CHAPTER XX. NEWS FROM DISTANT FRIENDS
It was the month of May. From every height the full fresh streams
of spring were flowing down into the valley. The clear warm
sunshine lay upon the mountain, which had turned green again. The
last snows had disappeared and the sun had already coaxed many of
the flowers to show their bright heads above the grass. Up above
the gay young wind of spring was singing through the fir trees,
and shaking down the old dark needles to make room for the new
bright green ones that were soon to deck out the trees in their
spring finery. Higher up still the great bird went circling round
in the blue ether as of old, while the golden sunshine lit up the
grandfather's hut, and all the ground about it was warm and dry
again so that one might sit out where one liked. Heidi was at
home again on the mountain, running backwards and forwards in her
accustomed way, not knowing which spot was most delightful. Now
she stood still to listen to the deep, mysterious voice of the
wind, as it blew down to her from the mountain summits, coming
nearer and nearer and gathering strength as it came, till it
broke with force against the fir trees, bending and shaking them,
and seeming to shout for joy, so that she too, though blown about
like a feather, felt she must join in the chorus of exulting
sounds. Then she would run round again to the sunny space in
front of the hut, and seating herself on the ground would peer
closely into the short grass to see how many little flower cups
were open or thinking of opening. She rejoiced with all the
myriad little beetles and winged insects that jumped and crawled
and danced in the sun, and drew in deep draughts of the spring
scents that rose from the newly-awakened earth, and thought the
mountain was more beautiful than ever. All the tiny living
creatures must be as happy as she, for it seemed to her there
were little voices all round her singing and humming in joyful
tones, "On the mountain! on the mountain!"
From the shed at the back came the sound of sawing and chopping,
and Heidi listened to it with pleasure, for it was the old
familiar sound she had known from the beginning of her life up
here. Suddenly she jumped up and ran round, for she must know
what her grandfather was doing. In front of the shed door already
stood a finished new chair, and a second was in course of
construction under the grandfather's skilful hand.
"Oh, I know what these are for," exclaimed Heidi in great glee.
"We shall want them when they all come from Frankfurt. This one
is for Grandmamma, and the one you are now making is for Clara,
and then--then, there will, I suppose, have to be another,"
continued Heidi with more hesitation in her voice, "or do you
think, grandfather, that perhaps Fraulein Rottenmeier will not
come with them?"
"Well, I cannot say just yet," replied her grandfather, "but it
will be safer to make one so that we can offer her a seat if she
Heidi looked thoughtfully at the plain wooden chair without arms
as if trying to imagine how Fraulein Rottenmeier and a chair of
this sort would suit one another. After a few minutes'
contemplation, "Grandfather," she said, shaking her head
doubtfully, "I don't think she would be able to sit on that."
"Then we will invite her on the couch with the beautiful green
turf feather-bed," was her grandfather's quiet rejoinder.
While Heidi was pausing to consider what this might be there
approached from above a whistling, calling, and other sounds
which Heidi immediately recognised. She ran out and found herself
surrounded by her four-footed friends. They were apparently as
pleased as she was to be among the heights again, for they leaped
about and bleated for joy, pushing Heidi this way and that, each
anxious to express his delight with some sign of affection. But
Peter sent them flying to right and left, for he had something to
give to Heidi. When he at last got up to her he handed her a
"There!" he exclaimed, leaving the further explanation of the
matter to Heidi herself.
"Did some one give you this while you were out with the goats,"
she asked, in her surprise.
"No," was the answer.
"Where did you get it from then?
"I found it in the dinner bag."
Which was true to a certain extent. The letter to Heidi had been
given him the evening before by the postman at Dorfli, and Peter
had put it into his empty bag. That morning he had stuffed his
bread and cheese on the top of it, and had forgotten it when he
fetched Alm-Uncle's two goats; only when he had finished his
bread and cheese at mid-day and was searching in the bag for any
last crumbs did he remember the letter which lay at the bottom.
Heidi read the address carefully; then she ran back to the shed
holding out her letter to her grandfather in high glee. "From
Frankfurt! from Clara! Would you like to hear it?"
The grandfather was ready and pleased to do so, as also Peter,
who had followed Heidi into the shed. He leant his back against
the door post, as he felt he could follow Heidi's reading better
if firmly supported from behind, and so stood prepared to listen.
