Leneli, "I this was a dreadful position for Peter. He
had solemnly promised not to tell a living soul what he had seen
and heard, but if he didn't tell, his parents and friends would
be murdered before morning.
"That evening his father and a number of other men were gathered
together in the town hall of Lucerne to talk over community
affairs, when Peter suddenly burst into the room, his eyes as big
"The men gathered about him, thinking he must have some
tremendous piece of news, but Peter spoke never a word to them.
Instead, he marched up to the great porcelain stove that stood in
"'O Stove,' said Peter, 'I have just heard terrible things which
I have promised not to tell to a living soul, but you, O Stove,
have no soul, so to you I will say that the Austrians are now in
the tunnel underneath the walls and that at midnight they will
break in and sack the town.'
"At first the men thought Peter had gone crazy, but when he had
finished telling the stove all he had seen and heard, they flew
to alarm the town and get their weapons.
"At midnight, when the Austrians came up through the hole in the
stable floor, they were received by a little army of men of
Lucerne, and in the battle that followed they were completely
whipped and driven from the town forever. And it was Peter who
saved the city.
"You see that was Peter's chance to show what he was made of, and
he didn't miss his chance. He did the right thing, even though he
was afraid. It's a great thing not to miss one's chance."
The old herdsman looked up at the moon as if he hadn't meant any
one in particular when he said that about missing one's chance,
and the children didn't say a word for a minute.
Then Seppi said, "If Peter could save a whole town, I guess we
can get down that pass with a few goats."
"Why, of course," said the herdsman. "It's your chance, you see,
and when you get home very likely you'll find you are both
heroes. You see if there were never any danger, there never could
be any heroes at all! Now climb up into the hay, both of you, and
I'll wake you for an early start in the morning."
V. THE PASS
All night long the children slept soundly in the hayloft, with
the moon peering in at them through the chinks between the logs.
In the morning they were awakened by the music of cow-bells, and
by the voice of the old herdsman, who stuck his head up through
the hole in the floor and called out "Wake up, my young heroes!
The sun is already looking over the crest of Rigi, and it's time
you were on your way."
Seppi and Leneli sat up and rubbed their eyes, and for a moment
could not think where they were or how they came to be there.
Then they remembered, and, springing from their rude beds, ran
out into the glorious morning and washed their faces and hands in
the mountain stream that flowed near the hut. Then there were the
goats to be milked, and breakfast to be eaten, and the shadows
were already shortening when at last they were ready for their
lonely and dangerous journey.
The old herdsman packed some bread and cheese in their lunch-
cloth, Leneli slung the bundle on her alpenstock, and Seppi
called Bello to herd the goats. But the goats were well pleased
with the rich green grass of the alp, and were unwilling to leave
the pasture. They frisked and gamboled and stood on their hind
legs butting each other playfully, and it was some time before
Seppi and Bello could get them fairly started.
The old herdsman had done his milking very early in order to go a
little way with the children, and now, leaving the cows in charge
of his faithful dog, he led the way down the steep mountain path.
The morning air was so clear and sparkling and the sun shone so
bright upon the snow-capped peaks, that the children almost
forgot the dangers of the unknown path. It seemed impossible that
anything could happen to them in such a wonderful and beautiful
world, and they said good-bye quite cheerfully to the good old
herdsman when at last he stopped and told them he must go back to
his cheese-making. From the place where they stood, they could
see the path like a tiny thread, winding through forests, down a
long, narrow valley shut in by high cliffs, past waterfalls fed
by mountain snows, and losing itself at last where a tiny white
steeple marked the little village which was the home of the old
herdsman. The old man pointed to it. "Follow the path and
remember Peter of Lucerne," he said. "This is your chance! Trust
the good God, do not be afraid, and soon your troubles will be
over and you will be once more in your mother's arms." He stood
on a rock and watched the little procession until a bend in the
path hid it from sight, then he went back to his lonely pasture.
For an hour or so, the children trudged quite cheerfully on their
way. "This isn't hard at all," said Seppi. "The pass is easier to
follow than our own. How silly we were to be scared!"
They were so used to climbing about in perilous places that when
a little later the path led them along a shelf-like projection on
the side of steep cliffs, overhanging a mountain stream, they
were not frightened. But when they began to grow tired, and the
trail led them into a dark forest, where the sun came through the
thick boughs and shone only in patches of light upon the slippery
spruce needles, they grew less courageous.
