JOHN GOES OUT INTO THE WORLD
S John again climbed up the mountain, this time at the
end of his term of education in the Toy Valley, he was
not so elated as he had been the year before when he
had grasped his first donkey so triumphantly in his
pocket. Indeed he was rather crestfallen and did not
know which to tell his parents first, about the prize
for his donkeys or his failure to make any other
Now it happened they had already heard of the prize and
were very proud indeed of it, and if they had also
 of their son's failure to carve anything but donkeys
they did not mention it, and Father Hofer had as a
surprise a fine log of zirbel wood ready for him, so
that John's homecoming was altogether joyful.
There was little time to carve that busy summer, but at
last the grain has been cut and is hanging like a
golden curtain over the fronts of the houses. John's
house has a fine heavy covering of it for every
lattice-pole is filled. The turnip patches are green
and the pockets of the children are full of juicy
turnips which they munch from morning till night. The
goats and the donkey munch them too, and Franz is fond
of sticking his nose into John's pocket and stealing a
turnip now and then. Turnips had to do duty for apples
here, and these turnips of the Toy Valley certainly did
 their best to play the part; such juicy, crisp, and
spicy turnips sure never grew anywhere else.
Now the double windows are in the house with berries
and vines and mosses on the broad sill between the
sashes; on all sides is the sound of the threshing.
Like endless clog-dancing one hears the clappity-clap
of the flails from morning till night, and sometimes
far into the night. Instead of looking in at it through
the golden mist, John is himself one of the threshers.
Now the golden curtains are down, the grain has been
threshed and ground in the mills, and the withered
turnips hang over the lattices.
Now the snow falls steadily, and lays a deep white
mantle over all the shining earth. Icicles hang from
the ledges and the grand chute is like a track of ice.
 John makes a fire in the big stove early every morning,
and then seats himself at his table and carves, while
his parents sit and watch him, lost in wonder and
filled with pride.
Anton has returned of course from the Big Alp, but he
does not talk quite so eagerly about it. Perhaps he has
discovered that herding cows all summer up there near
the sky with no one to speak to but now and then
another herder, is not quite the paradise he had
dreamed. Yet he loves the life and has no desire to
seek any other.
"I walked to the top of the Puflatsch more than once,"
he said, "and from there you can see the world."
"But not any cities?" inquired John, sceptically, for
to his mind to see "the world" certainly included
seeing the cities. But Anton, who takes little
 interest in cities, in fact only half believes in their
existence, declares that what one sees from the
Puflatsch includes the greater, and the best, part of
"It is mountains and mountains on all sides of you, to
the end of the world. I have seen it," he declares
conclusively. For he shares the belief of the ancients
that the earth is—well, not flat, for it certainly is
not that with mountains soaring everywhere, but the
shape of a plate, say, with mountains standing on it.
Often during the winter he would find his way to John's
house and watch him at his work, fingering the blocks
of wood and looking at his friend in wonder as he
slowly made his way through block after block and stood
toy after toy firmly on the table, finished and
 One day in late spring as the two were out looking for a
stray sheep they sat down on a rock to rest, and John
said, "Anton, my basket is now full and I am going to
the Fair in The Town at the Foot of the Mountain."
"O John! It is a long way there, and you will get
lost!" cried Anton in alarm.
"I can find the way; it is easy enough; and when I come
back I shall come by way of the Big Alp," and John's
"And I, maybe I shall be up there!" and Anton quite
forgot his fear for John's safety in the thought.
"Yes, you will be up there, and I will spend the night
with you and see the big stars shine," for he had never
forgotten what Anton had told him when they were little
boys herding goats in
 the mountains of the stars on the Big Alp.
"Don't you want to see the world, Anton?"
Anton shook his head,—"No, I like it here, and the Big
Alp is pleasant and I know where I am. Where shall you
sleep nights when you go so far away, John?"
"Oh, I shall sleep in the people's houses. Herr Herder
told me about that, and just how much to pay them and
"Suppose you don't sell the toys, how shall you get
money to come back with?"
"But I shall sell them," said John quickly, then he
added reluctantly, "I could work, you know, if I had
to, and so get back."
