What Sami Sings with the Birds
Produced by Suzanne Shell, Mary Meehan, and Distributed Proofreaders
WHAT SAMI SINGS WITH THE BIRDS
TRANSLATED BY HELEN B. DOLE
[Illustration: "Up in the ash-trees the birds piped and sang merrily
FIRST OLD MARY ANN
SECOND AT THE GRANDMOTHER'S
THIRD ANOTHER LIFE
FOURTH HARD TIMES
FIFTH THE BIRDS ARE STILL SINGING
SIXTH SAMI SINGS TOO
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
UP IN THE ASH-TREES THE BIRDS PIPED AND SANG MERRILY TOGETHER.
WHERE HAVE YOU COME FROM WITH ALL YOUR HOUSEHOLD GOODS?
SUCH STRAY WAIFS AS YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO DO ANYTHING.
WHAT SAMI SINGS WITH THE BIRDS
OLD MARY ANN
For three days the Spring sun had been shining out of a clear sky and
casting a gleaming, golden coverlet over the blue waters of Lake Geneva.
Storm and rain had ceased. The breeze murmured softly and pleasantly up
in the ash-trees, and all around in the green fields the yellow
buttercups and snow-white daisies glistened in the bright sunshine. Under
the ash-trees, the clear brook was running with the cool mountain water
and feeding the gaily nodding primroses and pink anemones on the
hillside, as they grew and bloomed down close to the water.
On the low wall by the brook, in the shadow of the ash-trees, an old
woman was sitting. She was called "Old Mary Ann" throughout the whole
neighborhood. Her big basket, the weight of which had become a little
heavy, she had put down beside her. She was on her way back from La Tour,
the little old town, with the vine-covered church tower and the ruined
castle, the high turrets of which rose far across the blue lake. Old Mary
Ann had taken her work there. This consisted in all kinds of mending
which did not need to be done particularly well, for the woman was no
longer able to do fine work, and never could do it.
Old Mary Ann had had a very changeable life. The place where she now
found herself was not her home. The language of the country was not her
own. From the shady seat on the low wall, she now looked contentedly at
the sunny fields, then across the murmuring brook to the hillside where
the big yellow primroses nodded, while the birds piped and sang in the
green ash-trees above her, as if they had the greatest festival to
"Every Spring, people think it never was so beautiful before, when they
have already seen so many," she now said half aloud to herself, and as
she gazed at the fields so rich in flowers, many of the past years rose
up and passed before her, with all that she had experienced in them.
As a child she had lived far beyond the mountains. She knew so well how
it must look over there now at her father's house, which stood in a field
among white-blooming pear-trees. Over yonder the large village with its
many houses could be seen. It was called Zweisimmen. Everybody called
their house the sergeant's house, although her father quite peacefully
tilled his fields. But that came from her grandfather. When quite a young
fellow, he had gone over the mountains to Lake Geneva and then still
farther to Savoy. Under a Duke of Savoy he had taken part in all sorts of
military expeditions and had not returned home until he was an old man.
He always wore an old uniform and allowed himself to be called sergeant.
Then he married and Mary Ann's father was his only child. The old man
lived to be a hundred years old, and every child in all the region round
knew the old sergeant.
Mary Ann had three brothers, but as soon as one of them grew up he
disappeared, she knew not where. Only this much she understood, that
her mother mourned over them, but her father said quite resignedly
every time: "We can't help it, they will go over the mountains; they
take it from their grandfather." She had never heard anything more
about her brothers.
When Mary Ann grew up and married, her young husband also came into the
house among the pear-trees, for her father was old and could no longer do
his work alone. But after a few years Mary Ann buried her young husband;
a burning fever had taken him off. Then came hard times for the widow.
She had her child, little Sami, to care for, besides her old, infirm
parents to look after, and moreover there was all the work to be done in
the house and in the fields which until now her husband had attended to.
She did what she could, but it was of no use, the land had to be given up
to a cousin. The house was mortgaged, and Mary Ann hardly knew how to
keep her old parents from want. Gradually young Sami grew up and was able
to help the cousin in the fields. Then the old parents died about the
same time, and Mary Ann hoped now by hard work and her son's help little
by little to pay up her debts and once more take possession of her fields
and house. But as soon as her father and mother were buried, her son
Sami, who was now eighteen years old, came to her and said he could no
longer bear to stay at home, he must go over the mountains and so begin a
new life. This was a great shock to the mother, but when she saw that
persuasion, remonstrance and entreaty were all in vain her father's words
came to her mind and she said resignedly, "It can't be helped; he takes
it from his great-grandfather."
But she would not let the young man go away alone, and he was glad to
have his mother go with him. So she wandered with him over the mountains.
In the little village of Chailly, which lies high up on the mountain
slope and looks down on the meadows rich in flowers and the blue Lake
Geneva, they found work with the jolly wine-grower Malon. This man, with
curly hair already turning grey and a kindly round face, lived alone with
his son in the only house left standing, near a crooked maple-tree.
Mary Ann received a room for herself and was to keep house for Herr
Malon, and keep everything in order for him and his son. Sami was to work
for good pay in Malon's beautiful vineyard. The widow Mary Ann passed
several years here in a more peaceful way than she had ever known before.
When the fourth Summer came to an end, Sami said to her one day:
"Mother, I must really marry young Marietta of St. Legier, for I am so
lonely away from her."
His mother knew Marietta well and besides she liked the pretty, clever
girl, for she was not only always happy but there were few girls so good
and industrious. So she rejoiced with her son, although he would have to
go away from her to live with Marietta and her aged father in St. Legier,
for she was indispensable to him. Herr Malon's son also brought a young
wife home, and so Mary Ann had no more duties there, and had to look out
for herself. She kept her room for a small rent, and was able to earn
enough to support herself. She now knew many people in the neighborhood,
and obtained enough work.
Mary Ann pondered over all these things, and when her thoughts returned
from the distant past to the present moment, and she still heard the
birds above her singing and rejoicing untiringly, she said to herself:
"They always sing the same song and we should be able to sing with them.
Only trust in the dear Lord! He always helps us, although we may often
think there is no possible way."
Then Mary Ann left the low wall, took her basket up again on her arm and
went through the fragrant meadows of Burier up towards Chailly. From time
to time she cast an anxious look in the direction of St. Legier. She knew
that young Marietta was lying sick up there and that her son Sami would
now have hard work and care, for a much smaller Sami had just come into
the world. Tomorrow Mary Ann would go over and see how things were going
with her son and if she ought to stay with him and help.
Mary Ann had scarcely stepped into her little room and put on her house
dress, to prepare her supper, when she heard some one coming along with
hurried footsteps. The door was quickly thrown open and in stepped her
son Sami with a very distressed face. Under his arm he carried a bundle
wrapped up in one of Marietta's aprons. This he laid on the table, threw
himself down and sobbed aloud, with his head in his arms:
"It is all over, mother, all over; Marietta is dead!"
"Oh, for Heaven's sake, what are you saying?" cried his mother in the
greatest horror. "Oh, Sami, is it possible?"
Then she lifted Sami gently and continued in a trembling voice:
"Come, sit down beside me and tell me all about it. Is she really dead?
Oh, when did it happen? How did it come so quickly?"
Sami willingly dropped down on a chair beside his mother. But then he
buried his face in his hands and went on sobbing again.
"Oh, I can't bear it, I must go away, mother, I can't bear it here any
longer, it is all over!"
"Oh, Sami, where would you go?" said his mother, weeping. "We have
already come over the mountains, where would you go from here?"
"I must go across the water, as far as I possibly can, I can't stay here
any longer. I cannot, mother," declared Sami. "I must go across the great
water as far as possible!"
"Oh, not that!" cried Mary Ann. "Don't be so rash! Wait a little, until
you can think more calmly; it will seem different to you."
"No, mother, no, I must go away. I am forced to it; I can't do any
different," cried Sami, almost wild.
His mother looked at him in terror, but she said nothing more. She seemed
to hear her father saying: "It can't be helped. He takes it from his
grandfather." And with a sigh she said:
"It will have to be so."
Then there sounded from the bundle a strange peeping, exactly as if a
chicken were smothering inside. "What have you put in the bundle, Sami?"
asked the mother, going towards it, to loosen the firmly tied apron.
"That's so, I had almost forgotten it, mother," replied Sami, wiping
his eyes, "I have brought the little boy to you, I don't know what to
do with it."
"Oh, how could you pack him up so! Yes, yes, you poor little thing," said
the grandmother soothingly, taking the diminutive Sami out of one
wrapping and then a second and a third.
The father Sami had wrapped the little baby first in its clothes, then in
a shawl, and then in the apron as tight as possible, so that it couldn't
slip out on the way, and fall on the ground. When little Sami was freed
from the smothering wrappings and could move his arms and legs he fought
with all his limbs in the air and screamed so pitifully that his
grandmother thought it seemed exactly as if he already knew what a great
misfortune had come to him.
