Part one of three
Once upon a time, many years ago, in the country of Switzerland, there lived a young boy named Hans. Hans was a good boy and had very nice parents. Since Switzerland is so small and squeezed between countries, Hans spoke three languages – French, Italian and German. Even his parents and friends could speak three languages. “Guten Tag,” Hans would say when meeting his friends. Sometimes he would say “Bon jour!” to his French comrades or hear, “Buon giorno, Hans” from old papa Masetto, who was the village cobbler.
Hans loved his country of many beautiful snow-capped mountains and icy blue lakes. He liked to go swimming and fishing in the summer and skiing and ice-skating in the winter. Best of all, he loved to hike in the woods.
The woods were always alive with wonders and he could run through the fields on the mountainsides and smell the clear cool air. The forests held him fascinated. Sometimes the sunlight streamed through the trees making their branches sway with joy.
Even though he walked by himself, he was never lonely because he could listen to the song of the birds and watch the forest animals. They were his friends and he knew it.
Sometimes they would come close to see him. These creatures seemed to understand any language Hans would sometimes speak to them in German, French or Italian.
While hiking through the forests, he loved to sing. The farmers on the mountainsides learned to know him by the sound of his voice singing the many colorful folk songs and yodels, which are so popular in Switzerland. Their farms looked like patchwork quilts scattered about on the sides of the mountains.
Many times this young lad skipped across the stones in front of the beautiful waterfall that dropped quickly to the valley. He enjoyed the rushing sound and the gurgling of the water bubbles. Nature seemed to speak to him in so many ways. He was so happy!
Today he would be able to go hiking again. What would the forests hold for him? He threw his knapsack over his shoulder and started down the cobblestone street to the village. He passed by many pastry shops filled with appetizing goodies. Hans waved, “Gutan Tag” to Herr Schmidt, the watchmaker, who never was so busy that he would miss this happy lad. The old village clock struck one o’clock as Hans passed under it. There was the majestic Matterhorn straight ahead! “How I’d like to climb you,” thought Hans as he gripped his knapsack tighter and marched firmly ahead.
Today he would take the path to the left. Where did it go? What would he see? The woods seem to call to him and he ran and skipped ahead.
Hans followed, quickly brushing the twigs and cobwebs away as he hurried along. The tunnel seemed unused and had a rather odd look to it. “Funny, I haven’t noticed it before,” he thought to himself.
As he reached the end of the tunnel he was amazed. Before him and down in a valley was a quaint village. Although it was summer there was snow all about and the chimney smoke from the houses made a halo around the village. He had never noticed this place before!
A voice broke his silence. “Well, what are you waiting for? Chase me!” said a high squeaky voice. It was the rabbit and he was speaking to Hans! Hans was dumbfounded. A rabbit that talked and a strange village? “This is summer and yet in the valley there is snow,” he thought to himself, this is astonishing!