"Dearest Heidi,-- Everything is packed and we shall start now in
two or three days, as soon as papa himself is ready to leave; he
is not coming with us as he has first to go to Paris. The doctor
comes every day, and as soon as he is inside the door, he cries,
'Off now as quickly as you can, off to the mountain.' He is most
impatient about our going. You cannot think how much he enjoyed
himself when he was with you! He has called nearly every day this
winter, and each time he has come in to my room and said he must
tell me about everything again. And then he sits down and
describes all he did with you and the grandfather, and talks of
the mountains and the flowers and of the great silence up there
far above all towns and the villages, and of the fresh delicious
air, and often adds, 'No one can help getting well up there.' He
himself is quite a different man since his visit, and looks quite
young again and happy, which he had not been for a long time
before. Oh, how I am looking forward to seeing everything and to
being with you on the mountain, and to making the acquaintance of
Peter and the goats.
"I shall have first to go through a six weeks' cure at Ragatz;
this the doctor has ordered, and then we shall move up to Dorfli,
and every fine day I shall be carried up the mountain in my chair
and spend the day with you. Grandmamma is travelling with me and
will remain with me; she also is delighted at the thought of
paying you a visit. But just imagine, Fraulein Rottenmeier
refuses to come with us. Almost every day grandmamma says to her,
'Well, how about this Swiss journey, my worthy Rottenmeier? Pray
say if you really would like to come with us.' But she always
thanks grandmamma very politely and says she has quite made up
her mind. I think I know what has done it: Sebastian gave such a
frightful description of the mountain, of how the rocks were so
overhanging and dangerous that at any minute you might fall into
a crevasse, and how it was such steep climbing that you feared at
every step to go slipping to the bottom, and that goats alone
could make their way up without fear of being killed. She
shuddered when she heard him tell of all this, and since then she
has not been so enthusiastic about Switzerland as she was before.
Fear has also taken possession of Tinette, and she also refuses
to come. So grandmamma and I will be alone; Sebastian will go
with us as far as Ragatz and then return here.
"I can hardly bear waiting till I see you again. Good-bye,
dearest Heidi; grandmamma sends you her best love and all good
wishes.--Your affectionate friend,
Peter, as soon as the conclusion of the letter had been reached,
left his reclining position and rushed out, twirling his stick in
the air in such a reckless fashion that the frightened goats fled
down the mountain before him with higher and wider leaps than
usual. Peter followed at full speed, his stick still raised in
air in a menacing manner as if he was longing to vent his fury on
some invisible foe. This foe was indeed the prospect of the
arrival of the Frankfurt visitors, the thought of whom filled him
Heidi was so full of joyful anticipation that she determined to
seize the first possible moment next day to go down and tell
grandmother who was coming, and also particularly who was not
coming. These details would be of great interest--to her, for
grandmother knew well all the persons named from Heidi's
description, and had entered with deep sympathy into all that the
child had told her of her life and surroundings in Frankfurt.
Heidi paid her visit in, the early afternoon, for she could now
go alone again; the sun was bright in the heavens and the days
were growing longer, and it was delightful to go racing down the
mountain over the dry ground, with the brisk May wind blowing
from behind, and speeding Heidi on her way a little more quickly
than her legs alone would have carried her.
The grandmother was no longer confined to her bed. She was back
in her corner at her spinning-wheel, but there was an expression
on her face of mournful anxiety. Peter had come in the evening
before brimful of anger and had told about the large party who
were coming up from Frankfurt, and he did not know what other
things might happen after that; and the old woman had not slept
all night, pursued by the old thought of Heidi being taken from
her. Heidi ran in, and taking her little stool immediately sat
down by grandmother and began eagerly pouring out all her news,
growing more excited with her pleasure as she went on. But all of
a sudden she stopped short and said anxiously, "What is the
matter, grandmother, aren't you a bit pleased with what I am
"Yes, yes, of course, child, since it gives you so much
pleasure," she answered, trying to look more cheerful.
"But I can see all the same that something troubles you. Is it
because you think after all that Fraulein Rottenmeier may come?"
asked Heidi, beginning to feel anxious herself.
