Chapter III. A Visit
 

Thus many days passed by, one as sunny and clear as the other, for it was an unusually beautiful summer, and the sky remained blue and cloudless from morning till evening.

Every morning, early, without exception the goat-boy, singing lustily, went by the Bath House. Every evening he came back again singing lustily. All the guests were so accustomed to the merry sound that not one would have willingly missed it.

More than all the others, Paula delighted in Moni's joyfulness and went out almost every evening to meet him, and talk with him.

One sunny morning Moni had once more reached the Pulpit-rock, and was about to throw himself down, when he changed his mind. "No, go on! The last time you had to leave all the nice little plants because we had to go after Maggerli; now we will go up there again, so that you can finish nibbling them!"

The goats all leaped with delight after him, for they knew they were going up to the lovely bushes on the Dragon-stones. To-day Moni held his little Maggerli the whole time fast in his arms, pulled the sweet plants himself from the rocks and let her eat out of his hand. This pleased the little goat best of all. She rubbed her head quite contentedly from time to time against Moni's shoulder and bleated happily. So the whole morning passed, before Moni noticed, from his own hunger, that it had grown late before he was aware of it. But he had left his luncheon below near the Pulpit-rock, in the little hole, for he had intended to return again at noon.

"Well, you have had your fill of good things, and I have had nothing," he said to his goats. "Now I must have something too, and you will find enough more down below. Come along!" Whereupon he gave a loud whistle, and the whole flock started away, the liveliest always ahead, and first of all light-footed Swallow, who was to meet something unexpected to-day. She sprang down from stone to stone and across many a cleft in the rocks, but all at once she could go no farther--directly in front of her suddenly stood a chamois and gazed with curiosity into her face. This had never happened to Swallow before! She stood still, looked questioningly at the stranger and waited for the chamois to get out of her way and let her leap to the boulder, as she intended. But the chamois did not stir and gazed boldly into Swallow's eyes. So they stood facing each other, more and more obstinate, and might have stood there until now, if the big Sultan had not come along in the meantime. As soon as he saw the state of things, he stepped quite considerately past Swallow and suddenly pushed the chamois aside so far and with such violence, that she had to make a daring leap, not to fall down over the rocks. Swallow went triumphantly on her way, and the Sultan marched proudly and contentedly behind her, for he felt himself to be the sure protector of the goats in his flock.

Meanwhile Moni coming down from above, and another goat-boy coming up from below, met at the same spot and looked at each other in astonishment. But they were well acquainted, and after the first surprise greeted each other cordially. It was Jorgli from Kublis. Half the morning he had been looking in vain for Moni and now he met him up here, where he had not expected to find him.

"I didn't suppose you came up so high with the goats," said Jorgli.

"To be sure I do," replied Moni, "but not always; usually I stay by the Pulpit-rock and around there. Why have you come up here?"

"To make you a visit," was the reply. "I have something to tell you. Besides, I have two goats here, that I am bringing to the landlord at the Baths. He is going to buy one, and so I thought I would come up to see you."

"Are they your own goats?" asked Moni.

"Surely, they are ours. I don't tend strange ones any longer. I am not a goat-boy now."

Moni was very much surprised at this, for Jorgli had become the goat-boy of Kublis at the same time he had been made goat-boy of Fideris, and Moni did not understand how Jorgli could give it up without a single murmur.

Meanwhile the goat-boys and their flocks had reached the Pulpit-rock. Moni brought out bread and a small piece of dried meat and invited Jorgli to share his midday meal. They both sat down on the Pulpit-rock and ate heartily, for it had grown very late and they had excellent appetites. When everything was eaten and they had drunk a little goat's milk, Jorgli comfortably stretched himself at full length on the ground, and rested his head on both arms, but Moni remained sitting, for he always liked to look down into the deep valley below.

"But what are you now, Jorgli, if you are no longer goat-boy?" began Moni. "You must be something."

"Surely I am something, and something very good," replied Jorgli, "I am egg-boy. Every day I carry eggs to all the hotels, as far as I can go; I come up here to the Bath House, too. Yesterday I was there."

Moni shook his head. "That's nothing. I wouldn't be an egg-boy; I would a thousand times rather be goat-boy, it is much finer."

"But why?"

"Eggs are not alive, you can't speak a word to them, and they don't run after you like the goats which are glad to see you when you come, and are fond of you, and understand every word you say to them; you can't have any pleasure with eggs as you can with the goats up here."

