HEIDI, illustrated - complete online book

The Story Of A Young Orphan In Switzerland

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THE ALM-UNCLE
5
he looked so gloomy and lived alone by himself on the mountain, and why people always spoke of him with bated breath, as if they were afraid to be against him and yet would not say anything in his favor.
Barbel also was ignorant of the reason that all the people in the village called him the Aim-Uncle, for of course he could not be the actual uncle of all the inhabitants ; but as every one called him so, she did the same and never spoke of the old man as anything else than "Ohi," which in the dialect of that region means uncle.
Barbel had only recently married into the village; before that her home had been down in the valley at Prattigau, and she was not familiar with all the happen­ings and all the curious characters of the village and the surrounding region through a long series of years.
Her good friend Dete, on the contrary, was a native of the village and had lived there till within a year. Then her mother had died and she had gone down to Ragatz, where the Baths are, and had found a fine posi­tion as chambermaid in a great hotel. She had come from Ragatz that very morning with the little girl, hav­ing had the chance to ride as far as Mayenfeld on a hay wagon which an acquaintance of hers was driving home.
Barbel thought that this was a good chance to find out something, and she was bound not to let it slip. She seized Dete's arm confidentially and said: —
" But one can learn the real truth from you instead of the gossip which is talked; I am sure you know the whole story. Come now, just tell me what is
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