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Title: The Ice-Maiden: and Other Tales.
Author: Andersen, Hans Christian, 1805-1875
Language: English
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*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Ice-Maiden: and Other Tales." ***

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    | Inconsistent hyphenation matches the original document.      |
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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1863, by
In the Clerk's office of the District Court of the United States in
and for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.




THE ICE-MAIDEN                                             7

THE BUTTERFLY                                            139

THE PSYCHE                                               149

THE SNAIL AND THE ROSE-TREE                              183

The Ice-Maiden.



Let us visit Switzerland and look around us in the glorious country of
mountains, where the forest rises out of steep rocky walls; let us
ascend to the dazzling snow-fields, and thence descend to the green
plains, where the rivulets and brooks hasten away, foaming up, as if
they feared not to vanish, as they reached the sea.

The sun beams upon the deep valley, it burns also upon the heavy
masses of snow; so that after the lapse of years, they melt into
shining ice-blocks, and become rolling avalanches and heaped-up

Two of these lie in the broad clefts of the rock, under the
Schreckhorn and Wetterhorn, near the little town of Grindelwald. They
are so remarkable that many strangers come to gaze at them, in the
summer time, from all parts of the world; they come over the high
snow-covered mountains, they come from the deepest valleys, and they
are obliged to ascend during many hours, and as they ascend, the
valley sinks deeper and deeper, as though seen from an air-balloon.

Far around the peaks of the mountains, the clouds often hang like
heavy curtains of smoke; whilst down in the valley, where the many
brown wooden houses lie scattered about, a sun-beam shines, and here
and there brings out a tiny spot, in radiant green, as though it were
transparent. The water roars, froths and foams below, the water hums
and tinkles above, and it looks as if silver ribbons were fluttering
over the cliffs.

On each side of the way, as one ascends, are wooden houses; each house
has a little potato-garden, and that is a necessity, for in the
door-way are many little mouths. There are plenty of children, and
they can consume abundance of food; they rush out of the houses, and
throng about the travellers, come they on foot or in carriage. The
whole horde of children traffic; the little ones offer prettily carved
wooden houses, for sale, similar to those they build on the mountains.
Rain or shine, the children assemble with their wares.

Some twenty years ago, there stood here, several times, a little boy,
who wished to sell his toys, but he always kept aloof from the other
children; he stood with serious countenance and with both hands
tightly clasped around his wooden box, as if he feared it would slip
away from him; but on account of this gravity, and because the boy was
so small, it caused him to be remarked, and often he made the best
bargain, without knowing why. His grandfather lived still higher in
the mountains, and it was he who carved the pretty wooden houses.
There stood in the room, an old cup-board, full of carvings; there
were nut-crackers, knives, spoons, and boxes with delicate foliage,
and leaping chamois; there was everything, which could rejoice a merry
child's eye, but this little fellow, (he was named Rudy) looked at and
desired only the old gun under the rafters. His grandfather had said,
that he should have it some day, but that he must first grow big and
strong enough to use it.

Small as the boy was, he was obliged to take care of the goats, and if
he who can climb with them is a good guardian, well then indeed was
Rudy. Why he climbed even higher than they! He loved to take the
bird's nests from the trees, high in the air, for he was bold and
daring; and he only smiled when he stood by the roaring water-fall, or
when he heard a rolling avalanche.

He never played with the other children; he only met them, when his
grandfather sent him out to sell his carvings, and Rudy took but
little interest in this; he much preferred to wander about the rocks,
or to sit and listen to his grandfather relate about old times and
about the inhabitants of Meiringen, where he came from. He said that
these people had not been there since the beginning of the world; they
had come from the far North, where the race called Swedes, dwelt. To
know this, was indeed great wisdom, and Rudy knew this; but he became
still wiser, through the intercourse which he had with the other
occupants of the house--belonging to the animal race. There was a
large dog, Ajola, an heir-loom from Rudy's father; and a cat, and she
was of great importance to Rudy, for she had taught him to climb.
"Come out on the roof!" said the cat, quite plain and distinctly, for
when one is a child, and can not yet speak, one understands the hens
and ducks, the cats and dogs remarkably well; they speak for us as
intelligibly as father or mother. One needs but to be little, and then
even grandfather's stick can neigh, and become a horse, with head,
legs and tail. With some children, this knowledge slips away later
than with others, and people say of these, that they are very
backward, that they remain children fearfully long.--People say so
many things!

