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Red Letter 
* Stories 



She ran to the footpath, and would have rushed wildly down the 


Jtotss Sales 







Franklin and Hawley Streets 



By D. Lothrop & Co. 




Etttle (Efjtltorrn of Cfjaunrg |fe?all L^tntJrrgartrn, 





Chalncy Hall School, 

Boston, Nov. 1, 1884. 


The Swiss tales in these volumes were 
written by Madame Johanna Spyri of Zurich, a 
writer of great popularity in her own country 
and Germany. 

By some critics she is . assigned the first 
place among German writers for children. 

The "Revue Suisse" of August, 1882, says 
of her: "Since 1878 she has published a num- 
ber of charming tales which children read and 
re-read, and which we, older people, blasSes by 
romance of every kind, enjoy as the fruits of 
a lost paradise." 

Madame Spyri authorizes this translation. 




Introductory 7 

I. Lisa's Christmas 9 

II. A New Acquaintance 19 

III. The Effect of Concealment 29 

IV. A Gift 41 

V. Christmas Evening ....*...*< 58 


Introductory 70 

Basti's Song in Altorf 71 





In a certain school there was a certain teacher, 
not more than fifty jeavs ago, who had certain 
very nnnsual and charming ways of doing 
many things. 

In the first place you must know her name. 
It was really Miss Sonnenschein ; but, as that is 
a long name, and not easy to say, you may im- 
agine the children were not long in changing 
it to Miss Sunshine. At last everybody had 
forgotten what her real name was, and she was 
called Miss Sunshine everywhere. 

Among other pleasant things which Miss 
Sunshine did, one was this : — 

Whenever all the children in her room had 
been very good and kind, and had worked very 
well, she put a big red letter on the black-board 


8 Red-Letter Stories. 

at the end of the day, to show that it had been 
a red-letter day. 

If you don't understand what a red-letter is, 
you must think of the very best day you ever 
had at the sea-shore, or in the country, and then 
you will know exactly what it is. 

Miss Sunshine did not always make the same 
letter on the black-board. Sometimes it was 
an A ; sometimes an E, or an H, or a K. 

Nobody ever found out exactly what these 
letters meant; but the children suspected they 
had something to do with the child who had 
done the most to make a red-letter day, and 
each child would try to see if the letter be- 
longed to his or her name. If it was A, Albert 
and Amy were glad ; and if it was E, Elsie's 
face beamed with joy. 

The best thing about these days was that 
then Miss Sunshine brought out her red-letter 
books. These were big story books marked 
with red letters, out of which most charming 
tales were read. 

One winter, when the boys and girls had been 
studying about Switzerland, and had learned 
about its high mountains with their famous 

Lisa's Christmas. 9 

passes, their snowy peaks, and glaciers, Miss 
Sunshine took up a book with a big red S on 
the cover, and said : " Now, I will read you 
some stories about the little Swiss children, so 
that you can see how the people live among the 
Alps, and how the little people study and work 
and play just as you do. 

The first story is our Christmas story, and is 
called " Lisa's Christinas" 


The little village of Altkirch is situated 
among beautiful green, willow-covered hills, 
which encircle it completely, except on one 
side, where one can look across to the green 
Rechberg on whose summit stands another 
village which, like the mountain, bears the 
name of Rochberg. Between the two heights 
rushes the wild Zillerbach. A zigzag road leads 
down from Altkirch to the Zillerbach, across 
the old covered bridge, and on the other side 
zigzag again up to Rechberg, nearly two 
miles in all. Shorter and much pleasanter is 
the narrow foot-path, going directly down to the 
Zillerbach, where a narrow wooden foot-bridge 

10 Red-Letter Stories. 


spans the rushing stream. On all the green 
hills around, no human habitation is to be 
seen; but near the foot-path is a solitary 
chapel, which for many long years has looked 
down upon the rushing stream and the little 
foot-bridge, which has many a time fallen away 
and been renewed during these years. 

There are many poor people in Altkirch, for 
there is little work. Most of the men go as 
day-laborers to the farms in the vicinity. A 
few possess a little spot of land which they 

At the time of our story one of the poorest 
households was that of Joseph of the Willow, 
who lived in a lonely old house on the way to 
the chapel, quite Iry itself. The little house was 
almost entirel}^ covered by the long, over-hang- 
ing boughs of an old willow-tree, which had 
given to the owner the name of Joseph of the 
Willow. He had always lived in the little 
house, which had belonged to his father before 

Now Joseph was an old man and had only an 
aged invalid wife and two grandchildren in 
the old house with him. His onty son, Sepp, a 

Lisa?s Christmas. 11 

careless, good-natured young man, had been 
away from them six years, and they did not 
even know where he was. He had married, 
early in life, an industrious young woman 
named Constance, whom everybody liked. She 
kept everj^thing in the house in beautiful order, 
and Joseph and his wife had a comfortable 
time while she lived; she worked early and 
late, and did not allow them to want for any- 
thing. " Father and mother must rest now," 
she said, "they have done enough, and we two 
young people must make their last days plea- 
sant." Sepp went every day to his work at the 
great farm on the other side of the Zillerbach, 
and brought home each week a nice sum of 

Three years passed by in undisturbed peace. 

Old Father Clemens, who lived in the great 
house behind Altkirch, said often, as he entered 
Joseph's home, — 

" Joseph, it is good to be with you ; one never 
hears an angry word here ; all honor to your 
good Constance." His kind eyes beamed with 
joy when Constance bade him welcome with 
her cheerful voice, and little Stanzeli stretched 

12 Red-Letter Stories. 

out her tiny hands towards him. Then he said 
again, "Yes, indeed, it is good to be here, 

When Stanzeli was two years old, little Sep- 
pli came into the world. That was a great joy 
for everybody ; but, soon after, the saddest thing 
that could happen came to Joseph's home. 

Constance was taken away from her husband 
and from her children. From that time Sepp 
seemed like one who had no farther aim in life. 
A restless, uneasy feeling took possession of 
him. He could no longer remain at home on 
Sundays. He spent more and more time away, 
until he finally left them altogether. For 
a long time he sent home money for the support 
of his children ; but at last this stopped, and for 
six years nothing had been heard from him. 

The two old people had grown poorer and 
poorer, and more and more feeble. Their only 
support came from the baskets which the old 
man wove from the willow-twigs and gave to 
the dairyman when he took his cheese to the 
city to market. He did not earn much in this 
way, and the closest economy was necessary to 
make both ends meet. 

Lisa's Christmas. 13 

Stanzeli was now nine years old and Seppli 
seven. Stanzeli was the chief dependence of 
the family, for her grandmother had been ill 
now for more than four months. So she and 
her grandfather had to do the cooking, which 
was not very laborious, for there was nothing 
to cook but meal porridge and potatoes, and 
now and then a little coffee. But as Stanzeli 
was too small to lift the kettle, and as Joseph 
did not understand how to put things together, 
the two were necessary in preparing a meal. 

Seppli, too, assisted in the work by getting 
first in the way of one and then of the other, 
with eyes wide open in expectation of the won- 
derful porridge. It was useless to drive him 
away, for he was back in two minutes. 

One warm September day, when the sun was 
shining on the green fields around Altkirch, and 
some beams strayed through the dingy windows 
to the grandmother's bed, the old woman sighed 
and said : " Ah me ! Does the sun shine still ? 
If I could only go out again ! But I would be 
willing to lie still if the bed were not as hard as 
wood and the pillow not much better ! And 
when I think of the winter and the thin cover- 

14 Red-Letter Stories, 

let — it makes me cold already — I shall certainly 
freeze to death." 

" Do n't worry now about the winter,'' said the 
old man soothingly. " God will still be with 
lis. He has already helped us many times when 
things looked dark. You must not forget that. 
How would you like a little coffee to warq| you 

She thought she would like some very much, 
so Joseph went into the next room, which was 
the kitchen, to prepare it. He beckoned to 
Stanzeli to come with him, and when he had 
taken down the coffee-pot and poured some 
water into it, he said, "Stanzeli, what comes 
first ? " 

"I must grind the coffee beans," answered 
the child, and, seating herself on the footstool 
with the coffee-mill, she turned with all her 
might. But something was wrong. She looked 
here and there, and finally drew out the little 

There, instead of the fine powder which 
should have been seen, lay great pieces as large 
as half a coffee bean. 

With a cry, Stanzeli showed the drawer to 

Lisa's Christmas. 15 

her grandfather and pointed out the sad condi- 
tion of things. He looked at the broken mill, 
and said quietly : "Don't make any noise that 
your grandmother can hear. It will make her 
unhappy, and she will think she can have no 
more coffee to drink. Just wait a little." 

Thereupon he wpnt out, and soon came back 
with a large stone in his hand, with which he 
pounded up the coffee kernels on a paper, and 
Stanzeli turned the coarsely pulverized mass 
into the pot. But as soon as the invalid took 
the little dish of coffee in her hand, she cried 
out complainingly : " Oh dear ! Oh dear ! 
Great grains of coffee are swimming about on 
the top ; the coffee-mill is broken. Oh, if it 
only could have lasted ! We are not able to 
buy a new one." 

" Don't make yourself ill over it," said Joseph 
in a soothing tone. " Many things are brought 
about by patience." 

" Yes," said his wife ; "but no coffee-mill." 

A little cup of the coffee was given to the 
children with their potato ; for they had bread 
only on Sunday. 

Then Joseph found some baskets which were 

16 Red-Letter Stories. 

finished, and, binding them together in pairs; 
gave them to the children, and told them to 
set out at once, that they might get home in 
good season. Thej^ knew well where they had 
to go, for every two weeks they were sent on 
such an errand to the dairyman. He lived 
quite a distance from the little village. The 
way led over the hill, past the chapel, up to the 
forest, where his cottage stood. 

The children started out together, and, since 
Stanzeli kept conscientiously on the way, Seppli 
had to do the same, although he would have 
preferred to stand still and look at this or that. 

When they came to the chapel, Stanzeli 
paused for the first time and said : " Lay the 
baskets here on the ground, Seppli ; we must go 
into the chapel and say '-Our Father.'' " 

But Seppli -was unwilling to go. "I do not 
wish to go in, it is too warm," he said, and 
seated himself on the ground. 

