Heidi Chapter 23 – Part 3

Parting To Meet Again   continued…

Being again urged to utter a wish, he saw at last that he was saved from the power of the terrible man. He felt as if the most crushing load had fallen off him. He knew now that it was better to confess at once, when something had gone wrong, so he said: “I have also lost the paper.”

Reflecting a while, the grandmama understood and said: “That is right. Always confess what is wrong, then it can be settled. And now, what would you like to have?”

So Peter could choose everything in the world he wished. His brain got dizzy. He saw before him all the wonderful things in the fair in Mayenfeld. He had often stood there for hours, looking at the pretty red whistles and the little knives; unfortunately Peter had never possessed more than half what those objects cost.

He stood thinking, not able to decide, when a bright thought struck him.

“Ten pennies,” said Peter with decision.

“That certainly is not too much,” the old lady said with a smile, taking out of her pocket a big, round thaler, on top of which she laid twenty pennies. “Now I’ll explain this to you. Here you have as many times ten pennies as there are weeks in the year. You’ll be able to spend one every Sunday through the year.”

“All my life?” Peter asked quite innocently.

The grandmama began to laugh so heartily at this that the two men came over to join her.

Laughingly she said: “You shall have it my boy; I will put it in my will and then you will do the same, my son. Listen! Peter the goatherd shall have a ten-penny piece weekly as long as he lives.”

Mr. Sesemann nodded.

Peter, looking at his gift, said solemnly: “God be thanked!” Jumping and bounding, he ran away. His heart was so light that he felt he could fly.

A little later the whole party sat round the table holding a merry feast. After dinner, Clara, who was lively as never before, said to her father:

“Oh, Papa, if you only knew all the things grandfather did for me. It would take many days to tell you; I shall never forget them all my life. Oh, if we could please him only half as much as what he did for me.”

“It is my greatest wish, too, dear child,” said her father; “I have been trying to think of something all the time. We have to show our gratitude in some way.”

Accordingly Mr. Sesemann walked over to the old man, and began: “My dear friend, may I say one word to you. I am sure you believe me when I tell you that I have not known any real joy for years. What was my wealth to me when I could not cure my child and make her happy! With the help of the Lord you have made her well. You have given her a new life. Please tell me how to show my gratitude to you. I know I shall never be able to repay you, but what is in my power I shall do. Have you any request to make? Please let me know.”

The uncle had listened quietly and had looked at the happy father.

“Mr. Sesemann, you can be sure that I also am repaid by the great joy I experience at the recovery of Clara,” said the uncle firmly. “I thank you for your kind offer, Mr. Sesemann. As long as I live I have enough for me and the child. But I have one wish. If this could be fulfilled, my life would be free of care.”

“Speak, my dear friend,” urged Clara’s father.

“I am old,” continued the uncle, “and shall not live many years. When I die I cannot leave Heidi anything. The child has no relations except one, who even might try to take advantage of her if she could. If you would give me the assurance, Mr. Sesemann, that Heidi will never be obliged to go into the world and earn her bread, you would amply repay me for what I was able to do for you and Clara.”

“My dear friend, there is no question of that,” began Mr. Sesemann; “the child belongs to us! I promise at once that we shall look after her so that there will not be any need of her ever earning her bread. We all know that she is not fashioned for a life among strangers. Nevertheless, she has made some true friends, and one of them will be here very shortly. Dr. Classen is just now completing his last business in Frankfurt. He intends to take your advice and live here. He has never felt so happy as with you and Heidi. The child will have two protectors near her, and I hope with God’s will, that they may be spared a long, long time.”

“And may it be God’s will!” added the grandmama, who with Heidi had joined them, shaking the uncle tenderly by the hand. Putting her arms around the child, she said: “Heidi, I want to know if you also have a wish?”

“Yes indeed, I have,” said Heidi, pleased.

“Tell me what it is, child!”

“I should like to have my bed from Frankfurt with the three high pillows and the thick, warm cover. Then grandmother will be able to keep warm and won’t have to wear her shawl in bed. Oh, I’ll be so happy when she won’t have to lie with her head lower than her heels, hardly able to breathe!”

Heidi had said all this in one breath, she was so eager.

“Oh dear, I had nearly forgotten what I meant to do. I am so glad you have reminded me, Heidi. If God sends us happiness we must think of those who have many privations. I shall telegraph immediately for the bed, and if Miss Rottenmeier sends it off at once, it can be here in two days. I hope the poor blind grandmother will sleep better when it comes.”

Heidi, in her happiness, could hardly wait to bring the old woman the good news. Soon it was resolved that everybody should visit the grandmother, who had been left alone so long. Before starting, however, Mr. Sesemann revealed his plans. He proposed to travel through Switzerland with his mother and Clara. He would spend the night in the village, so as to fetch Clara from the Alm next morning for the journey. From there they would go first to Ragatz and then further. The telegram was to be mailed that night.

