CHAPTER X. ANOTHER GRANDMOTHER
There was much expectation and preparation about the house on the
following evening, and it was easy to see that the lady who was
coming was one whose opinion was highly thought of, and for whom
everybody had a great respect. Tinette had a new white cap on her
head, and Sebastian collected all the footstools he could find
and placed them in convenient spots, so that the lady might find
one ready to her feet whenever she chose to sit. Fraulein
Rottenmeier went about surveying everything, very upright and
dignified, as if to show that though a rival power was expected,
her own authority was not going to be extinguished.
And now the carriage came driving up to the door, and Tinette and
Sebastian ran down the steps, followed with a slower and more
stately step by the lady, who advanced to greet the guest. Heidi
had been sent up to her room and ordered to remain there until
called down, as the grandmother would certainly like to see Clara
alone first. Heidi sat herself down in a corner and repeated her
instructions over to herself. She had not to wait long before
Tinette put her head in and said abruptly, "Go downstairs into
Heidi had not dared to ask Fraulein Rottenmeier again how she was
to address the grandmother: she thought the lady had perhaps made
a mistake, for she had never heard any one called by other than
their right name. As she opened the study door she heard a kind
voice say, "Ah, here comes the child! Come along in and let me
have a good look at you."
Heidi walked up to her and said very distinctly in her clear
voice, "Good-evening," and then wishing to follow her
instructions called her what would be in English "Mrs. Madam."
"Well!" said the grandmother, laughing, "is that how they address
people in your home on the mountain?"
"No," replied Heidi gravely, "I never knew any one with that name
"Nor I either," laughed the grandmother again as she patted
Heidi's cheek. "Never mind! when I am with the children I am
always grandmamma; you won't forget that name, will you?"
"No, no," Heidi assured her, "I often used to say it at home."
"I understand," said the grandmother, with a cheerful little nod
of the head. Then she looked more closely at Heidi, giving
another nod from time to time, and the child looked back at her
with steady, serious eyes, for there was something kind and
warm-hearted about this new-comer that pleased Heidi, and indeed
everything to do with the grandmother attracted her, so that she
could not turn her eyes away. She had such beautiful white hair,
and two long lace ends hung down from the cap on her head and
waved gently about her face every time she moved, as if a soft
breeze were blowing round her, which gave Heidi a peculiar
feeling of pleasure.
"And what is your name, child?" the grandmother now asked.
"I am always called Heidi; but as I am now to be called Adelaide,
I will try and take care--" Heidi stopped short, for she felt a
little guilty; she had not yet grown accustomed to this name; she
continued not to respond when Fraulein Rottenmeier suddenly
addressed her by it, and the lady was at this moment entering the
"Frau Sesemann will no doubt agree with me," she interrupted,
"that it was necessary to choose a name that could be pronounced
easily, if only for the sake of the servants."
"My worthy Rottenmeier," replied Frau Sesemann, "if a person is
called 'Heidi' and has grown accustomed to that name, I call her
by the same, and so let it be."
Fraulein Rottenmeier was always very much annoyed that the old
lady continually addressed her by her surname only; but it was no
use minding, for the grandmother always went her own way, and so
there was no help for it. Moreover the grandmother was a keen old
lady, and had all her five wits about her, and she knew what was
going on in the house as soon as she entered it.
When on the following day Clara lay down as usual on her couch
after dinner, the grandmother sat down beside her for a few
minutes and closed her eyes, then she got up again as lively as
ever, and trotted off into the dining-room. No one was there.
"She is asleep, I suppose," she said to herself, and then going
up to Fraulein Rottenmeier's room she gave a loud knock at the
door. She waited a few minutes and then Fraulein Rottenmeier
opened the door and drew back in surprise at this unexpected
"Where is the child, and what is she doing all this time? That is
what I came to ask," said Frau Sesemann.
"She is sitting in her room, where she could well employ herself
if she had the least idea of making herself useful; but you have
no idea, Frau Sesemann, of the out-of-the-way things this child
imagines and does, things which I could hardly repeat in good
"I should do the same if I had to sit in there like that child, I
can tell you; I doubt if you would then like to repeat what I
did, in good society! Go and fetch the child and bring her to my
room; I have some pretty books with me that I should like to give
"That is just the misfortune," said Fraulein Rottenmeier with a
despairing gesture, "what use are books to her? She has not been
able to learn her A B C even, all the long time she has been
here; it is quite impossible to get the least idea of it into her
head, and that the tutor himself will tell you; if he had not the
patience of an angel he would have given up teaching her long
"That is very strange," said Frau Sesemann, "she does not look to
me like a child who would be unable to learn her alphabet.
However, bring her now to me, she can at least amuse herself with
the pictures in the books."
