THE SWISS MOUNTAIN PEOPLE 351. The mountain pastures. — The bleating of the goats and the mooing of the cows wake Franz and his grandfather at daylight. They have been sleeping in a little stone hut high up on the side of the Alps in the center of mountainous Switz erland. It is July. The snow lies on the ground a few hundred feet above them. Only two weeks ago it covered the ground around the little stone cottage where they now live.
After an early breakfast, Franz and his grandfather are busy for two hours milking cows and goats. At the end of that time, they have two big tubs of milk, which the old man carefully cools in a trough of snow water. Franz goes out to tend the flocks as they hunt for their food. The big, heavy cows eat grass in the smoother places, but the frisky and sure-footed goats climb the steep rocks and eat grass and bushes from the face of the cliffs. Goats give good milk, and it is used in many mountainous countries.
Franz follows the goats and cows to keep them from straying too far. If one or two wander in the wrong direction, he throws a stone so that it falls in front of them. Then they run back to the flock. By and by the boy sits down on a rock. To amuse himself he begins to yodel, and the echoes bring the sound back from a cliff on the other side of a little valley. Then he hears faintly another yodel. It is from another boy herder, so far away that his cows look like little toy cows only an inch long.
There are hundreds and thousands of herds of cattle and goats, grazing on the slopes of the Alps in Switzerland, France, Italy, Germany, and Austria. In the winter deep snow covers all of the moun tains. When the summer sun melts it away, grass and flowers spring up from the watersoaked earth, and the people lead their flocks from one little stone hut to the next as they follow the melting snow farther and farther up the high mountains.
Suddenly, as Franz watches his flock, he sees three men in knee breeches coming up the mountain. He becomes very much excited, for he has spoken to no one except his grandfather and the cows and goats since Saturday. The strangers are foreign ers who are taking a vacation in the Alps, and are out for a day's climb.
Noon comes. Franz drives the cows and goats out on the crest of a spur, a side mountain, running out from the main mountain. He likes to come here, for as he eats his lunch of and cheese he can look down from the end of this spur and see many things. A thousand feet below is the little stone cottage where he and his grandfather lived in June. A thou sand feet above him, in the fast melting snow, stands the cottage where they will be in August. Far above that are the sharp rocks sticking up out of the perpetual snow of the high Alps.
352. The valley village.— Down the mountainside, on the lower slopes above the village, he sees the hay field where his father and big brother, with scythe and rake, are making hay to feed to the cows and goats when winter again covers every thing with snow, and the herds have gone back to their barn in the village. Still farther away, beside a shining lake, is the village where Franz's family lives. The garden and fields about his home lie down there spread out like a checkerboard. He sees a white speck, and wonders if it is his mother out in the field hoeing the potatoes that the family will be eating next winter. The automobiles down there look like ants crawling along the white road.
On the other side of the valley he sees the big hotel, where his older sister works all summer as a waitress, serving goats' milk and coffee and many other good things to travelers from the United States, France, England, Holland, Italy, Australia, Argen tina, and many other countries. The Swiss mountains are so beautiful that they attract thousands of travelers, who spend so much money that the care of tourists is the best business in Switzerland.
Beyond the hotel, Franz sees the white flash of a waterfall, with a gray stone building at its foot. This is the power plant. From the water of the fall it makes power to light the town and run the silk mill and the cotton mill down by the railroad station. Swiss waterfalls run the cotton and silk mills that support many of the people of that country.
In the town spread out like a map below him, Franz sees one more building. It is the big school where he hopes to go next year and begin the studies that will make him an engineer. He resolves then and there that some day he is going to run that cotton mill, and he knows that edu cation and training will help him in that ambition.
The sun is getting low, and Franz drives his flock slowly back to the stone cottage, where his grandfather shows him a big goats' milk cheese and two cows' milk cheeses that have been made since morning.
The old man and the boy do the evening milking and then soon go to bed, for the animals will call them early in the morning.
The next day is Saturday, the best day of the week! Then Franz's mother and father make the hard climb from the village in the valley to the stone hut on the far heights to see their boy and the grandfather. They bring clean clothes, bread, sausage, cabbages, potatoes, and other things to eat. When they go down the mountain, their horse almost staggers, as he carries all the cheeses grandfather has made since the Saturday before.