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MÄZLI

A STORY OF THE SWISS VALLEYS

BY

JOHANNA SPYRI

AUTHOR OF "HEIDI, CORNELLI", ETC.

TRANSLATED BY

ELISABETH P. STORK

1921


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.

"Mäzli" 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 Mäzli.

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 Mäzli,
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


CONTENTS

I. IN NOLLA
II. DIVERS WORRIES
III. CASTLE WILDENSTEIN
IV. AN UNEXPECTED APPARITION
V. OPPRESSIVE AIR
VI. NEW FRIENDS
VII. THE MOTHER'S ABSENCE HAS CONSEQUENCES
VIII. MÄZLI PAYS VISITS
IX. IN THE CASTLE


LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

"I can shout very loud, just listen: 'Mr. Castle-Steward'!"

"No, I won't do it," said Lippo again, after scrutinizing the unusual
performance.

She went with folded hands from one bed to the other.

Before following her brother she wanted to see exactly what the Knight
looked like.

He shook the little girl's hand with all his might.

"Can you guess why I am taking you up there?"

A head was raised up and two sharp eyes were directed towards her.

It seemed to crown all the preceding pleasures to roam without restraint
in the woods and meadows.


CHAPTER I

IN NOLLA

For nearly twenty years the fine old castle had stood silent and deserted
on the mountain-side. In its neighborhood not a sound could be heard
except the twittering of the birds and the soughing of the old
pine-trees. On bright summer evenings the swallows whizzed as before
about the corner gables, but no more merry eyes looked down from the
balconies to the green meadows and richly laden apple trees in the
valley.

But just now two merry eyes were searchingly raised to the castle from
the meadow below, as if they might discover something extraordinary
behind the fast-closed shutters.

"Mea, come quick," the young spy exclaimed excitedly, "look! Now it's
opening." Mea, who was sitting on the bench under the large apple tree,
with a book, put aside the volume and came running.

"Look, look! Now it's moving," her brother continued with growing
suspense. "It's the arm of a black coat; wait, soon the whole shutter
will be opened."

At this moment a black object lifted itself and soared up to the tower.

"It was only a bird, a large black-bird," said the disappointed Mea.
"You have called me at least twenty times already; every time you think
that the shutters will open, and they never do. You can call as often as
you please from now on, I shall certainly not come again."

"I know they will open some day," the boy asserted firmly, "only we can't
tell just when; but it might be any time. If only stiff old Trius would
answer the questions we ask him! He knows everything that is going on up
there. But the old crosspatch never says a word when one comes near him
to talk; all he does is to come along with his big stick. He naturally
doesn't want anybody to know what is happening up there, but everybody in
school knows that a ghost wanders about and sighs through the pine
trees."

"Mother has said more than once that nothing is going on there at all.
She doesn't want you to talk about the ghost with the school-children,
and she has asked you not to try to find out what they know about it.
You know, too, that mother wants you to call the castle watchman Mr.
Trius and not just Trius."

"Oh, yes, I'll call him Mr. Trius, but I'll make up such a song about
him that everybody will know who it is about," Kurt said threateningly.

"How can he help it when there is no ghost in Wildenstein about which he
could tell you tales," Mea remarked.

"Oh, he has enough to tell," Kurt eagerly continued. "Many wonderful
things must have happened in a castle that is a thousand years old. He
knows them all and could tell us, but his only answer to every question
is a beating. You know, Mea, that I do not believe in ghosts or spirits.
But it is so exciting to imagine that an old, old Baron of Wallerstätten
might wander around the battlements in his armor. I love to imagine him
standing under the old pine trees with wild eyes and threatening
gestures. I love to think of fighting him, or telling him that I am not
afraid."

"Oh, yes, I am sure you would run away if the armoured knight with his
wild eyes should come nearer," said Mea. "It is never hard to be brave
when one is as far away from danger as you are now."

"Oho! so you think I would be afraid of a ghost," Kurt exclaimed
laughing. "I am sure that the ghost would rather run away from me if I
shouted at him very loudly. I shall make a song about him soon and then
we'll go up and sing it for him. All my school friends want to go with
me; Max, Hans and Clevi, his sister. You must come, too, Mea, and then
you'll see how the ghost will sneak away as soon as we scream at him and
sing awfully loud."

"But, Kurt, how can a ghost, which doesn't exist, sneak away?" Mea
exclaimed. "With all your wild ideas about fighting, you seem to really
believe that there is a ghost in Wildenstein."

"You must understand, Mea, that this is only to prove that there is
none," Kurt eagerly went on. "A real ghost could rush towards us, mad
with rage, if we challenged him that way. You will see what happens. It
will be a great triumph for me to prove to all the school and the village
people that there is no restless ghost who wanders around Wildenstein."

