Crispin knocked until his knuckles bled.
Nobody answered. The doorknob wouldn't move. “Where are you guys?” Walking
around to the window, he peeked inside. “There’s nobody in there. Where
did they go?” Crispin ran to the shed only to find the door already open.
Heidi lifted her head and looked at him. “Heidi, you’re here. Do you know
where Marti went?” The cow ignored him and continued eating the hay.
Crispin shut the door and went back to the cottage. “I guess I’ll have to
break in.” A stacked pile of firewood near the back window offered a way
to climb inside. Relief came when he discovered the window unlocked.
Sliding one leg through, Crispin slipped inside the cottage.
Quietness cocooned him. He saw the note on the table, sitting next to a
loaf of bread and a block of cheese. “What’s this?” Lifting it up, he saw
his name and read out loud.
Gretel, and I have gone to Arbutel. We left tonight and hope to be to
the cave at the top of the mountains by morning. Don’t come looking for
us. It’s too dangerous for you, my boy. Take care of Heidi for me. Find
her a good home. I’m sorry we had to do it this way, but it’s for your
own safety. Come by the cottage now and then and make sure everything’s
all right, will you? Again, we’re all sorry.
“I can’t believe they left without me. They tricked me.” He
sat at the table and laid his head in his arms. “Why did they go without
me? They need me. Well, I’m going to go and find them! They need me, even
if they don’t know it.” Crispin went out to the shed and grabbed hold of
Heidi’s rope. “Come on, girl. I’m taking you to my house.” Pulling her
along, he forced her to walk faster than she really wanted to. The two of
them went to Crispin’s house, where he immediately took her to the barn
and spread out a pile of hay. Feeling a pencil deep in the bottom of his
pocket, he pulled it out, thankful it was still there. An old paper bag
was just what he needed to scribble a note on before nailing it to a
wooden beam near Heidi. “I hope my parents understand,” he said, petting
Heidi. “I’m off to find Marti and Gretel. You stay here, Heidi and give my
family lots of milk. They need it.” After wrapping his arms around her
neck, he ran off. “Someone will come to milk you soon.”
Crispin stopped at Marti’s cottage one last time. He opened
the chest at the bottom of the bed and pulled out a pair of gloves, a
scarf and woolen hat. When he opened the door to Marti’s pantry, he was
surprised to see all the food and started pocketing everything. “They must
have had a party after I left.” Wrapping the loaf of bread and block of
cheese up in a towel, he shoved them into his pack that he’d brought from
home. With a tear in his eye, he locked the door to the cottage behind him
and headed in the direction of the mountains. “I’m going to find you. I
belong with you. You’ll see!”