Fraulein Rottenmeier was prepared with some further remarks, but
the grandmother had turned away and gone quickly towards her own
room. She was surprised at what she had been told about Heidi's
incapacity for learning, and determined to find out more
concerning this matter, not by inquiries from the tutor, however,
although she esteemed him highly for his uprightness of
character; she had always a friendly greeting for him, but always
avoided being drawn into conversation with him, for she found his
style of talk somewhat wearisome.
Heidi now appeared and gazed with open-eyed delight and wonder at
the beautiful colored pictures in the books which the grandmother
gave her to look at. All of a sudden, as the latter turned over
one of the pages to a fresh picture, the child gave a cry. For a
moment or two she looked at it with brightening eyes, then the
tears began to fall, and at last she burst into sobs. The
grandmother looked at the picture--it represented a green
pasture, full of young animals, some grazing and others nibbling
at the shrubs. In the middle was a shepherd leaning upon his
staff and looking on at his happy flock. The whole scene was
bathed in golden light, for the sun was just sinking below the
The grandmother laid her hand kindly On Heidi's.
"Don't cry, dear child, don't cry," she said, "the picture has
reminded you perhaps of something. But see, there is a beautiful
tale to the picture which I will tell you this evening. And there
are other nice tales of all kinds to read and to tell again. But
now we must have a little talk together, so dry your tears and
come and stand in front of me, so that I may see you well--there,
now we are happy again."
But it was some little time before Heidi could overcome her sobs.
The grandmother gave her time to recover herself, saying cheering
words to her now and then, "There, it's all right now, and we are
quite happy again."
When at last she saw that Heidi was growing calmer, she said,
"Now I want you to tell me something. How are you getting on in
your school-time; do you like your lessons, and have you learnt a
"O no!" replied Heidi, sighing, "but I knew beforehand that it
was not possible to learn."
"What is it you think impossible to learn?"
"Why, to read, it is too difficult."
"You don't say so! and who told you that?"
"Peter told me, and he knew all about it, for he had tried and
tried and could not learn it."
"Peter must be a very odd boy then! But listen, Heidi, we must
not always go by what Peter says, we must try for ourselves. I am
certain that you did not give all your attention to the tutor
when he was trying to teach you your letters."
"It's of no use," said Heidi in the tone of one who was ready to
endure what could not be cured.
"Listen to what I have to say," continued the grandmother. "You
have not been able to learn your alphabet because you believed
what Peter said; but now you must believe what I tell you--and I
tell you that you can learn to read in a very little while, as
many other children do, who are made like you and not like Peter.
And now hear what comes after--you see that picture with the
shepherd and the animals--well, as soon as you are able to read
you shall have that book for your own, and then you will know all
about the sheep and the goats, and what the shepherd did, and the
wonderful things that happened to him, just as if some one were
telling you the whole tale. You will like to hear about all that,
Heidi had listened with eager attention to the grandmother's
words and now with a sigh exclaimed, "Oh, if only I could read
"It won't take you long now to learn, that I can see; and now we
must go down to Clara; bring the books with you." And hand in
hand the two returned to the study."
Since the day when Heidi had so longed to go home, and Fraulein
Rottenmeier had met her and scolded her on the steps, and told
her how wicked and ungrateful she was to try and run away, and
what a good thing it was that Herr Sesemann knew nothing about
it, a change had come over the child. She had at last understood
that day that she could not go home when she wished as Dete had
told her, but that she would have to stay on in Frankfurt for a
long, long time, perhaps for ever. She had also understood that
Herr Sesemann would think it ungrateful of her if she wished to
leave, and she believed that the grandmother and Clara would
think the same. So there was nobody to whom she dared confide her
longing to go home, for she would not for the world have given
the grandmother, who was so kind to her, any reason for being as
angry with her as Fraulein Rottenmeier had been. But the weight
of trouble on the little heart grew heavier and heavier; she
could no longer eat her food, and every day she grew a little
paler. She lay awake for long hours at night, for as soon as she
was alone and everything was still around her, the picture of the
mountain with its sunshine and flowers rose vividly before her
eyes; and when at last she fell asleep it was to dream of the
rocks and the snow-field turning crimson in the evening light,
and waking in the morning she would think herself back at the hut
and prepare to run joyfully out into--the sun--and then--there
was her large bed, and here she was in Frankfurt far, far away
from home. And Heidi would often lay her face down on the pillow
and weep long and quietly so that no one might hear her.
Heidi's unhappiness did not escape the grandmother's notice. She
let some days go by to see if the child grew brighter and lost
her down-cast appearance. But as matters did not mend, and she
saw that many mornings Heidi had evidently been crying before she
came downstairs, she took her again into her room one day, and
drawing the child to her said, "Now tell me, Heidi, what is the
matter; are you in trouble?"
But Heidi, afraid if she told the truth that the grandmother
would think her ungrateful, and would then leave off being so
kind to her, answered, can't tell you."
"Well, could you tell Clara about it?"
"Oh, no, I cannot tell any one," said Heidi in so positive a
tone, and with a look of such trouble on her face, that the
grandmother felt full of pity for the child.