"No, I shan't see it, because I won't come. Mother does not want us to
have anything to do with this story, you know that, Kurt! Oh, here comes
Elvira! I must speak to her."

With these words Mea suddenly flew down the mountainside. A girl of her
own age was slowly coming up the incline. It was hard to tell if this
measured walk was natural to her or was necessary to preserve the
beautiful red and blue flowers on her little hat, which were not able to
stand much commotion. It was clearly evident, however, that the
approaching girl had no intention of changing her pace, despite the fact
that she must have noticed long ago the friend who was hurrying towards
her.

"She certainly could move her proud stilts a little quicker when she sees
how Mea is running," Kurt said angrily. "Mea shouldn't do it. Oh, well,
I shall make a song about Elvira that she won't ever forget."

Kurt now ran away, too, but in the opposite direction, where he had
discovered his mother. She was standing before a rose bush from which
she was cutting faded blossoms and twigs. Kurt was glad to find his
mother busy with work which did not occupy her thoughts, as he often
longed for such an opportunity without success. Whenever he was eager to
discuss his special problems thoroughly and without being interrupted,
his young brother and sister were sure to intrude with their questions,
or the two elder children needed her advice at the same moment. So Kurt
rushed into the garden to take advantage of this unusual opportunity.
But today again he was not destined to have his object fulfilled. Before
he reached his mother, a woman approached her from the other side, and
both entered immediately into a lively conversation. If it had been
somebody else than his special old friend Mrs. Apollonie, Kurt would
have felt very angry indeed. But this woman had gained great distinction
in Kurt's eyes by being well acquainted with the old caretaker of the
castle; so he always had a hope of hearing from her many things that were
happening there.

To his great satisfaction he heard Mrs. Apollonie say on his approach:
"No, no, Mrs. Rector, old Trius does not open any windows in vain; he
has not opened any for nearly twenty years."

"He might want to wipe away the dust for once in his life; it's about
time," Kurt's mother replied. "I don't believe the master has returned."

"Why should the tower windows, where the master always lived, be opened
then? Something unusual has happened," said Mrs. Apollonie
significantly.

"The ghost of Wildenstein might have pushed them open," Kurt quickly
asserted.

"Kurt, can't you stop talking about this story? It is only an invention
of people who are not contented with one misfortune but must make up an
added terror," the mother said with animation. "You know, Kurt, that I
feel sorry about this foolish tale and want you to pay no attention to
it."

"But mother, I only want to support you; I want to help you get rid of
people's superstitions and to prove to them that there is no ghost in
Wildenstein," Kurt assured her.

"Yes, yes, if only one did not know how the brothers - "

"No, Apollonie," the rector's widow interrupted her, "you least of all
should support the belief in these apparitions. Everybody knows that you
lived in the castle more than twenty years, and so people think that you
know what is going on. You realize well enough that all the talk has no
foundation whatever."

Mrs. Apollonie lightly shrugged her shoulders, but said no more.

"But, mother, what can the talk come from then, when there is no
foundation for it, as you say?" asked Kurt, who could not let the matter
rest.

"There is no real foundation for the talk," the mother replied, "and no
one of all those who talk has ever seen the apparition with his own eyes.
It is always other people who tell, and those have been told again by
others, that something uncanny has been seen at the castle. The talk
first started from a misfortune which happened years ago, and later on
the matter came up and people thought a similar misfortune had taken
place again. Although this was an absolutely false report, all the old
stories were brought up again and the talk became livelier than ever.
But people who know better should be very emphatic in suppressing it."

"What was the misfortune that happened long ago in the castle and then
again?" Kurt asked in great suspense.

"I have no time to tell you now, Kurt," the mother declared decisively.
"You have to attend to your school work and I to other affairs. When I
have you all together quietly some evening I shall tell you about those
bygone times. It will be better for you to know than to muse about all
the reports you hear. You are most active of all in that, Kurt, and I do
not like it; so I hope that you will let the matter rest as soon as you
have understood how unfounded the talk really is. Come now, Apollonie,
and I will give you the plants you wanted. I am so glad to be able to
let you have some of my geraniums. You keep your little flower garden in
such perfect order that it is a pleasure to see it."

During the foregoing speeches Apollonie's face had clearly expressed
disagreement with what had been said; she had, however, too much respect
for the lady to utter her doubts. Bright sunshine spread itself over her
features now, because her flower garden was her greatest pride and joy.

"Yes, yes, Mrs. Rector, it is a beautiful thing to raise flowers," she
said, nodding her head. "They always do their duty, and if one grows a
little to one side, I can put a stick beside it and it grows straight
again as it ought to. If only the child were like that, then I should
have no more cares. But she only has her own ideas in her head, and such
strange whims that it would be hard to tell where they come from."