"No, no! it is nothing, child," said the grandmother, wishing to
reassure her. "just give me your hand that I may feel sure you
are there. No doubt it would be the best thing for you, although
I feel I could scarcely survive it."
"I do not want anything of the best if you could scarcely survive
it," said Heidi, in such a determined tone of voice that the
grandmother's fears increased as she felt sure the people from
Frankfurt were coming to take Heidi back with them, since now she
was well again they naturally wished to have her with them once
more. But she was anxious to hide her trouble from Heidi if
possible, as the latter was so sympathetic that she might refuse
perhaps to go away, and that would not be right. She sought for
help, but not for long, for she knew of only one.
"Heidi," she said, "there is something that would comfort me and
calm my thoughts; read me the hymn beginning: 'All things will
work for good.' "
Heidi found the place at once and read out in her clear young
All things will work for good
To those who trust in Me;
I come with healing on my wings,
To save and set thee free.
"Yes, yes, that is just what I wanted to hear," said the
grandmother, and the deep expression of trouble passed from her
face. Heidi looked at her thoughtfully for a minute or two and
then said, "Healing means that which cures everything and makes
everybody well, doesn't it, grandmother?"
"Yes, that is it," replied the old woman with a nod of assent,
"and we may be sure everything will come to pass according to
God's good purpose. Read the verse again, that we may remember it
well and not forget it again."
And Heidi read the words over two or three times, for she also
found pleasure in this assurance of all things being arranged for
When the evening came, Heidi returned home up the mountain. The
stars came out overhead one by one, so bright and sparkling that
each seemed to send a fresh ray of joy into her heart; she was
obliged to pause continually to look up, and as the whole sky at
last grew spangled with them she spoke aloud, "Yes, I understand
now why we feel so happy, and are not afraid about anything,
because God knows what is good and beautiful for us." And the
stars with their glistening eyes continued to nod to her till she
reached home, where she found her grandfather also standing and
looking up at them, for they had seldom been more glorious than
they were this night.
Not only were the nights of this month of May so clear and
bright, but the days as well; the sun rose every morning into the
cloudless sky, as undimmed in its splendor as when it sank the
evening before, and the grandfather would look out early and
exclaim with astonishment, "This is indeed a wonderful year of
sun; it will make all the shrubs and plants grow apace; you will
have to see, general, that your army does not get out of hand
from overfeeding." And Peter would swing his stick with an air of
assurance and an expression on his face as much as to say, see to
So May passed, everything growing greener and greener, and then
came the month of June, with a hotter sun and long light days,
that brought the flowers out all over the mountain, so that every
spot was bright with them and the air full of their sweet scents.
This month too was drawing to its close when one day Heidi,
having finished her domestic duties, ran out with the intention
of paying first a visit to the fir trees, and then going up
higher to see if the bush of rock roses was yet in bloom, for its
flowers were so lovely when standing open in the sun. But just as
she was turning the corner of the hut, she gave such a loud cry
that her grandfather came running out of the shed to see what had
"Grandfather, grandfather!" she cried, beside herself with
excitement. "Come here! look! look!"
The old man was by her side by this time and looked in the
direction of her outstretched hand.
A strange looking procession was making its way up the mountain;
in front were two men carrying a sedan chair, in which sat a girl
well wrapped up in shawls; then followed a horse, mounted by a
stately-looking lady who was looking about her with great
interest and talking to the guide who walked beside her; then a
reclining chair, which was being pushed up by another man, it
having evidently been thought safer to send the invalid to whom
it belonged up the steep path in a sedan chair. The procession
wound up with a porter, with such a bundle of cloaks, shawls, and
furs on his back that it rose well above his head.
"Here they come! here they come!" shouted Heidi, jumping with
joy. And sure enough it was the party from Frankfurt; the figures
came nearer and nearer, and at last they had actually arrived.
The men in front put down their burden, Heidi rushed forward and
the two children embraced each other with mutual delight.
Grandmamma having also reached the top, dismounted, and gave
Heidi an affectionate greeting, before turning to the
grandfather, who had meanwhile come up to welcome his guests.
