HERDING THE GOATS
 NEXT morning John was up with the sun. He washed his face
and hands out of doors at the trough where the water
ran swiftly from a wooden pipe. It was icy cold and
made his cheeks as red as fire.
As soon as breakfast was over, he got the wooden collar
with the new bell hanging to it and he and his father
went to where the sheep were penned.
Father Hofer walked of course, but John could do
nothing so tame as that at
 such a moment. He hopped and jumped in a stiff-legged
manner like a young spring lamb, his round eyes shone,
and his wide mouth was one broad grin as his father
caught the big black sheep, and in spite of his
struggles held him while John fastened the collar about
his woolly neck.
"There!" shouted John, as the sheep shook his head
until the bell tinkled loudly, "he does not like it. He
wants to shake it off—but that you cannot do, you
"John! John!" called Mother Hofer, "here is your
dinner; it is time you were off."
John hung a little faded green knapsack, which held his
dinner, over one shoulder, took a long Alpen stock from
behind the door, let the four sheep and the two goats
out of the pen and drove
 them over a winding path along the high mountain side.
It was yet early, but the sun was shining on John's
side of the mountain, for it came in through an opening
between the high peaks opposite. The highest of these
was of bare gray rock and stood straight up into the
sky. It was all rosy red in the early light and the sky
was blue as sapphire behind it, but John was not
looking at the mountain. He was thinking of Anton and
wondering whether he had his flock standing together at
the turn in the path, ready to go off to the mountains
for the day.
Yes, there around the curve was Anton all ready. John
shouted, but Anton did not turn around; instead he put
his hands to his mouth and blew such a shrill whistle
that the mountains echoed.
 Anton was sitting on a bench outside a little stone
house with a broad, overhanging roof, narrow porches,
and all around quite enclosed in lattice work. Near it
was a wooden post from which the icy water spouted
night and day into a big stone basin. The open space in
front of the house was quite full of sheep and goats
that Anton had collected as he came along from his home
lower down the mountain, and if you had looked you
would have seen little groups of goats and children
coming along all the mountain paths. From behind the
house appeared old Mother Anna leading her one goat by
the horn, down from the level above came pretty
Giannina running after their three large goats, from
another direction two little boys chased some sheep
into the square. From all sides came the children, boys
 running after the sheep and goats, most of which wore
broad, wooden collars.
Now the sheep and goats have all been driven in, and
John and Anton start the willing flock off along the
high path that leads towards the mountain pastures.
Anton, who is twelve, goes first, then come the sheep
and goats, and last of all comes John with lame Tito's
two white lambs following close at his heels, for these
lambs are great pets and will not stay with the flock
but always walk behind with John.
They have first to go through a narrow lane with high
walls on either hand where the flock presses through in
a long line of woolly backs and tossing horns, and
where there is no room for the goats to caper. You hear
a patter of many little hoofs on the stony path, the
tinkle here and there of a little bell,
 and the dull thud of butting horns where two goats
manage to come together despite the narrow and crooked
way. Anton, far ahead, whistles gaily, and John coming
on behind with the two lambs at his heels, also
Soon they come out from between the walls, and about
them swell the green fields and grassy meadows shining
with dew and all spangled with bright Alpine flowers.
Quite out of sight, way down below, where it is yet
dark, lies the Toy Valley; but on these breezy heights
the sunbeams are slanting in between the peaks that
rise serenely against the sky. Birds are singing
everywhere. Anton stops whistling and begins to sing
too, while John in the rear, now and then, adds a
belated and discordant note. Everything seems so happy
in the fresh, gay morning.
 The sheep go along quietly enough, but the goats!—how
they do jump about! There is old Anna's demure-looking
old goat walking on top of the stone wall, and
presently three or four others jump up too and walk
along in a line behind her. Goats always prefer the top
of a stone wall to a good road, and the narrower and
higher the wall the better they seem to like it. It is
their nature to be outlandish, I suppose. No doubt you
know they always shake hands with their heads. No
sooner, for instance, would John's goats reach the
meeting-place, than they would begin to say
"Good-morning" to all the other goats, and the way they
did it was to rear up on their hind legs and come down
in a beautiful sideways motion head first upon the head
of the other goat. Of course the other goat was ready
and the two
 hard heads would clash together like I don't know what,
with a loud thud. Fighting? Not at all, merely saying
"Good-morning" in polite goat fashion. I do not say
that goats never fight, but I do say that those that
John and Anton herded did not. They pushed each other a
little hard sometimes, but they always played fair. One
day, two of them were having a trial of strength on a
steep hill-side, when the smaller one slipped and came
sliding down upon the horns of the other in such a way
that it would have been the easiest thing in the world
for the other to rip it open. But what happened? The
fallen goat gave a little whimpering cry, as much as to
say, "Don't hurt me," and the other goat carefully
lowered its horns until it was almost standing on its
head and very gently pulled them out from under its
 comrade, like the little lady that it was. No, goats
are good folks in spite of appearances. And they are
very knowing and the pupils of their eyes are mere
slits, which is what gives them such a sly expression,
as if they were saying, "You don't know what I am going
to do next," which of course you don't.