But father Sami said perhaps he was hungry, for since the evening before
no one had paid any attention to the little baby. This seemed to the
sympathetic Mary Ann quite too cruel, and she realised that if she didn't
care for the poor little mite it would die. She wrapped him up again
carefully in his blanket, but not around his head, and carried him
upright on her arm, not under it, as one carries a bundle. Then she ran
all around her room to collect milk, a dish and fire together, so that
the starving little creature might have some nourishment. As she sat on
her stool, and the little one eagerly sipped the milk, while his tiny
little hand tightly clasped his grandmother's forefinger like a
life-preserver, she said, greatly touched:
"Yes, indeed, you little Sami, you poor little orphan, I will do what I
can for you and the dear Lord will not forsake us."
And to the big Sami she said:
"I will keep him, but don't take any rash steps! In the first great
sorrow many a one does what he later regrets. See, you can't run away
from sorrow, it runs with you. Stay and bear what the dear Lord sends. He
is not angry with you. Hold to him still in time of sorrow, then the sun
will shine tomorrow! It will be the same with you as it has been with so
many others." Sami had listened in silence, but like one who does not
understand what he hears.
"Good night, mother! May God reward you for what you do for the boy," he
said then, after wiping his eyes again. Then he pressed his mother's
hand, and went out of the door.
AT THE GRANDMOTHER'S
Old Mary Ann had now to begin over again, where she had left off
twenty-one years before, to bring up a little Sami. But then she was
fresh and strong, she had her husband by her side, and lived at home
among friends and acquaintances. Now she was in a strange land and was a
worn-out woman, and felt that her strength would not last much longer.
But little Sami did not realise all this. He was tended and cared for as
if his grandmother wanted to make up to him every moment for what he had
lost, and she was always saying to him, pityingly:
"You poor little thing, you have nobody in the world now but an old
Moreover it was so. Father Sami could not be consoled. As soon as his
young wife was buried he went away, and must have landed a long time ago
in the far away country.
Little Sami grew finely, and as his grandmother talked with him a great
deal, he began very early to imitate her. His words became more and more
distinct, and when the end of his second year came, he talked very
plainly and in whole sentences. His grandmother didn't know what to do
for joy, when she realised that her little Sami spoke not a word of
French, but pure Swiss-German, as she had heard it only in her native
land. He spoke exactly like his grandmother, who was indeed the only one
he had to talk with.
Now every day her baby gave her a new surprise. First he began to say
after her the little prayer she repeated for him morning and evening;
then he said it all alone. She had to weep for joy when the little one
began to sing after her the little Summer song she had learned in her own
childhood and had always sung to him, and one day suddenly knew the whole
song from beginning to end and sang one verse after another without
In spite of all the grandmother's trouble and work, the years passed so
quickly to her, that one day when she began to reckon she discovered that
Sami must be fully seven years old. Then she thought it was really time
that he learned something. But suddenly to send the boy to a French
school when he didn't understand a word of French seemed dreadful to her,
for he would be as helpless as a chicken in water. She would rather try,
as well as she possibly could, to teach him herself to read. She thought
it would be very hard but it went quite easily. In a short time, the
youngster knew all his letters, and could even put words together quite
well. That something could be made out of this which he could understand
and which he did not know before was very amusing to him, and he sat over
his reading-book with great eagerness. But to go out with his grandmother
to deliver her mending and to get new work was a still greater pleasure
to him, for nothing pleased him better than roaming through the green
meadows, then stopping at the brook to listen to the birds singing up in
The changeable April days had just come to an end and the beaming May sun
shone so warm and alluring that all the flowers looked up to it with
wide-open petals. Mary Ann with Sami by the hand, her big basket on her
arm, was coming along up from La Tour. The boy opened both his eyes as
wide as he could, for the red and blue flowers in the green grass and the
golden sunshine above them delighted him very much.
"Grandmother," he said taking a deep breath, "to-day we will sit on the
low wall for twelve long hours, won't we, really?"
"Yes, indeed," assented his grandmother, "we will stay there long enough
to get well rested and enjoy ourselves; but when the sun goes down and it
grows dark, then we will go. Then all the little birds are silent in the
trees and the old night-owl begins to hoot."
This seemed right to Sami, for he didn't want to hear the old owl hoot.
Now they had reached the wall. A cool shadow was lying on it; below the
fresh brook murmured, and up in the ash-trees the birds piped and sang
merrily together and one kept singing very distinctly:
"Sing too! Sing too!"
Sami listened. Suddenly he lifted up his voice and sang as loud and
lustily as the birds above, the whole song that his grandmother had
Last night Summer breezes blew:--
All the flowers awake anew,
Open wide their eyes to see,
Nodding, bowing in their glee.
All the merry birds we hear
Greet the sunshine bright and clear;
See them flitting thru the sky,
Singing low and singing high!
Flowers in Summer warmth delight:--
What of Winter and its blight?
Snowy fields and forests cold?
Flowers are by their faith consoled.
Songsters, all so blithe and gay,
Know ye what your carols say?
How will your sweet carols fare
When your nests the snow-storms tear?
All the birdlings everywhere
Now their loveliest songs prepare;
All the birdlings gayly sing:--
"Trust the Lord in everything!"
Then Sami listened very attentively, as if he wanted to hear whether the
birds really sang so.
"Listen, listen, grandmother!" he said after a while. "Up there in the
tree is one that doesn't sing like the others. At first he keeps singing
'Trust! Trust! Trust! Trust!' and then the rest comes after."
"Yes, yes, that is the finch, Sami," she replied. "See, he wants to
impress it upon you, so that you will think about what will always keep
you safe and happy. Just listen, now, he is calling again: Trust! trust!
trust! trust! trust! Only trust the dear Lord."
Sami listened again. It was really wonderful, how the finch always
sounded above the other birds with his emphatic "Trust! trust! trust!"
"You must never forget what the finch calls," continued the grandmother.
"See, Sami, perhaps I cannot stay with you much longer, and then you will
have no one else, and will have to make your way alone. Then the little
bird's song can oftentimes be a comfort to you. So don't forget it, and
promise me too that you will say your little prayer every day, so that
you will be God-fearing; then no matter what happens, it will be well
Sami promised that he would never forget to pray. Then he became
thoughtful and asked somewhat timidly:
"Must I always be afraid, grandmother?"
"No, no! Did you think so because I said God-fearing? It doesn't mean
that: I will explain it to you as well as I can. You see to be
God-fearing is when one has the dear Lord before his eyes in everything
he does, and fears and hesitates to do what is not pleasing to Him,
everything that is wicked and wrong. Whoever lives so before Him has no
reason to fear what may happen to him, for such a man has the dear Lord's
help everywhere, and if he has to meet hardship oftentimes, he knows that
the dear Lord allows it so, in order that some good may come out of it
for him, and then he can sing as happily as the little birds: 'Only trust
the dear Lord!' Will you remember that well, Sami?"
"Yes, that I will," said Sami, decidedly, for this pleased him much
better, than if he had to be always afraid.
Now the setting sun cast its last long rays across the meadows, and
disappeared. The grandmother left the wall, took Sami by the hand and
then the two wandered in the rosy twilight along the meadow path,
then up the green vine-clad hill to the little village of Chailly up
on the mountain.
One morning, a few days later, Mary Ann was so tired she couldn't get up.
Sami sat beside her waiting for her to be fully awake in order to go into
the kitchen and make the coffee. His grandmother opened her eyes once and
fell asleep again. She had never done anything like this before. Now she
was really awake. She tried to raise herself up a little, then took Sami
by the hand and said in a low voice:
"Sami, listen to me, I must tell you something. See, when I am no longer
with you, you have no one else here, and are an entire stranger. But
there over the mountains you have relatives, and you must return to them.
Malon will tell you how to get there. You must go to Zweisimmen. There
ask for the sergeant, your cousin, who lives in the house with the big
pear-trees near it. Tell him your grandmother was the sergeant's Mary Ann
and your father was Sami. Work hard and willingly, you will have to earn
your living. There in the chest is some money in the little bag; take it,
it is yours; don't spend it foolishly. Sami, think of what you promised
me. Don't neglect to pray, it will bring you comfort and happiness which
you will need. Try to associate with God-fearing people and live with
them, then you will learn only good. Go, now, Sami, and call Herr Malon.
I must talk with him."
Sami went and came back with the man of the house. He stepped up to Mary
Ann's bed, and tried to encourage her, as that was his way. But he was
alarmed at her appearance and wanted to go for the doctor, as he told
her. But she held him fast and tried with great difficulty to express
herself in his language, for she had only a scanty knowledge of it. Malon
nodded his head understandingly and then hurried away. When he returned
to the room a couple of hours later with the doctor, Sami was still
sitting in the same place by the bed, waiting very quietly for his
grandmother to wake up again. The doctor drew near the bed. Then he spoke
with Malon a while, and finally came to Sami. He told him his grandmother
would never wake again, that she was dead.