" No, Seppli, come, we must do it," said Stan- 
zeli. "Don't you remember that Father 
Clemens said that when one passed a church 
one must always go in and pray ? Get up and 
eonie quickly." 

Lisa's Christmas, 17 

Seppli remained stubborn ; but his sister gave 
him no rest. She took him by the hand and. 
drew him up. 

" You must come, Seppli. You are not doing 
right. One ought to pray willingly." 

At that moment they heard steps coming up 
towards the chapel, and Father Clemens sud- 
denly stood before the children. Seppli sprang 
quickly to his feet, and both children offered 
him their hands. 

" Seppli, Seppli ! " he said kindly, as he 
pressed his hand, " what have I heard ? Are 
you not willing to follow Stanzeli when she 
wishes to go into the chapel ? I wish to tell 
you something : our Heavenly Father does not 
command us to go into the church and pray ; 
but He gives us the privilege of doing so, and 
every time we pray He sends us something, 
only we cannot always see it immediately." 

The good man went on his way, and Seppli 
'went into the chapel without further objec- 
tion. When they came out again a few minutes 
later they heard the sound of voices coming 
from the foot-path which leads down to the Zill- 

18 Bed-Letter Stories. 

Three heads appeared, one after the other, 
and at last three children, two boys and a girl, 
came into full view, who stared at the other 
two in astonishment. 



The largest of these children, who appeared 
so unexpectedly, was the girl, who might have 
been eleven years old. One of her brothers 
was a year younger, perhaps, and the other was 
much younger and smaller, but very fat and 
firmly built. 

The little girl moved a few steps nearer 
Stanzeli and Seppli, and asked, — 

" What are your names ? " 

The children gave their names. 

" Where do you live ? " was the next ques- 

" In Altkirch, there, you can see the church 
tower from here," answered Stanzeli, pointing 
to the red tower between the hills. 

" So you have your church there. We have 
such a church, too ; but it is closed, and we go 
into it only on Sunday. But we have no such 


20 Red-Letter Stories. 

chapels with us. There is another still higher 
above us ; only look, Kurt, up by the forest." 

The little girl pointed with her finger high 
above, and her brother nodded to indicate that 
he saw the designated object. " I should like 
to know why you have so many chapels here on 
all the hills." 

"So that we can go in and pray when we are 
passing by," said Stanzeli quickly. 

" We can do that without them," responded 
the other girl, " we can pray everywhere, where- 
ever we are. God hears everywhere ; that I 

" Yes but we might not think of it, unless we 
came to a chapel; then we should be reminded," 
answered Stanzeli. 

"We must go now, Lisa," said her brother 
Kurt, to whom the conversation was becoming 
tiresome. But Lisa was enjoying it. She liked 
Stanzeli because she answered so decidedly and 
had given her something to think about. 

All at once the chapel made a different im- 
pression upon her. Until now she had looked 
upon it simply as a building winch is left stand- 
ing because it was put there a long time ago. 

Lisa's Christmas, 2i 

Now it seemed to her as if God pointed down 
from, heaven to the chapel and said, "There 
it stands, that you may think of me." 

As Lisa, following her own train of thought, 

7 o o 

did not speak for some time, Stanzeli continued ; 
"And we are not commanded to go in and pray, 
but are permitted to do so. And then God al- 
ways sends us something, even if we are not 
able to see it. Father Clemens has said so." 

"Yes; but I would rather have something 
we can see," interposed Seppli, who had been 
listening attentively. 

" Do you know Father Clemens, too ? " asked 
Lisa eagerly, for he was well-known to all the 
children on the other side of the Zillerbach too. 
Wherever he was seen in his long coat with 
the great crucifix at his side, the children ran 
to him, offering their hands eagerly. He always 
had his pockets full of beautiful picture cards 
for them. Lisa had received many of these, so 
the name of Father Clemens recalled to her 
mind the pleasantest recollections. 

" He lives in Altkirch, up in the old convent, 
and he comes often to see us," exclaimed Stan- 
zeli. " Yes, and he sometimes brings grand- 

22 Med-Letter Stories. 

mother a whole loaf of bread," added Seppli, 
who remembered this good act most vividly. 

"I must go now," said Stanzeli, as she took 
up her baskets. " We have still a long way to 

" Won't you come some time to Rechberg to 
see me ? " asked Lisa, who wanted to continue 
the acquaintance. 

" I don't know the way. I have never been 
on the other side of the Zillerbach." 

" Oh, it is very easy to find. Just cross the 
foot-bridge, then up and up until you come to 
the top. That is Rechberg. The large house 
which stands highest of all is ours. Do come 
soon. Come early some afternoon, so that we 
can play till evening." 

So the children separated. Stanzeli and 
Seppli went on up the mountain, and Lisa 
looked about for her brothers, who had disap- 

Kurt had climbed up an old pine-tree near the 
chapel, and was rocking on a bough, which 
cracked in a most ominous manner. Lisa 
watched to see him come down, considering 
that event more amusing than dangerous. 

Lisa's Christmas. 23 

Karl was lying on the ground near the pine- 
tree, sound asleep. 

Something came running down the hill, which 
brought Kurt from his lofty perch, and woke 
Karl from his sleep at once. It was a flock of 
sheep, young and old, great and small, all skip- 
ping, running, and bleating, while the great dog 
barked continually. The shepherd was driving 
them towards Altkirch. The three children 
looked at the flock as it went by, in silent 
admiration. As far as they could see, they 
watched the young lambs skipping along by 
the sober mothers. When they had all passed, 
Karl said with a deep sigh; "If only we had a 
lamb like one of those ! " 

That was exactly what Kurt and Lisa thought 
at the same moment, and for once the three 
agreed perfectly. 

Lisa immediately proposed that they should 
go home, and beg and beg for a lamb until they 
got it. She pictured to her brothers how they 
could take the lamb everywhere with them, and 
play with it in the pasture, until all three be- 
came so excited over the prospect, that they 
finally ran down the mountain and over the 

24 Red-Letter Stories. 

foot-bridge. Lisa went first, followed by Kurt, 
and they rushed so fast that the bridge swayed 
under their feet, and the loose boards moved 
up and down in such a manner that Karl, who 
was behind them, lost his footing, and almost 
fell into the rushing Zillerbach. Kurt turned 
and helped him up, and they finally reached the 
other side in safety. 

It was a long way to Rechberg, and the lights 
had been brought into the sitting-room when 
the children came in sight of the house. Their 
mother had been anxiously watching for them 
for more than an hour. She had seen nothing 
of them since dinner, and they should have 
been at home for four-o'clock coffee. She had 
given them permission to spend their afternoon 
in the grove near by, of which they had availed 
themselves most joyfully. 

Now it was dark ; and there was no sight or 
sound of them. How could they be so late ? 
She conjured up all possible accidents, and ran 
from window to window, more and more anx- 

But now — ah ! there were their voices ! They 
came nearer! She ran out — yes — there they 

Lisa's Christmas. 25 

were coming up the mountain-side. As they 
saw their mother they ran faster, each trying to 
be the first to tell the story. Little Karl was 
left behind, but Kurt and Lisa came up breath- 
less, eager to begin their tale at once. 

At the same time a strong voice came from 
the opposite direction ; kC Supper ! supper ! " 

It was the bailiff's, who had just returned 
from his business and wished to enforce the 
strict order of his household. When they were 
all seated at the supper table, the children were 
permitted to give an account of their day's 

It seemed that Lisa had grown tired of the 
grove, and had proposed to climb up to the old 
linden, where there was a fine view of the 
chapel, and the Zillerbach with its narrow 
bridge. Lisa had had a previous experience of 
the trembling and swaying of the little bridge, 
and an irresistible desire had seized her to visit 
the vicinity again. 

Her brothers were very willing to join her, 
and the walk was begun which proved a much 
longer one than they had anticipated. They 
recounted the events of their expedition again 

26 Bed-Letter St 


and again, the meeting with the two children, 
seeing the Hock of sheep, and crossing the 
shaky bridge. 

The cousequence of this last account was that 
all expeditions to the Zillerbach were strictly 
forbidden for the future. 

In the meantime little Karl had fallen fast 
asleep in his chair. 

" See, Karl is resting after his day's work," 
said their father, " and it is high time for yours 
to be at an end." 

It was not easy to waken the little sleeper, so 
the bailiff took him, chair and all, and carried 
him into the chamber, while the other children 
followed, laughing and shouting at the funny 

From that time, at every meal, morning, 
noon, and night, one after the other, the chil- 
dren would say : 

" Oh, if only we had a lamb ! " 

One evening, when the mother and children 
were sitting around the table, and little Karl, 
who found the school-work of the others 
rather tiresome, had said for the sixth time : 
" Oh, if we only had a lamb ! " the door opened 

Lisa's Christmas. 27 

Suddenly and in sprang a real live lamb. The 
little creature was covered with snow-white 
curly wool and was prettier than any the chil- 
dren had ever seen. 

Such a cry of joy, such a noise arose, that no- 
body could hear a word. 

The lamb darted from one corner to another 
in fright, bleating pitifully, while the children 
rushed after him with shouts of joy. 

At last their father called : " Come, that 's 
enough. We must take the lamb to his new 
quarters, and then I have something to say to 

The children went out to see where the lamb 
was put, full of wonder as to the place. A 
little addition had been made to the stable, and 
nice, clean straw lay on the floor for the lamb's 
bed. There was a little manger, too, in which 
to put grass and hay for him. 

When the pretty creature had been carefully 
placed on his straw bed and was quiet, the 
father closed the low door and motioned to the 
children to follow him. When they had re- 
turned to the sitting-room, he said seriously: 
" Now listen to me, and give heed to what I 

28 keel-Letter Storie*. 

say. I have taken the lamb away from his 
mother to give to you. You must take the 
mother's place and care for him, so he will not 
die of home-sickness. You may take him out 
with you during your play-time wherever you 
wish ; but you must never leave him alone, and, 
whoever takes him out must take care of him 
and bring him back to his place. Do you 
understand, and are you willing to care for him 
in this way ? If not, I will take him back to his 

All three, Lisa, Kurt, and Karl, begged their 
father to leave the lamb with them, and prom- 
ised faithfully to obey his commands in every 
respect, and were so full of joy at the prospect 
of having a real live lamb that they could not 
easily get to sleep that night. Even little Karl, 
usually so sleepy, sat up in bed and called out, 
again and again : 

"Papa shall see that the lamb will not die 
here. I will take care of that." 


