The Swiss Twins  by Lucy Fitch Perkins

The Twins Learn a New Trade

Part 1 of 2


A T five o'clock the next morning Father and Mother Adolf were already up, and the cuckoo woke Fritz, but though he shouted five times with all his might and main, neither Seppi nor Leneli stirred in their sleep.

"Fritz, go wake the Twins," said Mother Adolf, when he came to the door of the shed where she was milking the goats. "Only don't wake the baby. I want her to sleep as long as she will."

"Yes, Mother," said Fritz dutifully, and he was off at once, leaping up the creaky stairs three steps at a time.

He went first to Leneli's bed and tickled her toes. She drew up her knees and slept on. Then he went to Seppi's bed, and when shaking and rolling over failed to rouse him, he took him by one leg and pulled him out of bed. Seppi woke up with a roar and cast himself upon Fritz, and in a moment the two boys were rolling about on the floor, yelling like Indians. The uproar woke Leneli, and the baby too, and Mother Adolf, hearing the noise, came running from the goat-shed just in time to find Seppi sitting on top of Fritz beating time on his stomach to a tune which he was singing at the top of his lungs. The baby was crowing with delight as she watched the scuffle from Leneli's arms.

Mother Adolf gazed upon this lively scene with dismay. Then she picked Seppi off Fritz's stomach and gazed sternly at her oldest son. "Fritz," said she, "I told you to be quiet and not wake the baby."

"I was quiet," said Fritz, sitting up. "I was just as quiet as I could be, but they wouldn't wake up that way, so I had to pull Seppi out of bed; there was no other way to get him up." He looked up at his mother with such honest eyes that in spite of herself her lips twitched and then she smiled outright.

"I should have known better than to send such a great overgrown pup of a boy as you on such an errand," she said. "Bello would have done it better. Next time I shall send him.

"And now, since you are all awake, I will tell you the great news that Father told me last night. He has been chosen by the commune to take the herds of the village up to the high alps to be gone all summer. He will take Fritz with him to guard the cattle while he makes the cheese. There is no better cheese-maker in all the mountains than your father, and that is why the commune chose him," she finished proudly.

More than anything else in the world, every boy in that part of Switzerland longs to go with the herds to the high mountain pastures for the summer, and Fritz was so delighted that he turned a somersault at once to express his feelings. When he was right side up again, a puzzled look came over his face, and he said, "Who will take care of our own goats?"

"Ah," answered his mother, and she sighed a little. "There is no one but Seppi and Leneli. Together they must fill your place, and you, Fritz, must take them with you to-day up the mountain to learn the way and begin their work."

"To-day! This very day?" screamed the Twins. They had never been up to the goat-pastures in their lives, and it was a most exciting event.

Then Leneli thought of her mother. She flung her arms about her neck. "But who will stay with you, dear Mother?" she cried. "All day you will be alone, with everything to do and no one to speak to but the baby."

"Yes," sighed the mother, "that is true. It will be a long, lonely summer for me, but there is no other way, so we must each do our part bravely and not complain. It is good fortune that Father and Fritz will both be earning money in the alps, and, with wise old Bello to help you, you will soon be as good goatherds as your brother. Come, now, hurry and eat your breakfasts, for the goats are already milked and impatient to be gone."

She took Roseli in her arms and disappeared down the stairs, and when, a few moments later, the Twins and Fritz came into the kitchen, she had their breakfast of bread and milk ready for them, and their luncheon of bread and cheese wrapped in a clean white cloth for Fritz to put in his pocket.

Father Adolf came back from the garden, where he had been hoeing potatoes, to see the little procession start away for the hills. First came the goats, frisking about in the fresh morning air and jingling all their bells. Then came Bello, looking very important, then Fritz with a cock's feather in his cap and his little horn and his cup slung over his shoulder, and last of all the Twins.


"It's a long way, my children," said Mother Adolf, as she kissed them good-bye. "Your legs will get tired, but you must climb on just the same. If every one stopped when he was tired, the world's work would never be done. Learn the way carefully and remember always to pray if any danger comes. You are very near the good God on the mountain, and He will take care of you if you ask Him, never fear."

"Obey Fritz," said Father Adolf, "and do not stray off by yourselves. Stay always with Fritz and the goats."

"We will," cried the Twins, and away they ran to join their brother, who was already some little distance ahead of them. They turned as the path rounded the great cliff where the echoes lived, and the Twins waved their hands, while Fritz played his merry little tune on the horn. Then the rocks hid them from view, and the long climb began in earnest.