"I don't like the forest," said Leneli, shivering a little and
looking behind her. "It always seems as if things would happen to
you in the woods."
"What kind of things?" said Seppi, who was beginning to feel a
bit shaky himself.
"Why--you know," answered Leneli, "the kind of things that giants
and dragons and dwarfs do! And then there's that story about
Pontius Pilate. You know our old Mount Pilatus was named that
because they say his body was thrown into one of its lakes, and
his spirit haunts the mountain. He only comes out once a year,
but oh, Seppi, suppose this should be the time!"
"Huh!" said Seppi scornfully. "Girls' talk! Of course I don't
believe such things; besides, he only comes out on Good Friday,
"Well," said Leneli, "lots of people do believe them, even grown-
"Pooh," said Seppi, and just to show that he didn't care at all
about such idle tales he began to whistle; but Leneli noticed
that he too looked behind him now and then.
It grew more and more difficult to find the way, for there were
openings between the trees that looked like paths and the true
path wound in and out, and came near losing itself entirely among
the rocks. The brown needles covered the ground in every
direction, so the pass was no different in color from the rest of
the forest floor. When they looked behind them or peered
fearfully under the spruce boughs for dwarfs or giants, of course
they were not watching the trail carefully, and so, when suddenly
there was a loud whirring noise above the trees and a great bird
flew almost over their heads, they were so startled they just ran
without noticing which way they were going. Bello was startled
too, and began to bark. This started the goats, and before you
could say "Jack Robinson" children, dog, goats, and all were
galloping pell-mell through the woods.
After the loud whirring noise the forest was still again, and the
children stopped their mad race, but they could not stop the
goats. On and on they ran with Bello after them, and there was
nothing for the children to do but follow, for had not their
father told them that the welfare of the whole family depended
upon the goats, and if any should be lost, they alone would be to
blame? Stumbling over roots, dodging trees and rocks, they
plunged wildly along until finally they saw a light spot ahead
and a moment later came out suddenly upon the edge of a
precipice, from which they could look straight down into a deep
valley below. The goats were there before them huddled together
an the brow of the cliff, bleating piteously. Bello sat on his
haunches with his tongue hanging out and looked at the scenery!
Seppi and Leneli looked at each other in dismay.
"Now you've done it!" said Seppi miserably. "We've lost the path,
and it's all your fault! If we had been thinking about Peter of
Lucerne instead of about those silly old giants and dwarfs, this
would not have happened."
"You were just as scared as I was," said Leneli, "and you needn't
try to lay it all on me! You jumped and ran just as soon as I
did, when that bird flew over our heads."
Seppi knew that this was true, so he said nobly: "Very well,
let's not quarrel about it. What we need to do is to get the
goats back to the path."
He took some salt from his pocket, as his big brother had taught
him to do, and walked slowly toward them, holding out his hand.
Nanni stretched her neck forward and had taken just one lick of
the salt when suddenly the loud whirring noise came again, there
was a terrific scream overhead, and from the crags above them a
great golden eagle swooped down towards the frightened group on
the cliff, and, sticking his terrible talons into Nanni's back,
tried to lift her bodily into the air! For an instant she swung
dizzily over the edge of the cliff as the eagle beat his wings
furiously in an effort to rise with his heavy burden. But in that
instant Seppi leaped forward and, seizing the goat by the tail,
pulled back with all his might. Leneli sprang to the rescue of
Seppi, grasping him firmly around the waist, and screaming like a
wildcat as she added her strength to his.
Meanwhile Bello barked furiously, and the rest of the goats fled
bleating into the woods in a mad stampede. It was all over in
less time that it takes to tell it. The goat, wounded and
bleeding, dropped to the ground, the great bird soared away into
the dizzy spaces beyond the cliff, and the children dashed into
the shelter of the woods, dragging Nanni after them. They could
not sink down on the ground and recover from their fright as they
longed to do, for by this time the goats had scattered among the
trees and must be brought together again at once. Bello was
distractedly trying to round them up, but as he had no idea of
the direction. in which to drive them, they were all galloping
wildly about, first this way, then that.