"There is nothing bad about having her own ideas," replied the rector's
widow. "It naturally depends on what kind of ideas they are. It seems
to me that Loneli is a good-natured child, who is easily led. All
children need guidance. What special whims does Loneli have?"

"Oh, Mrs. Rector, nobody knows what things the child might do,"
Apollonie said eagerly. "Yesterday she came home from school with
glowing eyes and said to me, 'Grandmother, I should love to go to Spain.
Beautiful flowers of all colors grow there and large sparkling grapes,
and the sun shines down brightly on the flowers so that they glisten! I
wish I could go right away!' Just think of a ten-year-old child saying
such a thing. I wonder what to expect next."

"There is nothing very terrible about that, Apollonie," said the rector's
widow with a smile. "The child might have heard you mention Spain
yourself so that it roused her imagination. She probably heard in school
about the country, and her wish to go there only shows that she is
extremely attentive. To think out how she might get there some time is a
very innocent pleasure, which you can indulge. I agree with you that
children should be brought up in a strict and orderly way, because they
might otherwise start on the wrong road, and nobody loves such children.
But Loneli is not that kind at all. There is no child in Nolla whom I
would rather see with my own."

Apollonie's honest face glowed anew. "That is my greatest consolation,"
she said, "and I need it. Many say to me that an old woman like me is
not able to bring up and manage a little child. If you once were obliged
to say to me that I had spoiled my grandchild, I should die of shame.
But I know that the matter is still well, as long as you like to see the
child together with yours. Thank you ever so much now. Those will fill
a whole bed," she continued, upon receiving a large bunch of plants from
her kind friend. "Please let me know if I can help in any way. I am
always at home for you, Mrs. Rector, you know that."

Apollonie now said good-bye with renewed thanks. Carrying her large
green bundle very carefully in order not to injure the tender little
branches, she hurried through the garden towards the castle height. The
rector's widow glanced after her thoughtfully. Apollonie was intimately
connected with the earliest impressions of her childhood, as well as with
the experiences of her youth, with all the people whom she had loved most
and who had stood nearest to her. Her appearance therefore always
brought up many memories in Mrs. Maxa's heart. Since her husband's
death, when she had left the rectory in the valley and had come back to
her old home, all her friends called her Mrs. Maxa to distinguish her
from the present rector's wife of the village. She had been used to see
Apollonie in her parents' house. Baroness Wallerstätten, the mistress of
the castle at that time, had often consulted the rector as to many
things. Apollonie, a young girl then, had always been her messenger, and
everyone liked to see her at the rectory. When it was discovered how
quick and able young Apollonie was, things were more and more given into
her charge at the castle. The Baroness hardly undertook anything in her
household without consulting Apollonie and asking her assistance. The
children, who were growing up, also asked many favors from her, which she
was ever ready to fulfill. The devoted, faithful servant belonged many
years so entirely to the castle that everyone called her "Castle
Apollonie."

Mrs. Maxa was suddenly interrupted in her thoughts by loud and repeated
calls of "Mama, Mama!"

"Mama!" it sounded once more from two clear children's voices, and a
little boy and girl stood before her. "The teacher has read us a paper
on which was written - " began the boy.

"Shall I, too; shall I, too?" interrupted the girl.

"Mäzli," said the mother, "let Lippo finish; otherwise I can't understand
what you want."

"Mama, the teacher has read us a paper, on which was written that in Sils
on the mountain - "

"Shall I, too? Shall I, too?" Mäzli, his sister, interrupted again.

"Be quiet, Mäzli, till Lippo has finished," the mother commanded.

"He has said the same thing twice already and he is so slow. There has
been a fire in Sils on the mountain and we are to send things to the
people. Shall I do it, too, Mama, shall I, too?" Mäzli had told it all
in a single breath.

"You didn't say it right," Lippo retorted angrily. "You didn't start
from the beginning. One must not start in the middle, the teacher told
us that. Now I'll tell you, Mama. The teacher has read us a paper - "

"We know that already, Lippo," the mother remarked. "What was in the
paper?"

"In the paper was written that a big fire in Sils on the mountain has
destroyed two houses and everything in them. Then the teacher said that
all the pupils of the class - "

"Shall I too, shall I, too?" Mäzli urged.

"Finish a little quicker now, Lippo," said the mother.

"Then the teacher said that all the pupils from all the classes must
bring some of their things to give to the poor children - "

"Shall I too, Mama, shall I go right away and get together all they
need?" Mäzli said rapidly, as if the last moment for action had arrived.

"Yes, you can give some of your clothes and Lippo can bring some of his,"
the mother said. "I shall help you, for we have plenty of time.
To-morrow is Sunday and the children are sure not to bring their things
to school before Monday, as the teacher will want to send them off
himself."