Sometimes they went to the pasture. 



The next clay the great question was what 
the lamb's name would be. 

Liza proposed calling it " Eulalia" for that 
was the name of her friend's cat, and it seemed 
to her an especially fine name. But the boys 
did not like it. It was too long. Kust pro- 
posed " Nero," as the big dog at the mill was 
called. But Lisa and Karl were not pleased 
with this name. 

In despair, they went to their mother, who 
suggested he should be called " Curlyhead," 
and Curlyhead he was from that time forth. 

The little creature soon became a great pet 
for the children. They took him out for a 
frolic whenever they had a few spare moments. 
Sometimes they went to the pasture, and Kurt 
and Karl would search for rich, juicy clover- 
leaves to bring him, while Lisa sat on a bank 
with the little creature's head in her lap. 


30 Bed-Letter Stories. 

Whenever a child was sent on an errand to 
the mill, or to the baker's, the lamb must go, 
and he listened so intelligently to all the con- 
versation his companion addressed to him that 
it was evident he understood every word. He 
grew every day more trustful, and thrived so 
well under this excellent care that he grew 
round as a ball, and his wool was as white 
and pretty as if he were always in his Sunday 

The beautiful, sunny autumn was drawing to 
an end, and November came. Christmas was 
coming, and every child's mind was filled with 
expectations of that joyful event. Kurt and 
Karl disclosed all their cherished dreams to 
Curlyheacl, and assured him he should have his 
share of holiday presents. Curlyhead listened 
attentively and seemed to appreciate these con- 

Lisa had a particular friend, Marie, who lived 
in the great farmhouse on the way to the Ziller- 
bach. Lisa was very anxious to visit this 
friend, for she could talk over her prospects 
fur Christmas more fully with her than with 
her brothers. She had permission to go on her 

Lisas Christmas. 31 

first free afternoon, and when the time came she 
was so impatient to start that she could hardly 
hold still long enough for her mother to tie on 
her warm scarf. Then she ran bounding off, 
while her mother watched her until she was 
half-way down the hill ; then she turned and 
went into the house again. 

At that moment it came into Lisa's mind that 
Curlyhead would enliven the long way if her 
brothers had not already taken him. She 
quickly turned around, ran back to the barn, 
and took oat Curlyhead. Together they ran 
down the hard path where the bright autumn 
leaves were dancing about in the wind. They 
soon reached the end of their journey, where 
Lisa and her friend were quickly lost in deep 
conversation, walking up and down on the sunny 
plot of ground in front of the house, while 
Curlyhead nibbled contentedly at the hedge. 

The two friends refreshed themselves oc- 
casionally with pears, and juicy, red apples, 
which grew in great abundance on the farm. 

Marie's mother had brought out a great 
basketful, and Lisa was to carry home what 
were left. When it was time for Lisa to go 

32 Red-Letter Stories. 

home, Marie accompanied her a little way, and 
they still had so much to say, that they were in 
sight of Lisa's home before they knew it. Marie 
quickly took leave of her, and Lisa hurried 
up the path. It was already dark. Just as 
she reached the house, the thought flashed 
through her mind like lightning : " Where is 
Curlyhead ?" 

She knew she had taken him with her. She 
had seen him nibbling the hedge, and then she 
had entirely forgotten him. 

In a most dreadful fright she rushed back 
down the mountain again, calling, " Curlyhead, 
Curlyhead, where are } r ou? Oh, come, come ! " 

But all was still. Curlyhead was nowhere to 
be seen. Lisa ran back to the farmhouse. There 
was a light already in the window of the sitting- 
room, and she could look in from the stone steps 
by the house. They were all at the supper-table ; 
father, mother, Marie, and her brothers and the 
servants. The old cat lay on a bench by the 
stove ; but nowhere was there a trace of Curly- 
head to be seen, as Lisa peered into all the 
corners. Then she ran around the house into 
the garden, around the hedge, again into the 

Lisas Christmas. 83 

garden, and along the inside of the hedge, 
calling, " Curly head, come now, oh, come, 
come ! " 

All in vain. There was no sight or sound of 
the lamb. Lisa grew more anxious. It grew 
darker and the wind howled louder and louder, 
and almost blew her from the ground. 

She must go home. What should she do? 
She did not dare to say she had lost Curlyhead. 
If she could see her mother alone, first ! 

She ran as fast as she could up the mountain. 
At home supper was ready, and her father was 
already there. She burst into the room in such 
a heated, disordered condition, that her mother 
said : " You cannot come to the table so, child ; 
go and make yourself ready first." And her 
father added : " You must not come home so 
late ! Now go, and come soon in a neater con- 
dition, or you will have nothing to eat." 

Lisa obeyed quietly. As far as supper was 
concerned, it was all the same to her ; she would 
much rather not come in at all ; but that would 
not do. With a very sad face she returned to 
her place. She had a fearful anxiety in regard 
to the remarks and questions sure to follow* 

34 Red-Letter Stories. 

But before any one could say anything to her, 
a new occurrence claimed the attention of the 
whole family. 

Hans put his head in at the door and said : 
" Excuse me, sir, but Trina saj^s the children are 
all at home and the lamb is not yet in the 

" What ? " cried the bailiff. " What can this 
mean? Who has taken him out?" 

« Not I ! " " Not I ! Certainly not I ! " " Nor 
I," cried out Kurt and Karl so loudly that one 
could not hear whether Lisa spoke or not. 

" Not so fast," said their mother gently. " It 
certainly was not Lisa, she went alone this 
afternoon to visit Marie, and has only just come 

" Then it is one of you boys," cried their 
father hastily, looking sharply at the two 

A great cry came as answer, " Not I ! " ; * Not 
I ! " and both of them looked so honest that the 
bailiff said at once: "No! No! It is not you; 
Hans must have left the door open an instant, 
and the lamb took the opportunity of running 
out. I must look into it," 

Lisa's Christmas. 35 

He left the room hastily to make an examin- 
ation of the barn. 

When the first excitement was over another 
idea became uppermost. All at once Karl 
covered his eyes with his hands, and sobbed 
out, — 

" Now Curly head is lost. We shall never see 
him any more. Perhaps he is already dead." 

And Kurt added, weeping aloud : " Yes, it 
grows colder, and he has nothing to eat and 
will surely freeze and die in misery." 

Lisa began to cry more violently than her 
brothers. She said nothing, but one could easily 
see how much deeper her grief was than theirs, 
and Lisa herself knew why. Long after Kurt 
i and Karl were asleep, dreaming happy dreams 
of Curlyhead, Lisa lay tossing uneasily, and 
could not sleep. Besides her grief for the lamb 
left to wander alone. in the cold night, she had 
to bear the torture of the thought that she was 
the cause of this, and that she had concealed it 
when she ought to have confessed it. She had 
not, it is true, called out " Not I, not I; " but she 
had been silent when her mother said : " It cer- 
tainly cannot be Lisa," and she rightly felt that 

36 Bed-Letter Stories. 

by her silence she had done the same wrong as 
if she had told an untruth. She could not rest 
until she determined to tell her mother the 
whole story in the morning. Perhaps he would 
be found. 

The next morning was bright and sunny, and 
at breakfast it was decided that, as soon as school 
was out, all three children should go out to look 
for Curlyhead. In the afternoon they would do 
the same. He must be somewhere, and they 
would find him. Their mother told them, too, 
that their father had already, in the early 
morning, sent Hans out to search for the little 
creature everywhere ; so there was every hope 
that he would be found. Lisa was most happy 
at this prospect, and thought she would not 
need to say anything now ; everything would 
come right. The whole Rechberg was searched 
during the day, and inquiries made in every 
house; but Curlyhead seemed to have dis- 
appeared from the face of the earth. Nobody 
had seen him, and nowhere was there any 
trace of him. The search was continued for 
several days ; but in vain. Then the bailiff 
s;.id it was of no use: either the poor animal 

And one looked here, and one there at the window. 

Lisa?s Christmas. 87 

was no longer alive, or it had wandered far 

A few days after, the first snow fell, and so 
thick and large were the flakes that in a short 
time the whole garden lay in deep snow, which 
came half way up the hedge. Generally, the 
children rejoiced greatly in the first snow ; and 
the more the flakes whirled about, the more they 
shouted and exulted. 

Now they were quiet, and one looked here, 
and one there, at the window, and each one 
thought in silence of Curlyhead, wondering if 
he lay under the cold snow or was trying to wade 
through it and could not, and was calling for 
help with his well-known voice, and no one was 
near to hear. When their father came home at 
night, he said : " It is a bitterly cold night ; the 
snow is already frozen hard. If the poor ani- 
mal is not already dead, it will certainly perish 
to-night. Would that I had never brought the 
poor creature home ! " Then Karl broke out in 
such bitter weeping, and Kurt and Lisa joined 
in such a heartrending manner, that their 
father left the room, and their mother sought to 
comfort them. 

88 Red-Letter Stories. 

From that time the bailiff never mentioned 
the lamb again, and when the children grieved 
for it, their mother talked to them about the 
Christmas celebration. She told them that the 
Christ-child came to make all hearts glad, and 
that this festival, which Avould soon come, would 
make them happy again. And when tender- 
hearted Karl began, as the cold, dark evenings 
came on to say despondingly : " Oh, if only Curly- 
head were not freezing in the cold outside ! " 
Then his mother comforted him, by saying: 
" See, Karl, the good God takes care of animals, 
too. It may be that he has prepared a warm bed 
for Curlyheacl elsewhere, and it is well with him ; 
and since we can care no more for him, let us be 
content and leave him with the good God." 
Kurt listened attentively as their mother com- 
forted Karl, and so it happened that, gradually, 
the two brothers became happy again, and re- 
joiced more every day in the prospect of the 
pleasant Christmas time. But Lisa did not 
grow cheerful with them. A heavy burden lay 
upon her, which crushed her down and kept her 
always unhappy. At night she dreamed of 
seeing Curlyhead lying out in the snow, hungry 

Lisa's Christinas. 89 

and freezing, looking at her with reproachful 
eyes which said, "You have done it." Then 
she would wake up weeping, and afterwards, 
when she tried to be merry with her brothers, 
she could not, for she always kept thinking, If 
they knew what she had done, how they would 
reproach her ! She dared not look straight in 
the eyes of her parents, for she had concealed 
from them what she ought to have revealed, and 
now she could not bring the words to her lips; 
she had let them believe so long that she knew 
nothing about the affair. 