It was some time before the children succeeded in getting the
flock together again, but at last they were able to drive them
farther into the woods, and away from the dangers of the cliffs,
and were soon fortunate enough to come upon a little mountain
stream which was singing its way through the forest. Here the
goats stopped willingly to drink, and for the first time the
children were able to give some attention to Nanni. Her back was
torn and bloody, but her injuries were not serious and on the
whole she seemed little the worse for her experience.
"We must let all the goats rest a little," said Seppi. "There
isn't any food for them, but they can have a good drink while we
eat our lunch, and then we just must find that path."
They sat down on a rock and Leneli opened the bundle of food
which the old herdsman had given them. "Isn't it queer?" said
she, as she handed Seppi a piece of cheese, "I'm not as scared as
I was before that dreadful eagle came. Are you?"
Seppi paused with his mouth open for a bite. "Why, I'm not,
either!" he said with surprise.
Leneli's eyes grew big. "Seppi," said she earnestly, "do you
suppose, maybe, we're heroes like Peter of Lucerne, after all,
and never knew it?"
Seppi thought about this so seriously that for a minute he forgot
to eat. Then he said, "Why, of course we are! We were scared but
we did the right thing! My, but I'm glad!" He sighed with relief
and took a big bite and munched away in silence.
At last he said solemnly, "Of course, now that we know we really
are heroes, we won't be scared any more! We'll stop before we
Leneli looked doubtful. "I'm afraid I shall be scared again if we
don't find the Pass," she said. "We might die up here in the
mountains just like Moses in sight of the promised land. And some
time maybe a hunter would find our bones lying scattered about on
the ground." She sniffed a little at this pathetic picture, and
her eyes filled with tears.
"Look here," said Seppi, jumping to his feet and gazing down at
her sternly. "Is that any way for a hero to talk? They aren't
going to find any bones of mine, I can tell you! I'm going to get
down this mountain with all the goats, and so are you!"
"Well," said the heroine, doubtfully, "I was only supposing."
"Well, then, don't suppose that way," growled Seppi. "Just
suppose we find the pass and get somewhere in time for supper,
and get home to-morrow!"
At that very minute a bright thought struck him. "What a silly!"
he said. "Why didn't I think of it before? This stream runs down
hill, and if we follow it we shall have to get down to the
valley, too. Come along!"
He was in such a hurry to carry out his idea that he started at
once with his bread and cheese in his hand.
"But maybe it won't be anywhere near the village where the
herdsman's home is, if we do get down," objected Leneli; "we
ought to find the path."
"We'll be more likely to find it by following the stream," said
Seppi, giving a loud blast on his horn, "and if we don't find
that village, we'll find another place just as good. I'll bet
there are some kind people everywhere."
Bello was at that moment barking down a hollow log in the hope of
catching a hare, but he obediently rounded up the goats when
Seppi called him, and the little caravan began to move.
It was not so simple as it sounded. The stream had worn a deep
channel among the rocks. Trees had fallen across it, undermined
by the swift current. Here it roared through a narrow gorge and
there spread into a wide pool, then again plunged through
underbrush and among rocks in its haste to reach the lake far
below. The goats made slow progress and, whenever it was possible
to do so, wandered away into easier paths and had to be driven
At last, to their great relief, the children saw a break in the
trees, and they rushed joyfully forward, only to find that the
stream at this point leaped over a cliff in a waterfall fifty
feet high! The young explorers gazed at this new difficulty
without a word.
Far below in the green valley they could see little white specks
which were farm buildings, and tiny villages nestling among trees
along the banks of a wide stream. They could even see the glacier
which fed this river, lying like some huge white monster along
the valley, its broad nose thrust between the banks on either
"Every time we think we've found the way out, we just get deeper
in than ever," moaned Leneli, at last. "We can't get down this
way, and if we did we'd have to cross the glacier."
"It isn't a very big one," said Seppi, looking down at it.
"You can't tell from here," quavered Leneli.
Seppi looked about him. To the right the forest slopes stretched
upward toward the mountain-top. In front was the plunge, and at
the left the stream gurgled over rocks and stones to its fall.
"We'll just have to cross it," said Seppi firmly. He drove the
goats back a little way to a place where it was possible to ford
the stream, and in, a little while the whole caravan stood
dripping on the farther bank.
"I'm going to follow along the edge of this cliff," said Seppi,
"and you and the goats follow after me. I'm sure we shall find a
place where we can get down. I'll keep calling, so you'll know
which way to go.
