On The Pasture continued…
“Wake up, Peter!” Heidi called. “Look up, Peter, and see the eagle there!”
Peter got wide wake, and then they both watched the bird breathlessly. It rose higher and higher into the azure, till it disappeared at last behind the mountain-peak.
“Where has it gone?” Heidi asked.
“Home to its nest,” was Peter’s answer.
“Oh, does it really live way up there? How wonderful that must be! But tell me why it screams so loud?” Heidi inquired.
“Because it has to,” Peter replied.
“Oh, let’s climb up there and see its nest!” implored Heidi, but Peter, expressing decided disapproval in his voice, answered: “Oh dear, Oh dear, not even goats could climb up there! Grandfather has told me not to let you fall down the rocks, so we can’t go!”
Peter now began to call loudly and to whistle, and soon all the goats were assembled on the green field. Heidi ran into their midst, for she loved to see them leaping and playing about.
Peter in the meantime was preparing dinner for Heidi and himself, by putting her large pieces on one side and his own small ones on the other. Then he milked Bärli and put the full bowl in the middle. When he was ready, he called to the little girl. But it took some time before she obeyed his call.
“Stop jumping, now,” said Peter, “and sit down; your dinner is ready.”
“Is this milk for me?” she inquired.
“Yes it is; those large pieces also belong to you. When you are through with the milk, I’ll get you some more. After that I’ll get mine.”
“What milk do you get?” Heidi inquired.
“I get it from my own goat, that speckled one over there. But go ahead and eat!” Peter commanded again. Heidi obeyed, and when the bowl was empty, he filled it again. Breaking off a piece of bread for herself, she gave Peter the rest, which was still bigger than his own portion had been. She handed him also the whole slice of cheese, saying: “You can eat that, I have had enough!”
Peter was speechless with surprise, for it would have been impossible for him ever to give up any of his share. Not taking Heidi in earnest, he hesitated till she put the things on his knees. Then he saw she really meant it, and he seized his prize. Nodding his thanks to her, he ate the most luxurious meal he had ever had in all his life. Heidi was watching the goats in the meantime, and asked Peter for their names.
The boy could tell them all to her, for their names were about the only thing he had to carry in his head. She soon knew them, too, for she had listened attentively. One of them was the Big Turk, who tried to stick his big horns into all the others. Most of the goats ran away from their rough comrade. The bold Thistlefinch alone was not afraid, and running his horns three or four times into the other, so astonished the Turk with his great daring that he stood still and gave up fighting, for the Thistlefinch had sharp horns and met him in the most warlike attitude. A small, white goat, called Snowhopper, kept up bleating in the most piteous way, which induced Heidi to console it several times. Heidi at last went to the little thing again, and throwing her arms around its head, she asked, “What is the matter with you, Snowhopper? Why do you always cry for help?” The little goat pressed close to Heidi’s side and became perfectly quiet. Peter was still eating, but between the swallows he called to Heidi: “She is so unhappy, because the old goat has left us. She was sold to somebody in Mayenfeld two days ago.”
“Who was the old goat?”
“Her mother, of course.”
“Where is her grandmother?”
“She hasn’t any.”
“And her grandfather?”
“Hasn’t any either.”
“Poor little Snowhopper!” said Heidi, drawing the little creature tenderly to her. “Don’t grieve any more; see, I am coming up with you every day now, and if there is anything the matter, you can come to me.”
Snowhopper rubbed her head against Heidi’s shoulder and stopped bleating. When Peter had finally finished his dinner, he joined Heidi.
The little girl had just been observing that Schwänli and Bärli were by far the cleanest and prettiest of the goats. They evaded the obtrusive Turk with a sort of contempt and always managed to find the greenest bushes for themselves. She mentioned it to Peter, who replied: “I know! Of course they are the prettiest, because the uncle washes them and gives them salt. He has the best stable by far.”
All of a sudden Peter, who had been lying on the ground, jumped up and bounded after the goats. Heidi, knowing that something must have happened, followed him. She saw him running to a dangerous abyss on the side. Peter had noticed how the rash Thistlefinch had gone nearer and nearer to the dangerous spot. Peter only just came in time to prevent the goat from falling down over the very edge. Unfortunately Peter had stumbled over a stone in his hurry and was only able to catch the goat by one leg. The Thistlefinch, being enraged to find himself stopped in his charming ramble, bleated furiously. Not being able to get up, Peter loudly called for help. Heidi immediately saw that Peter was nearly pulling off the animal’s leg. She quickly picked some fragrant herbs and holding them under the animal’s nose, she said soothingly: “Come, come, Thistlefinch, and be sensible. You might fall down there and break your leg. That would hurt you horribly.”
The goat turned about and devoured the herbs Heidi held in her hand. When Peter got to his feet, he led back the runaway with Heidi’s help. When he had the goat in safety, he raised his rod to beat it for punishment. The goat retreated shyly, for it knew what was coming. Heidi screamed loudly: “Peter, no, do not beat him! look how scared he is.”
“He well deserves it,” snarled Peter, ready to strike. But Heidi, seizing his arm, shouted, full of indignation: “You mustn’t hurt him! Let him go!”