So Lisa had no more happy minutes, and 
every day she appeared more mournful and full 
of grief; and when Kurt and Karl came to her 
and said: "Do be happ} r , Lisa; Christmas is 
coming, and only think of what may happen," 
then the tears came to her eyes, and, half weep- 
ing, she said, "I can never be happ}^, no, never, 
not even at Christmas." 

That grieved tender-hearted Karl, and he said 
comfortingly : " Do you know, Lisa, when we 
can do nothing more, then we must leave all to 
God, and then we are happy again if we have 
done nothing wrong? Mamma said so." Lisa, 

40 lied-Letter titorieS, 

then, began to cry in earnest, so that it alarmed 
Karl, and he ran away, as Kurt had already 
done. Lisa's altered demeanor had not escaped 
her mother's notice. She often watched the 
child in silence, but asked her no questions. 



November came to an end. The snow had 
become deeper, and every day the cold grew 
more bitter. Stanzeli's grandmother in Alt- 
kirch moved her thin coverlet here and there, 
and could hardly keep warm under it. The 
room was cold, too, for their supply of wood 
was very scanty, and with the deep snow there 
were no sticks to be found. Coffee was very 
rarely made, and it had to be ground with 
stones, as the mill was useless, and there was no 
money for a new one. The poor grandmother 
had many things to complain of. Her husband 
sat, most of the time, by the stove, seeking to 
soothe her, and weaving at the same time his 
little willow baskets. 

It had snowed for so long, and the deep snow 
was so soft, that the old man had been obliged 
to take his baskets to the dairyman himself, for 


42 tted-tetter Stories. 

the children would have been buried in the 
snow. No path had been made up the moun- 
tain, so that even the grandfather had trouble 
in getting through. Bat at last the sky was 
clear, and the high fields of snow, far and wide, 
were frozen so hard that one could go over them 
as over a firm street ; the ice did not crack un- 
der the heaviest man. 

Now the children could be sent out again. 
Stanzeli wound a shawl about her, Seppli put 
on his woollen cap, and they started out, eacli 
with a bundle of baskets. As they came to the 
chapel in about half an hour, Stanzeli laid her 
baskets down, and took Seppli by the hand to 
go in. But Seppli was obstinate again. "I will 
not go in. I do not wish to pray. My fingers 
are freezing," he said, and planted his feet 
on the ground so that Stanzeli could not move 

But she begged and entreated, and reminded 
him of what Father Clemens had said, and was 
very anxious, for Seppli might bring them both 
a great good. Stanzeli had heard and under- 
stood so much of grief and misery that it 
seemed to her a great happiness and comfort to 

Lisa's Christmas. 4S 

kneel down and pray to a Father in heaven 
who will help all poor people. Seppli finally 
gave up, and they entered the quiet chapel. 
Stanzeli said her prayer softly and thoughtfully. 
AH at once a peculiar cry sounded through the 
stillness. Stanzeli was a little frightened, and 
turned to Seppli, saying softty, "Don't do so in 
the chapel; you must be still." Seppli replied 
just as softly, but indignantly, " I don't do it ; 
it is you." 

A that moment the cry sounded again, and 
louder. Seppli looked carefully at a place in 
the rear of the church by the altar. Suddenly 
he touched Stanzeli's arm and drew her so 
forcibly from her seat towards the altar, that she 
could do nothing but follow. Here, at the foot 
of the altar, half covered by the altar cloth under 
which it crouched, lay a white lamb, trembling 
and shaking with the cold, and stretching out its 
thin legs as if it could move no more from 

"It is a lamb ; now we have something given 
to us that we can see," exclaimed Seppli in de- 


Stanzeli looked in great astonishment at the 

44 Red-Letter Stories. 

little animal. Father Clemens's words Lad come 
into her mind also, and she believed nothing 
else than that God, who gives something to 
everyone who prays, had sent the lamb to them 
to-day. Only she could not understand how the 
little creature seemed so weary, and lay as if 
half dead. Even her caresses failed to arouse 
the poor lamb. 

" We will take him home with us and give 
him a potato," said Seppli, who knew no other 
cause of misery than hunger. 

"What are you thinking of, Seppli? We 
must go to the dairyman's," said faithful Stan- 
zeli ; " but we cannot leave the little thing here 
alone," and the child looked thoughtfully at 
the poor creature with its troubled breathing. 

" I know, now," she continued, after some re- 
flection. " You take care of the lamb, here, and 
I will run up with the baskets as fast as I can, 
and come back for } r ou." 

Seppli was pleased with the proposition, and 
Stanzeli ran on immediately. She darted over 
the fields of snow as nimbly as a deer. Seppli 
seated himself on the floor and looked at his 
present. The lamb was covered with such 

Lim's Christmas. 45 

beautiful thick wool, that he took great pleasure 
in burying his hand in it, and it became at once 
so beautifully warm that he quickly thrust in 
the other also. He drew very near to the little 
creature, and it was like a small stove for him ; 
for although it trembled with the cold itself, yet 
its woolly covering afforded an excellent means 
of warmth to Seppli. In less than half an hour 
Stanzeli came back, and now they wished to take 
their gift home to their grandparents. But in 
vain did they try to place the lamb on its feet ; 
it was so feeble that it fell down at once with a 
mournful cry, when they had raised it a little. 

"It must be carried," said Stanzeli; "but it is 
too heavy for me, you must help me ;" and she 
showed Seppli how he must take hold so as not 
to hurt the lamb, and they carried it away to- 
gether. Their progress was a little slow, for 
it was quite inconvenient for the two to go 
far with their load ; but they were so delighted 
that they did not give up until they reached 
their cottage, and could rush in with their new- 

" We have a sheep ; a live sheep with very 
warm wool," cried Seppli, as he entered; and 

46 Bed-Letter Stories. 

when they were inside the room, they laid the 
lamb on the seat near the stove, by their aston- 
ished grandfather. Then Stanzeli told how 
everything had happened, and how it had come 
exactly as Father Clemens had said : that God 
sends something whenever one prays ; only it 
cannot always be seen at once. 

"But to-day we can see it," interposed Seppli 

Joseph looked at his wife to see what she 
thought, and she looked at him, saying, "you 
must tell them, Joseph." 

After some reflection he said, "Somebody must 
go up to Father Clemens, and ask him how 
we are to understand that. I will go myself."" 
With that he rose from his seat, put on his old 
fur cap, and went out. 

Father Clemens came back with him. 

When he had greeted the invalid, he sat down 
and looked carefully at the poor, exhaust ed 
lamb. Then he drew the children to him and 
said kindly ; "This is how it is : when we pray, 
God gives us cheerful and courageous hearts, 
and that is a beautiful gift on which many 
others depend. This lamb is lost ; it must be- 

Lisa's Christmas. 47 

long to the large flock which passed through 
late in the autumn, and the shepherd will cer- 
tainly enquire for it. It must have been lost a 
long time, for it is nearly starved and almost 
dead ; perhaps we cannot bring it back to life. 
First it must have a little warm milk, and then 
we can see what more it can take." 

With the last words the good Father had 
lifted the lamb a little and laid his hand ten- 
derly under its head. 

Joseph said faintly, " We will do what we 
can. Stanzeli, go and see if there is a drop of 

But Father Clemens prevented Stanzeli from 
going and said ; "I do not mean that ; if it is 
agreeable to you, I will take the lamb. I have 
room and can take care of it." 

That was a great relief to the old people, for 
they did not wish to leave the lamb to die of 
hunger, and where there was anything to feed 
it they did not know. 

So Father Clemens took the tired animal 
on his arm, and went with it to the old cloister. 
For a long time Seppli looked after him and 
grumbled a little. 

48 Red-Letter Stories. 

A few days after, the grandfather saw Father 
Clemens coming again to their house, and said 
to the grandmother, in astonishment, " What 
does it mean ; why is the good Father coming 
so soon again ? " 

" The lamb is probably dead, and he wishes 
to tell us, so that we may not expect in vain a 
reward from the shepherd for finding it." 

Father Clemens entered ; one could see that 
he had no pleasant message to bring. Stanzeli 
and Seppli sprang quickly towards him to offer 
him their hands. 

He caressed them kindly, then said in a low 
tone to the grandfather, " it would be well to 
send the children away for a while ; I have some- 
thing to say to you." 

The grandfather became a little uneasy, and 
thought to himself, " If I could only put mother 
out of the way, so that she would not hear if 
there is anything disagreeable to be related." 

He gave Stanzeli the tin can and said, " Go 
with Seppli and get the milk, and if it is a little 
too early you can wait; at the farm ; it is warm 
in the cow-shed." 

When the children were gone, Father Clem- 

Lisas Christmas. 49 

ens moved his chair nearer to the bed and said, 
" Come a little nearer, Joseph ; I must disclose 
something to you. I do it unwillingly, however. 
Sepp has disgraced himself somewhat." 

Hardly were these words spoken when the 
grandmother raised a fearful lamentation, and 
cried again and again, " Oh, my God, that I 
must pass through this ! It was my last hope 
that Sepp would sometime reform and come 
home and help us in our last days, and now 
all that is past. Perhaps we must bear a great 
shame, and we have kept ourselves honorable 
and honest to a good old age. How willingly 
I would lie on my hard bed without com- 
plaining, and with never a good taste of coffee, 
if only this were not true ! Oh, if he had not 
brought us to misf< >rtune and shame ! " 

The old man sat affrighted and thunder- 
struck. " What has he done, Father," he asked, 
hesitatingly ; " is it a wicked deed ? " 

Father Clemens answered that he did not 
know at all what it was ; he had only under- 
stood that Sepp had done something over on 
the other side of the Zillerbach, for which he 
must answer to the bailiff on the Rechberg, who 
would certainly have him imprisoned. 