There was no constraint about the meeting, for they both knew
each other perfectly well from hearsay and felt like old
After the first words of greeting had been exchanged grandmamma
broke out into lively expressions of admiration. "What a
magnificent residence you have, Uncle! I could hardly have
believed it was so beautiful! A king might well envy you! And how
well my little Heidi looks--like a wild rose!" she continued,
drawing the child towards her and stroking her fresh pink cheeks.
"I don't know which way to look first, it is all so lovely! What
do you say to it, Clara, what do you say?"
Clara was gazing round entranced; she had never imagined, much
less seen, anything so beautiful. She gave vent to her delight in
cries of joy. "O grandmamma," she said, "I should like to remain
here for ever."
The grandfather had meanwhile drawn up the invalid chair and
spread some of the wraps over it; he now went up to Clara.
"Supposing we carry the little daughter now to her accustomed
chair; I think she will be more comfortable, the travelling sedan
is rather hard," he said, and without waiting for any one to help
him he lifted the child in his strong arms and laid her gently
down on her own couch. He then covered her over carefully and
arranged her feet on the soft cushion, as if he had never done
anything all his life but attend on cripples. The grandmamma
looked on with surprise.
"My dear Uncle," she exclaimed, "if I knew where you had learned
to nurse I would at once send all the nurses I know to the same
place that they might handle their patients in like manner. How
do you come to know so much?"
Uncle smiled. "I know more from experience than training," he
answered, but as he spoke the smile died away and a look of
sadness passed over his face. The vision rose before him of a
face of suffering that he had known long years before, the face
of a man lying crippled on his couch of pain, and unable to move
a limb. The man had been his Captain during the fierce fighting
in Sicily; he had found him lying wounded and had carried him
away, and after that the captain would suffer no one else near
him, and Uncle had stayed and nursed him till his sufferings
ended in death. It all came back to Uncle now, and it seemed
natural to him to attend on the sick Clara and to show her all
those kindly attentions with which he had been once so familiar.
The sky spread blue and cloudless over the hut and the fir trees
and far above over the high rocks, the grey summits of which
glistened in the sun. Clara could not feast her eyes enough on
all the beauty around her.
"O Heidi, if only I could walk about with you," she said
longingly, "if I could but go and look at the fir trees and at
everything I know so well from your description, although I have
never been here before."
Heidi in response put out all her strength, and after a slight
effort, managed to wheel Clara's chair quite easily round the hut
to the fir trees. There they paused. Clara had never seen such
trees before, with their tall, straight stems, and long thick
branches growing thicker and thicker till they touched the
ground. Even the grandmamma, who had followed the children, was
astonished at the sight of them. She hardly knew what to admire
most in these ancient trees: the lofty tops rising in their full
green splendor towards the sky, or the pillar-like stems, with
their straight and gigantic boughs, that spoke of such antiquity
of age, of such long years during which they had looked down upon
the valley below, where men came and went, and all things were
continually changing, while they stood undisturbed and
Heidi had now wheeled Clara on to the goat shed, and had flung
open the door, so that Clara might have a full view of all that
was inside. There was not much to see just now as its indwellers
were absent. Clara lamented to her grandmother that they would
have to leave early before the goats came home. "I should so like
to have seen Peter and his whole flock."
"Dear child, let us enjoy all the beautiful things that we can
see, and not think about those that we cannot," grandmamma
replied as she followed the chair which Heidi was pushing further
"Oh, the flowers!" exclaimed Clara. "Look at the bushes of red
flowers, and all the nodding blue bells! Oh, if I could but get
but and pick some!"
Heidi ran off at once and picked her a large nosegay of them.
"But these are nothing, Clara," she said, laying the flowers on
her lap. "If you could come up higher to where the goats are
feeding, then you would indeed see something! Bushes on bushes of
the red centaury, and ever so many more of the blue bell-flowers;
and then the bright yellow rock roses, that gleam like pure gold,
and all crowding together in the one spot. And then there are
others with the large leaves that grandfather calls Bright Eyes,
and the brown ones with little round heads that smell so
delicious. Oh, it is beautiful up there, and if you sit down
among them you never want to get up again, everything looks and
smells so lovely!"
Heidi's eyes sparkled with the remembrance of what she was
describing; she was longing herself to see it all again, and
Clara caught her enthusiasm and looked back at her with equal
longing in her soft blue eyes.
