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Toni, The Little Woodcarver
by [?]

Translated by Helen B. Dole.




High up in the Bernese Oberland, quite a distance above the meadow-encircled hamlet of Kandergrund, stands a little lonely hut, under the shadow of an old fir-tree. Not far away rushes down from the wooded heights of rock the Wild brook, which in times of heavy rains, has carried away so many rocks and bowlders that when the storms are ended a ragged mass of stones is left, through which flows a swift, clear stream of water. Therefore the little dwelling near by this brook is called the stone hut.

Here lived the honest day-laborer Toni, who conducted himself well in every farm-house, where he went to work, for he was quiet and industrious, punctual at his tasks, and reliable in every way.

In his hut at home he had a young wife and a little boy, who was a joy to both of them. Near the hut in the little shed was the goat, the milk of which supplied food for the mother and child, while the father received his board through the week on the farms where he worked from morning until night. Only on Sunday was he at home with his wife and little Toni. The wife Elsbeth, kept her little house in good order; it was narrow and tiny, but it always looked so clean and cheerful that every one liked to come into the sunny room, and the father, Toni, was never so happy as when he was at home in the stone hut with his little boy on his knee.

For five years the family lived in harmony and undisturbed peace. Although they had no abundance and little worldly goods, they were happy and content. The husband earned enough, so they did not suffer want, and they desired nothing beyond their simple manner of life, for they loved each other and their greatest delight was little Toni.

The little boy grew strong and healthy and with his merry ways delighted his father’s heart, when he remained at home on Sundays, and sweetened all his mother’s work on week-days, when his father was away until late in the evening.

Little Toni was now four years old and already knew how to be helpful in all sorts of small ways, in the house and the goat’s shed and also in the field behind the hut. From morning until night he tripped happily behind his mother for he was as content as the little birds up in the old fir-tree.

When Saturday night came the mother scrubbed and cleaned with doubled energy, to finish early, for on that day the father was through his work earlier than other days, and she always went with little Toni by the hand, part way to meet him. This was a great delight to the child. He now knew very well how one task followed another in the household. When his mother began to scrub, he jumped around in the room, with delight and cried out again and again: “Now we are going for Father! Now we are going for Father!” until the moment came when his mother took him by the hand and started along.

Saturday evening had come again in the lovely month of May. Outdoors the birds in the trees were singing merrily up to the blue sky; indoors the mother was cleaning busily, in order to get out early into the golden evening, and meanwhile now outside, now in the house, little Toni was hopping around and shouting:

“Now we are going for Father!”

It was not long before the work was finished. The mother put on her shawl, tied on her best apron and stepped out of the house.

Toni jumped for joy and ran three times around his mother, then seized her hand and shouted once more:

“Now we are going for Father!”