Malon was a good man; he said he himself would go with Sami part of the
way until he found some one who could talk with him and take him further;
but he must put all his belongings together in a bundle. Then the two men
After a while the young woman of the house came, for the forsaken boy had
deeply aroused her sympathy. She found Sami still sitting in the same
place by the bed. He was looking steadfastly at his grandmother and
weeping piteously. The woman spoke to him, but he did not understand her.
Then she took everything out of the cupboard and drawers, packed them
into a bundle and showed Sami that he was to eat the bread and milk on
the table. Sami swallowed the milk obediently, but the woman put the
bread in his pocket. Then she led the boy once more to the bed, that he
might take his grandmother's hand in farewell.
Sami obeyed still sobbing, and let himself be led away by the woman. Herr
Malon was already waiting beside his little cart in which lay Sami's
bundle. The boy understood that he was to draw the cart, but he knew not
where. He wept softly to himself for it seemed to him as if he were going
out into the wilderness where he would be wholly alone. Malon went on
ahead of him.
It was the same way Sami had often gone with his grandmother down to La
Tour. When he came to the wall by the brook, he sobbed aloud. How lovely
it had been there with his grandmother! He could not see the way because
of his falling tears, but he heard Herr Malon's heavy step in front of
him, and he followed after. At the little station house above the
vine-covered church Malon stopped. Soon after the train came puffing
along. Malon got in and pulled Sami after him, and they started away.
Sami crouched in a corner and did not stir. They travelled thus for an
hour. Sami did not understand a word that was spoken around him, although
several times one and another tried to talk with him a little, for the
softly weeping boy had indeed awakened their sympathy.
The train stopped again. Malon got out and Sami followed him. They went a
short distance together and then Malon stepped to the left into a large
garden and then into the house. Here he talked a while with the man of
the house, who from time to time looked pityingly at Sami. Then Malon
took Sami's hand, shook it and left him behind alone in the big room.
After some time the man of the house came back and a sturdy fellow behind
him. The latter began to talk in Sami's own language. He wanted to
console the boy and said he would soon go on in a carriage. Then Sami
asked if he was his cousin, and if this was the village of Zweisimmen?
But the fellow laughed loudly and said he was no cousin, but a servant
here in the inn, and the place was called Aigle. Sami would have to
travel an hour longer and would not reach Zweisimmen before twelve
o'clock at night. But there was a coachman here from Interlaken, who had
to go back and would take him along.
The man of the house had bread and eggs brought for Sami and when he said
he wasn't hungry, he put everything kindly into the boy's pocket. Then he
led the boy out. Outside stood a large coach with two horses and high up
on the top sat the driver. No one was inside. Sami was lifted up, the
driver placed him next himself and drove away. At any other time this
would have pleased Sami very much, but now he was too sad. He kept
thinking of his grandmother, who could no longer talk with him and would
never wake again. After some time the driver began to talk to him. Sami
had to tell him where he came from and to whom he was going. He told him
everything, how he had lived with his grandmother, how she had fallen
asleep early that day, and did not wake up again; and that he was going
to find a cousin in Zweisimmen and would have to live with him. Sami's
childish description touched the driver so deeply that he finally said:
"It will be too late when we reach there, you must stay with me
Then when he saw Sami's eyes close with the approaching twilight and only
open again when they went over a stone, and the two of them up on the box
were jounced almost dangerously against each other, he grasped the boy
firmly, lifted him up and slipped him backwards into the coach. Here he
fell at once fast asleep and when he finally opened his eyes again, the
sun was shining brightly in his face. He was lying in his clothes on a
huge, big bed in a room with white walls. In all his life he had never
seen such walls. He looked around in consternation. Then the coachman of
the day before came in the door.
[Illustration: "Where have you come from with all your household goods?"]
"Have you had your sleep out?" he said laughing. "Come and have some
coffee with me. Then I will take you to your cousin. Some one else must
carry your bundle. It is too heavy for you."
Sami followed him into the coffee-room. Here the good man kept pouring
out coffee for the boy, but Sami could neither eat nor drink.
When the coachman had finished his breakfast, he rose and started with
Sami on the way to the sergeant's house. It was not far. At the house in
the meadow among the pear-trees he laid Sami's bundle down, shook him by
the hand and said:
"Well, good luck to you. I have nothing to do in there and have
farther to go."
Sami thanked him for all his kindness, and gazed after his benefactor,
until he disappeared behind the trees. Then he knocked on the door. A
woman came out, looked in amazement first at the boy, then at his big
bundle, and said rudely: "Where have you come from with all your
Sami informed her where he had come from and that his grandmother was
Mary Ann, and his father, Sami. Meanwhile three boys had come running up
to them, placed themselves directly in front of him, and were looking at
him from top to toe with wide-open eyes. This embarrassed Sami
"Bring your father out," said the mother to one of her boys. Their father
was sitting inside at the table, eating his breakfast.
"What's the matter now?" he growled.
"There is someone here, who claims to be a relative of yours. He doesn't
know where he is going," exclaimed his wife.
"He can come in to me, perhaps I can tell him, if I know," replied the
man, without moving.
"Well, go in," directed the woman, giving Sami an assisting push. The boy
went in and replied very timidly, where he had come from and to whom he
had belonged. The peasant scratched his head.
"Make quick work of it," said the woman impatiently, who had followed
with her three boys.
"I think we have enough with the three of them, and there are people who
might need such a boy."
"This is quickly decided," said the peasant, thoughtfully cutting his
piece of bread in two; "send all four boys out."
After this command had been carried out, he continued slowly: "There is
no help for it. It was stipulated at the time the house was sold, that
room must be made in the house if either Mary Ann, Sami or the child
should come back. Besides, it is not so bad as it seems. Where three
sleep together there is room for a fourth, and he can do some work for
his food. The parish can do something for his clothes."
His wife had no desire to have a fourth added to her three boys, for her
own made enough noise and trouble for her. She protested, saying she
knew how it was with such stray children and they could expect to have a
But it was of no use; it was decided that Sami should have a place in the
house. The farmer brought in the bundle and carried it up to the oldest
boy's room, where until now the broad-shouldered Stoeffi had slept in a bed
alone. He could take Sami in with him, for he was smaller than the other
two; Michael and Uli could stay together as before.
Then the woman opened the bundle. She was not a little surprised, when
she found inside not only Sami's clothes, all in the best of order, but
also two good dresses, aprons and neckerchiefs. She called Sami up to
her, and showed him the corner in the chest where she had put his things.
Then she said she would take the woman's clothes for herself, since he
could surely make no use of them. The clothes which his grandmother had
always worn were so dear to Sami, that he looked on with sad eyes, as
they were carried away, but he thought it had to be so.
He had already made the acquaintance of the three boys. They had shown
him below in front of the house how one of them could best throw down the
others, and had demonstrated all sorts of useful tricks. But as each
tried to outdo the others in showing off his knowledge, a struggle ensued
and the tricks were immediately applied; one threw another over the
third, Sami was knocked and thrown around by all three.
When he now came down from his room a voice from the barn called out:
"Come here and help pull."
Sami ran along. There stood the two younger boys, Michael and Uli, with
great hoes on their shoulders, and Stoeffi beside a cart which had to be
taken along. They waited for their father, and then all went out to the
field. Here Stoeffi and Sami had to rake together the grass, which the
father cut, and load it on the cart, and bring home to the cows. Michael
and Uli had to hoe the weeds in the next field near by. Now it appeared
that Sami did not know at all how to use the rake, for he had never done
"He shall weed with Uli, and Michael can do this work," said the farmer.
But when Sami tried to do this, the hoe was too heavy for him, and he
could do nothing.
"Then kneel on the ground and pull them up with your hands," said
Sami squatted down and pulled at the weeds with all his might. The ground
was hard and the work very tiresome. But Sami did not forget how his
grandmother had impressed it upon him to do all his work well and
At noon the two weeders took their hoes on their shoulders and Sami had
to pull the cart, which was now much heavier than on the way there. The
boy had to use all his strength, for Stoeffi showed him plainly that he
would not take upon himself the larger part of the work.
Then when they passed by the field the father indicated to each one the
piece he would have to weed that afternoon; for he himself would be
obliged to go to the cattle market. They would find a smaller hoe at home
for Sami to take with him in the afternoon, for pulling up the weeds was
too slow work.
After the boys had worked several hours in the afternoon, they sat down
in the shade of an old apple-tree to eat their luncheon, and the piece of
black bread with pear juice tasted very good after the hot work.