But meantime there is the flock away on ahead and we
shall have to run to catch up. Let's see, where were
we? Oh, yes, old Anna's goat and the others were on the
stone wall. Well, they are past the wall now, but the
goats are not behaving well for all that, and will not
keep to the path. Now one spies a tempting bush and
darts down the slope to taste it. Two bit brindled ones
are having a butting match on a rock. What hard heads
they have! John calls now to one goat and now to
 "Hi, Wawa! On, Nana!" for he knows the names of all,
and sometimes he flings a stone, but his stones do not
hit the goats, though they often strike a rock and
bound back causing John to skip in a lively manner so
as not to get hit by his own stone.
After following the mountain paths for over an hour in
this way, they come to a gorge on the side of which the
goats are to browse. Here Anton stops the flock,—lets
the sheep go by but not the goats,—and when they are
separated he goes with the sheep into a ravine at the
opening of the gorge, leaving John to take the goats
onto the slope above.
The boys are not so far apart but that they can call to
each other, and when at last the sheep huddle together
under the shadow of the bushes, Anton runs across the
gorge to John and they hunt about
 for berries and make mill wheels in the little brook
until dinner time. Then they sit down on a
sweet-smelling bank under a beech tree near the brook
whose water runs icy cold from the snow beds high
above. It is very still with only a bird call now and
then. John takes a large piece of bread and another of
goat's-milk cheese out of his knapsack and lays them on
the stone. Anton does the same and dinner is ready.
The two lambs that have stuck close to John, declining
to leave him when the flock was separated, lie down
near, and as the boys eat, Anton, who has admired the
new sheep bell as much as John could wish, suddenly
"Oh, but you ought to see the cows come home from the
Big Alp! It is far away so that the men must stay there
all summer with the cows. They go up
 when the snow is quite melted, and the path there is so
steep that you must be careful not to fall over
backwards. Sometimes it is so narrow and so close on
the edge of the rocks that you have to put one foot
before the other and not look down or else you might
fall. The wonder is that cows will go in such a place."
"Goats can go where people can't," says John.
"Yes, and cows can go wherever a man can go without
climbing with his hands. So Big Peter says. Big Peter
stays all summer with the cows and makes wooden collars
"He doesn't stay all alone, though," says John.
"Oh, no, indeed, there is Heinrich and Fernandino,
besides two boys to help drive the cows and milk. They
 more than a hundred cows last summer and they all had
to be milked in the morning and at night,—and they made
butter and cheese from the milk every day."
"They have to work then—here, you, Beppo!" and John
runs to chase mischievous Beppo back with the other
"Yes, but they like it."
"There must be lots of good grass on the Big Alp," says
John, throwing himself on the ground again.
"I should think so!" is Anton's eager reply. "Why, it
is grass about as far as any one can see, and nothing
else up there but sky, and far around on all sides the
tops of the mountains. When I grow up I am going to the
Big Alp to herd and make collars for the cows."
John shakes his head, "I shouldn't
 like to stay like that all summer, but I'd like to see
the Big Alp."
"Ah, but when the summer is over and they all come
down! Then you ought to see the collars they put on the
cows!—and the bells!" and Anton rolls over twice at the
thought of it, then goes on with his narrative. "The
bells are as big as a water bucket and the collars are
not made of wood. No, indeed, they are of leather and
sewed three times around the edge with red and yellow
and blue, and bright birds and flowers are on them.
They are three times as wide as wooden collars. They
put them on the finest cows when they get to the foot
of the mountain, and they tie green vines on the horns
and around the necks and a great many bright ribbons.
The old cows are proud and stand still, but the young
one tossed her head and
 ran into the bushes so they had to fix her up three
times. Then they go into the village and all the people
come out to see."
"But it is far to go to see that," says John, tucking
his knees up under his chin ready for a long talk, for
he likes to hear Anton tell about the Big Alp.
"Far!" exclaims Anton; "if you started at daybreak and
walked well you would not get there before night."
"Well," says John, "some time I am going up there to
see it all. But I am not going to stay, am I, Tito?"
and he hugs a little black kid that has left its mother
to nestle against him.
When the sun just touches the peaks of the highest
mountain, the boys collect their flock and start
homeward, Anton ahead as they went out in the morning
and John bringing up the rear
 with the two white lambs. As they near their homes, the
goats separate of their own accord from the flock, each
one going up its own path to its stall, and finally
John, too, turns off and with only his own little flock
goes on along the high, winding path to his home.