John readily got the consent of his
 parents to go to the Fair, and one day he started off
pack on back. His friends down in the Toy Valley would
scarcely have known him for he had on the gay Tirolese
costume that his father wore when he was a young man
and that every youth of respectability must have, to
wear on great occasions. And if this was not a great
occasion to John, I should like to know when one would
be likely to arise. And since he had not a gala dress
of his own as yet, he very properly borrowed his
father's, and this the more sensibly, since his father
had long since outgrown it and he had exactly grown
So he put on the tight velveteen trousers that tied at
his knee with a ribbon, the
reddish-brown vest buttoned closely with yellow buttons
and edged with yellow braid, the long faded green
 coat that came down to his heels and, finest of all,
the wide belt, six inches wide at least, heavily
embroidered in gold and colored silks. Around his neck
was a white frill. His stout legs were covered by
stockings knit by his mother out of white yarn, and he
had leather slippers on his feet. On his head he wore a
green felt hat cocked up in the back where it was
fastened by a white eagle's plume. The large gala hat
was the only thing lacking. His father's had
disappeared and so he had to do the best he could with
his own boy's hat.
Nevertheless he was very conscious of his fine
appearance as he started out, both his parents at his
side, for they went with him to the brow of the slope
and stood watching as long as they could see the
gay-clad form topped by
 the nodding eagle's plume, and with the long basket on
Surely no knight errant of old ever stepped out with
fairer apparel or a quicker-beating heart.
It was early morning and the air was cool and still and
full of the fresh smell of growing things. Flowers were
peeping from the crevices of the rocks and a soft
breeze now and then made a slight sound in the tree
John felt very happy as he walked along the side of the
mountain. He did not go down the path to the Toy Valley
this time, but kept up along the open swells over the
path that led on and on into the sunset.
He could see the mountains all about and he could see
down the slopes, at the bottom of which, below the
 the Toy Valley and the houses and the people.
As he went he crossed the great slide of boulders and
loose stones the lower part of which was covered with
the Pixies' Forest; it was like a river of rocks that
widened as it went down. "I wonder how they got there,"
he thought to himself as he looked towards the peaks
from between which issued the strange river, and down
to the wild forest where it lay across the valley,
blocking it up—all but a narrow gorge through which the
It was this narrow gorge that shut up the Toy Valley
quite away from the rest of the world, for at the end
of it was another valley wide and beautiful, through
which rushed a great river along whose banks were
strung pleasant villages like beads on a silver thread;
 beautiful river made from many mountain streams that
came out of the glaciers; a swift river that rushed
along out of the mountains and across the plains, past
old and fair cities, across the wide plains to the blue
sea. The river Eisack it is called in the mountain
country; but down below in the old city of Verona,
where they have anchored the mills in its strong
current, and all across the fruitful Italian plains
beyond, it is called the Adige.
John, up on the mountain side with his pack on his
back, knew little enough of the historic river and wide
valley towards which he was hastening. He walked along
at a good pace until ahead of him on the mountain side
he saw a church spire, and clustered about it a group
of stone houses like those of the village in the Toy
Valley. The whole
 was standing high above the wild and rocky gorge
through which rushed the little stream that came out of
the Toy Valley. Beyond, mountain was piled upon
mountain in a wild and splendid manner. John had never
been here before, and he thought the strange village
very beautiful, as indeed it was.
When he got to the church he sat down on the low wall
that enclosed it to rest, for his basket was beginning
to feel heavy. Presently the children gathered about
him and looked wonderingly at the legs of the donkeys
sticking up from the top of the basket.
"It is the toy man," they whispered to one another, and
John heard them and his heart swelled within him.
He ate his dinner of bread and cheese by the roadside,
and stopped to rest in another village, even the
an-  cient hamlet of Lajen, that lay on the mountain side,
its stone houses built close together like the cells in
a honeycomb, or a cluster of swallows' nests under the
eaves, as are all the villages in that part of the
world. Nobody has a yard, front or back. But outside
the close huddle of houses stretches on all sides the
free open fields and forests overtopped by the great
John lingered along the latter part of the way, being
tired perhaps, and also being filled with delight in
the new world, so different from the steep sides of the
Toy Valley, for here the mountain receded, and there
were openings down strange and beautiful gorges through
which he could see far-away and very beautiful mountain
It seemed to him that he had surely stepped into an
enchanted land and this
 before he had even got down from his mountain side or
had a glimpse of a city!
He lingered so, that night was falling as he went
quickly down the steep path that led from the mountain
side into the broad valley of the Eisack. That is, it
was broad compared to the Toy Valley, though right
there it was narrow enough, but in its bottom lay flat
meadows such as John had never seen in his life before.
"What would Anton say to this?" he thought, and felt a
great longing to have Anton at his side to talk to.
In the little village at the foot of his steep path he
found the house where he was to spend the night,
without any trouble, and soon fell sound asleep as
though he were in his own bed at home.
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