A Guest On The Alp continued…
“Child, I must tell you something now which will grieve you as much as it grieves me,” replied the doctor. “I had to come alone, for Clara has been very ill and could not travel. Of course grandmama has not come either; but the spring will soon be here, and when the days get long and warm, they will surely visit you.”
Heidi was perfectly amazed; she could not understand how all those things that she had pictured to herself so clearly would not happen after all. She was standing perfectly motionless, confused by the blow.
It was some time before Heidi remembered that, after all, she had come down to meet the doctor. Looking up at her friend, she was struck by his sad and cheerless face. How changed he was since she had seen him! She did not like to see people unhappy, least of all the good, kind doctor. He must be sad because Clara and grandmama had not come, and to console him she said: “Oh, it won’t last long till spring comes again; then they will come for sure; they’ll be able to stay much longer then, and that will please Clara. Now we’ll go to grandfather.”
Hand in hand she climbed up with her old friend. All the way she tried to cheer him up by telling him again and again of the coming summer days. After they had reached the cottage, she called out to her grandfather quite happily:
“They are not here yet, but it won’t be very long before they are coming!”
The grandfather warmly welcomed his guest, who did not seem at all a stranger, for had not Heidi told him many things about the doctor? They all three sat down on the bench before the door, and the doctor told of the object of his visit. He whispered to the child that something was coming up the mountain very soon which would bring her more pleasure than his visit. What could it be?
The uncle advised the doctor to spend the splendid days of autumn on the Alp, if possible, and to take a little room in the village instead of in Ragatz; then he could easily walk up every day to the hut, and from there the uncle could take him all around the mountains. This plan was accepted.
The sun was in its zenith and the wind had ceased. Only a soft delicious breeze fanned the cheeks of all.
The uncle now got up and went into the hut, returning soon with a table and their dinner.
“Go in, Heidi, and set the table here. I hope you will excuse our simple meal,” he said, turning to his guest.
“I shall gladly accept this delightful invitation; I am sure that dinner will taste good up here,” said the guest, looking down over the sun-bathed valley.
Heidi was running to and fro, for it gave her great joy to be able to wait on her kind protector. Soon the uncle appeared with the steaming milk, the toasted cheese, and the finely-sliced, rosy meat that had been dried in the pure air. The doctor enjoyed his dinner better than any he had ever tasted.
“Yes, we must send Clara up here. How she could gather strength!” he said; “If she would have an appetite like mine today, she couldn’t help getting nice and fat.”
At this moment a man could be seen walking up with a large sack on his shoulders. Arriving on top, he threw down his load, breathing in the pure, fresh air.
Opening the cover, the doctor said: “This has come for you from Frankfurt, Heidi. Come and look what is in it.”
Heidi timidly watched the heap, and only when the gentleman opened the box with the cakes for the grandmother she said joyfully: “Oh, now grandmother can eat this lovely cake.” She was taking the box and the beautiful shawl on her arm and was going to race down to deliver the gifts, when the men persuaded her to stay and unpack the rest. What was her delight at finding the tobacco and all the other things. The men had been talking together, when the child suddenly planted herself in front of them and said: “These things have not given me as much pleasure as the dear doctor’s coming.” Both men smiled.
When it was near sunset, the doctor rose to start on his way down. The grandfather, carrying the box, the shawl and the sausage, and the guest holding the little girl by the hand, they wandered down the mountain-side. When they reached Peter’s hut, Heidi was told to go inside and wait for her grandfather there. At parting she asked: “Would you like to come with me up to the pasture to-morrow, doctor?”
“With pleasure. Good-bye, Heidi,” was the reply. The grandfather had deposited all the presents before the door, and it took Heidi long to carry in the huge box and the sausage. The shawl she put on the grandmother’s knee.
Brigida had silently watched the proceedings, and could not open her eyes wide enough when she saw the enormous sausage. Never in her life had she seen the like, and now she really possessed it and could cut it herself.
“Oh grandmother, don’t the cakes please you awfully? Just look how soft they are!” the child exclaimed. What was her amazement when she saw the grandmother more pleased with the shawl, which would keep her warm in winter.
“Grandmother, Clara has sent you that,” Heidi said.
“Oh, what kind good people they are to think of a poor old woman like me! I never thought I should ever own such a splendid wrap.”
At this moment Peter came stumbling in.
“The uncle is coming up behind me, and Heidi must—” that was as far as he got, for his eyes had fastened on the sausage. Heidi, however, had already said good-bye, for she knew what he had meant. Though her uncle never went by the hut any more without stepping in, she knew it was too late to-day. “Heidi, come, you must get your sleep,” he called through the open door. Bidding them all good-night, he took Heidi by the hand and under the glistening stars they wandered home to their peaceful cottage.