"Grandmamma, do you think I could get up there? Is it possible
for me to go?" she asked eagerly. "If only I could walk, climb
about everywhere with you, Heidi!"
"I am sure I could push you up, the chair goes so easily," said
Heidi, and in proof of her words, she sent the chair at such a
pace round the corner that it nearly went flying down the
mountain-side. Grandmamma being at hand, however, stopped it in
The grandfather, meantime, had not been idle. He had by this time
put the table and extra chairs in front of the seat, so that they
might all sit out here and eat the dinner that was preparing
inside. The milk and the cheese were soon ready, and then the
company sat down in high spirits to their mid-day meal.
Grandmamma was enchanted, as the doctor had been, with their
dining-room, whence one could see far along the valley, and far
over the mountains to the farthest stretch of blue sky. A light
wind blew refreshingly over them as they sat at table, and the
rustling of the fir trees made a festive accompaniment to the
"I never enjoyed anything as much as this. It is really superb!"
cried grandmamma two or three times over; and then suddenly in a
tone of surprise,
"Do I really see you taking a second piece of toasted cheese,
There, sure enough, was a second golden-colored slice of cheese
on Clara's plate.
"Oh, it does taste so nice, grandmamma--better than all the
dishes we have at Ragatz," replied Clara, as she continued eating
"That's right, eat what you can!" exclaimed Uncle. "It's the
mountain air which makes up for the deficiencies of the kitchen."
And so the meal went on. Grandmamma and Alm-Uncle got on very
well together, and their conversation became more and more
lively. They were so thoroughly agreed in their opinions of men
and things and the world in general that they might have been
taken for old cronies. The time passed merrily, and then
grandmamma looked towards the west and said,--
"We must soon get ready to go, Clara, the sun is a good way down;
the men will be here directly with the horse and sedan."
Clara's face fell and she said beseechingly, "Oh, just another
hour, grandmamma, or two hours. We haven't seen inside the hut
yet, or Heidi's bed, or any of the other things. If only the day
was ten hours long!"
"Well, that is not possible," said grandmamma, but she herself
was anxious to see inside the hut, so they all rose from the
table and Uncle wheeled Clara's chair to the door. But there they
came to a standstill, for the chair was much too broad to pass
through the door. Uncle, however, soon settled the difficulty by
lifting Clara in his strong arms and carrying her inside.
Grandmamma went all round and examined the household
arrangements, and was very much amused and pleased at their
orderliness and the cozy appearance of everything. "And this is
your bedroom up here, Heidi, is it not?" she asked, as without
trepidation she mounted the ladder to the hay loft. "Oh, it does
smell sweet, what a healthy place to sleep in." She went up to
the round window and looked out, and grandfather followed up with
Clara in his arms, Heidi springing up after them. Then they all
stood and examined Heidi's wonderful hay-bed, and grandmamma
looked thoughtfully at it and drew in from time to time fragrant
draughts of the hay-perfumed air, while Clara was charmed beyond
words with Heidi's sleeping apartment.
"It is delightful for you up here, Heidi! You can look from your
bed straight into the sky, and then such a delicious smell all
round you! and outside the fir trees waving and rustling! I have
never seen such a pleasant, cheerful bedroom before.
Uncle looked across at the grandmamma. "I have been thinking," he
said to her, "that if you were willing to agree to it, your
little granddaughter might remain up here, and I am sure she
would grow stronger. You have brought up all kinds of shawls and
covers with you, and we could make up a soft bed out of them, and
as to the general looking after the child, you need have no fear,
for I will see to that." Clara and Heidi were as overjoyed at
these words as if they were two birds let out of their cages, and
grandmamma's face beamed with satisfaction.
"You are indeed kind, my dear Uncle," she exclaimed; "you give
words to the thought that was in my own mind. I was only asking
myself whether a stay up here might not be the very thing she
wanted. But then the trouble, the inconvenience to yourself! And
you speak of nursing and looking after her as if it was a mere
nothing! I thank you sincerely, I thank you from my whole heart,
Uncle." And she took his hand and gave it a long and grateful
shake, which he returned with a pleased expression of
Uncle immediately set to work to get things ready. He carried
Clara back to her chair outside, Heidi following, not knowing how
to jump high enough into the air to express her contentment. Then
he gathered up a whole pile of shawls and furs and said, smiling,
"It is a good thing that grandmamma came up well provided for a
winter's campaign; we shall be able to make good use of these."