"Come with me, little Rudy, out on the roof!" was about the first
thing that the cat said, that Rudy understood. "It is all imagination
about falling; one does not fall, when one does not fear to do so.
Come, place your one paw so, and your other so! Take care of your
fore-paws! Look sharp with your eyes, and give suppleness to your
limbs! If there be a hole, jump, hold fast, that's the way I do!"

And Rudy did so, and that was the reason that he sat out on the roof
with the cat so often; he sat with her in the tree-tops, yes, he sat
on the edge of the rocks, where the cats could not come. "Higher,
higher!" said the trees and bushes. "See, how we climb! how high we
go, how firm we hold on, even on the outermost peaks of the rocks!"

And Rudy went generally on the mountain before the sun rose, and then
he got his morning drink, the fresh, strengthening mountain air, the
drink, that our Lord only can prepare, and men can read its recipe,
and thus it stands written: "the fresh scent of the herbs of the
mountains and the mint and thyme of the valleys."

All heaviness is imbibed by the hanging clouds, and the wind sends it
out like grape-shot into the fir-woods; the fragrant breeze becomes
perfume, light and fresh and ever fresher--that was Rudy's morning

The blessing bringing daughters of the Sun, the sun-beams, kissed his
cheeks, and Vertigo stood and watched, but dared not approach him; and
the swallows below from grandfather's house, where there were no less
than seven nests, flew up to him and the goats, and they sang: "We and
you! and you and we!" They brought greetings from home, even from the
two hens, the only birds in the room; with whom however Rudy never had

Little as he was, he had traveled, and not a little, for so small a
boy; he was born in the Canton Valais, and had been carried from there
over the mountains. Lately he had visited the Staubbach, which waves
in the air like a silver gauze, before the snow decked, dazzling white
mountain: "the Jungfrau." And he had been in Grindelwald, near the
great glaciers; but that was a sad story. There, his mother had found
her death, and, "little Rudy," so said his grandfather, "had lost his
childish merriment." "When the boy was not a year old, he laughed more
than he cried," so wrote his mother, "but since he was in the
ice-gap, quite another mind has come over him." His grand-father did
not like to speak on the subject, but every one on the mountain knew
all about it.

Rudy's father had been a postilion, and the large dog in the room, had
always followed him on his journeys to the lake of Geneva, over the
Simplon. In the valley of the Rhone, in Canton Valais, still lived
Rudy's family, on his father's side, and his father's brother was a
famous chamois hunter and a well-known guide. Rudy was only a year
old, when he lost his father, and his mother longed to return to her
relations in Berner Oberlande. Her father lived a few hours walk from
Grindelwald; he was a carver in wood, and earned enough by it to live.
In the month of June, carrying her little child, she started
homewards, accompanied by two chamois hunters; intending to cross the
Gemmi on their way to Grindelwald. They already had accomplished the
longer part of their journey, had passed the high ridges, had come to
the snow-plains, they already saw the valley of their home, with its
well-known wooden houses, and had now but to reach the summit of one
of the great glaciers. The snow had freshly fallen and concealed a
cleft,--which did not lead to the deepest abyss, where the water
roared--but still deeper than man could reach. The young woman, who
was holding her child, slipped, sank and was gone; one heard no cry,
no sigh, nought but a little child weeping. More than an hour elapsed,
before her companions could bring poles and ropes, from the nearest
house, in order to afford assistance. After great exertion they drew
from the ice-gap, what appeared to be two lifeless bodies; every
means were employed and they succeeded in calling the child back to
life, but not the mother. So the old grandfather received instead of a
daughter, a daughter's son in his house; the little one, who laughed
more than he wept, but, who now, seemed to have lost this custom. A
change in him, had certainly taken place, in the cleft of the glacier,
in the wonderful cold world; where, according to the belief of the
Swiss peasant, the souls of the damned are incarcerated until the day
of judgment.