"Have you ever seen a bear?" asked Stoeffi of Sami.
He said he had not.
"Then you would be fearfully frightened if you should suddenly see one,"
continued Stoeffi; "only those who know them are not afraid of them. This
evening there is to be one in the village, and, as I am almost through
with my piece in the field, you can finish it, so I can go early to see
Sami agreed. When all four had begun to hoe again, Stoeffi soon exclaimed:
"Well, you won't have much more to do now, Sami, but keep your
Stoeffi doubled up his fist, and Sami understood what that meant.
He had hardly gone when Michael said:
"See, Sami, there isn't much left of mine, you can do that too; I am
going to see the bear."
Whereupon Michael ran off.
"Me, too," cried Uli, throwing down his hoe. "You can finish that
When the twilight came on and the family put the sour milk and the
steaming potatoes on the table, Sami was missing.
"I suppose he will keep us waiting," remarked the farmer's wife
sharply. When all had finished and the milk mugs were empty, the woman
cleared them away and placed the few potatoes left over on the kitchen
table and growled:
"He can eat here, if he wants anything."
It was quite dark, and Sami still had not come. Just as the other three
were being sent to bed, he came in, so tired he could hardly stand. The
woman asked him harshly, if he couldn't come home with the others. The
farmer assumed that the piece he had told Sami to weed had been too much
for him to do, and he said consolingly:
"It is right that you wanted to finish your work, but you must
Sami understood the signs which Stoeffi made behind his father's back,
that he was to keep silent about the bear, and he was too much afraid of
the three boys' fists to say anything about it.
He preferred to go straight to bed, for he was too tired to eat. But he
couldn't go to sleep. He had received so many new impressions, he had
borne so much anguish, and had to do so much work besides, he could think
of nothing else. But now his grandmother came before his eyes again as
she had prayed with him at evening and had been so kind to him, and
everything she had told him. He wanted so much to pray, it seemed to him
as if his grandmother was near and told him the dear Lord would always
comfort him if he prayed, and that comfort he was so anxious to have.
He was so troubled, when he wondered if he could do his work the next
day, so that the farmer would not be cross, and how his wife would be,
for he was very much afraid of her, and how it would be with the boys,
who forced him to make everything appear contrary to the truth.
Then Sami began to pray and prayed for a long time, for he already began
to feel comforted, because he could take refuge with the dear Lord and
ask Him to help him, now that he had no one left in the world to whom he
could speak and who could assist him. When at last his eyes closed from
great weariness he dreamed he was sitting with his grandmother on the
wall and above them all the birds were singing so loud and so joyfully
that he had to sing with them: "Only trust the dear Lord!"
The following morning Sami was awakened by loud tones, but it was no
longer the birds singing; it was the farmer's wife ordering the boys
harshly to get up right away. She had already called them three times,
and if this time they didn't obey, their father would come. Then they
all sprang out of bed and in a few minutes were down-stairs, where
their father was already sitting at the table and would not have waited
The day did not pass very differently from the one before, and thus
passed a long series of days. There was already a change in the work.
Sami, little by little, learned to do everything very well, for he took
pains and followed his grandmother's advice carefully. He always had
something to do for the other boys still, so that he never finished his
work a moment before supper-time. But he was no longer late. A change had
also come about in this. Stoeffi had learned that there was one thing Sami
could not or would not do which he himself could do very well: he could
not tell a lie.
He had been late again a couple of times, but had never told the reason.
Finally, however, the farmer had spoken harshly:
"Now speak out, and tell why you can't get through your work faster; you
are quick enough when anyone is watching you."
Then Sami had accordingly told all the truth, and the father had
threatened to beat the boys if they didn't do their work themselves.
Afterwards Stoeffi had thrashed Sami to punish him, and had warned him
that he would do it every time Sami complained of him.
Sami had replied that he had never complained and didn't want to do so,
but when his father questioned him he could only tell him the truth.
Stoeffi tried to explain to him that it didn't matter whether he told the
truth or not, but here he found Sami more obstinate than he had expected,
and no matter what fearful threats he hurled at him, he always said the
same thing in the end:
"But I shall do it."
This firmness was the result of Sami's sure conviction that the dear Lord
heard and knew everything and that lying was something wicked, which did
not please Him.
So Stoeffi had to find some other way to get off from his work early and
make Sami finish what he left. He found that all three could never dare
abandon their work and leave it for Sami, but one of them might do so
each evening, and he threatened to punish his brothers severely if they
would not agree to this. Then there would always be three or four
evenings in succession when Stoeffi wanted to go away early; then the
brothers had to stay and work, and this led to many a quarrel, with heavy
blows which regularly fell upon Sami.
So he never had any happy days. But every evening he could be alone with
his thoughts of his grandmother, of all the beautiful bygone days and all
the good words she had spoken to him. Nobody troubled him, or called to
him, or pulled him then, as usually happened all day long.
Thus the Summer and Autumn passed away, and a cold Winter had come. There
was no more work to be done in the fields and meadows, but there were all
sorts of things to be done to help the farmer in the barn and his wife in
the house and the kitchen. This Sami had to do.
Meanwhile their own three boys could go to school, which had now begun
again, for they had to get some education. Sami could get that by and by.
In the Summer he had acquired a good deal of quickness and now did his
work so skilfully that the farmer said a couple of times:
"I would not have believed it, for in the Summer he was always the last."
Sami now thought that everything would go easier than in the Summer, but
something came which was much harder to bear than the extra burden of
work, which was too much for the others.
Every day the boys fought in the field outside, and Sami, as the
smallest, always came off with the most blows. But that was the end of
it, and when the boys came home at night no one thought any more about
it. In the evening the three boys were assigned to the little room with
the feeble light of a low oil lamp, to do their arithmetic for school,
while Sami had to cut apples and pears for drying. From the first the
three were angry because Sami had no arithmetic to do, and then one would
accuse the other of taking the light away from him, and all three would
scream that Sami didn't need any at all for his work. Then one would pull
the lamp one way, and another the other way, until it was upset and the
oil would run over the table into Sami's apples. Then there would be a
really murderous tumult in the darkness; all hands would grope in the oil
and one would always outcry the others. Then the mother would come in
very cross and want to know who was always starting such mischief. Then
one would blame the other, and finally the blame would fall on Sami,
because he made the least noise. Usually the farmer too came in then, and
his angry wife would always reply that she had indeed said the boy would
be an apple of discord in the house, and a Winter like this they had
never experienced. Often Sami had to endure many hard words and
undeserved punishment. On such evenings he remained sleepless for a long
time sitting on his bed.
Then he would rack his brains as to how it could happen so, since his
grandmother had told him that if he was God-fearing everything would
happen for the best. That he should be so scolded and badly treated was
not the best for him. He really wanted to be God-fearing and not forget
that the dear Lord saw and heard everything. But Sami was still very
young and could not know, what he later knew, that it is good for
everyone if he learns early in life to bear hardship. Then when the evil
days, which none escape, come again later on, he can cope with them
bravely, because he knows them already and his strength has become
hardened; and when the good days come he can enjoy them as no one else
can who has never tasted the bad ones.
At this time Sami knew nothing about this and almost never went to sleep
without tears; indeed, he often wondered whether the birds were still
calling up in the ash-trees: "Only trust in the dear Lord!" and if it
were still true that everything would come out right. The only comfort
for him was that his grandmother had told him so positively, and he held
fast to that.
It was a long, hard Winter. The snow lay so deep and immovable on the
meadows and trees, that Sami often asked with anxiety in his heart, if it
would ever entirely disappear, so that the meadows would be green
again, and the flowers become alive. It was already April, and the cold
white covering of snow still lay all around. Then a warm wind from the
South blew all one night into the valley, and when on the next day a very
warm rain fell, the obstinate snow melted into great brooks. Then came
the sun and dried up all the brooks, and everywhere the new young grass
sprang up over the meadows.
The four boys came across the big street of the village and turned into
the meadow. They were pulling along the cart, on which lay the cooking
utensils which the farmer's wife had just purchased at the annual fair in
the village. The boys had followed their mother's command to go slowly
and carefully, so that nothing would be broken, for they knew very well
that their mother set great store by these things, and it was worth while
to follow her instructions.
Now that they had come safely over the rough street and had turned into
the meadow road, two pulling, two pushing, they wanted to rest a little
while. They stopped under the first large pear-tree, stretched
themselves out on the ground and looked up into the blue sky. In the
pear-tree above, the birds were singing merrily together, and suddenly
one piped up in the midst of the others, always the same note, exactly as
if he had a special call to give.
"There he is," cried Sami, springing up from the ground with delight.
Then he listened again, and again sounded the staccato call, clear and
sharp above the singing of all the other birds.
