THE WINTER STILL CONTINUES 275
" Nothing! Come back! I will learn it," stammered Peter. But Heidi wanted to know where the Hottentots were, and she was going to ask her grandfather any way. But Peter screamed so desperately after her that she gave it up and came back. He had to do something to make up for it, however. Not only did Heidi make him repeat the letter Z so many times that it remained fast in his memory forever, but she went on at once to syllables, and Peter learned so much that afternoon that he made a great advance.
Thus it went on day after day.
The crust had become soft again, and every day there was a fresh fall of snow, so that for three long weeks together Heidi could not go up to see the grandmother. All the more eager was she, in her work with Peter, to have him able to read the hymns. One evening Peter came home from Heidi's and ran into the room, saying : —
"I can do it! "
" What can you do, Peterli ? " asked his mother, full of hope.
" Reading," he answered.
" Is it possible ! Did you hear, grandmother ? " exclaimed Brigitte.
The grandmother had heard it and also wondered how it had happened.
" Now I must read a hymn, for Heidi said so," Peter went on to say. His mother at once took down the book, and the grandmother was delighted, it was sc long since she had heard any good words. Peter sat