Not unlike water, which after long journeying, has been compressed into
blocks of green glass, the glaciers lie here, so that one huge mass of
ice is heaped on the other. The rushing stream roars below and melts
snow and ice; within, hollow caverns and mighty clefts open, this is a
wonderful palace of ice, and in it dwells the Ice-Maiden, the Queen of
the glaciers. She, the murderess, the destroyer, is half a child of air
and half the powerful ruler of the streams; therefore, she had received
the power, to elevate herself with the speed of the chamois to the
highest pinnacle of the snow-topped mountain; where the most daring
mountaineer had to hew his way, in order to take firm foot-hold. She
sails up the rushing river on a slender fir-branch--springs from one
cliff to another, with her long snow-white hair, fluttering around her,
and with her bluish-green mantle, which resembles the water of the deep
Swiss lakes.

"Crush, hold fast! the power is mine!" cried she. "They have stolen a
lovely boy from me, a boy, whom I had kissed, but not kissed to death.
He is again with men, he tends the goats on the mountains; he climbs
up, up high, beyond the reach of all others, but not beyond mine! He
is mine, I shall have him!"--

And she ordered Vertigo to fulfil her duty; it was too warm for the
Ice-Maiden, in summer-time, in the green spots where the mint thrives.
Vertigo arose; one came, three came, (for Vertigo had many sisters,
very many of them) and the Maiden chose the strongest among those that
rule within doors and without. They sit on the balusters and on the
spires of the steep towers, they tread through the air as the swimmer
glides through the water and entice their prey down the abyss. Vertigo
and the Ice-Maiden seize on men as the polypus clutches at all within
its reach. Vertigo was to gain possession of Rudy. "Yes, just catch
him for me" said Vertigo. "I cannot do it! The cat, the dirty thing,
has taught him her arts! The child of the race of man, possesses a
power, that repulses me; I cannot get at the little boy, when he hangs
by the branches over the abyss. I may tickle him on the soles of his
feet or give him a box on the ear whilst he is swinging in the air, it
is of no avail. I can do nothing!"

"We _can_ do it!" said the Ice-Maiden. "You or I! I! I!"--

"No, no!" sounded back the echo of the church-bells through the
mountain, like a sweet melody; it was like speech, an harmonious
chorus of all the spirits of nature, mild, good, full of love, for it
came from the daughters of the sun-beams, who encamped themselves
every evening in a circle around the pinnacles of the mountains, and
spread out their rose-coloured wings, that grow more and more red as
the sun sinks, and glow over the high Alps; men call it, "the Alpine
glow." When the sun is down, they enter the peaks of the rocks and
sleep on the white snow, until the sun rises, and then they sally
forth. Above all, they love flowers, butterflies, and men, and amongst
them they had chosen little Rudy as their favourite.

"You will not catch him! You shall not have him!" said they. "I have
caught and kept stronger and larger ones!" said the Ice-Maiden.

Then the daughters of the Sun sang a lay of the wanderer, whose cloak
the whirlwind had torn off and carried away. The wind took the
covering, but not the man. "Ye children of strength can seize, but not
hold him; he is stronger, he is more spirit-like, than we; he ascends
higher than the Sun, our mother! He possesses the magic word, that
restrains wind and water, so that they are obliged to obey and serve

So sounded cheerfully the bell-like chorus.

And every morning the sun-beams shone through the tiny window in the
grandfather's house, on the quiet child. The daughters of the
sun-beams kissed him, they wished to thaw him, to warm him and to
carry away with them the icy kiss, which the queenly maiden of the
glaciers had given him, as he lay on his dead mother's lap, in the
deep icy gap, whence he was saved through a miracle.



Rudy was now eight years old. His father's brother, in Rhonethal, the
other side of the mountain, wished to have the boy, for he thought
that with him he would fare and prosper better; his grandfather
perceived this and gave his consent.

Rudy must go. There were others to take leave of him, besides his
grandfather; first there was Ajola, the old dog.