"Do you hear it? Do you hear it?" cried Sami in his delight. "Now he is
calling again: 'Trust! Trust! Trust! Trust!' And then they all sing
together: 'Only trust the dear Lord!'"
"You are just talking nonsense!" exclaimed Stoeffi to the happy Sami. "The
bird is more knowing than you are. That is the rain bird; I know him
well. He notices the rain-wind and is calling: 'Shower! Shower! Shower!'
Then we know it is going to rain."
But Sami would not give up what was so dear to him and kept saying
"But he is singing: 'Trust! Trust! Trust! Trust!'"
"Keep quiet!" continued Stoeffi sharply to him. "You are nothing but a
little tramp, who can't do anything and doesn't know anything and twists
everything he hears."
Then the blood rose to Sami's cheeks and the tears came into his eyes
and, more courageously than usual towards Stoeffi, he cried:
"I don't do that, but you have done it many times!"
Then Stoeffi sprang up and seized hold of Sami to throw him down; but in
his anger Sami turned quite differently from usual, so that Stoeffi had to
call the others to help him.
A great struggle ensued; the blows became more and more violent, first on
one side and then on the other. Suddenly the cart was upset. A fearful
cracking and crashing sounded, and a great heap of red, brown and white
crockery lay on the ground. Dumb with fright, the boys stood and looked
at the destruction.
Stoeffi was the first to recover himself.
"We will say that a wheel came off the cart, and it suddenly fell down."
He immediately picked up a big stone in order to pound out the nail and
take the wheel off from the axle.
"I shall say just how it all happened, that we quarreled, and upset the
wagon," said Sami calmly.
Then Steffi's wrath rose to its height.
"You traitor, you spy and mischief-maker!" he screamed. "You are nothing
but a ragamuffin. We will force you."
"You cannot," said Sami, "and you are no good either! If you were
God-fearing, you would not want to lie so."
"Well, well," they all screamed together, and shaking their fists in the
most threatening way. "You needn't say that. We are just exactly as
God-fearing as you, and even much more so!"
Suddenly a new thought came to Stoeffi. He ran off with all his might, and
Michael and Uli rushed after him. Sami saw that they were hurrying to the
house; he followed slowly after. The farmer's wife had come back to the
house by a shorter way, and the farmer was just returning home too from
the field, when the three boys came rushing along. The whole family was
standing in great excitement at the door and all were talking loudly
together and making threatening gestures, when Sami came along. He was
met by the farmer, shaking his fist, and his wife threw such harsh words
at him that he stood quite dumfounded.
"That was the last straw," she said, "that after all the kindness he had
received he should tell them they were not God-fearing people."
Then the farmer joined in. Such talk was insolent from Sami, and it had
been known for a long time how upright they were in his house, before
such a scamp had come there and tried to show them the way. Then his wife
began again and said Sami would have nothing more to do in her house; for
he had brought nothing but trouble since he stepped into it; he could go
to his room, and she would come right along.
Sami was so surprised and confused by all the attacks and charges, that
he had stood quite dumb until now. Now he wanted to explain how the cart
had been upset, but the father said they knew everything already, and all
he had to do was to go to his room. He obeyed.
Soon the farmer's wife came upstairs, packed Sami's things together and
tied them up again into a bundle, which was now much smaller than when
he had brought it there, for some pieces of his old things had been
worn out and were not replaced, and his grandmother's clothes were no
While she was packing the woman kept on talking very angrily about Sami's
wickedness and insolence, so that he now for the first time understood it
all. The boys had stated that he had reproached them for not being
God-fearing people; they had punished him for it, and through his
resistance he had overturned the cart. Sami now tried to explain to the
woman that it had not happened so, but she said she knew enough, threw
his tied-up bundle beside his bed, and went out.
Now for the first time Sami was able to think over what had happened to
him and what was going to come. Then he was angry because he had to bear
such injustice and not once have a chance to speak. And now he was driven
out, or perhaps he would be sent to people where it would be even worse
for him. Then he was so overcome with anger and fear and anguish, that he
began to cry aloud and called out:
"Yes, yes, Grandmother, you said if I was God-fearing everything would
happen to me for the best; and I have been, and now it has happened
But with the thought of his grandmother, there rose in his heart all the
memories of his life with her, how they had wandered so peacefully
through the meadows, and how beautiful it had been under those trees, how
the birds had sung and the brook murmured, and suddenly Sami was mightily
overcome, and he exclaimed:
"Away! away! Over there! over there!"
From that moment on a bright light rose in his heart. It was hope in a
new life as beautiful as the first had been. Then Sami said his evening
prayer gladly and fell asleep.
THE BIBDS ARE STILL SINGING
The next morning when Sami sat at the table with the family, no one said
a word to him. The farmer's wife pushed a piece of bread towards his
coffee-cup and made up an unfriendly face. The farmer was no different.
The three boys looked sourly down at their coffee-cups, for they had no
good consciences, and all three feared that their lies of the day before
might yet be found out, if Sami should happen to speak.
When they rose from the table, the farmer said shortly:
"Get your bundle! I shall have to lose more time with you, until I have
found a place for you, for surely no one will want you."
Since the night before a change had taken place in Sami. He no longer
hung his head, as he had done almost always before from fear; he lifted
it up and said:
"I know already where I must go."
The farmer and his wife looked at each other in astonishment.
"I want to go over the mountains," he added.
"Yes, that is best, that he should go back there, where he came from,"
said the farmer's wife quickly; "there will no doubt be someone going
over there from the inn. Go quickly with him up there."
This seemed right to the farmer also. The leave-taking was as short as
possible, and Sami was light-hearted when he started with his little
bundle on his back away from his cousins' house.
At the inn, sure enough, they found a driver who was going with a big
wood-wagon to Chateau d'AEux. He was ready to take the boy with him and
thought he would be able to find someone to take him farther, if the boy
knew his way down there on the French side. The farmer said Sami had been
brought up there and wanted to go back, he knew where.
Now the driver was ready. Sami's bundle was thrown into the wagon and the
boy seated on it.
"Good luck!" said the farmer, gave Sami his hand and went away.
Then the driver swung himself up on his seat and the two strong horses
started off. Although the wood-wagon was far less handsome and easy than
the coach in which Sami had come, still he sat much happier in his hard
seat than when he had left his grandmother lying so alone and had to go
away, without knowing where. Now he was going home, where he knew
everything and where everything was dear to him, every tree and every
wall by the way; and although he wouldn't see his grandmother any longer,
he would find all the places where he had been with her and where it was
more beautiful than anywhere else. With these thoughts a multitude of
questions arose in Sami's mind: Would everything be still the same as
before? Would the ash-trees still be standing there by the wall? and the
red and yellow flowers be growing on the hillside? And Sami had so much
to think about that he didn't notice how the time was passing. So he was
very much astonished when the wagon stopped, for they had come to a large
village, and the driver took firm hold of him, lifted him up and set him
down on the street. Sami looked around him. They had stopped in front of
an inn, above which a big brown bear stood for a sign and which was
surrounded by all kinds of vehicles. But he couldn't look around any
longer, for the driver had already seized him again and lifted him
together with his bundle into another team and then went away. Soon he
came back with a large piece of bread and said:
"There, eat; you still have far to go."
"Are we yet in Chateau d'AEux?" asked Sami.
"Yes, to be sure, but you are going farther," was the reply; then the
Sami was now sitting in a small country wagon to which an enormous horse
was harnessed. No one was as yet up in the high seat, but Sami was seated
with his bundle back in the empty space on the floor. Then two big, stout
men climbed up on the high seat, and they started away. After a short
time Sami's eyes closed involuntarily, he slipped off on the floor of
the wagon, his head fell over on his bundle, and he sank into a deep
sleep. When he woke again, he was still in the wagon on the floor, but
everything was quiet around him; he did not hear the horse trotting; the
wagon was no longer moving forward. It looked very strange all around
him. He looked, and looked again, until he realized what had happened.
The wagon was standing without horse or driver in a shed; they had
forgotten Sami and left him lying there.
"Where can I be?" Sami asked himself. The door of the shed stood open,
and outside there was bright sunshine. Sami climbed down from his
sleeping-place, stepped outside and went a little way farther around the
house, which stood directly in front of the shed. Then he knew
everything about it--there stood the house with the garden, where he had
taken the beautiful coach; right before him was the railway station--he
was in Aigle again. Only a little way farther in the train and he would
be at home!
Then it came to Sami that here he could no longer talk with the people,
for now he was among the French. But he knew what to do. He still had the
little bag with his grandmother's money. He ran to the place where the
people were getting their tickets, laid a piece of money in front of the
little window, and said: "La Tour!"
Immediately he had his ticket; he sprang into the train, which was
already standing outside, and crouched down quickly in his corner, the
very same corner where he had sat before with Herr Malon. He knew all the
names which were called out at the stations; nearer and nearer he
came--now--"La Tour!" He jumped down and ran to the right across the
fields, then to the left up the hill. He knew every tree along the way.