50 Bed-Letter Stories. 

" Alas, has lie done it over there ? " broke out 
the grandmother anew, " Ah, Iioav will it go 
with him ? Thev will certainly punish him 
severely enough, because he is of another 

" No, no, you must not take it so, grand- 
mother," said Father Clemens deprecatingly ; 
"it is not so. The bailiff is not unjust, and he 
is right-minded as far as belief is concerned. I 
have heard him say more than once; C A 
virtuous and God-fearing man on this side of 
the Zillerbach, and such a one on the other side, 
both pray to the same Father in Heaven, and 
the prayer of one is just as precious to Him as 
the pra}^er of the other ! ' I have known the 
bailiff for many years, and I can tell you that I 
have had edifying conversations with him and 
his wife hundreds of times, and we have under- 
stood each other so well that it has done us 
good, and I feel a real inclination to go again 
when I have not been there for a long time. I 
have it now in my mind to go there soon to 
see how it stands with Sepp, and to speak a 
good word for him to the bailiff." 

The old people were very glad and grateful 

Lisa's Christmas. 51 

for this proposal. But her distress prompted 
the grandmother to say once more, complain- 
ingly, "If I only did not have to blame 
myself! I have brought this on us because 
I have lamented and complained so much 
over our narrow means. I will do it no more, 
I will be patient. Do you think our Father 
in Heaven will accept my repentance, and not 
punish me so severely?" 

Father Clemens comforted her, and advised 
her to keep her good resolution. 

Then he arose and promised tier to come again 
as soon as he had been to the Rechberg, to bring 
news of Sepp. 

Joseph accompanied the priest outside the 
house, and then asked, " How is the lamb ? Is it 
still living, or has it perished?" 

"No signs of perishing," answered Father 
Clemens cheerfully, "it is round and fat and 
plays merrily again, and it is such a trustful 
little creature that I shall be sorry to give it up 
when the shepherd comes. I have sent him 
word that the lamb is with me, so he will prob- 
ably leave it until he c</mes to this region again ; 
and now, God be with vou." 

52 Bed-Letter Stories. 

He shook Joseph's hand and went quickly 
away, for he had other sick ones to comfort who 
waited longingly for him ; for in all Altkirch 
and far beyond, Father Clemens was the com- 
forter for the poor and sick. 



The long-desired Christmas Day bad come at 
last. Kurt and Karl had been in a fever of ex- 
pectation all day, and wandered restlessly from 
one room to another, unable to keep still any- 
where. They had the feeling that they might 
bring the evening more quickly by constant 

Lisa sat quietly in a corner, and gave no 
attention to what her brothers were saying. 
She had never known such a Christmas. A 
heavy burden lay upon her, which stifled every 
feeling of joy. "When she tried to force herself 
to throw off this weight and to be merry with her 
brothers, she found it impossible. She fancied 
all the time she heard some one coming who 
had found Curlyhead dead, and who would tell 
her father that it was she who had forgotten 
and left him. 


54 Red-Letter Stories. 

Towards evening Kurt and Karl found a 
moment's rest, and sat together in a state of 
listening expectation, talking in subdued whis- 

" What should you think of a croquet game 
with colored balls ? " whispered Karl: " Do 
you suppose the Christ-child thinks of that?" 

" Perhaps," answered Kurt ; " but do you 
know, I would much rather have a new sled ; 
for you see Kessler does not run well, and we 
have only (Zeiss besides. When Lisa feels like 
playing again, she will want to coast, and then 
she will have Gfeiss and there is not room for us 
both on Kessler." 

" Yes. But then there are the soldiers. Don't 
you know how many thousand times we have 
wished for a set of soldiers?" said Karl. "I 
would almost rather go without the sled than 
the soldiers." 

" Perhaps," said Kurt slowly, for a new 
thought had already come to him. 

" But suppose the Christ-child should bring a 
paint-box, then we could paint those pictures of 
soldiers, and make our own." 

Lisa's Christmas. 55 

u Oh ! Oh ! " ejaculated Karl, quite taken by 
t lie charming prospect. 

Just then their mother entered the room, and 
said, " Children, the candles are lit on the 
piano and we will go and sing. Where is 
Lisa ? " 

In the twilight, she had not noticed that Lisa 
was sitting in the corner of the room, neither 
had her brothers known she was there. She 
came out now and went to the piano with the 
others. Her mother seated herself and played 
for them to sing. Kurt and Karl sang lustily 
and Lisa joined in softly. 

When they came to the words in the song: 
" Jesus is greater, Jesus is greater, He ivlio 
rejoices our sad hearts" Karl sang them so 
joyfully and loudly that one could see he did 
not have a sad heart. But Lisa had known 
what it was to have a sad heart ; she swallowed 
a lump in her throat, and could not sing any 

When the song was ended, their mother rose 
and said : " Now stay here quietly until I come 
again." But Lisa ran after her and said mourn- 


56 Red-Letter Stories. 

" Mamma ! Mamma ! may I ask you some- 

The mother drew the child into her sleeping- 
room and asked her what she wanted. 

" Mamma, can Jesus make all sad hearts 
happy again ? " asked Lisa anxiously. " Yes, 
child, all," answered the mother, " all, whatever 
burdens them. Only one He cannot make 
happ}~, and that is one which holds a wrong and 
will not lay it aside." 

Lisa broke out into loud crying. " I will 
hold it no longer," she sobbed. " I will tell it. 
I took Curlyheacl away with me and forgot him, 
and lost him, and' then I was silent, and I am 
the cause of his starving and freezing, and I 
cannot rejoice any more, not over anything." 

Her mother drew Lisa lovingly to her, and 
said comfortingly, — 

u Now you have experienced, my child, how 
a wrong deed hidden in our hearts can make us 
terribly unhappy. You will think of it, and 
never wish to do it again. But now you have 
confessed it repentantly; and the holy Christ 
can and will come into your heart, and make it 
happy again, for to-day He wishes especially to 

Lisa's Christmas. 57 

make all hearts glad. Now dry your tears and 
go to your brothers. I will come soon." 

Such a weight had been taken from Lisa's 
heart, and she felt all at once so light and free, 
that she could almost have jumped over all the 

Suddenly the thought came to her — to-day 
is Christmas ! Anything may happen to-day ! 
Everything within her rejoiced. There was 
only one shadow — Curlyhead ! Where was 
he now ? 

As she went skipping towards her brothers, 
Karl said gladly, " I knew Lisa would be merry 
again at Christmas." 

While Lisa was talking very fast about what 
she expected and hoped for, the house-bell 
sounded, loud and long, and Karl, pale with ex- 
citement, cried, " The Christ-child ! " 

At that moment their mother opened the 
door, and a flood of light streamed in from the 
next room. The children rushed in. There 
was such a blaze and sparkle and splendor that 
at first they could distinguish nothing. 

Ah! Yes; in the middle of the room was 
a great pine-tree, gleaming with candles from 

58 Red-Letter Stories. 

top to bottom, covered with beautiful angels, 
brilliant birds, red strawberries and cherries, 
and golden apples and pears. 

The children ran around the tree in speech- 
less admiration. Suddenly, something came 
running in which almost knocked Lisa down. 
She uttered a shout of joy. Surely — it was — 
Curlyhead ! 

Round as a ball, and pretty as ever, he came 
and rubbed his head good-naturedly against 
Lisa's dress, bleating for joy. Kurt and Karl 
could hardly believe their eyes. Not hungry, 
not cold, — alive and well ! it was really Curly- 
head. They almost smothered him in their joy. 
But Karl had seen something else. He made a' 
dive towards the table. 

"Kurt! Kurt!" he cried, almost beside him- 
self, " the soldiers ! the soldiers ! " 

But Kurt had already darted to the other 
side and called back : " Come here ! Here is 
the new sled, a splendid sled ! " 

As Karl ran towards him he cried again : 
" Oh, here is the paint-box ! Only see how 
many brushes." 

Lisa still hugged Curlyhead. He was her 

Lisa's Christmas. 59 

best present. Now she could be perfectly 
happy again. Everything was right. 

Suddenly she saw two great eyes staring in 
wonder at the splendid tree. They belonged to 
Seppli, and there was Stanzeli standing near 

Lisa went to the children. 

" So you have come at last to see me ? " she 
said. "Isn't the tree beautiful? Did you 
know the Christ-child would come to-day?" 

" Oh, no," said Stanzeli shyly. " Your 
mother brought us here. Father Clemens told 
us to-day that the lamb belonged to you, and 
that we might bring it over." 

" And you brought Curlyhead? Where from ? 
Where did you find it? How can he look so 
fat and well?" 

64 You will know all that some other time, 
Lisa," said her mother, coming towards the 
children. "Now you must lead your little 
friends to their Christmas table by the win- 
dow. The Christ-child has remembered them, 

At first, nothing could induce Seppli to move 
from the wonderful tree. Such a gleaming, 

CO Iled-Letter Stories. 

splendid thing lie had never seen in all his life. 
He could not take his eyes off it. 

At last Lisa said : " Do come, Seppli. You 
can see the tree just as well by the table, and 
then you can find out what the Christ-child has 
brought to you." 

Seppli moved slowly away, without taking 
his eyes from the tree. But when he looked at 
the table, there was another pleasant sight. In 
the centre was the largest loaf of cake he had 
ever seen, flanked by apples and nuts. Near by 
was a school-bag, with books, a slate, and pencils. 
There was a thick, warm jacket, such as he 
never had in his life. When Lisa said : " These 
are Seppli's," he stood, as if glued to the spot, 
and could hardly believe it. 

He looked first at Stanzeli, and then at his 
treasure, but Stanzeli was busy with her own 
presents, a beautiful new dress, and a handsome 

She was much frightened when the bailiff 
came straight towards her, with a strange man 
who had been standing in the door with Hans 
and Trina. 

wv You would hardly know them now," said 
the bailiff, turning away again. 

Lisas Christmas. 61 

The man put out his hand. 

" Give me your hand, Stanzeli," he said. The 
child obeyed, looking at him doubtfully. 

" Stanzeli, Stanzeli," cried the stranger, much 
moved, " Don't look at me so. I am your 
father; do say one word to me. Your eyes are 
so like your mother's," and he wiped his eyes as 
he spoke. 

" We have nobody but grandfather and grand- 
mother," said Seppli decidedly, who had heard 

" No, Seppli. You have a father, too, and I 
am he," said the man, taking each of the children 
by the hand. " You must learn to know me, 
Stanzeli. You will be kind to your father, 
will you not ? You have grown just like your 
mother," and the man wiped his eyes again. 

" Yes, I will, indeed," said Stanzeli. " But I 
do not know you." 