"Your father was post-boy and I was post-dog," said Ajola. "We have
travelled up and down; I know dogs and men on the other side of the
mountain. It is not my custom to speak much, but now, that we shall
not have much time to converse with each other, I must talk a little
more than usual. I will relate a story to you; I shall tell you how I
have earned my bread, and how I have eaten it. I do not understand it
and I suppose that you will not either, but it matters not, for I have
discovered that the good things of this earth are not equally divided
between dogs or men. All are not fitted to lie on the lap and sip
milk, I have not been accustomed to it; but I saw a little dog seated
in the coach with us and it occupied a person's place. The woman who
was its mistress, or who belonged to its mistress, had a bottle filled
with milk, out of which she fed it; it got sweet sugar biscuits too,
but it would not even eat them; only snuffed at them, and so the woman
ate them herself. I ran in the mud, by the side of the coach, as
hungry as a dog could be; I chewed my crude thoughts, that was not
right--but this is often done! If I could but have been carried on
some one's knee and have been seated in a coach! But one cannot have
all one desires. I have not been able to do so, neither with barking
nor with yawning."

That was Ajola's speech, and Rudy seized him by the neck and kissed
him on his moist mouth, and then he took the cat in his arms, but she
was angry at it.

"You are getting too strong for me, and I will not use my claws
against you! Just climb over the mountains, I taught you to climb!
Never think that you will fall, then you are secure!"

Then the cat ran away, without letting Rudy see how her grief shone
out of her eye.

The hens ran about the floor; one had lost her tail; a traveller, who
wished to be a hunter, had shot it off, because the creature had taken
the hen for a bird of prey!

"Rudy is going over the mountain!" said one hen. "He is always in a
hurry," said the other, "and I do not care for leave-takings!" and so
they both tripped away.

And the goats, too, said farewell and cried: "Mit, mit, mah!" and that
was so sad.

There were two nimble guides in the neighbourhood, and they were about
to cross the mountains; they were to descend to the other side of the
Gemmi, and Rudy followed them on foot. This was a severe march for
such a little chap, but he had strength and courage, and felt not

The swallows accompanied them a part of the way. They sang: "We and
you! You and us!" The road went over the rapid Lütschine, which
rushes forth from the black clefts of the glacier of Grindelwald, in
many little streams. The fallen timber and the quarry-stones serve as
bridges; they pass the alder-bush and descend the mountain where the
glacier has detached itself from the mountain side; they cross over
the glacier, over the blocks of ice, and go around them. Rudy was
obliged to creep a little, to walk a little, his eyes sparkled with
delight, and he trod as firmly with his iron-shod mountain shoes, as
though he wished to leave his foot-prints where he had stepped. The
black mud which the mountain stream had poured upon the glacier gave
it a calcined appearance, but the bluish-green, glassy ice still shone
through it. They were obliged to go around the little ponds which
were dammed up by blocks of ice; during these wanderings they came too
near a large stone, which lay tottering on the brink of a crevice in
the ice. The stone lost its equilibrium, it fell, rolled and the echo
resounded from the deep hollow paths of the glacier.

Up, ever up; the glacier stretched itself on high--as a river, of
wildly heaped up masses of ice, compressed among the steep cliffs. For
an instant Rudy thought on what they had told him, about his having
laid with his mother, in one of these cold-breathing chasms. Such
thoughts soon vanished; it seemed to him as though it were some other
story--one of the many which had been related to him. Now and then,
when the men thought that the ascent was too difficult for the little
lad, they would reach him their hand, but he was never weary and
stood on the slippery ice as firm as a chamois. Now they reached the
bottom of the rocks, they were soon among the bare stones, which were
void of moss; soon under the low fir-trees and again out on the green
common--ever changing, ever new. Around them arose the snow mountains,
whose names were as familiar to Rudy as they were to every child in
the neighbourhood: "the Jungfrau," "the Mönch," and "the Eiger."