"Foresight is a virtue," responded the lady, amused, "and
prevents many misfortunes. If we have made the journey over your
mountains without meeting with storms, winds and cloud-bursts, we
can only be thankful, which we are, and my provision against
these disasters now comes in usefully, as you say."
The two had meanwhile ascended to the hay-loft and begun to
prepare a bed; there were so many articles piled one over the
other that when finished it looked like a regular little
fortress. Grandmamma passed her hand carefully over it to make
sure there were no bits of hay sticking out. "If there's a bit
that can come through it will," she said. The soft mattress,
however, was so smooth and thick that nothing could penetrate it.
Then they went down again, well satisfied, and found the children
laughing and talking together and arranging all they were going
to do from morning till evening as long as Clara stayed. The next
question was how long she was to remain, and first grandmamma was
asked, but she referred them to the grandfather, who gave it as
his opinion that she ought to make the trial of the mountain air
for at least a month. The children clapped their hands for joy,
for they had not expected to be together for so long a time.
The bearers and the horse and guide were now seen approaching;
the former were sent back at once, and grandmamma prepared to
mount for her return journey.
"It's not saying good-bye, grandmamma," Clara called out, "for
you will come up now and then and see how we are getting on, and
we shall so look forward to your visits, shan't we, Heidi?"
Heidi, who felt that life this day had been crowded with
pleasures, could only respond to Clara with another jump of joy.
Grandmamma being now seated on her sturdy animal, Uncle took the
bridle to lead her down the steep mountain path; she begged him
not to come far with her, but he insisted on seeing her safely as
far as Dorfli, for the way was precipitous and not without danger
for the rider, he said.
Grandmamma did not care to stay alone in Dorfli, and therefore
decided to return to Ragatz, and thence to make excursions up the
mountain from time to time.
Peter came down with his goats before Uncle had returned. As soon
as the animals caught sight of Heidi they all came flocking
towards her, and she, as well as Clara on her couch, were soon
surrounded by the goats, pushing and poking their heads one over
the other, while Heidi introduced each in turn by its name to her
It was not long before the latter had made the long-wished-for
acquaintance of little Snowflake, the lively Greenfinch, and the
well-behaved goats belonging to grandfather, as well as of the
many others, including the Grand Turk. Peter meanwhile stood
apart looking on, and casting somewhat unfriendly glances towards
When the two children called out, "Good-evening, Peter," he made
no answer, but swung up his stick angrily, as if wanting to cut
the air in two, and then ran off with his goats after him.
The climax to all the beautiful things that Clara had already
seen upon the mountain came at the close of the day.
As she lay on the large soft bed in the hay loft, with Heidi near
her, she looked out through the round open window right into the
middle of the shining clusters of stars, and she exclaimed in
"Heidi, it's just as if we were in a high carriage and were going
to drive straight into heaven."
"Yes, and do you know why the stars are so happy and look down
and nod to us like that?" asked Heidi.
"No, why is it?" Clara asked in return.
"Because they live up in heaven, and know how well God arranges
everything for us, so that we need have no more fear or trouble
and may be quite sure that all things will come right in the end.
That's why they are so happy, and they nod to us because they
want us to be happy too. But then we must never forget to pray,
and to ask God to remember us when He is arranging things, so
that we too may feel safe and have no anxiety about what is going
The two children now sat up and said their prayers, and then
Heidi put her head down on her little round arm and fell off to
sleep at once, but Clara lay awake some time, for she could not
get over the wonder of this new experience of being in bed up
here among the stars. She had indeed seldom seen a star, for she
never went outside the house at night, and the curtains at home
were always drawn before the stars came out. Each time she closed
her eyes she felt she must open them again to see if the two very
large stars were still looking in, and nodding to her as Heidi
said they did. There they were, always in the same place, and
Clara felt she could not look long enough into their bright
sparkling faces, until at last her eyes closed of their own
accord, and it was only in her dreams that she still saw the two
large friendly stars shining down upon her.