Chapter II. Moni's Life in the Mountains

The following morning Paula awoke earlier than ever before; a loud singing had awakened her out of sleep.

"That is surely the goat-boy so soon," she said, springing out of bed and running to the window.

Quite right. With fresh, red cheeks there stood Moni below, and he had just brought the old goat and the little kid out of the goat shed. Now he swung his rod in the air, the goats leaped and sprang around him, and then he went along with the whole flock. Suddenly Moni raised his voice again and sang until the mountains echoed:

  "Up yonder in the fir trees
  Sing the birds in a choir,
  And after the rain comes,
  Comes the son like a fire."

"To-day he must sing his whole song for me once," said Paula, for Moni had now disappeared and she could no longer understand the words of his distant song.

In the sky the rosy morning clouds were disappearing and a cool mountain breeze rustled around Moni's ears, as he climbed up. This he thought just right. He yodeled with satisfaction from the first ledge so lustily down into the valley that many of the sleepers in the Bath House below opened their eyes in amazement, then closed them again at once, for they recognized the sound and knew that they could have an hour longer to sleep, since the goat-boy always came so early. Meanwhile Moni climbed with his goats for an hour longer, farther and farther up to the high cliffs above.

The higher up he mounted, the broader and more beautiful became the view. From time to time he looked around him, then gazed up into the bright sky, which was becoming bluer and bluer, then began to sing with all his might, louder and louder and more merrily the higher he came:

  "Up yonder in the fir trees,
  Sing the birds in a choir,
  And after the rain comes,
  Comes the sun like a fire.

  "And the sun and the stars
  And the moon in the night,
  The dear Lord has made them
  To give us delight.

  "In the spring there are flowers--
  They are yellow and gold,
  And so blue is the sky then
  My joy can't be told.

  "And in summer there are berries,
  There are plenty if it's fine,
  And the red ones and black ones,
  I eat all from the vine.

  "If there are nuts in the bushes
  I know what to do.
  Where the goats like to nibble,
  There I can hunt too.

  "And in winter I'm happy,
  For weeping's in vain,
  And, besides, the glad springtime
  Will soon come again."

Now the height was reached where he usually stayed, and where he was going to remain for a while to-day. It was a little green table-land, with so broad a projection that one could see from the top all round about and far, far down into the valley. This projection was called the Pulpit-rock, and here Moni could often stay for hours at a time, gazing about him and whistling away, while his little goats quite contentedly sought their feed around him.

As soon as Moni arrived, he took his provision bag from his back, laid it in a little hole in the ground, which he had dug out for this purpose, then went to the Pulpit-rock and threw himself on the grass in order to enjoy himself fully.

The sky had now become a deep blue; above were the high mountains with peaks towering to the sky and great ice-fields appearing, and far away down below the green valley shone in the morning light. Moni lay there, looking about, singing and whistling. The mountain wind cooled his warm face, and as soon as he stopped whistling, the birds piped all the more lustily and flew up into the blue sky. Moni was indescribably happy. From time to time Maggerli came to Moni and rubbed her head around on his shoulder, as she always did out of sheer affection. Then she bleated quite fondly, went to Moni's other side and rubbed her head on the other shoulder. The other goats also, first one and then another, came to look at their keeper and each had her own way of paying the visit.

The brown one, his own goat, came very cautiously and looked at him to see if he was all right, then she would stand and gaze at him until he said: "Yes, yes, Braunli, it's all right, go and look for your fodder."

The young white one and Swallow, so called because she was so small and nimble and darted everywhere, like swallows into their holes, always rushed together upon Moni, so that they would have thrown him down, if he had not already been stretched out on the ground, and then they immediately, darted off again.

The shiny Blackie, the goat belonging to the landlord of the Bath House, Maggerli's mother, was a little proud; she came only to within a few steps of Moni, looked at him with her head lifted, as if she wouldn't appear too familiar, and then went her way again. The big Sultan, the billy-goat, never showed himself but once, then he pushed away all he found near Moni, and bleated several times as significantly as if he had information to give about the condition of the flock, whose leader he felt himself to be.

Little Maggerli alone never allowed herself to be crowded away from her protector; if the billy-goat came and tried to push her aside, she crept so far under Moni's arm or head that the big Sultan no longer came near her, and so under Moni's protection the little kid was not the least bit afraid of him. Otherwise she would have trembled if he came near her.

Thus the sunny morning had passed; Moni had already taken his midday meal and now stood thinking as he leaned on his stick, which he often needed there, for it was very useful in climbing up and down. He was thinking whether he would go up to a new side of the rocks, for he wanted to go higher this afternoon with the goats, but the question was, to which side? He decided to take the left, for in that direction were the three Dragon-stones, around which grew such tender shrubs that it was a real feast for the goats.