He plunged into the forest at the word and was lost to sight, and
Leneli, driving the goats before her, plunged after him. Guided
by the sound of the waterfall, they forced their way through
underbrush, over great piles of rocks and around perilous curves,
seeking always the lower levels, until at last, when she was
almost ready to give up in despair, Leneli heard a joyful shout
from Seppi and, hastening forward, found him at the edge of the
forest, looking out over a wide range of foothills. The forest
was now behind them, and before them lay green slopes spangled
like the stars in the milky way with yellow daffodils and blue
The goats, wild with delight at seeing fresh pasturage, leaped
forward and began to browse, and dear old Bello sat down on his
haunches with his tongue hanging out and gazed upon the scene as
benevolently as if his own stomach were full instead of empty.
The children were so weary they threw themselves down in the
grass beside him to rest.
Now that they had escaped the perils of the forest, it almost
seemed to them for a little while as if their troubles were over,
but by and by Seppi sat up and studied the scene before them. He
looked past the long slopes to the glacier and the river in the
"We've got to get across that somehow," he said to Leneli, at
last, pointing to the stream, "and there are only two ways of
doing it. When we get down there, we must either go through the
river, or across the glacier which feeds it."
"We can't go through it," answered Leneli. "We don't know how
deep it is."
"Then it will have to be the glacier," said Seppi, "and I'm glad
goats are so sure-footed. We'd better start along, for it's
getting later every minute, and I'm bound to reach that farm-
house before dark." He pointed to a speck in the distance.
"Oh, dear," sighed Leneli, as she followed his finger with her
eye, "it's like dying to get to heaven! Suppose we fall into
cracks in the glacier?"
"You're the worst supposer I ever saw," snapped Seppi. " Suppose
we don't fall in! Suppose we get across all right with all the
goats, and suppose there's a good woman at the farm-house who
feeds us, and Bello too! Suppose she gives us... what would you
like best for supper, Leneli?"
"Oh!" cried Leneli, clasping her hands, "soup and pancakes!"
"Hurry up, then," said Seppi. "We shall surely never get them,
nor anything else, by staying here."
Leneli struggled to her feet, and once more they moved forward.
Half an hour of brisk walking brought them to the edge of the
glacier, and here Seppi arranged their marching order.
"I'll go first," he said, "the same as a guide, then the goats,
and then you and Bello. You must watch every step, and keep
sticking in your alpenstock to be sure you are on solid ice. If
you don't, you might strike a hollow place and fall through the
"I'll be careful," said Leneli.
"All right, then! here we go!" said Seppi. "I can just smell
those pancakes!" and with that he set out across the river of
The children understood very well the dangers of the glaciers. It
was not simply a frozen stream on which one might skate. It was a
great slow-moving, grinding avalanche of ice and rocks, full of
seams and cracks and holes, which was creeping steadily down the
valley. The river formed by the melting snows, gushed forth from
beneath it and rushed away to join the lake still far below.
Even the goats knew it was a perilous journey, and besides they
were unwilling to leave the rich grass of the fields, so it was
with some difficulty that they were finally driven forward upon
the glacier. Seppi led the way, blowing on his little horn to
encourage them, trying every step with his stick, and waiting for
them to catch up before going farther. They were nearly half way
across, when Seppi stopped and called to Leneli to stand still.
There in front of him yawned a wide crevasse. The frozen river
had cracked open, and if they went forward in a straight line
they would plunge down into an ice prison from which they could
never escape alive.
It was the hardest puzzle and the greatest danger they had met in
their whole journey, and for a minute poor Seppi almost gave up
in despair. He thought they would have to go back and try the
river after all. Shouting to Leneli to keep the goats together if
she could, he turned and made his way up-stream along the edge of
the crevasse. It grew narrower as he followed it, and broke into
a number of smaller cracks.
The only way to get to the other side was to follow along these
smaller cracks where they made a crooked natural bridge across
the chasm. Even Seppi's stout heart quailed a little as he gazed
down into the depths of the huge rifts. The walls of ice gleamed
with wonderful greens and blues, but he had no heart to admire
the beautiful colors.
"Remember Peter of Lucerne, and come on," he shouted back to
Leneli, and without another word started across the treacherous
ice bridge. It made no difference whether she was frightened or
not, Leneli simply had to follow him even though the goats, sure-
footed as they were, shrank from the journey, and Bello hung back
"Follow exactly in my footsteps," shouted Seppi, and Leneli
swallowed a lump in her throat, grasped her alpenstock more
firmly and went forward.