The bailiff, who had been watching them, now 
came nearer. " Sepp," he said gravely, "I know 
another father and mother whom it grieves that 
their child does not know them, and has no 
grateful service for them. But it is Christmas 
to-day, and we must all be merry. Go and 

62 Red-Letter Stories. 

harness Brownie into the sleigh now, and 
drive your children home. I leave the rest to 

" May God reward you a thousandfold," said 
Sepp gratefully. " You shall be satisfied with 
me, as surely as I wish God to have mercy on 
my poor soul." 

" Right. Now be off, Sepp. This goes in the 
sleigh," said the bailiff, pointing to a large roll 
near the children's table. Sepp took it on his 
shoulders and went off. 

The children's presents were soon packed up, 
and they took their leave, promising to come 
again on the first fine Sunday. 

Then Trina put the children in the sleigh, 
and Lisa's mother called to her : 

" Wrap them up well in the robe, Trina, so 
that they will not be cold." 

Then the merry-making went on inside, 
around the Christmas-tree, where all the pre- 
sents were admired, and Curlyhead most of 

Just as the little party were leaving Reeh- 
berg, Father Clemens was walking along the 
moonlit path by the old foot-bridge, smiling, as 

Lisas Christmas. 63 

lie thought of the visit lie had made ten days 
before, at Rechberg, when he had learned the 
truth in regard to Sepp. 

The facts of the case were: Sepp had. run 
away from a hard master, and as the master was 
a rich farmer of some importance, he did not 
like to lose a servant for such a reason, so he 
had complained of Sepp, and put the affair in 
the hands of the bailiff. 

The bailiff had defended Sepp, and told him 
he had done perfectly right. 

Then Father Clemens apppeared, and told 
the bailiff about Sepp's parents and the two 
children, and how Sepp had been affected by 
the loss of his wife. 

" He is not a bad fellow," the good man said. 
" If you will give him a little advice, it may 
make a good impression on him." 

The bailiff promised to do so, and his wife 
asked further concerning the old people and the 
children. One thing followed another until the 
priest told about the lamb which the children 
had found ; and finally, it came out that it was 
their Curly head. The bailiff and his wife were 
overjoyed, and charged Father Clemens to bring 

64 Red-Letter Stories. 

the children over on Christmas evening, to share 
in the festival. 

That was a great joy to the good priest. He 
said nothing about the tree, to either the old 
people or the children ; and he smiled again as 
he thought of their surprise. Now he was going 
to Joseph's house, that he might see their happy 
faces on their return. 

When he entered the sitting-room, the invalid 
called out : "I am glad you have come to give 
us a word of comfort. It is dark ahead}-, and 
the children have to cross the Zillerbach. God 
forbid that anything should happen to them." 

" No, no, grandmother," said the priest cheer- 
fully. " Don't let us complain to-day. There 
is joy everywhere to-day ; and Christ is watch- 
ing, especially over all children. Nothing will 
happen to them. Now let us have a good talk 

Meantime Brownie was flying over the snow, 
for Sepp felt such a desire to get home again, 
that he could not go fast enough. He had not 
been there for six years ; and at times, when the 
thought of home had arisen, he had felt a great 
heaviness and emptiness, such as he had ex- 

Lisa's Christmas. 65 

perienced when Constance died. To get rid of 
these thoughts Sepp had run still farther away. 

But to-day, since he had seen the children, 
everything seemed different to him ; and Stan- 
zeli had brought her mother so vividly before 
his eyes, and all the peaceful days which he had 
passed with her and his parents in the home by 
the willow, that he thought he could not hold 
out until he should see the house, and father 
and mother, again. Now the sleigh stopped by 
the willows. Sepp took the children out, and 
threw the thick robe over Brownie ; then he 
took the children, one on each side, and entered 
the room. 

He was so overcome that he ran sobbing to 
the bed, and called out : " Mother ! Father ! 
Do not be angry with me, but forgive me. I 
will certainly do what I can, that you may see 
better days. I know well that you must have 
had a hard time ; but, God willing, it will be 
better from this day." 

The old people wept for joy, and his mother 
kept saying: "Ah! Sepp, Sepp, is it indeed 
possible ? I would never have believed that 
God could so change your heart. I will give 

66 Red-Letter Stories 

praise and thanks as long as there is any breath 
in me." And his father gave his hand, and said: 
" It is well, Sepp. All shall be forgiven and 
forgotten, and } t ou are welcome ! But, tell us 
now how you came with the children, and how 
things are with you." 

First, Sepp had to press the hand of Father 
Clemens, who had heard all with a satisfied smile. 
Then the parents learned, to their astonishment, 
that the bailiff had employed Sepp as a servant, 
and had already trusted him with his horse and 
sleigh. At New Year's, Hans and Trina wished 
to settle for themselves, so there was a servant's 
place to fill ; and Sepp added delightedly : " And 
what a place ! Such a good master, who talks 
to me like a father, and good pay besides, and 
many an article of clothing through the year, — - 
that I know from Hans. I have begged the 
bailiff, however, not to give me any of my pay, 
that I may not mis-spend it ; and, at the end of 
the month, you will get it all. I have nothing 
to bring now but good will." 

" Which is worth everything ; and may our 
Heavenly Father add his blessing to it," said 
Father Clemens, 

Lisa's Christmas. 67 

Seppli, in the meantime, bad been wandering 
up and down, looking for a place to deposit bis 
many treasures. When be saw bis opportunity, 
be crowded up to bis grandmother's bed and 
quickly covered over half of it with his presents ; 
when Stanzeli saw him, she came, too, and 
covered the other half with hers. It looked 
like a table at a fair, and the poor woman could 
only clasp her hands and say : " Is it possible ? " 
But when Sepp brought in the big bundle, and 
unrolled several beautiful, warm blankets, she 
was dumb with surprise and gratitude. 

Joseph picked up something which rolled 
out of the blankets, and his eyes shone for joy, 
for now his only wish was fulfilled. It was a 
I new coffee-mill. Such a joyful Christmas had 
never been known in the little house by the 
willows. Sepp held his children as if he could 
not let them go ; and when they saw how their 
grandparents loved him, they were willing to 
love him, too. 

At last Sepp had to go back to Rechberg ; 
but the bailiff had promised him that he should 
come every Sunday afternoon to visit his family, 
so the separation was not to be a long one. 

68 Red-Letter Stories. 

As he was about to drive away, Seppli called 
after him : " Father, wait. I must tell you 

When his father bent down to him he whis- 
pered, impressively : " Father, when you pass by 
the chapel, do not forget to go in and pray. God 
always gives you something, you know ; you 
cannot always see it at the time, but it is sure 
to come." 

Seppli had connected all the joys of the day 
with the lamb, which he believed God had sent 
to them in the chapel, in answer to their prayers. 

Sepp has proved a trusty and valuable ser- 
vant at Rechberg. Every Sunday he comes 
home to Altkirch, bringing a loaf of fresh, white 
bread for supper. 

The delicacies sent by the bailiff's wife, to- 
gether with the coffee from the new mill, have 
given new strength to the grandmother, so 
that she is able to be about the house again, 
and the little cottage under the willow is so 
neat and cheerful that Sepp often says to him- 
self, during the week : " Well, home is the 
best place." 

Lisa's Christmas. (>'.' 

Stanzeli and Seppli often go to play with 
Lisa, and her brothers, and Cnrlyhead. 

And Lisa, whenever she looks at Cnrlyhead, 
thinks, " How happy I am ! I will never again 
conceal a wrong deed in my heart." 



When the Christmas holidays were over, 
and Miss Sunshine's school reopened, each 
child was allowed to tell what he had enjoyed 
most during the vacation. 

Then Miss Sunshine told them how Christmas 
Avas celebrated in different lands. The children 
were especially pleased with her description of 
the old English and German custom of sending 
out children to awaken people, by singing carols 
under their windows on Christmas morning, 
and Lawrence remembered that his father had 
told him that Martin Luther had been famous 
for his beautiful, silvery voice, when he was a 
poor boy at school, and used to go from house 
to house, singing Christmas carols. 

When Miss Sunshine promised them that the 
next story should be about a New Year's 

feaxtVs Song in Altorf, TL 

carol in Switzerland, everybody tried to get a 
red letter that very day. And they succeeded. 

A big &c. appeared on the blackboard. 

While they were all wondering what &c. could 
possibly mean, Miss Sunshine began the story. 


The green fields of Burgeln are very gay 
in summer, with fragrant grasses and bright 

The little village is surrounded by shady nut- 
trees, and a busy brook rushes past them, leaping 
over the stones, in its way. 

A foot-path leads along by the brook to an 
old ivy-covered tower at the end of the village. 
A very large walnut-tree stands here, in whose 
shade the traveller pauses to rest, and look up 
to the high cliffs above, which seem to touch 
the blue sky. 

On the other side of the stream a narrow 
path goes up the steep mountain-side. Near 
the bridge stands a little house with a small 
barn ; higher up is another, and still another, 
and then, near the top, is the smallest house of 
all. The door is so low that a man has to 

72 Red-Letter Storl 


stoop to get in, and the shed for the goat is so 
small that when the goat goes in, there is room 
for nothing else. The house has only two rooms, 
and in the summer time the door is left open to 
let in the light ; otherwise, it is quite dark. At 
the time of our story, a poor woman lived in 
this house, with her two children, Basti and 
Franzeli. When the little boy was born, his 
father looked in the calendar, and found it was 
St. Sebastian's day; so the child was named 
Sebastian, which was shortened to Basti. The 
little girl came on St. Francis's day, and was 
called Franzeli. 

Afra, the mother, was a most diligent, hard- 
working woman, and after the death of her hus- 
band, she still kept her children so tidy, that no 
one would have guessed that they belonged 
to the poorest woman in the whole region. 
Clean clothes were always ready for them on 
Sunday, and warm stockings were knitted for 
winter. In summer they wore neither shoes 
nor stockings. 

When these two children came down the 
mountain hand-in-hand, one man would often 
say to another, — 

Basti Is Sony in Altorf. To 

" I wonder what Afra does to her children. 
Mine never look so tidy/' 

And his neighbor would answer : " Just 
what I was thinking. I will ask my wife how 
it is done." 

So five years passed away. Basti was now 
six years old, and Franzeli five ; but she was so 
small and delicate that she looked fully two 
years younger than her brother. 