Now--there stood the wall, there stood the ash-trees and their tops were
waving to and fro. Underneath, the clear brook was murmuring, and above,
on the hillside, the bright sun was shining on the big golden primroses
and the red anemones. It was all exactly as it had been before! Moreover,
above--oh, that was the most beautiful of all!--up in the ash-trees the
birds were piping and singing as loudly and as merrily as ever and, to be
sure, there was the chief singer, the finch. "Trust! Trust! Trust!
Trust!" sounded his clear song, and all the birds joined in with their
warbling and rejoiced loudly:
"Only trust the dear Lord!"
Sami was so overcome because everything was still exactly the same as he
had known it before, that he stood speechless for a long time and
listened, looking around him and listening again. It seemed so good to
him and he had never felt such happiness in his heart since that evening
when he had sat there with his grandmother. Now his grandmother rose so
vividly before him, that he suddenly threw himself down on the wall and
wept. She was no longer there, and would come back to him no more. But
all the good words she had spoken to him here that evening rose vividly
in his heart, and it seemed as if he distinctly heard her talking again,
and as if she must really be quite near and see him.
Sami straightened himself up again, sat a while longer listening, and
then began to think what he should do. At first he wanted to go to Malon
and ask him if he could work for him, perhaps get out the weeds in his
vineyard. But he could not explain to him why he was there again; they
would not understand each other and Malon might think he had done
something wrong and had been sent away for it by his cousin. But perhaps
the woman who always gave mending to his grandmother would set him to
work in her garden. She lived down below, near the Lake. He jumped down
from the wall. Once more he looked at the hillside, and up into the tree,
but he could come here again; he was here and could stay here.
On the way he thought how he could explain to the woman what he wanted to
do for her. He would bend down and show her how he could pull up the
weeds; then he would show her by a gesture that he knew how to hoe.
There stood already the old castle of La Tour before him, with its two
high, weather-beaten towers, which he had looked at so many times. All
around and high up thick ivy covered the old walls, and above them
multitudes of merry birds were chirping. Sami had to stop and listen to
their happy singing for a while, then he went along by the high old wall
around the courtyard, for he wanted to see if it was still the same as
before down below in the lonely place where the water kept falling on the
old stones and singing a gentle song. He had once stood there a long time
with his grandmother. There lay the place before him, but it was not
lonely. A big wagon was standing there, with a grey cover stretched over
it. No horse stood in front of it, but a thin nag was nibbling the hedge,
and this evidently belonged to the wagon. Near the old castle tower a
fire was blazing merrily; a man was sitting by it, hammering with all his
might. Close by him four little children were crawling around on the
ground. Sami stood still at this unexpected sight, then came slowly a
little nearer. Then he heard the man warning the children not to come so
near the fire. This he was doing in Sami's own language, exactly as all
the people in Zweisimmen had spoken. This gave courage to Sami; he came
along quite near, and watched the man mend a hole in an old pan.
"Does it please you?" asked the man, after Sami had looked on attentively
for some time. The boy answered by nodding his head.
"Are you French, that you can't talk?" asked the man again.
Sami then said he could talk, but not at all in French, but he was glad
that the tinker spoke German, because otherwise he would not be able to
understand anyone there.
"Whom do you belong to?" asked the man again.
"Nobody," answered Sami.
Then the man wanted to know where he had come from and why he had come
among the French. Sami told him his history, and how he had only come
there again that morning.
"And now don't you know at all what you are going to do, and where you
are going?" asked the man.
Sami said he did not.
"If I knew that you would do something, and not just stand around and
look in the air, I would give you work," continued the man, "but such
stray waifs as you are not willing to do anything."
Meanwhile a woman had come from the wagon. She had heard her husband's
"Take him," she said. "What work is there for him? He might run errands;
all boys can do that. I never get through with the running about and the
four bawlers, and the cooking besides; take him!"
"Well, stay here," said the man; "you can carry the pan back; it is very
good that you know the way."
Sami had suddenly found a place; he did not himself know how, but he was
very glad about it. Quite content, he started out with his pan and did
exactly as the tinker had told him. He wandered through the long street
of La Tour, went into every house and showed his mended pan. He made
significant gestures, to make the people understand that he would like to
get more articles to mend. This he did so eagerly and earnestly that most
of the people burst out laughing, and this put them in such good humor
that they always found a pan or a kettle with a hole hi it which they
handed him to be repaired.
Thus in a short time Sami had collected as much old stuff as he was able
to carry, and could now take his pan to the house pointed out to him,
where it belonged. Then he turned back.
[Illustration: "Such stray waifs as you are not willing ta do anything."]
The tinker was very much pleased with Sami's harvest and his wife said
very kindly, if he kept on doing like that, he would get along all right,
but he must sit down at once and have some supper. The four little
children were no longer there. Sami guessed that they were lying out in
the wagon asleep. On the fire a pot was now standing. It was bubbling
merrily inside and from under the cover came forth a very inviting odor.
Sami had never been so hungry in his life before, for he had had nothing
the whole day but the rest of the piece of bread which the driver had
given him the day before in Chateau d'AEux.
The woman took the cover off the pot and filled three dishes with the
good-smelling soup. Each of the three now placed his dish before him on
the ground, and the meal began.
Nothing had ever tasted so good to Sami in all his life as this soup. It
was not a thin soup, it was as thick as pulp, of cooked peas and
potatoes, and with this quite large lumps of meat came into his spoon.
When he had finished, the woman said:
"You can go to sleep whenever you want to. In the back of the wagon there
is room, and your bundle will make a good pillow."
This seemed a little strange to Sami, and he said:
"Must I sleep in my clothes?"
The woman thought he would find that he would not be too warm in the
night. He would be ready all the sooner in the morning. Then he could
wash his face quickly down in the lake and be all in order again for
the next day.
Sami was tired. He went immediately to the wagon and climbed up from the
back, and was able to slip in under the big cover. There was a little
room where he could lie down, and next him came the four little children,
one after another. Sami sat down and said his evening prayer. Then he
thought of his grandmother for a while, and what she would say if she
could see him thus in the wagon, and know that he would have to sleep all
the time in his clothes, and if only she could see how it looked in the
wagon, so dirty and in disorder. She had been so neat and orderly about
everything and had kept him so clean from a baby up. But she had never
spoken to him about this, as about other things which he must avoid, and
perhaps the people were quite God-fearing; then he ought to stay with
them. That would be as his grandmother wished. Then he placed his bundle
under his head, and went peacefully to sleep.
SAMI SINGS TOO
Sami had now been working five days for the tinker, and had passed his
nights in the wagon. He was well treated, for the man and his wife were
pleased with him. Every day Sami dragged along such a pile of old pans,
pots and kettles, that they both wondered where he found them. His
grandmother had not charged him in vain to do everything he had to do
as well as he possibly could, because the dear Lord always saw what he
He never loitered on the way, and if a woman was going to send him away
quickly and would not listen to him, then he looked at her so
beseechingly that she would find an old pan somewhere and bring it out.
From morning till night he ran with the greatest zeal, in order to get as
much work as possible for his master, and the praise he won every evening
he enjoyed as much as the savoury soup which followed.
Nevertheless Sami was not very well contented. Every evening as he sat in
the wagon, he had to think what his grandmother would say to all the dirt
around him, and things pleased him less and less. The woman did not do
for the little children as his grandmother had done for him. All four
crawled around in the dirt and looked so that Sami didn't care to have
anything to do with them. If they cried they were knocked this way and
that, and at night the woman took up one after another from the ground,
put it in the wagon, pulled the dirty grey blanket over them and went
The largest boy could talk quite well. He could have learned a little
prayer long before this, but the woman never taught him any.
Such a homesickness for his grandmother now arose in Sami's heart every
evening that he had to bury his head deep in his bundle, so that no one
would hear him sob.
Often on his expeditions he would come near the wall, under the
ash-trees, but he never went over to it, for he had to work and did
not dare sit idle and listen to the birds. But every time he had
looked longingly there and sent a whistle from a distance as greeting
to the birds.
From the old house on the hillside, from which one could look down at the
ash-trees and the wall, he had brought a little kettle to the tinker, and
was delighted at the thought of taking it back again, for then he could
look down there for a moment and perhaps hear the birds.
Two days had passed, and Sami hoped that on the following day the little
kettle would be ready. When he returned that evening to the fire with his
last collection, the tinker was sitting thoughtfully there, turning the
little kettle round and round in his hands. His wife was looking over his
shoulders and both were scrutinizing the old kettle as if it were
"It is as like the other as if it were its brother," said the wife. "You
know how the man said you must not spoil the pictures scratched on it,
and on that account he gave you so much more for it. Here are exactly the
same figures on this, and the nose in front has just the same curve as
the other, which he would not have mended for fear it would be spoiled."