"Don't look down into the hole! Look at the bridge across it!"
He stepped carefully forward, finding solid footing with his
stick before each step, and in a short time stood safely on the
other side of the chasm. There he waited and held his breath,
while the goats picked their way daintily across the ice bridge
after him, and when Leneli and Bello at last reached his side, he
hugged them both for joy.
"There," he said, "there can't be anything worse than that, and
we'll soon be on green grass again.
They passed other smaller crevasses, but they could make their
way around the ends of these, and it was not long before they had
scrambled over the rocks at the glacier's edge and once more
stood on solid ground. Even Bello seemed to realize that their
troubles were now nearly over, for he barked and ran round them
in circles and leaped up with his paws on their shoulders to give
them dog kisses, and, as for his tail--he nearly wagged it loose
in his joy. The goats sprang forward to reach the grass, and when
the children drove them on, snatched greedy mouthfuls as they
passed. The children could see the farm-house growing from a mere
speck larger and larger as they came down the valley toward it,
and at last the little group of stragglers pattered into the door-
The noise of bleating goats and a barking dog brought the
farmer's wife to the door, and for a moment she stood there with
her baby in her arms and looked down at them in astonishment,
just as the old herdsman had done on the mountain.
"Where in the world did you come from?" she cried at last. "Who
are you? and what do you want here?"
Leneli opened her mouth to answer, but when she saw the woman's
kind face, and the baby sucking its thumb and looking at them
solemnly, it reminded her so of her mother and Baby Roseli that,
instead of explaining, she burst into tears.
The woman clattered down the steps of once, put her free arm
around Leneli, and patted her comfortingly, while Seppi told her
their story. Before he had got farther than the avalanche part of
it, she seemed to guess all the rest. It was not the first time
that people had been lost on the mountain.
"Come right in this minute," she cried. "Don't stop to talk! You
must be as hungry as wolves. I'll get you something to eat, and
then you can tell me every word."
"Please," said Leneli timidly, drying her tears, "could you give
Bello something first? The goats have had a little grass and we
had some bread and cheese, but Bello hasn't had a bite all day."
"Bless my soul!" said the woman. "What a little woman it is, to
think first of the dog! Here," she cried to Seppi; "take this
bone to him right away, and shut up the goats in the barn-yard.
Then come back and I'll give you whatever you like best, if I've
"If you please, ma'am," said Seppi, his eyes shining, "up on the
mountain when we were lost, we saw your house and we just
supposed that maybe you might have soup and pancakes!"
"Bless my soul!" cried the woman. "Soup and pancakes it shall be,
and that's soon ready!"
She put the baby into Leneli's arms and flew about the kitchen,
rattling pots and pans, stirring up the fire, and mixing her
batter; and when Seppi returned, the smell of pancakes was
already in the air, and the soup was bubbling in the pot. In five
minutes more the children were seated at the kitchen table with
steaming bowls before them, while their new friend cooked a pile
of pancakes that it would have warmed the cockles of your heart
The farmer himself was far away on the high alps with his cattle,
and came down the mountain only once in a while with a load of
cheeses on his back. His wife was very lonely in his absence and
was glad to have company, if only for a single night; so she
comforted the children and talked with them about their mother,
and piled pancakes on their plates until they could not hold
another mouthful. Then she helped them milk the goats, and when
the sun went down, sent them to bed so they would be well rested
for their long walk the next day.
VI. NEW FRIENDS AND OLD
VI. NEW FRIENDS AND OLD
When the children came into the kitchen the next morning, they
found their new friend beating mush and milk together for their
breakfast, and there was a smell of coffee in the air.
"Sit right down and eat," said she, pushing a stool toward the
table with her foot. "I've milked the goats for you. They didn't
give much, poor things, and it's no wonder, after such a day as
they had yesterday! The wonder is that they gave any at all. I've
made coffee for you, for you've a long day ahead of you, and it
will cheer up your insides. It's a lucky thing for you the day is
so fine. I thought I heard it rain in the night, but old Pilatus'
head has no cloud cap this morning, and he is a good weather
The baby was already seated in her high chair at the table,
beating upon it with a spoon to welcome them, and the children
were soon seated beside her putting away a great store of the
good mush. The farmer's wife had no one but the baby to talk to
during the long days when her husband was away, and she made the
most of her time while the children were with her. She told them
all about her cows and her pigs and her chickens, just how much
hay her husband brought down from his highland meadow on his back
the previous summer, and how many cheeses he expected to bring
home from the alp at the end of the season. And when at last they
had eaten all they could, she put up a lunch for them, and gave
them full directions for reaching their own village.
