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Stineli grew more and more thin and quiet from day to day. The little ones called out complainingly, "Stineli never tells us stories now, and never laughs any more." Her mother said to her father, "Do you notice how changed she is?" And her father replied, "It is because she grows so fast. She must get a little goat's milk early in the mornings."
After this had gone on for three weeks or so, Stineli's grandmother called the girl into her bedroom one evening, and said, "My dear Stineli, I can very well understand that you cannot forget your friend Rico, but you must try to remember that it is God's will that he should be taken away; and that, as it is so, it is also the best thing for Rico, as we must try to think."
At these words Stineli began to weep as her grandmother had never seen her do before; and she sobbed and sobbed, saying, "The good God did not do it: I did it, grandmother; and therefore I feel as if I should die of anxiety. It was I who proposed to Rico to go to find the lake, and now he has fallen into a ravine, and is dead; it has hurt him dreadfully, and it is all my fault." Then the poor child cried and sobbed pitifully. It seemed to the grandmother as if a heavy weight were lifted from her heart as she heard these words of Stineli's. She had given up Rico as lost; and had in secret believed that the child had fled from the unkind treatment he had received at home, and was lying somewhere in the water, or was lost in the woods. Now a new hope arose in her heart.
She succeeded in quieting Stineli enough to persuade her to relate the whole story about the lake, of which the grandmother was in total ignorance: how Rico had always been talking about this lake, and how he had longed to go to find it, and how, at last, Stineli had suggested the way for him to do so. It really seemed most likely that Rico had started to find the lake, but her father's mention of the ravines had destroyed all hope in Stineli.
The good old woman took her granddaughter by the hand, and drew her towards her, saying, "Now, Stineli, I have something to explain to you. Do you remember what the old song says,--the one we sang with Rico on the last evening we were together?--
"'All that He does or orders is Sure to be finished right.'"
Now you see, that although the good God did not exactly do this thing,--as if He had let Rico die in his bed, for instance,--yet the thing is in His hand all the same, although you have it turned aside, perhaps, a little; for certainly the good God is stronger than this little Stineli. And, now that you have made this sad mistake, it will be a lesson to you for all the rest of your life, no matter how it may turn out in the end, that children should not run away into the unknown world, nor undertake things about which they are utterly ignorant; and that without saying a word to their parents or to their grandmothers, who love them so well. But now the kind God has allowed it to happen, and we may certainly hope that it will all be finished right.
"Now ponder this well, my Stineli, and never forget what you have thus learned by experience; and now--for I see how heavily it weighs down your heart--it will be well for you to go to pray to the good God, that He will allow this mistake of yours and Rico to turn out all right. And then you can be happy again, Stineli, and I shall be so, too; for I believe firmly that Rico is living, and that the good God has not forsaken him."
And Stineli became after this like her former happy self; and, although she missed Rico constantly, still she no longer felt worried, nor did she reproach herself, but looked continually down the road to Maloja, expecting to see him.
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