"I see it all, surely," said the man, "but I don't know what can be done
about it. With the other one I could say, it couldn't be mended any
more, for it looked much worse than this, and the people didn't know
that the old stuff was worth anything, and I wouldn't have believed it
"They won't know either. The boy brought the kettle from the old house
up there. They only know the ground they hoe, but not such a thing as
this. Just say it can't be mended any more, it is not good for anything,
and give them something for the copper. They will be satisfied enough.
If we go back to Bern we will take it to the man, who will give eighty
francs for it."
"That is true. We can do that," said the man, delighted; "perhaps they
won't want anything for the kettle when they know they can't use it any
more. Come, Sami," he called to the boy, who stood staring at them on the
other side of the fire, and had heard and understood everything--"come
here, I want to tell you something."
"Run quickly up to the old house, where you brought the little
kettle from, and say it isn't good for anything, that it can't be
mended any more."
Sami, filled with horror, stared at the man. "Now hurry up and go along,"
said his wife, who was still standing there; "you understand well enough
what you have to do."
Sami continued looking at the man without moving, as if he really had not
understood his words.
"What is the matter with you? Why don't you hurry along?" snarled the
man to him.
"I can't do that. You are not God-fearing if you do such a thing as
that," said Sami.
"What is it to you, what I do? Be quick and go along!" commanded the
tinker, and his wife screamed angrily:
"Do you think a little beggar like you is going to tell us what is
God-fearing? We ought to know much better than you! Will you do at once
what you are told, or not?"
Sami did not stir.
"Will you go and do what I told you, or--"
The man raised his hand high up. Sami was pale with fright. Suddenly he
turned around, ran to the wagon, took his bundle out, and ran with all
his might up the road, turned to the right between the high walls and
rushed on into the open field. Not a moment did he stop running, until
he had reached the ash-trees. The spot was like a place of refuge to him.
Breathless, he sat down on the wall. The twilight was already coming on
and it was perfectly still all around. No one had run after him as he
feared. He was quite alone.
Now he began to think. It was all done so quickly that he had only now
come to his senses. Yes, it was right that he had run away, for what he
had to do was something wrong, and he had to come away because they were
not God-fearing. It surely would seem right to his grandmother that he
had done this. But where should he go now? The people had all gone home
from the fields, perhaps were already asleep. Up in the ash-trees not
one little bird made a single sound. They were surely all in their nests
and fast asleep. If the dear Lord kept them up there in the trees safe
from all harm, so that they could sleep so well, He would surely protect
him too under the trees. In this spot he always had the feeling that his
grandmother was nearer to him than anywhere else, and this gave him
confidence. So he laid himself down under the tree quite trustfully and
immediately after he had ended his evening prayer, his eyes closed, for
the brook was murmuring such a beautiful slumber song under the
Golden sunshine was streaming in Sami's eyes when he awoke. Above him all
the birds were warbling their morning song up into the blue sky. It
sounded like pure thanksgiving and delight. It awakened in Sami's heart
the same tones, and he had to sing praise and thanksgiving, for the dear
Lord had protected him too so well through the night and let His golden
sun shine on him again. With a clear voice Sami joined in the glad chorus
and sang a hymn of praise and thanksgiving, the only one he knew:
"Last night Summer breezes blew:--
All the flowers awake anew,"
And when he had come to the end, he sang like the merry finch with all
"Trust! Trust! Trust! Trust!
Only trust the dear Lord!"
The song had awakened in Sami new assurance that he would find a piece of
bread and some worthy work. This he wanted to look for now, for his
grandmother had not impressed it upon him in vain from his earliest days,
that in the morning after praying one should immediately go to work. So
Sami started off.
He did not go down to the Lake this day, lest he should come near the
tinker. With his bundle under his arm he wandered up the gradually rising
field road. Where this crossed the narrow street, leading over to
Clarens, Sami met a child's carriage which a girl was pushing in front of
her. She wore a spotless white cap and a white apron. Over the carriage,
too, was spread a snow-white cover, and out from under it peeped a little
head with bright golden hair and a little white hat on it.
This unusual neatness and the smart appearance of the carriage attracted
Sami very much and he followed along the same way. On the white carriage
robe was worked a wreath of blue silk, but not of flowers. It was of
strange figures. The shining blue silk on the white cloth looked so
beautiful that Sami could not keep his eyes away from it. Suddenly it
became plain to him that the strange figures were letters, but he had
never seen any like them in his life. Their appearance captivated him
more and more. Then he began to try to see if he couldn't spell them out
and perhaps read the words. He tried as hard as he could, but it was
difficult. Sami kept beginning over again from the first. Finally he made
out all the words. It was a proverb which read thus:
"So let the little angels sing:
This child is safe beneath our wing."
This proverb reminded him so much of his grandmother; he didn't know why,
but it seemed to him as if she had prayed exactly like this over his bed.
The tears came to his eyes, and yet it seemed so good, just as if he had
found his home again. The girl now turned suddenly to the left from the
road, and went through the high iron gate which stood open, and led into
a wide courtyard. Great, ancient plane-trees stood inside and cast their
broad shade over the sunny courtyard. A large flower garden surrounded
the high stone house, which looked forth from behind the trees.
Sami followed the carriage into the courtyard. It stopped under
"What do you want here? That is the way out," said the girl impatiently
to Sami, pointing so plainly to the gate that Sami would have understood
the meaning of her words even if her language had been foreign. But it
was surely German, and he had understood it all very well, although he
could not speak like that himself. His grandmother had told him that
there were people who spoke just like the reading in the books.
Sami did not reply, and the girl did not wait for him. She snatched the
child quickly out of the carriage, took the beautiful robe over her arm,
and went into the house.
Meanwhile a little girl had come out of the house and was standing at
some distance gazing at Sami with two big eyes. Now she came quickly
forward, jumped nimbly into the empty carriage, and said:
"Come, give me a ride!"
"Where?" asked Sami.
"Out there along the road, and far, far away!"
Sami obeyed immediately. For a long while he trotted along without
stopping. The little girl seemed to enjoy the ride. She looked so eagerly
around with her bright eyes on every side, as if she couldn't see enough.
Then they came to a meadow thick with flowers.
"Hold still! Hold still!" cried the little one suddenly, and sprang with
a big jump out of the low carriage.
"Now we must have all the flowers, every single one! Come!"
And the little girl was already in the midst of the grass, stamping
bravely forward. But Sami said quite prudently:
"You mustn't go so into the grass. It is forbidden. But see, if we go
around outside and take all the flowers you can reach, there will be a
The little one came out, for she knew that she ought not to do what was
forbidden. Then the flowers were gathered according to Sami's advice, but
the little companion soon had enough of such exertion, seated herself on
the ground and said:
"Come, sit down by me. But you must not speak French to me. I have to
learn that with Madame Laurent, but I would rather speak German, and you
must do so too."
"I don't speak French, I don't know how," replied Sami; "but I can't
speak like you either."
"Where do you come from then, if you don't speak German and don't speak
French?" the little one wanted to know.
Sami thought for a moment, then he said:
"First I came from Chailly and then from Zweisimmen."
"No, no," interrupted the little one warmly. "People are never from
two places, only from one. I am from Berlin, in Germany, you see. Then
Papa bought an estate and now we are living on Lake Geneva. What is
Sami told her.
"And my name is Betti. Why did you come into the courtyard when Tina
wanted to send you out?"
Sami had to think for a while, then he said:
"Because those words were on the robe, I knew they were God-fearing
people where it belonged, and my grandmother told me I must stay with
such people and never go away, for I should learn nothing but good
"Must you stay with us now, and never go away again?" asked little
"Yes, I think so," answered Sami. "Perhaps I can weed the garden."
"That is right," said Betti, delighted. "You see, Tina will not take me
in the carriage; she says I am too big. Will you take me every day in the
carriage to the meadow for ever so many hours?"
"Yes, indeed, I will do that gladly," promised Sami, "and you shall have
all the flowers. Then I will take you besides to the trees where all the
birds sing 'Only trust the dear Lord!' and where the finch cries so loud
above them all: 'Trust! Trust! Trust! Trust!' Have you heard him too?"
At this description little Betti's eyes grew bigger and brighter with
"Come now, let's go right away to the birds," she exclaimed, jumped up
and ran in haste to the carriage.
At this moment Tina, with a very red face, came running up from below.
Her looks did not portend anything good.
"So I have found you at last," she cried angrily from a distance.
"Everybody is running around looking for you--your three brothers, the
servants, the coachman--everybody! I have run myself half dead for you.
Sit down in the carriage, you naughty little thing. The little tramp can
go where he likes. No, he must come back again; his bundle is lying in
the courtyard. So he can pull the carriage if he has to come with us."
