Moni the goat boy, p.1
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       Moni the Goat-Boy, p.1

           Johanna Spyri
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Moni the Goat-Boy



  Author Of "Heidi"



  "_In the midst of the flock came the goat-boy_."]





  "In the midst of the flock came the goat-boy" _frontispiece_

  "Moni climbed with his goats for an hour longer"

  "Joergli had opened his hand. In it lay a cross set with a large number of stones"



  It is a long, steep climb up to the Bath House at Fideris, after leavingthe road leading up through the long valley of Praettigau. The horsespant so hard on their way up the mountain that you prefer to dismountand clamber up on foot to the green summit.

  After a long ascent, you come first to the village of Fideris, whichlies on the pleasant green height, and from there you go on fartherinto the mountains, until the lonely buildings connected with theBaths appear, surrounded on all sides by rocky mountains. The onlytrees that grow up there are firs, covering the peaks and rocks, andit would all look very gloomy if the delicate mountain flowers withtheir brilliant coloring were not peeping forth everywhere through thelow pasture grass.

  One clear summer evening two ladies stepped out of the Bath House andwent along the narrow footpath, which begins to mount not far from thehouse and soon becomes very steep as it ascends to the high, toweringcrags. At the first projection they stood still and looked around, forthis was the very first time they had come to the Baths.

  "It is not very lively up here, Aunt," said the younger, as she let hereyes wander around. "Nothing but rocks and fir woods, and then anothermountain and more fir trees on it. If we are to stay here six weeks, Ishould like occasionally to see something more amusing."

  "It would not be very amusing, at all events, if you should lose yourdiamond cross up here, Paula," replied the aunt, as she tied togetherthe red velvet ribbon from which hung the sparkling cross. "This is thethird time I have fastened the ribbon since we arrived; I don't knowwhether it is your fault or the ribbon's, but I do know that you wouldbe very sorry if it were lost."

  "No, no," exclaimed Paula, decidedly, "the cross must not be lost, onany account. It came from my grandmother and is my greatest treasure."

  Paula herself seized the ribbon, and tied two or three knots one afterthe other, to make it hold fast. Suddenly she pricked up her ears:"Listen, listen, Aunt, now something really lively is coming."

  A merry song sounded from far above them; then came a long, shrillyodel; then there was singing again.

  The ladies looked upwards, but could see no living thing. The footpathwas very crooked, often passing between tall bushes and then betweenprojecting slopes, so that from below one could see up only a very shortdistance. But now there suddenly appeared something alive on the slopesabove, in every place where the narrow path could be seen, and louderand nearer sounded the singing.

  "See, see, Aunt, there! Here! See there! See there!" exclaimed Paulawith great delight, and before the aunt was aware of it, three, fourgoats came bounding down, and more and more of them, each wearing aroundthe neck a little bell so that the sound came from every direction. Inthe midst of the flock came the goat-boy leaping along, and singing hissong to the very end:

  "And in winter I am happy, For weeping is in vain, And, besides, the glad springtime Will soon come again."

  Then he sounded a frightful yodel and immediately with his flock stoodright before the ladies, for with his bare feet he leaped as nimbly andlightly as his little goats.

  "I wish you good evening!" he said as he looked gayly at the two ladies,and would have continued on his way. But the goat-boy with the merryeyes pleased the ladies.

  "Wait a minute," said Paula. "Are you the goat-boy of Fideris? Do thegoats belong to the village below?"

  "Yes, to be sure!" was the reply.

  "Do you go up there with them every day?"

  "Yes, surely."

  "Is that so? and what is your name?"

  "Moni is my name--"

  "Will you sing me the song once more, that you have just sung? We heardonly one verse."

  "It is too long," explained Moni; "it would be too late for the goats,they must go home." He straightened his weather-beaten cap, swung hisrod in the air, and called to the goats which had already begun tonibble all around: "Home! Home!"

  "You will sing to me some other time, Moni, won't you?" called Paulaafter him.

  "Surely I will, and good night!" he called back, then trotted along withthe goats, and in a short time the whole flock stood still below, a fewsteps from the Bath House by the rear building, for here Moni had toleave the goats belonging to the house, the beautiful white one and theblack one with the pretty little kid. Moni treated the last with greatcare, for it was a delicate little creature and he loved it more thanall the others. It was so attached to him that it ran after himcontinually all day long. He now led it very tenderly along and placedit in its shed; then he said:

  "There, Maeggerli, now sleep well; are you tired? It is really a longway up there, and you are still so little. Now lie right down, so, inthe nice straw!"

  After he had put Maeggerli to bed in this way, he hurried along with hisflock, first up to the hill in front of the Baths, and then down theroad to the village.

  Here he took out his little horn and blew so vigorously into it, that itresounded far down into the valley. From all the scattered houses thechildren now came running out; each rushed upon his goat, which he knewa long way off; and from the houses near by, one woman and then anotherseized her little goat by the cord or the horn, and in a short time theentire flock was separated and each creature came to its own place.Finally Moni stood alone with the brown one, his own goat, and with herhe now went to the little house on the side of the mountain, where hisgrandmother was waiting for him, in the doorway.

  "Has all gone well, Moni?" she asked pleasantly, and then led the browngoat to her shed, and immediately began to milk her. The grandmother wasstill a robust woman and cared for everything herself in the house andin the shed and everywhere kept order. Moni stood in the doorway of theshed and watched his grandmother. When the milking was ended, she wentinto the little house and said: "Come, Moni, you must be hungry."

  She had everything already prepared. Moni had only to sit down at thetable; she seated herself next him, and although nothing stood on thetable but the bowl of corn-meal mush cooked with the brown goat's milk,Moni hugely enjoyed his supper. Then he told his grandmother what he haddone through the day, and as soon as the meal was ended he went to bed,for in the early dawn he would have to start forth again with the flock.

  In this way Moni had already spent two summers. He had been goat-boy solong and become so accustomed to this life and grown up together withhis little charges that he could think of nothing else. Moni had livedwith his grandmother ever since he could remember. His mother had diedwhen he was still very little; his father soon after went with others tomilitary service in Naples, in order to earn something, as he said, forhe thought he could get more pay there.

  His wife's mother was also poor, but she took her daughter's desertedbaby boy, little Solomon, home at once and shared what she had with him.He brought a blessing to her cottage and she had never suffered want.

  Good old Elizabeth was very popular with every one in the whole village,and when, two years before, another goat-boy had to be appointed, Moniwas chosen with one accord, since every one was glad for theha
rd-working Elizabeth that now Moni would be able to earn something.The pious grandmother had never let Moni start away a single morning,without reminding him:

  "Moni, never forget how near you are up there to the dear Lord, and thatHe sees and hears everything, and you can hide nothing from His eyes.But never forget, either, that He is near to help you. So you havenothing to fear, and if you can call upon no human being up there, youhave only to call to the dear Lord in your need, and He will hear youimmediately and come to your aid."

  So from the very first Moni went full of trust up to the lonelymountains and the highest crags, and never had the slightest fear ofdread, for he always thought:

  "The higher up, the nearer I am to the dear Lord, and so all the saferwhatever may happen."

  So Moni had neither care nor trouble and could enjoy everything he didfrom morning till night. It was no wonder that he whistled and sang andyodeled continually, for he had to give vent to his great happiness.

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