It had been a cold autumn. Winter set in 
early, and promised to be a severe one. Snow 
fell in October, and, in November, Afra's cot- 
tage was buried so deep that she could hardly 
get outside. The children sat in the corner by 
the stove and never went to the door. Afra 
went out only when there was not a mouthful 
of food left in the house. The snow was so deep 
it was almost impossible for her to get down 
the mountain, and there was nobody to make a 
path, except one man who lived above, in whose 
footprints she tried to step. When she came 
back she was so weaiy that she would almost 
fall down by the way. 

But it was not weariness alone which made her 
sigh when she reached home and sat down to 

?4 Bed-Letter Stories. 

mend her children's clothes. A great anxiety 
weighed her down, and grew with every day. 
Often she did not know where the next piece 
of bread was to come from. She got little work ; 
and for a week at a time she would earn nothing. 
So she could "buy no bread, and the goat's milk 
would not feed three people. For hours in the 
night, Afra would lie awake, trying to think 
how she could earn a little money for the three 
long winter months before her. She did not sing 
any more when she put the children to bed ; but 
sat still with her work. 

One evening, when the wind was howling 
outside and shaking the house as if it would 
overthrow it, Basti's eyes were still wide open ; 
and he lay watching his mother. Suddenly he 
said : " Why don't you sing any more, mam- 

"My child," she sighed, "I cannot." 
" Have you forgotten the song ? I will show 
you how it goes ; " and the child sat up in bed 
and began to sing : — 

" Now the night is coming on ; 
Darkness everywhere. 
Father, keep thy children still 
In thy tender care." 

BastVs Song in Altorf. ?o 

Basti sang the hymn which he had heard his 
mother sing so often, with a firm clear voice. 

Suddenly a thought came to the poor woman. 
" Basti, you can help me earn something to buy 
bread," she said. "Would you like to do it?" 

" Yes, yes, I will. Now ? " asked the child 
eagerly, springing out of bed. 

" No, no, get into bed again ; see, how cold 
you are ! To-morrow I will teach you a song, 
which you can sing on New Year's Day, which 
will soon be here. Then people will give you 
bread, and perhaps, some nuts." 

Basti became so excited at the prospect that 
he could not sleep, and called out again and 
again : "Is it morning yet? " 

At last he closed his eyes ; but in the morn- 
ing he woke with the same idea uppermost. 

He had to wait till evening, however, for his 
mother said : " I cannot sing during the day ; I 
have too much to do." 

When it was dark at last, Afra lighted a 
lamp, and seated herself at the table with a 
child on each side ; then she took up her knitting, 
and said : " Listen, Basti ; I will sing the first 
verse a few times, and then you can try it." 

76 Red-Letter Stories. 

Very soon Basti was able to join in, and 
suddenly Franzeli began to sing, too. 

"That is right, Franzeli," said her mother. 
"Perhaps yon will learn it, too." 

When they had sung it together many times 
the mother said : " Now try it alone, Basti. And 
will Franzeli help, too ? " 

The little girl nodded, and began to sing in 
so clear and silvery a voice that her mother 
was astonished; and when Basti lost the air, 
Franzeli sang on, like a bird who knows his 
melody from beginning to end. It was so 
sweet that the poor woman thought she could 
listen forever. 

They practised the song every night, and by 
the end of the week they knew it perfectly. 
The last day of December had come, and for the 
last time the children sang the carol to their 

These were the words : — 


The old year is departing, 
A glad new year draws nigh ; 

O, may it bring thee blessings, 
And songs for every sigh. 


A large number of children were already out singing New Year Carols. 

Bastes Song in Altorf. 77 

Cold winter sternly reigneth, 
The earth with ice is bound ; 

Yet God is ever working 
Where'er his own are found. 

Yet many a little birdling 

For food may hunt in vain ; 
And children, too, will hunger 

Before the winter's wane. 

Now, to all, late or early, 
Much good this year may bring ; 

God's friends ne'er lack a blessing — 
He helps in everything. 

New Year's Day came. Afra went to church 
early, and then she began to wrap up the chil- 
dren in their warmest things, which were not 
any too warm. 

She wound an old shawl round and round 
little Franzeli, took the child on her arm, and 
said ; " Now Ave can go." 

Basti went ahead, and struggled manfully 
through the deep snow until he came to the path 
by the brook, where he could go beside his 

He had so many questions to ask and the 
time passed so quickly, that they reached Altorf 
before they knew it. 

78 Red-Letter Stories. 

A large number of children were out already 
singing New Year carols. Afra went directly 
to the great inn which stood near the old tower. 
No singers had yet been here. 

She put Franzeli down and sent the children 
into the house, while she stood back by the 
tower, where she could watch them. 

Hand in hand they went inside and began to 

The door of the guest room was opened and 
some people called the children in, and praised 
them for their singing, and many a bit of bread 
and now and then a small coin was put into 
their basket. The landlady dropped in a hand- 
ful of nuts, saying; "At New Year's time yon 
must have something to eat with your bread." 

The children thanked them all and ran joy- 
fully out to their mother. 

They went on to other houses ; but so main- 
different bands of children were trying to sing 
at once, that often a man or woman would come 
out of the house and say they would rather give 
every one of them a loaf of bread than hear 
such a noise. Sometimes they had to go away 

BastVs Song in Altorf. 79 

At more than one place the mistress of the 
house came out and called Franzeli and said 
kindly, "Come, little one, you are nearly 
frozen. Take this, and then go home." 

It was so bitterly cold that Afra herself was 
almost numb, and Franzeli was shivering so she 
could scarcely sing. Basti could no longer hold 
the basket in his hands, they were so stiff; but 
was obliged to hang it on his arm. 

Their mother saw they could endure it no 
longer, so she took Franzeli again in her arms. 

" And you, Basti," she said, " run fast and 
you will get warm." 

When they were at home again, they all sat 
by the fire to warm their hands and feet, and 
Basti brought out the basket to see what was 
in it. 

Their mother said the little coins would buy 
food for many days, and she gave them some 
bread and the nuts, and they had a merry New 
Year's Day. 

Many sad, anxious days followed, it is true ; 
but at last the long winter was at an end, the 
warm sun appeared, and the children could go 
out again. 

80 Red-Letter Stories. 

Poor Afra was no longer obliged to go out 
and search for wood to warm the little house ; 
but she had worked so hard during the winter, 
and suffered so many privations, that she had 
used up all her strength and could not regain it. 

She still struggled on, however, in order that 
the town authorities might not separate her 
from her children. 

Now the long summer days had come. The 
sun cast a red glow over all the mountain sides 
where the late hay was spread out to dry. 

Afra had gone up with her children to the 
top of the cliffs, where there was a little spot of 
land, from which she got hay to feed her goat 
in the winter. She had cut the grass some 
days before, and now she bound it up in a great 
bundle and carried it home on her shoulders. 

Little Franzeli held on to her dress, and Basti 
with his little bundle of hay walked by her side. 

They had eaten nothing since morning, except 
a small bit of bread, and it was now five o'clock. 

When Afra took the rest of the loaf out of 
the cupboard, she was frightened to see how 
small it was, and she could get no money 
until the stockings she was knitting were done. 

BastVs Song in Altorf. 81 

She gave half of the bread to Franzeli and 
half to Basti, saying; "I know you are very 
hungry; but you must understand there is 
nothing more when this is gone. I will knit 
fast this evening and we will soon have 

Basti took his piece : but before he bit into 
it, he looked at his mother, who poured some 
milk into a little cup for them, and then sat 
down and laid her head in her hands. 

Basti watched her closely. 

" Where is your piece ? " he asked at last. 

"I am not hungry; I do not want anything," 
replied his mother. 

Franzeli came and put a bit of bread into her 
mouth, but she said, " No, no ; eat it yourself ; 
I cannot eat. If I could only go to the doctor 
in Altorf to-morrow he might help me." 

She uttered the last words in a low tone, and 
suddenly sank back in her chair with closed 

Basti looked at her awhile, and then said, 
softly : " Come, sister, I know what I will do. 
But we must be quiet and not wake mamma ; 
she wants to sleep, don't you see ? " 

82 Bed-Letter Stories. 

The two children went out softly, and started 
down the mountain side together. As they 
went along Basti explained : " You see, Fran- 
zeli, we are going to Altorf to sing our song 
again, and we shall get some bread and perhaps 
some nuts, and we will bring it all to mamma. 
But can you sing the song still ? " 

She said she could still sing it, and she was so 
delighted at the prospect that she walked mer- 
rily through the meadows and along the stony 
street in spite of her bare feet. 

They sang as they went, until they found 
themselves in Altorf. Then they stopped sing- 
ing, and Basti said : " I know where we must 
sing first ; it is not here." 

He went on to the inn, " The Golden Eagle," 
where their mother had sent them on New Year's 
Day. But how different it was now ! The after- 
noon sun sent golden beams across the open 
s<juare in front of the door, and a great noise 
came from within. 

A party of strangers had recently arrived; 
they were young men in gay-colored caps. They 
had ordered the great table carried out into the 
garden, and there they were sitting eating and 

BastV* Song in Altorf. 83 

drinking in great merriment, for they had had a 
long tramp that day, and were now bent on hav- 
ing a good time. 

When Franzeli saw all these } r oung men at 
the table she stood still in fright; and Basti 
thought it best to sing at a safe distance. So 
he began with all his might, in order to be 
heard above the din. 

" Quiet ! " suddenly thundered the voice of the 
large, powerful man who sat at the head of the 
table. " Quiet ! I say ; I hear singing. We are 
having a serenade." 

The young men looked around, and when they 
saw the children, who had placed themselves a 
little behind the old tower, they beckoned, and 
I called to them, " Come here, come here." 

The little ones had stopped singing, and Basti 
came forward willingly, but he had to drag Fran- 
zeli, who was in great terror. 

The young man at the head of the table 
stretched out his long arm and drew Basti 
nearer, and all the others cried, " Now the song. 
Barba, let them sing." 

"Yes," said the tall man, "your song. Out 
with it," 

84 Red-Letter Stories. 

Basti sang lustily, and Franzeli's voice chimed 

in like a silver bell. 

" The old year is departing; 

The glad ISew Year draws nigh ; 
Oh, may it hring thee blessings, 
And songs for every sigh." 