"It's not hard at all," said she, "for though it is still a long
way to the foot of the mountain, you've only to follow the road,
and if you don't know which turn to take at a cross-roads,
there'll always be somebody to ask somewhere along the way. If
you could get so far down the mountain and across the glacier by
yourselves you've nothing to fear now, and you'd better make all
the speed you can, for my heart bleeds for your poor mother. She
must be half dead with anxiety by now."
She kissed them good-bye at the door and stood with her baby on
her arm, gazing after them when they drove the goats out of the
door-yard and started down the highway toward their home. They
did not forget to thank their kind hostess, and after they had
started turned again and again to wave a farewell to her. She
waved to them in return, and the baby also fluttered her tiny
pink hand until they were quite out of sight.
"We'll never forget her, shall we?" said Leneli.
"Never," answered Seppi, fervently. "She's almost as good as
Mother! And doesn't she make good pancakes, though?"
They set their faces northward and trudged along, hurrying rather
than slacking their speed as the miles lengthened behind them,
for as the distance between them and their home shortened, their
eagerness to get there increased. It was a good twelve miles from
the farm-house where they had spent the night to their own
village, and a mile this side of the village and a mile up the
mountain-slope was their own dear home. This, to the sturdy Swiss
boy and girl, brought up in the mountains, was not a hard walk,
but they knew that goats must not be driven too fast if they are
expected to give any milk, so it was late afternoon before the
cavalcade reached the foot of their own hill-side and began the
last climb of the weary journey.
The children could see their own roof, weighted down by stones,
peeping over the edge of the hill long before they were anywhere
near it, and they fastened their homesick eyes upon it as a
sailor fixes his upon the North Star at sea. Now they could see
the whole house, with the goat-shed and cow-stables back of it,
the straw-stack, and the southern slope of the garden.
They strained their eyes for a glimpse of their mother, but there
was no movement to be seen anywhere about the place. Even the
breeze had died down, so there was not so much as a flutter among
the trees as they drew nearer and nearer. At last, unable to hold
themselves back longer, they broke into a run and came dashing
into the yard with all the goat-bells jingling, Bello barking,
and their own voices raised in a joyful shout: "Mother, Mother,
where are you? We're home!"
But to their surprise and great disappointment, there was no
answer. The house was as still as if it were asleep. Leaving the
goats to Bello, the children dashed into the kitchen. There was
no one there, and there was no sound but the loud tick-tock of
the cuckoo clock. They dashed upstairs to the bedrooms and back
again to the kitchen. Everywhere silence.
"It's just as if the house were dead when Mother isn't in it,"
sobbed Leneli. "Where can she be? And Roseli too!"
"Roseli is where Mother is, you maybe sure," said Seppi.
They ran outdoors again, and found Bello barking madly at Nanni,
who was having a blissful time with the carrot-tops, which she
refused to leave even when Bello, who knew very well she
shouldn't be in the garden at all, nipped at her heels.
"We'll have to shut up the goats," said Seppi, as he ran to
They drove them into the shed, gave them some hay, and then
rested their weary legs for a moment, siting on the kitchen
steps, while they considered what to do next.
Then an awful thought struck Leneli. "The avalanche!" she gasped.
"Maybe she was caught by it!"
Seppi grew pale and gulped down a sob. "No," he said, when after
a moment he could speak. "I don't believe it! There's no sign of
the avalanche about here, and Mother never goes away from home.
She's trying to find us; that's what she's doing!"
Leneli collapsed on the step. "Oh, Seppi," she cried, "do you
suppose she's lost on the mountain just as we've found ourselves
and got home again?" The thought was too much for her, and she
"Well," said Seppi, "crying won't do any good. Let's go and see
if we can find her."
Weary as they were, they started at once to their feet to begin
this new quest, even though the shadows were long across the
flower-starred mountain-slopes and the sun was already sinking
toward the west.
