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Our Little Swiss Cousin by Wade

All the day before Carl was greatly excited


"Was it a strong wind that caused the avalanche that night?" asked Carl.

"No, father said that could not have been the reason. But you know that sometimes even the cracking of a whip is enough to start the dry snow in the winter-time. Then, as it sweeps downward like a waterfall, more and more is added to it and in a short time it becomes a snowy torrent. O, it is fearful then!" and Marie pressed her hands together in fright at the very thought.

"You poor little girl. Don't talk about it any more. I'm so sorry I said a word about avalanches," said Carl. His voice was very gentle, because he felt so sorry for Marie. "Perhaps there won't be any more coming down this side of the mountain," he added. "Then you will be just as safe as I am in my home in the valley."

"Carl, Carl! where are you?" The words came from the direction of the house. It was Carl's uncle, who had wondered what had become of the boy. The children came hurrying out of the barn.

"It is growing dark, my dear, and I was afraid you had wandered off somewhere," said Fritz. "I promised your mother to look out for you, Carl, so you see I am doing my duty. Come into the house now. We will have a pleasant evening with our good friends. Then, with morning light, we must start on our homeward way."

That night many stories were told of the fairies and the gnomes. It is no wonder that when Carl went to sleep he dreamed he was living in a cave with the fairies, and that the gnomes brought him a pile of gold heavy enough to make him rich all the rest of his life.

CHAPTER VIII.

SANTA CLAUS NIGHT

IT was two weeks before Christmas. Carl had been back from his visit to the mountain village for more than a month. No harm had come to him on his way home, although heavy snow had fallen, which made hard walking. It was worst of all in crossing the glacier, but the boy's uncle took great care, and no accident came to either of them.

And now the joyful day had come which Carl liked best of all the year. He had saved up money for months beforehand to buy presents for his parents and his friend Franz.

What would he receive, himself? He thought sometimes, "I wonder if father will buy me a rifle. He thinks I can shoot pretty well now, I know that. But a rifle of my own! That would be too good to be true."

It was the custom of Carl's village to have the Christmas tree on Saint Claus's Day, two weeks before the real Christmas Day. They did not wait for the time at which we give the presents. Christmas was a holiday, of course, but it was somewhat like Sunday; everybody went to church. There was a sermon, and a great deal of music.

Saint Claus's Day was the time for fun and frolic. Good children looked forward to that day with gladness; but the bad children! dear me! they trembled for fear they would be carried off to some dreadful place by Saint Claus's servant.

All the day before Carl was greatly excited. He could hardly wait for night to come, but it did come at last. The supper-table was scarcely cleared before a loud knocking and stamping of feet could be heard outside.


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