Lippo agreed and was just beginning to repeat the exact words of the
teacher in which he had asked for contributions. But he had no chance to
do it.

Kurt came running up at this moment, calling so loudly that nothing else
could possibly be heard: "Mother, I forgot to give you a message. Bruno
is not coming home for supper. The Rector is climbing High Ems with him
and the two other boys. They will only be home at nine o'clock."

The mother looked a little frightened. "Are the two others his comrades,
the Knippel boys?"

Kurt assented.

"I hope everything will go well," she continued. "When those three are
together outside of school they always quarrel. When we came here first
I was so glad that Bruno would have them for friends, but now I am in
continual fear that they will clash."

"Yes, mother," Kurt asserted, "you would never have been glad of that
friendship if you had really known them. Wherever they can harm anybody
they are sure to do it, and always behind people's backs. And Bruno
always is like a loaded gun-barrel, just a little spark and he is on fire
and explodes."

"It is time to go in," said the mother now, taking the two youngest by
the hand. Kurt followed. It had not escaped him that an expression of
sorrow had spread over his mother's face after his words. He hated to
see his mother worried.

"Oh, mother," he said confidently, "there is no reason for you to be
upset. If Bruno does anything to them, they are sure to give it back to
him in double measure. They'll do it in a sneaky way, because they are
afraid of him in the open field."

"Do you really think that this reassures me, Kurt?" she asked turning
towards him. Kurt now realized that his words could not exactly comfort
his mother, but he felt that some help should be found, for he was always
able to discover such a good side to every evil, that the latter was
swallowed up. He saw an advantage now. "You know, mother, when Bruno
has discharged his thunder, it is all over for good. Then he is like a
scrubbed out gun-barrel, all clean and polished. Isn't that better than
if things would keep sticking there?"

Mea, standing at the open window, was beckoning to the approaching group
with lively gestures; it meant that the time for supper was already
overdue. Kurt, rushing to her side, informed her that their mother meant
to tell them the story of Wallerstätten as soon as everything was quiet
that night and the little ones were put to bed: "Just mark now if we
won't hear about the ghost of Wallerstätten," he remarked at the end.
Kurt was mistaken, however. Everything was still and quiet long ago, the
little ones were in bed and the last lessons were done. But Bruno had
not yet returned. Over and over again the mother looked at the clock.

"You must not be afraid, mother, that they will have a quarrel, because
the rector is with them," Kurt said consolingly.

Now rapid steps sounded outside, the door was violently flung open and
Bruno appeared, pale with rage: "Those two mean creatures, those
malicious rascals; the sneaky hypocrites! - the - the - "

"Bruno, no more please," the mother interrupted. "You are beside
yourself. Come sit down with us and tell us what happened as soon as you
feel more quiet; but no more such words, please."

It took a considerable time before Bruno could tell his experience
without breaking out again. He told them finally that the rector had
mentioned the castle of High Ems in their lessons that day. After asking
his pupils if they had ever inspected the famous ruins they had all said
no, so the rector invited the three big boys to join him in a walk to see
the castle. It was quite a distance away and they had examined the ruins
very thoroughly. Afterwards the rector had taken them to a neighboring
inn for a treat, so that it was dark already when they were walking down
the village street. "Just where the footpath, which comes from the large
farmhouse crosses the road," Bruno continued, "Loneli came running along
with a full milk-bottle in her arm. That scoundrel Edwin quickly put out
his foot in front of her and Loneli fell down her whole length; the milk
bottle flew far off and the milk poured down the road like a small white
stream. The boys nearly choked with laughter and all I was able to do
was to give Edwin a sound box on the ear," Bruno concluded, nearly
boiling with rage. "Such a coward! He ran right off after the Rector,
who had gone ahead and had not seen it. Loneli went silently away,
crying to herself. I'd like to have taken hold of both of them and given
them proper - "

"Yes, and Loneli is sure to be scolded by her grandmother for having
spilled the milk," Mea interrupted; "she always thinks that Loneli is
careless and that it is always her own fault when somebody harms her.
She is always punished for the slightest little fault."

"But she never defends herself," Kurt said, half in anger, partly with
pity. "If those two ever tried to harm Clevi, they would soon get their
faces scratched; Apollonie has brought Loneli up the wrong way."

"Should you like to see Loneli jump at a boy's face and scratch it,
Kurt?" asked the mother.

After meditating a while Kurt replied, "I guess I really shouldn't."

"Don't you all like Loneli because she never gets rough and always is
friendly, obliging and cheerful? Her grandmother really loves her very
much; but she is a very honest woman and worries about the child just
because she is anxious to bring her up well. I should be extremely sorry
if she scolded Loneli in the first excitement about the spilled milk.
The boys should have gotten the blame, and I am sure that Apollonie will


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