"Then, dear child, let me tell you what to do: you know that when
we are in great trouble, and cannot speak about it to anybody, we
must turn to God and pray Him to help, for He can deliver us from
every care, that oppresses us. You understand that, do you not?
You say your prayers every evening to the dear God in Heaven, and
thank Him for all He has done for you, and pray Him to keep you
from all evil, do you not?"
"No, I never say any prayers," answered Heidi.
"Have you never been taught to pray, Heidi; do you not know even
what it means?"
"I used to say prayers with the first grandmother, but that is a
long time ago, and I have forgotten them."
"That is the reason, Heidi, that you are so unhappy, because you
know no one who can help you. Think what a comfort it is when the
heart is heavy with grief to be able at any moment to go and tell
everything to God, and pray Him for the help that no one else can
give us. And He can help us and give us everything that will make
us happy again."
A sudden gleam of joy came into Heidi's eyes. "May I tell Him
"Yes, everything, Heidi, everything."
Heidi drew her hand away, which the grandmother was holding
affectionately between her own, and said quickly, "May I go?"
"Yes, of course," was the answer, and Heidi ran out of the room
into her own, and sitting herself on a stool, folded her hands
together and told God about everything that was making her so sad
and unhappy, and begged Him earnestly to help her and to let her
go home to her grandfather.
It was about a week after this that the tutor asked Frau
Sesemann's permission for an interview with her, as he wished to
inform her of a remarkable thing that had come to pass. So she
invited him to her room, and as he entered she held out her hand
in greeting, and pushing a chair towards him, "I am pleased to
see you," she said, "pray sit down and tell me what brings you
here; nothing bad, no complaints, I hope?"
"Quite the reverse," began the tutor. "Something has happened
that I had given up hoping for, and which no one, knowing what
has gone before, could have guessed, for, according to all
expectations, that which has taken place could only be looked
upon as a miracle, and yet it really has come to pass and in the
most extraordinary manner, quite contrary to all that one could
"Has the child Heidi really learnt to read at last?" put in Frau
The tutor looked at the lady in speechless astonishment. At last
he spoke again. "It is indeed truly marvellous, not only because
she never seemed able to learn her A B C even after all my full
explanations, and after spending unusual pains upon her, but
because now she has learnt it so rapidly, just after I had made
up my mind to make no further attempts at the impossible but to
put the letters as they were before her without any dissertation
on their origin and meaning, and now she has as you might say
learnt her letters over night, and started at once to read
correctly, quite unlike most beginners. And it is almost as
astonishing to me that you should have guessed such an unlikely
"Many unlikely things happen in life," said Frau Sesemann with a
pleased smile. "Two things coming together may produce a happy
result, as for instance, a fresh zeal for learning and a new
method of teaching, and neither does any harm. We can but rejoice
that the child has made such a good start and hope for her future
After parting with the tutor she went down to the study to make
sure of the good news. There sure enough was Heidi, sitting
beside Clara and reading aloud to her, evidently herself very
much surprised, and growing more and more delighted with the new
world that was now open to her as the black letters grew alive
and turned into men and things and exciting stories. That same
evening Heidi found the large book with the beautiful pictures
lying on her plate when she took her place at table, and when she
looked questioningly at the grandmother, the latter nodded kindly
to her and said, "Yes, it's yours now."
"Mine, to keep always? even when I go home?" said, Heidi,
blushing with pleasure.
"Yes, of course, yours for ever," the grandmother assured her.
"To-morrow we will begin to read it."
"But you are not going home yet, Heidi, not for years," put in
Clara. "When grandmother goes away, I shall want you to stay on
When, Heidi went to her room that night she had another look at
her book before going to bed, and from that day forth her chief
pleasure was to read the tales which belonged to the beautiful
pictures over and over again. If the grandmother said, as they
were sitting together in the evening, "Now Heidi will read aloud
to us," Heidi was delighted, for reading was no trouble to her
now, and when she read the tales aloud the scenes seemed to grow
more beautiful and distinct, and then grandmother would explain
and tell her more about them still.
Still the picture she liked best was the one of the shepherd
leaning on his staff with his flock around him in the midst of
the green pasture, for he was now at home and happy, following
his father's sheep and goats. Then came the picture where he was
seen far away from his father's house, obliged to look after the
swine, and he had grown pale and thin from the husks which were
all he had to eat. Even the sun seemed here to be less bright and
everything looked grey and misty. But there was the third picture
still to this tale: here was the old father with outstretched
arms running to meet and embrace his returning and repentant son,
who was advancing timidly, worn out and emaciated And clad in a
ragged coat. That was Heidi's favorite tale, which she read over
and over again, aloud and to herself, and she was never tired of
hearing the grandmother explain it to her and Clara. But there
were other tales in the book besides, and what with reading and
looking at the pictures the days passed quickly away, and the
time drew near for the grandmother to return home.