JOHN GOES TO LIVE IN THE TOY VALLEY
OHN felt discouraged and unhappy when he got up next
morning; doubtless because he was stiff and tired from
his hard climb up through the snow. But he did not
think of that. He thought of the people in the Toy
Valley all working so contentedly in their snug houses
and of the toys everywhere piling up to be carried,
when spring came, across the mountains.
And he could never have a share in it! It was enough to
 miserable! No, he could never be a wood carver. He
remembered how clumsy he had been when he broke the
spoke, and how Frau Herder would not let him touch the
little tool that made the horses' manes, and of what
his father was always saying about no one of his family
having ever carved.
He was sitting dejectedly on the bench in front of the
house with his hands thrust deep in his pockets and
looking as cross as it was possible for a boy with such
a big mouth and such round eyes to look. You, no doubt,
noticed long ago how hard it is for people with round
eyes to be real cross!
Old Franz stood near him with his ears hanging down as
though he understood. He did not frisk at all, but kept
putting his nose against John's shoulder as though
trying to tell him how sorry
 he felt to see him so sad. The hens, too, clustered
about John's feet and the great rooster with the
missing tail feathers cocked one eye inquiringly at
There were deep, deep blue shadows on the snow that lay
so white over the earth, and the mountains had a
lovely, rosy glow on them. Suddenly, John looked up to
the shining heights and a smile chased the gloom from
his face, for it seemed to him that he heard Frau
Ampezzang's voice again, saying, "It is just wanting to
hard enough and keeping at it long enough."
All his weariness and unhappiness vanished, and he
jumped up so suddenly that old Franz was startled and
sprang backwards, but not before John had hold of the
halter. Up went Franz's ears, all his dejection
vanished too, and when John jumped on his back he
 kicked up and tried to throw him off into the snow. But
John clung fast and Franz reared and plunged, and so
they had a grand frolic, for Franz's efforts to throw
John were all pretence. Then John jumped down and went
off whistling to look after the sheep and goats.
That night he prayed more fervently than ever to the
good Lord to send him a tool.
A day or two after, with his father's permission, he
took his sled and went to see Anton, who lived, as you
know, in the stone house with the wide, latticed
balconies at the foot of the long slope. Down this John
sped, guiding his sled very skilfully. When he had
first made this trip alone a few days before it had
seemed to him a great feat, but now, after he had gone
down the mountain with his father it seemed nothing at
 and he longed to be allowed to try a longer and steeper
"I want to sled down to the Ringovitch's," he confided
to Anton. "Father says I may next winter, and
then—after that—who knows how soon I may be allowed to
take the great chute clear down to the valley!"
"You? Take the great chute all by yourself? Why, John,
you are crazy! One must be a man to do that. One must
be very strong and hold a clear head all the time. You
told me you shut your eyes the whole way."
"I wouldn't do that again, Anton. Do you know, I feel
almost grown up since then? And, Anton, I am going to
"Does your father say so?"
"Not yet, but he will. And, Anton, what do you think? I
heard father talking with mother last night and I am
 to live at Uncle Francesco's and go to school!"
"Not down in the valley!" and Anton threw down the
stick he had been twirling and looked at John with
"Yes, in the school there. I am to live with Uncle
Francesco and help him. The school is close by his
house near the church."
"Oh, I know where it is, but I don't want to go. I
should like to be down in the valley and see all the
people if I could come home at night."
"That cannot be. Father is to take me down and then I
must stay until the snow is gone."
"Will you sled down?" and there was a tone of envy in
"I don't know, but I hope so. And I tell you, Anton, if
I do I shall keep my
 eyes open and see it all. Only going around the curve
the snow flies so it cuts your face and covers you. But
I mean to hold my eyes open and watch just how father
It was not long after this that John took the trip down
into the valley again, and, as he had longed to do, on
his father's sled. Father Hofer had hesitated some time
about using the sled, because the winter was not half
gone and he had only one left, and who could tell how
often he might want to go down in a hurry, or how often
the snow might be too deep for him to walk down?