Little Betti did not seem very much frightened by this lively speech. She
climbed quickly into the carriage and said gaily: "Go ahead, Sami!"
He obeyed quite crushed, for now he could only return for his bundle;
then he would have to go away again, and he had so firmly believed this
was the place where he was to stay according to his grandmother's advice,
and it had pleased him so much. He had started out in the morning full of
trust from the song of the birds, and now he was returning very
down-hearted the same way.
When the three on their way home came to the courtyard, a tall man was
standing there, looking out up and down the road; a lady was coming out
of the house and going in again very restlessly, and three young boys
were running first one way and then another, screaming at the top of
"She is nowhere to be seen! She is nowhere to be seen!"
But there she was, drawn by Sami, just coming into the courtyard. Before
any question, reproach or accusation could be heard in regard to the
unlawful expedition, Betti had run straight to her Papa, and in his
delight that she was safely there again, he had taken her in his arms,
and with the greatest eagerness she said:
"He will take me every day in the carriage, Papa, the whole day long, if
I like, and bring all the flowers to me, because I must not go in the
high grass. And he must always stay with us, because his grandmother knew
about it, and, Papa, think, he knows birds that sing a whole song, and
the finch sings above them all: 'Trust! Trust!' We were going right to
see them when Tina came and we had to come home. But now we can go, can't
we, Papa, right away? Sami will take me there again; he isn't tired yet.
Only say yes, Papa."
"Your story is wonderful," said her Papa, laughing. "Where is the little
coachman whom you have engaged and who, according to his grandmother's
advice, must stay with us?"
Meanwhile the three brothers had come running along and, together with
their mother, stood near their father under the gateway, so that Sami,
who with his bundle on his arm was trying to go out, could not pass
through, and had betaken himself very quietly to a corner of the
courtyard. The master of the house now placed his daughter on the ground
and looked towards the boy. But he was already surrounded, for during
their little sister's story the three brothers had made their examination
and calculation and then had turned to the boy. Nine-year-old Edward had
decided with satisfaction that Sami was the one he had for a long time
needed, for since the donkey, which had been given to him at Christmas,
had overturned him and his little cart three times running, his father
had forbidden him to drive out again without the coachman, Johann. But
when Edward wanted to go out driving Johann was always occupied some
other way, and when Johann announced that he could go it didn't suit
Edward at all. Now Sami was found, an attendant whom he could call
whenever he wanted him.
Eleven-year-old Karl was an enthusiastic archer, but to have to be always
running after his arrows after they were shot and to hunt for them was
very irksome to him. Suddenly someone was found whom he could make use of
to hunt for his arrows.
Fourteen-year-old Arthur had permission to sail in his boat on the lake,
but he needed some one to steer for him. Now here was a satisfactory boy,
on the spot, whom he could teach, and have to steer for him. So it
happened that there was a great uproar when their Papa drew near the
group in the corner of the courtyard.
"Keep him, Papa, I have enough work for him to do!" cried Arthur, while
Karl's voice was heard above his screaming:
"Let him stay here, Papa, please, I need him so much!"
But Edward's piercing voice was heard above the other two:
"Papa, he can drive the donkey, he must stay with us, then Johann won't
need to come with me any longer!"
And in the midst of all sounded Betti's high little voice, untiringly:
"Can we go to see the birds now, Papa? Can we go now to the birds?"
Then Papa turned away from the noisy group and said, laughing:
"My dear wife, what do you say to this whole story?"
The lady addressed had until now listened silently and watched Sami,
whose eyes grew brighter and brighter the louder the children begged for
him to stay. She looked at him kindly and said first of all she would
like to know from him where he came from, and what the story which Betti
told about his grandmother meant; he ought to tell where he had been
living hitherto, who his parents were and who his grandmother was.
The kind lady had inspired Sami with great confidence and he now told
from the beginning all that he knew about his life up to the present
moment, and also how he had come into the courtyard, on account of the
proverb, which led him to believe that here lived the people with whom he
When Sami came to an end, the lady turned to her husband and said:
"It is the dear Lord who has led him here. We cannot send him away!"
The children all shouted together for joy.
"Can we go to the birds now, Papa? Right away?" repeated Betti with
"By and by, by and by," said her father, soothingly. "Sami is going with
me first up to Chailly, to show me where Herr Malon lives. I want to talk
with him. When we come back, we will see what to do first."
The mother understood that her husband wanted to have Herr Malon's
assurance that everything Sami had told was true, and held back the
children, who all four were anxious to explain immediately to Sami what
they desired of him.
"But bring him back again, Papa!" cried Betti following after them as
they started away.
Herr Malon was very much surprised to see Sami again, and moreover in
such company, for he recognized the master of the plane-tree estate at
once. After the first greeting Sami was sent out doors for a little, and
this delighted him very much, for now he could look at the garden again
and the crooked maple-tree, under which he had so often sat with his
Herr Malon assured his guest that all Sami's words were correct and
besides gave a description of Old Mary Ann, her fidelity and
conscientiousness, so that the gentleman was very glad to have such good
news to carry to his wife.
A loud shout of delight welcomed them on their return, and still louder
was the applause, when their father announced that Sami was henceforth to
remain in the house and be the children's playmate.
Sami did not know what to make of it. Since his grandmother's death, no
one had shown the slightest pleasure in his presence; on the contrary
everywhere he had felt as if he were tolerated only out of pity, and now
he was received with loud rejoicing by the children of a house to which
he had been more attracted than anywhere else before, and where his
grandmother would be glad to see him; of that he was sure. His heart was
so overflowing with joy that he wanted to sing aloud and give praise and
thanksgiving evermore like the finch:
"Trust! Trust! Only trust the dear Lord!"
* * * * *
It is now ten years since Sami entered the plane-tree estate. Whoever
passes by there on a beautiful Spring day will surely stand still at the
high iron gateway and listen for a little, for there is seldom heard such
a merry song as sounds from the thick branches of the planetrees. Up in
the tree sits the young gardener pruning the branches. At the same time
he sings continually, like the merriest finch, and carols loudest the end
of his song, accompanied by all the birds:
"Only trust the dear Lord!"
The young gardener is Sami. At first he received a good knowledge of
reading, writing and arithmetic with the children of the house; later,
according to his great wish, he was trained as a gardener of the estate.
But he is now not only gardener, he has much more to oversee about the
estate than any one would imagine. Arthur, who has just finished his
studies, is still an ardent sailor. Without Sami, no trip is possible,
and Arthur is apt to say:
"Without God's help and Sami's assistance I should have been drowned
When Karl comes from the university in his vacation, his first question
is, "Where is Sami?" and this he asks numberless times every day, for
without him he can never get ready. He alone knows where to find
everything Karl needs in vacation-time for his amusements, from his old
bow and quiver up to his riding whip and gun.
Edward has now given up his donkey cart and instead is interested in
strange animals, which have their dwelling-place in the back of the
courtyard and often make a great spectacle there. He owns two marmots,
two parrots and a monkey. No one could manage these and keep them in
order but Sami, and he does it so well and so successfully that Edward
"Without Sami everything we have would go to ruin, animals and people,
the animals for want of proper care and the people from anger over it."
But Betti still remains Sami's greatest friend. She can call him at any
hour of the day she pleases, Sami is immediately on the spot, and Betti
knows he is more devoted than any one else and besides can keep secrets
like a stone. No one knows how many little notes he has to carry every
week to the neighbouring estates. Sami will not tell, for her brothers
would laugh at their sister Betti's endless correspondence which she has
with numerous girl friends around on all the estates. Sami is her most
devoted friend, for he would run through fire and water for her without
hesitation. He never forgets what persuasive words in his behalf Betti
used with her father, when, broken-hearted, he was going to fetch his
bundle and go away again.
The youngest, Ella, with golden curls, who has taken over the donkey and
cart from her brother Edward, is entrusted to Sami's especial care when
she desires to go for a drive. Whenever she brings out her white robe to
spread over her knees, Sami's eyes sparkle with delight and thankfulness
as he remembers how the proverb led him to his good fortune, and still
more at the memory of his grandmother, who brought about all this good,
and whom he never forgets.
When, recently, a lady, owning one of the neighbouring estates, proposed
to Herr von K. to transfer his merry gardener to her, merely because the
servants in her house had sullen faces, he replied:
"You can have him, just as much as you can have one of my own children,
if you should try to entice one away. Sami is the most faithful,
trustworthy, conscientious person who has ever come in my way. I can
leave my whole house and go wherever I will, I know that everything will
be taken care of, as if I stood by. This is so because Sami has another
Master besides me, before whose eyes he performs all his work. The dear
Lord himself sent my glad-hearted Sami to me, and I esteem him. He
belongs to my house, and it shall remain his home!"
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