Clara’s feelings were divided, for she was sorry to leave the Alp, but the prospect of the trip delighted her.

When everything was settled, they all went down, the uncle carrying Clara, who could not have risked the lengthy walk. All the way down Heidi told the old lady of her friends in the hut; the cold they had to bear in winter and the little food they had.

Brigida was just hanging up Peter’s shirt to dry, when the whole company arrived. Rushing into the house, she called to her mother: “Now they are all going away. Uncle is going, too, carrying the lame child.”

“Oh, must it really be?” sighed the grandmother. “Have you seen whether they took Heidi away? Oh, if she only could give me her hand once more! Oh, I long to hear her voice once more!”

The same moment the door was flung open and Heidi held her tight.

“Grandmother, just think. My bed with the three pillows and the thick cover is coming from Frankfurt. Grandmama has said that it will be here in two days.”

Heidi thought that grandmother would be beside herself with joy, but the old woman, smiling sadly, said:

“Oh, what a good lady she must be! I know I ought to be glad she is taking you with her, Heidi, but I don’t think I shall survive it long.”

“But nobody has said so,” the grandmama, who had overheard those words, said kindly. Pressing the old woman’s hand, she continued: “It is out of the question. Heidi will stay with you and make you happy. To see Heidi again, we will come up every year to the Alm, for we have many reasons to thank the Lord there.”

Immediately the face of the grandmother lighted up, and she cried tears of joy.

“Oh, what wonderful things God is doing for me!” said the grandmother, deeply touched. “How good people are to trouble themselves about such a poor old woman as I. Nothing in this world strengthens the belief in a good Father in Heaven more than this mercy and kindness shown to a poor, useless little woman, like me.”

“My dear grandmother,” said Mrs. Sesemann, “before God in Heaven we are all equally miserable and poor; woe to us, if He should forget us!—But now we must say good-bye; next year we shall come to see you just as soon as we come up the Alp. We shall never forget you!” With that, Mrs. Sesemann shook her hand. It was some time before she was allowed to leave, however, because the grandmother thanked her over and over again, and invoked all Heaven’s blessings on her and her house.

Mr. Sesemann and his mother went on down, while Clara was carried up to spend her last night in the hut.

Next morning, Clara shed hot tears at parting from the beloved place, where such gladness had been hers. Heidi consoled her with plans for the coming summer, that was to be even more happy than this one had been. Mr. Sesemann then arrived, and a few last parting words were exchanged.

Clara, half crying, suddenly said: “Please give my love to Peter and the goats, Heidi! Please greet Schwänli especially from me, for she has helped a great deal in making me well. What could I give her?”

“You can send her salt, Clara. You know how fond she is of that,” advised little Heidi.

“Oh, I will surely do that,” Clara assented. “I’ll send her a hundred pounds of salt as a remembrance from me.”

It was time to go now, and Clara was able to ride proudly beside her father. Standing on the edge of the slope, Heidi waved her hand, her eyes following Clara till she had disappeared.

The bed has arrived. Grandmother sleeps so well every night now, that before long she will be stronger than ever. Grandmama has not forgotten the cold winter on the Alp and has sent a great many warm covers and shawls to the goatherd’s hut. Grandmother can wrap herself up now and will not have to sit shivering in a corner.

In the village a large building is in progress. The doctor has arrived and is living at present in his old quarters. He has taken the uncle’s advice and has bought the old ruins that sheltered Heidi and her grandfather the winter before. He is rebuilding for himself the portion with the fine apartment already mentioned. The other side is being prepared for Heidi and her grandfather. The doctor knows that his friend is an independent man and likes to have his own dwelling. Bärli and Schwänli, of course, are not forgotten; they will spend the winter in a good solid stable that is being built for them.

The doctor and the Alm-Uncle become better friends every day. When they overlook the progress of the building, they generally come to speak of Heidi. They both look forward to the time when they will be able to move into the house with their merry charge. They have agreed to share together the pleasure and responsibility that Heidi brings them. The uncle’s heart is filled with gratitude too deep for any words when the doctor tells him that he will make ample provision for the child. Now her grandfather’s heart is free of care, for if he is called away, another father will take care of Heidi and love her in his stead.

At the moment when our story closes, Heidi and Peter are sitting in grandmother’s hut. The little girl has so many interesting things to relate and Peter is trying so hard not to miss anything, that in their eagerness they are not aware that they are near the happy grandmother’s chair. All summer long they have hardly met, and very many wonderful things have happened. They are all glad at being together again, and it is hard to tell who is the happiest of the group. I think Brigida’s face is more radiant than any, for Heidi has just told her the story of the perpetual ten-penny piece. Finally the grandmother says: “Heidi, please read me a song of thanksgiving and praise. I feel that I must praise and thank the Lord for the blessings He has brought to us all!”

The End.

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