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Our Little Swiss Cousin by Wade

Pilatus has his hood on to night


Could

this work be worth while? We wonder if it is possible. But the Swiss value the mountain hay greatly. It is sweet and tender and full of fine herbs, while the higher it grows, the better it is. The cattle have a treat in the winter-time when they have a dinner of this wild mountain hay.

Carl's friends had large nets tied up in bundles and fastened to their backs. Their shoes had iron spikes in the strong soles. These would keep their feet from slipping, as they reached down over the edge of a sharp cliff or held themselves on some steep slope while they skilfully gathered the hay and put it in the nets. But, even then, they must not make a false step or grow dizzy, or let fear enter their heads. If any of these things should happen, an accident, and probably a very bad one, too, would surely follow.

When all the nets were filled, they would be stored in safe nooks until the snow should come. Then for the sport! For the mowers would climb the mountains with their sledges, load them with the nets full of hay, and slide down the slopes with their precious stores.

"May I go with you when you collect the hay in November?" Carl asked his friends. "I won't be afraid, and it is such fun travelling like the wind."

"It will take your breath away, I promise you," said the boy's father. He had come into the house just in time to hear what was being said.

"I will risk you, Carl, however. You would not be afraid, and he who is not afraid is generally safe. It is fear that causes most of the accidents. But come, my good wife has made the supper ready. Let us sit down; then we can go on talking."

"How good this is!" said one of the visitors, as he tasted the bread on which toasted cheese had been spread.

Carl's mother did not sit down to the table with the others. She had said to herself, "I will give the mowers a treat. They are not able to have the comforts of a home very often." So she stood by the fire and held a mould of cheese close to the flames. As fast as it softened, she scraped it off and spread it on the slices of bread. Every one was hungry, so she was kept busy serving first one, then another.

She smiled at the men's praise. They told her they had spent the night before with two goatherds who lived in a cave. It was only a few miles away on the west slope of the mountain.

"They have a fine flock of goats," said one of the men, "and they are getting quantities of rich milk for cheese. But it cannot be good for them to sleep two or three months in such a wretched place. They look pale, even though they breathe this fine mountain air all day long."

"Carl and Franz don't look sickly, by any means," laughed Rudolf, as he pointed to the boys' brown arms. The sleeves of their leather jackets were short and hardly reached to their elbows. The strong sunshine and wind had done their work and changed the colour of the fair skin to a deep brown.

"You will have good weather for haying, to-morrow," said Franz, who was standing at the window and looking off toward a mountain-top in the distance. "Pilatus has his hood on to-night."

"A good sign, surely," said Rudolf. "We shall probably see a fine sunrise in the morning. You all know the old verse,

"'If Pilatus wears his hood, Then the weather's always good.'"

The "hood" is a cloud which spreads out over the summit of the mountain and hides it from sight. Carl has often looked for this the night before a picnic or festival. If he saw it, he would go to bed happy, for he felt sure it would be pleasant the next day.


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