"Yes, and you," interrupted Jorgli, "what great pleasure do you have up here? Just now you have had to get up six times while we were eating, just on account of that silly kid, to prevent it from falling down below--is that a pleasure?"

"Yes, I like to do that! Isn't it so, Maggerli? Come! Come here!" Moni jumped up and ran after the kid, for it was making dangerous leaps for sheer joy. When he sat down again, Jorgli said:

"There is another way to keep the young goats from falling over the rocks, without having to be always jumping after them, as you do."

"What is it?" asked Moni.

"Drive a stick firmly into the ground and fasten the goat by the leg to it; she will kick furiously, but she can't get away."

"You needn't think I would do any such thing to the little kid!" said Moni quite angrily and drew Maggerli to him and held her fast, as if to protect her from any such treatment.

"You really won't have to take care of that one much longer," began Jorgli again. "It won't come up here many times more."

"What? What? What did you say, Jorgli?" demanded Moni.

"Bah, don't you know about it? The landlord will not raise her, she is too weak; there never was a more feeble goat. He wanted to sell her to my father, but he wouldn't have her either; now the landlord is going to have her killed next week, and then he will buy our spotted one."

Moni had become quite pale from terror. At first he couldn't speak a word; but now he broke out and complained aloud over the little kid:

"No, no, that shall not be done, Maggerli, it shall not be done. They shall not slay you, I can't bear that. Oh, I would rather die with you; no, that cannot be!"

"Don't do so," said Jorgli, angrily, and pulled Moni up, for in his grief he had thrown himself face down on the ground. "Stand up, you know the kid really belongs to the landlord and he can do what he likes with her. Think no more about it! Come, I know something. See! See!" Whereupon Jorgli held out one hand to Moni, and with the other almost covered the object, which Moni was to admire; it sparkled wonderfully in his hand, for the sun shone straight into it.

"What is it?" asked Moni, when it sparkled again, lighted up by a sunbeam.

"Guess!"

"A ring?"

"No, but something like that."

"Who gave it to you?"

"Gave it to me? Nobody. I found it myself."

"Then it does not belong to you, Jorgli."

"Why not? I didn't take it from anybody. I almost stepped on it with my foot, then it would have been broken; so I can just as well keep it."

"Where did you find it?"

"Down by the Bath House, yesterday evening."

"Then some one from the house below lost it. You must tell the landlord, and if you don't, I will do it this evening."

"No, no, Moni, don't do that," said Jorgli, beseechingly. "See, I will show you what it is, and I will sell it to a maid in one of the hotels, but she will surely have to give me four francs; then I will give you one or two, and nobody will know anything about it."

"I will not take it! I will not take it!" interrupted Moni, hotly, "and the dear Lord has heard everything you have said."

Jorgli looked up to the sky: "Oh, so far away," he said skeptically; but he immediately began to speak more softly.

"He hears you still," said Moni, confidently.

It was no longer Jorgli's secret. If he didn't know how to bring Moni to his side, all would be lost. He thought and thought.

"Moni," he said suddenly, "I will promise you something that will delight you, if you will not say anything to a human being about what I have found; you really don't need to take anything for it, then you will have nothing to do with it. If you will do as I say, I will make my father buy Maggerli, so she will not be killed. Will you?"

A hard struggle arose in Moni. It was wrong to help keep the discovery secret. Jorgli had opened his hand. In it lay a cross set with a large number of stones, which sparkled in many colors. Moni realized that it was not a worthless thing which no one would inquire about; he felt exactly as if he himself should be keeping what did not belong to him if he remained silent. But on the other hand was the little, affectionate Maggerli, that was going to be killed in a horrible way with a knife, and he could prevent it if he kept silent. Even now the little kid was lying so trustfully beside him, as if, she knew that he would always keep it; no, he could not let this happen, he must try to save it.

"Yes, I will, Jorgli," he said, but without any enthusiasm.

"Then it is a bargain!" and Jorgli offered his hand to Moni, that he might seal the argument, as that was the only way to make a promise binding.

Jorgli was very glad that now his secret was safe; but as Moni had become so quiet, and he had much farther to go to reach home than Moni, he considered it well to start along with his two goats. He said good-night to Moni and whistled for his two companions, which meanwhile had joined Moni's grazing goats, but not without much pushing and other doubtful behavior between the two parties, for the goats from Fideris had never heard that they ought to be polite to visitors and the goats from Kublis did not know that they ought not to seek out the best plants or push the others away from them, when they were visiting. When Jorgli had gone some distance down the mountain, Moni also started along with his flock, but he was very still and neither sang a note nor whistled, all the way home.