" Dear me ! We must have got to the other 
side of the globe ; they are celebrating New 
Year's Day here," cried Barba loudly, which 
called forth a shout of laughter. 

"Be quiet now," said the dark-haired one. 
" Don't you see how the little Madonna is trem- 
bling with fright ? " 

" You take her, Max," said Barba, " and let 
us have more of the song." 

Max took the child kindly by the hand, and 
said, " Come, little girl, nobody will harm you." 

Franzeli took his hand trustfully, and they 
sang again : — 

" Cold winter sternly reigneth, 
The earth with ice is bound ; 
Yet God is ever working, 
Where'er His own are found." 

" I have been spared from the frost to-day," 
interposed Barba, whose face was glowing with 

JSastVs Song in Altorf, 

Another peal of laughter, followed by shouts 
of " Go on ! go on ! " 
The children sang : — 

" Yet many a little birdling 
For food may hunt in vain; 
And children, too, may hunger 
Before the winter's wane.'"' 

" They shall not hunger here," called several 
voices, and some plates of goodies were placed 
before the children. 

But Basti finished his song : — 

" Now to all, late or early, 

Much good this year may bring. 
God's friends ne'er lack a blessing, 
He helps in everything." 

A great uproar followed, and every one called, 
" That is a good wish ! That will bring us good 
luck on our journey ! " 

Barba, however, drew Basti to the table, and 
put a plate before him heaped with good things, 
saying : — 

" Now, my boy, go to work, and don't give up 
till you have finished it all." 

The little boy looked at the plate with longing 
eyes, but he did not touch anything. Another 

&6 Red-Letter Stories, 

plate had been given to Franzeli, and she was 
urged to eat ; but, in spite of her great hunger, 
after the long walk, she laid the bit of bread 
she had taken up back on the plate, when she 
saw her brother was not eating. 

" What is the matter ? Why don't you take 
hold, my little fellow ? What is your name ? " 
asked Barba. " Basti," was the answer. 

" Good. Well, Basti, what deep thoughts 
have taken away your appetite?" 

"If I only had a bag ! " was all the answer. 

" A bag ? And what for ? " 

" Then I would put everything in it, and take 
it to mamma. She has had nothing to eat to- 

Some of the party immediately cried out for 
somebody to bring a bag ; others asked him 
where his mother lived. When Basti said she 
lived up in Burgeln, on the mountain, they were 
filled with astonishment, and Barba said, "If 
you have come from there, you must be very 
hungry. Now confess it, Basti." 

" Yes," admitted the boy. " We have not had 
much bread to-day, but to.-morrow mamma can 
finish the stockings, and perhaps we shall have 

Bast V 8 Song in Altorf. 87 

The child's tale aroused great sympathy. 
Everybody wanted, to do something, — one to 
get a bag, one to get a man to carry it, — but 
Barba silenced them all, by saying : — 

" First I want to see these children eat all 
they can, and then we will talk about some- 
thing else. Now listen, Basti; you must eat 
all that is on this plate, and the rest your 
mother shall have." 

"All that?'' asked Basti. 

"All. Now ^o to work." 

Basti grasped his fork, and began to eat with 
such avidity that the company looked on in 

"Did your mother send you here to sing?" 
asked Barba. 

" No, she went to sleep, because she had eaten 
nothing, and was tired ; and she wants to go 
and see the doctor," explained Basti. "And so 
I came here to get something for her when she 
wakes up. We got some bread the first time 
we sang here." 

Now the students understood how it was that 
the New Year's Carol had been sung to them, 
and Barba said : " I propose we should all ac- 

88 Red-Letter Stories. 

company our singers to Burgeln. It will make 
a pleasant moonlight excursion." 

" And you can have a chance to display your 
medical skill," suggested Max. 

But when he saw all his friends getting 
ready to set out, he cried: "What are you 
thinking of? Can that little creature keep 
step with us, especially after having been 
over the road once to-day? Let mine host 
harness his horse, and we will put the lit- 
tle girl, with the basket, in the wagon, and 
then go on." 

" That's a good idea," observed Barba, with a 
glance at the huge basket, which the landlady 
had brought for them instead of a bag. 

"The best thing of all," continued Barba, 
turning to Max, " is for you to remain, and come 
with the little Madonna and the basket in the 
wagon. We will start off at once, and Basti 
shall be guide." 

This was agreed upon. 

At last they were under way. Barba marched 
at the head, and Basti beside him. 

Max put Franzeli in the open carriage, and 
seated himself beside her, and they drove on in 

Basti' s Song in Altorf. 89 

the beautiful glow, which still lingered in the 
sky from the setting sun. 

Franzeli grew so confidential that she told her 
companion all about her mother, and Basti and 
the goat, and what they all did. 

In the meantime their mother, at home, awoke 
from her sleep, but she did not have sufficient 
strength to get up from the chair. Finally she 
roused herself a little. It was twilight, and she 
could not see her children. 

She was so tired she could not stir. 

" Basti," she called, after some time. " Fran- 
zeli, where are you ? " 

She received no answer. Her anxiety sud- 
denly gave her strength. She rose quickly, and 
ran out of the little cottage ; but nobody was 
there. She ran around the house, calling the 
children's names. All was still. Only the 
sound of the rushing stream reached her ears. 
A fearful thought came into her mind. She 
ran to the footpath, and wo aid have rushed 
wildly down the mountain, but she saw a party 
of people coming up. They were talking 
loudly, and she thought she saw them point- 

90 Red-Letter Stories. 

ing up to her little cottage with their alpen- 

" Oh, God ! " she cried, in the greatest terror ; 
" can it be a message for me ? " 

She stood as if paralyzed. 

" Mother ! mother ! " she heard all at once ; 
"we are coming, and you must see what we 
are bringing. And the gentlemen are coming 
with us, and Franzeli in a carriage with a 

And Basti, rushing on ahead of them all, 
tried to tell the whole story before he reached 
the top. 

Afra's astonishment increased every moment, 
as she saw the party of young men, who greeted 
her in the friendliest manner, like old acquaint- 
ances. Two of them were carrying an immense 
basket, on two sticks, put over their shoulders, 
and last of all came Franzeli with her com- 

Afra did not know what to think. She gath- 
ered from Basti's account the fact that the young 
men had shown the children great kindness, and, 
indeed, the well-filled basket proved that. She 
turned to Barba. As the largest, she considered 

Basti' s Song in Altorf. 9± 

him the leader, and she thanked him so heartily 
that he was much affected. 

Overwhelmed with thanks, the students at 
last took up their line of march down the moun- 
tain, and Basti ran to the highest point of the 
cliff and called as long as he could see them, 
" Good luck to you, Barba ! Good luck to you, 
Max?" for he had soon learned their names. 

When quiet reigned in the little household 
once more, the children tried to tell their mother 
everything that had happened since their de- 
parture, and Franzeli could hardly find words 
to express the splendor of it all, especially the 
driving home in a carriage. But when the great 
basket was unpacked, and all sorts of good things 
were taken out, and three whole loaves of white 
bread remained at the bottom, Basti jumped all 
over the room in his joy, crying, " Good luck to 
you, Max ! Good luck to you, Barba ! " 

In the meantime the students were going back 
to Altorf in a state of high glee. Max had 
been silent for some time, when he suddenly 
burst forth witli these words : " It is not right 
yet. No, it is not right. We have only pro- 
vided means against starvation for a few days 

92 Recl-Letter Stories. 

and nothing more. What will they do up there 
in the winter without warm clothes, without 
food or anything ? We have not done enough. 
We must take up a collection now, to-day, and 
the landlord can deliver it for us." 

" Sir Max," said Barba, " that is a beautiful 
idea ; but it is not practicable. You forget that 
we are on a journey, that we are far from home, 
and need something to get us back again. What 
is there to collect ? I will make another propo- 
sition. We will found a new league, the Basti- 
ana, — yearly fee, four marks.* We will make 
our mothers and sisters honorary members, to 
furnish the necessary frocks and garments for 
Basti and the little Madonna. Let us collect 
the fees for the first year as soon as we get home, 
and invite the honorary members to make their 
contribution at once." 

This plan met with high approval. They re- 
entered Altorf, seated themselves again at the 
table in the garden, and there, in the clear moon- 
light, the Bastiana was formally established. 

Great was the astonishment of Afra some 
weeks later, when the post-carrier appeared 
* One dollar. 

Basti's Song in Altorf, 93 

at her Louse with such an enormous package 
that he could hardly get it through the door. 
He threw it on the floor, and said as he wiped 
his brow: "I cannot imagine what acquaint- 
ances you can have in Germany, Afra. Neither 
has the postmaster been able to guess who has 
sent you such a package from so far away." 

" There must be some mistake," replied Afra. 

" You can read for yourself," returned the 
carrier as he went on his way. 

Yes, the name and residence of Afra were 
written upon it plainly. With trembling hands 
she began to undo the bundle, while the chil- 
dren gazed expectantly at the mysterious object. 
All at once the wrappings gave way, and out 
fell an astonishing number of little garments, 
stockings, and shoes, and in the midst of all 
was a heavy roll of silver money. 

" From whom does it come ? Who can have 
sent it ? " cried Afra again and again, clasping 
her hands in joy. 

The mystery was solved when Franzeli 
brought her a bit of paper which had fallen on 
the floor. On it were these words : — 

" God's friends ne'er lack a blessing, 
He helps in everything." 

94 Red-Letter Stories. 

" That was in the song," cried Basti. " The 
young men who were at the inn have sent it." 

Yes, it conld be no one else. An unspeakable 
joy filled the poor mother's heart as she thought 
that now she could pass the winter free from 
anxiety and still keep her children with her. 

She was equally surprised next year when a 
similar package arrived, and the next, and the 
next, for the Bastiana became a permanent in- 
stitution, and the contributions of clothing and 
money were sent regularly every year. 

As a constant reminder, Afra fastened up on 
the wall of her room the bit of paper which the 
students put in the first package : — 

" God's friends ne'er lack a blessing, 
He helps in everything." 


J Sp99r 

Spyri, Johanna, 1827-1901 020103 019 

Red-letter stories : Swiss tal 

D 1137 D037mD 5 

Wheelock College Library 



E.A.Liddle J Sp99r 

Spyri, Johanna, 

1827-1901 . 

Spvt Red " le tter stories 

HidJ Swiss tales I 

Wheelock College Library 

Boston, Mass. 


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