He finally decided to risk it, and one day John said
good-bye to old Franz, and with a little bundle of
clothes strapped to his shoulders followed his father
and mother to the starting-place, for the mother had
come to see them off.
 Her eyes were steady but her face was white, for she
dreaded the dangerous gully; and now her boy, too, was
going down it and she would be left alone until the
father came back at night to tell her all was well.
How white the wide world was! Never could anything be
whiter than these vast expanses of pure snow with deep
blue shadows under the slopes; and over them the big
hawk, the geier of the Alps, muffled in his warm
feathers was sailing great circles through the icy air.
This time John held up his head and kept his eyes wide
open as they flashed down, only half-closing them
around the curve to keep out the sharp flying snow. It
seemed to him that the sled went even faster than
before, and although he kept his eyes open, he could
not help holding his breath.
 In a few minutes they were clear down to the foot of
the mountain, and in a little while more they were
going into Uncle Francesco's house where they put off
their big spiked shoes at the door, and put on some
warm felt slippers that Father Hofer had carried in his
John felt a little strange, for he had always been
rather afraid of Uncle Francesco, and now he was coming
to stay with him, which made everything seem different.
Uncle Francesco lived all by himself in a good stone
house with plenty of lattices that stood with a little
cluster of similar houses, and the church with a tall
steeple, on top of a high bluff that fell sheer down to
the very bottom of the valley where the stream ran. A
path led down the other side of the bluff
 to the road below, on either side of which were the
rest of the houses of the village as close together as
they could stand.
The precipice at the edge of the bluff on which stood
Uncle Francesco's house was so steep that John used to
go to the edge and look down on the roof of a house
that stood far, far below at its foot. In this house
lived the Wolferlos, who were generally to be found
painting horses; and pretty Angelica, who put bright
red spots in their nostrils.
After dinner Father Hofer started up the mountain and
left John, who began to feel very lonesome, though he
whistled and walked about and tried not to let Uncle
Francesco see he cared.
"Here, John," said his uncle, "take a bundle of fagots
and fire up the stove; it is time."
 So John went to the shed, got a bundle of fagots and
put them in at the door of the big, brick vault that
opened into the hallway. It was yet warm, though the
fire Uncle Francesco had made in it in the morning was
quite burned out.
John made a hot fire of fagots, put on some sticks of
wood, and then went into the room where his uncle was
and seated himself on the bench that ran around the big
stove, which in a little while began to send out a
pleasant warmth. There was a bed above this stove, but
Uncle Francesco slept there and John had a little cot
with plenty of sweet hay under him and a warm feather
bed over him, in another room. For in John's country
the people sleep with their feather beds on top of
them, which, come to think of it, is a very sensible
 It makes one feel safe and warm, like a little chicken
under its mother's wing. Smother you? Of course not.
John didn't smother, neither has anybody in his part of
the world smothered that anyone ever heard of. Perhaps
the reason is that the feather beds are too short to
cover more than half of you at once. You have to curl
up like a kitten or else keep changing the feather bed
about so as to warm the cold half. Of course one half
or the other of you always is cold, but you get used to
Uncle Francesco sat a long time without speaking, then
"Now, John, you are here to stay with me and help me.
You are to care for the stove and heat it twice a day;
at four o'clock in the morning and at two in the
afternoon. Then we shall be warm. You are to fetch the
water from the
 spout in the yard and fill the kettles before
breakfast. See that you do it all neatly and on time."
"Yes, uncle," said John, glad to have something to
"You will start to-morrow morning to school and after
school you will saw the wood for the stove."
"Yes, uncle," said John, again.
He helped his uncle so cheerfully to get the supper and
put away the dishes, that the old man looked at him
with kinder eyes than John had ever noticed in him
"We shall get on," the uncle said, as John went off to