As they rounded the corner of the house, Seppi gave a joyful
shout and pointed up the goat-path toward the mountain. There, a
long distance off, they saw their mother coming toward them with
Baby Roseli in her arms! Even at that distance they could see
that she looked weary and sad, for her head drooped and her step
was slow. All their own weariness vanished like magic at sight of
her, and with a shout that waked the echoes on old Pilatus they
bounded up the path to meet her.
She heard the shout, and shading her eyes with her hand, looked
eagerly in the direction of the sound, and in another minute
mother and children were clasped in each other's arms, while Baby
Roseli crowed with delight from a nest in the midst of grass and
flowers where she had been suddenly deposited.
For a moment they gave themselves up to the joy of reunion, then
Seppi said proudly: "We brought the goats safely home, Mother.
They are all in the shed."
"I thought you had been swallowed up by the avalanche," sobbed
their mother, clasping them again to her heart. "All the men of
the village are now up the mountainside searching for you and
trying to break a fresh path to the goat-pastures. They must be
told that you are safe."
She sprang to her feet, and started back up the path. Then she
thought of Seppi's horn. "Blow," she cried, "blow Fritz's tune if
you can. They all know it, and some of them are near enough to
Seppi put the horn to his lips and blew. At first it was only a
dismal squawk; then, though it sounded much like the crowing of a
young rooster in imitation of an old one, he did manage to
achieve the first few notes of Fritz's tune. Soon a head appeared
above a rock far up the trail, then a whole man scrambled to the
top of it and gazed earnestly at the little group in the path
Again Seppi sounded his horn, his mother flung out her apron like
a flag of victory, and all of them, including Roseli, waved their
arms so joyously that there was no mistaking the message. With an
answering shout the man dropped out of sight again behind the
rock, and a few moments later they saw him running down the
hillside toward the village.
Soon the church-bell was clanging joyfully from the belfry,
carrying the news of the wanderers' safe return to every one
within hearing distance. Bells from the adjoining village joined
the clamor, and horns answering from distant crags told the glad
news. The toilers on the mountain-side heard and rejoiced.
>From the cliffs where the echoes lived came shout after shout,
and soon the women of the village, who had been watching with the
distracted mother and helping in the work of the men, came
hurrying down the goat-path to welcome the wanderers and rejoice
over their safe return. They were joined by one and another of
the men as they returned from the mountain-side, until quite a
group had gathered in the blossoming field to hear the children
tell the story of their perilous adventures. They were standing thus
when the sun dipped behind the western hills and the Angelus once
more called the countryside to prayer. With grateful hearts and
bowed heads, neighbors and friends gave thanks to God for his
mercies, then scattered to their own firesides, leaving the happy
mother and children together.
When they entered the kitchen of the old farm-house once more,
the tiny wooden cuckoo hopped out of his tiny wooden door and
shouted "cuckoo" seven times, and when they had eaten their
supper, and the children sat beside the great stove telling their
mother all over again about the old herdsman, and the eagle, and
the farmer's wife, and all the other events of their three days
on the mountain, the cuckoo waited fifteen whole minutes beyond
the hour before he could make up his mind to remind them of
bed=time. Then he stuck his head out once more and cried "cuckoo"
quite hysterically eight times. Even then they lingered to talk
about Father and Fritz far away in the high alps, and of how glad
they were that they knew nothing of the dangers and anxieties
they had just been through.
"Dear me!" said the mother, rising at last, "how fast the time
goes when we are happy! It's long past your bed hour, and you
must be very tired. We must stop talking this very minute!"
She sent the children upstairs, tucked them in bed, heard their
prayers, and kissed them good-night. Their she came back to the
kitchen, patted Bello, why was sound asleep on the doorstep,
looked at the moon rising over the crest of Rigi, fastened the
door, pulled up the weights to wind the clock, and, taking her
candle, went upstairs to bed herself.
When at last the sound of her footsteps ceased, and the house was
quiet for the night, the cuckoo stuck out his head and looked
about the silent kitchen. The moonlight streamed in at the
eastern window, the little mouse was creeping from her hole, and
the shadows were whispering together in corners.
"On the whole," said the cuckoo to himself, "I think I've managed
this thing very well. Every one is happy again, and now I can
take a little rest myself. The past three days have been very
wearying to one with my responsibilities."
"Cuckoo," he called nine times, then the tiny wooden door clapped
shut, and he too went to sleep.
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