Foreword
 

The present story is the third by Madame Spyri to appear in this series. For many years the author was known almost entirely for her Alpine classic, "Heidi". The publication of a second story, "Cornelli", during the past year was so favorably received as to assure success for a further venture.

"Maezli" may be pronounced the most natural and one of the most entertaining of Madame Spyri's creations. The atmosphere is created by an old Swiss castle and by the romantic associations of the noble family who lived there. Plot interest is supplied in abundance by the children of the Bergmann family with varying characters and interests. A more charming group of young people and a more wise and affectionate mother would be hard to find. Every figure is individual and true to life, with his or her special virtues and foibles, so that any grown person who picks up the volume will find it a world in miniature and will watch eagerly for the special characteristics of each child to reappear. Naturalness, generosity, and forbearance are shown throughout not by precept but by example. The story is at once entertaining, healthy, and, in the best sense of a word often misused, sweet. Insipid books do no one any good, but few readers of whatever age they may be will fail to enjoy and be the better for Maezli.

It may save trouble to give here a summary of the Bergmann household. The mother is sometimes called Mrs. Rector, on account of her being the widow of a former rector of the parish, and sometimes Mrs. Maxa, to avoid confusion with the wife of the present rector. It is as if there were two Mrs. John Smiths, one of whom is called Mrs. Helen; Maxa being, of course, a feminine Christian name. Of the five children the eldest is the high-spirited, impulsive Bruno, who is just of an age to go away to a city school. Next comes his sister Mea, whose fault is that she is too submissive and confiding. Kurt, the second boy, is the most enterprising and humorous of the family; whereas, Lippo, another boy, is the soul of obedience and formality. Most original of all is Maezli, probably not over six, as she is too young to go to school.

The writer of this preface knows of one family--not his own, either--which is waiting eagerly for another book by the author of "Heidi" and "Cornelli." To this and all families desirous of a story full of genuine fun and genuine feeling the present volume may be recommended without qualification.

CHARLES WHARTON STORK