The way was steep, and there were dangerous places in the rugged wall of rock; but he knew a good path, and the goats were so sensible and did not easily go astray. He began to climb and all his goats gayly clambered after him, some in front, some behind him, little Maggerli always quite close to him; occasionally he held her fast and pulled her along with him, when he came to a very steep place.

All went quite well and now they were at the top, and with high bounds the goats ran immediately to the green bushes, for they knew well the fine feed which they had often nibbled up here before.

"Be quiet! Be quiet!" commanded Moni, "don't push each other to the steep places, for in a moment one of you might go down and have your legs broken. Swallow! Swallow! what are you thinking of?" he called full of excitement, up to the goat, for the nimble Swallow had climbed up to the high Dragon-stones and was now standing on the outermost edge of one of them and looking quite impertinently down on him. He climbed up quickly, for only a single step more and Swallow would be lying below at the foot of the precipice. Moni was very agile; in a few minutes he had climbed up on the crag, quickly seized Swallow by the leg, and pulled her down.

"Now come with me, you foolish little beast, you," scolded Moni, as he dragged Swallow along with him to the others, and held her fast for a while, until she had taken a good bite of a shrub and thought no more of running away.

"Where is Maggerli?" screamed Moni suddenly, as he noticed Blackie standing alone in a steep place, and not eating, but quietly looking around her. The little young kid was always near Moni, or running after its mother.

"What have you done with your little kid, Blackie?" he called in alarm and sprang towards the goat. She seemed quite strange, was not eating, but stood still in the same spot and pricked up her ears inquiringly. Moni placed himself beside her and looked up and down. Now he heard a faint, pitiful bleating; it was Maggerli's voice, and it came from below so plaintive and beseeching. Moni lay down on the ground and leaned over. There below something was moving; now he saw quite plainly, far down Maggerli was hanging to the bough of a tree which grew out of the rock, and was moaning pitifully; she must have fallen over.

Fortunately the bough had caught her, otherwise she would have fallen into the ravine and met a sorry death. Even now if she could no longer hold to the bough, she would fall into the depths and be dashed to pieces.

In the greatest anguish he called down: "Hold fast, Maggerli, hold fast to the bough! See, I am coming to get you!" But how could he reach there? The wall of rock was so steep here, Moni saw very well that it would be impossible to go down that way. But the little goat must be down there somewhere near the Rain-rock, the overhanging stone under which good protection was to be found in rainy weather; the goat-boys had always spent rainy days there, therefore the stone had been called from old times the Rain-rock. From there, Moni thought he could climb across over the rocks and so bring back the little kid.

He quickly whistled the flock together and went with them down to the place from which he could reach the Rain-rock. There he left them to graze and went to the rock. Here he immediately saw, just a little bit above him, the bough of the tree, and the kid hanging to it. He saw very well that it would not be an easy task to climb up there and then down again with Maggerli on his back, but there was no other way to rescue her. He also thought the dear Lord would surely stand by him, and then he could not possibly fail. He folded his hands, looked up to heaven and prayed: "Oh, dear Lord, help me, so that I can save Maggerli!"

Then he was full of trust that all would go well, and he bravely clambered up the rock until he reached the bough above. Here he clung fast with both feet, lifted the trembling, moaning little creature to his shoulders, and then climbed with great caution back down again. When he had the firm earth under his feet once more and had saved the terror-stricken kid, he was so glad he had to offer thanks aloud and cried up to heaven:

"Oh, dear Lord, I thank Thee a thousand times for having helped us so well! Oh, we are both so glad for it!" Then he sat down on the ground a little while, and stroked the kid, for she was still trembling in all her delicate limbs, and comforted her for enduring so much suffering.

As it was soon time for departure, Moni placed the little goat on his shoulders again, and said anxiously:

"Come, you poor Maggerli, you are still trembling; you cannot walk home to-day, I must carry you--" and so he carried the little creature, clinging close to him, all the way down.

Paula was standing on the last rise in front of the Bath House, waiting for the goat-boy. Her aunt had accompanied her. When Moni came down with his burden on his back, Paula wanted to know if the kid was sick, and showed great interest. When Moni saw this, he at once sat down on the ground in front of Paula and told her his day's experience with Maggerli.

The young lady showed very keen interest in the affair and stroked the little rescued creature, which now lay quietly in Moni's lap and looked very pretty, with its white feet, and the beautiful black pelt on its back. It was very willing to be stroked by her.

"Now sing your song again for me, while you are sitting here," said Paula. Moni was in such a gay frame of mind that he willingly and heartily began and sang his whole song to the end.

This pleased Paula exceptionally well and she said he must sing it to her often again. Then the whole company went together down to the Bath House. Here the kid was laid in its bed, Moni said farewell, and Paula went back to her room to talk with her aunt longer about the goat-boy, whose merry morning song she had enjoyed again.