CHAPTER 1: LIVING WITH ALM-UNCLE
Author: Johanna Spyri
Retold by Carolina Pham
On a beautiful sunny morning, there were two figures walking hand in hand going up the hill towards the Alps mountain. The smaller one, whose name was Heidi, was known as an endearing(1) little girl with rosy(2) cheeks. Accompanying her was no one else but her aunt, Dete. Dete had found a good job in Frankfurt, hence she had to bring the child to her grandpa, Alm-Uncle. It is a long story to tell though, in terms of explaining why Alm-Uncle lived in such an isolated region like the Alps and where the child’s parents were at the time being. To begin with, the man was once a soldier. Coming back home, he suddenly had a child. Since all of his kinspeople(3) wished to have nothing to do with him, Uncle vowed(4) to live in a faraway place along with the child. This was when he went to Dorfli. He brought up the child all by himself after his wife’s demise(5) and named him Tobias. Tobias then married Dete’s elder sister, Adelaid and there was no doubt that they got along very well. Shortly after their marriage, Tobias was killed in a car accident and Adelaid gave birth to Heidi. Desperately, she followed her husband two months later. Poor Heidi! She was too young to even realize and come to terms with the fact that her ill-fated(6) parents had died. Thus, Dete and her mother took responsibility of nurturing the child. As for Uncle, after having heard the shocking news, he didn’t want to see anyone and went to the Alms Mount. People gossiped that he then turned into a completely different man, always grumpy(7)and hot-tempered.This also added up to the reason why the old man was kept away. As time passed by, the child grew up into an amiable(8)and good-looking, not to mention, an adorable kid. Unfortunately, Dete’s mother died, and Dete was offered a prestigious(9) job down at Frankfurt. As a result, she had no choice but to send the child to her only close relative left, her grandpa.
Heidi was yet to know anything. She thought all along that this was a special excursion(10) which Dete had organized especially for her. Finally they got to Uncle’s hut. There he was, sitting on a large lounger and smoking his pipe. The rumours were actually true, for he looked as if he was going to hit the roof with anyone at anytime. Dete explained quite curtly to the old man and left as soon as possible without bidding goodbye to the poor child. Hardly did Heidi knew what exactly was going on when she suddenly caught a glimpse of the breathtaking view around her. Some time ago, she was too busy carrying her clothes and chasing after Dete that she didn’t recognize the panoramic landscape. “Wow, never in my life have I seen such a magnificent and stunning view.” She eagerly asked her grandpa for him to show her around the house. At the end of that day, Alm Uncle made a comfortable bed for Heidi to sleep in, and that was how Heidi’s new life began.
The next morning, Heidi woke up on hearing the birds singing. She went downstairs and saw a gargantuan breakfast with many dairy products: goat cheese, milk, and some pieces of bread. She ate and started wandering around her new house and found her Alm-Uncle in the backyard with two endearing little goats with him. Eventually, a boy came along with a trip of goats beside him. His name was Peter, and he was a goatherd. Grandpa asked Peter to take his two goats, and in exchange, Peter would be given free lunch. So Peter went to take the two goats everyday. Suddenly, an idea sprang into Heidi’s mind. Why shouldn’t she go with Peter? She would have fun time chasing up and down the rolling hills with a herd of goats amid wonderful surroundings. To her surprise, her grandpa granted her request in the blink of an eye, which made her even more thrilled to get started. That was how Heidi spent her life in the Alps mountain: truly enjoyably. Sometimes, when she was weary of going with Peter, she opt for lying all day long under the fir tree at the back of Uncle’s house, looking up at the blue skies with drifting white soft clouds, which she wished were touchable. Or she would go to Peter’s home, not so far from Uncle’s. There, she was always welcomed by his dear grandmother, who was afflicted from seeing impairments, and Peter’s mother, Brigitta. Since the day she was blinded, Grandmother grew very pessimistic, and it was no one else but Heidi that brought her back to life. She could spend endless time hearing the captivating girl talk about everything from her grandpa’s goats, the beautiful skies, etc.
Another thing to mention was that as it turns out, Grandpa treated Heidi very well. He played with her, told her magical fairytales to tuck her to bed at night. Without doubt in return, Heidi loved her grandpa very much.
(2)rosy(adj):pink and pleasant in appearance
(8) amiable(adj): friendly and pleasant
(9)prestigious(adj): respected and admired as very important or of very high quality
(10)excursion(n): short journey