Rudy had never been so high before, had never before trodden on the
vast sea of snow, which lay there with its immoveable waves. The wind
blew single flakes about, as it blows the foam upon the waters of the

Glacier stood by glacier, if one may say so, hand in hand; each one
was an ice-palace for the Ice-Maiden, whose power and will is: "to
catch and to bury." The sun burned warmly, the snow was dazzling, as
if sown with bluish-white, glittering diamond sparks. Countless
insects (butterflies and bees mostly) lay in masses dead on the snow;
they had ventured too high, or the wind had borne them thither, but to
breathe their last in these cold regions. A threatening cloud hung
over the Wetterhorn, like a fine, black tuft of wool. It lowered
itself slowly, heavily, with that which lay concealed within it, and
this was the "Föhn,"[A] powerful in its strength when it broke loose.
The impression of the entire journey, the night quarters above and
then the road beyond, the deep rocky chasms, where the water forced
its way through the blocks of stone with terrible rapidity, engraved
itself indelibly on Rudy's mind.

On the other side of the sea of snow, a forsaken stone hut gave them
protection and shelter for the night; a fire was quickly lighted, for
they found within it charcoal and fir branches; they arranged their
couch as well as possible. The men seated themselves around the fire,
smoked their tobacco and drank the warm spicy drink, which they had
prepared for themselves. Rudy had his share too and they told him of
the mysterious beings of the Alpine country; of the singular fighting
snakes in the deep lakes; of the people of night; of the hordes of
spectres, who carry sleepers through the air, towards the wonderful
floating city of Venice; of the wild shepherd, who drives his black
sheep over the meadow; it is true, they had never been seen, but the
sound of the bells and the unhappy bellowing of the flock, had been

Rudy listened eagerly, but without any fear, for he did not even know
what that was, and whilst he listened he thought he heard the
ghost-like hollow bellowing! Yes, it became more and more distinct,
the men heard it also, they stopped talking, listened and told Rudy he
must not sleep.

It was the Föhn which blew, the powerful storm-wind, which rushes down
the mountains into the valley and with its strength bends the trees,
as if they were mere reeds, and lifts the wooden houses from one side
of the river to the other, as if the move had been made on a

After the lapse of an hour, they told Rudy that the storm had now
blown over and that he might rest; with this license, fatigued by his
march, he at once fell asleep.

They departed early in the morning; the sun showed Rudy new
mountains, new glaciers and snow-fields; they had now reached Canton
Valais and the other side of the mountain ridge which was visible at
Grindelwald, but they were still far from the new home. Other chasms,
precipices, pasture-grounds; forests and paths through the woods,
unfolded themselves to the view; other houses, other human beings--but
what human beings! Deformed creatures, with unmeaning, fat,
yellowish-white faces; with a large, ugly, fleshy lump on their necks;
these were cretins who dragged themselves miserably along and gazed
with their stupid eyes on the strangers who arrived among them. As for
the women, the greatest number of them were frightful!

Were these the inhabitants of the new home?


[A] A humid south wind on the lakes of Switzerland, a fearful storm.



The people in the uncle's house, looked, thank heaven, like those whom
Rudy was accustomed to see. But one cretin was there, a poor silly
lad, one of the many miserable creatures, who on account of their
poverty and need, always make their home among the families of Canton
Valais and remain with each but a couple of months. The wretched
Saperli happened to be there when Rudy arrived.

Rudy's father's brother was still a vigorous hunter and was also a
cooper by trade; his wife, a lively little person, had what is called
a bird's face; her eyes resembled those of an eagle and she had a
long neck entirely covered with down.

Everything was new to Rudy, the dress, manners and customs, yes, even
the language, but that is soon acquired and understood by a child's
ear. Here, they seemed to be better off, than in his grandfather's
house; the dwelling rooms were larger, the walls looked gay with their
chamois horns and highly polished rifles; over the door-way hung the
picture of the blessed Virgin; alpine roses and a burning lamp stood
before it.

His uncle, was as we have said before, one of the most famous chamois
hunters in the neighbourhood and also the most experienced and best

Rudy was to be the pet of the household, although there already was
one, an old deaf and blind dog, whom they could no longer use; but
they remembered his many past services and he was looked upon as a
member of the family and was to pass his old days in peace. Rudy
patted the dog, but he would have nothing to do with strangers; Rudy
did not long remain one, for he soon took firm hold both in house and

"One is not badly off in Canton Valais," said his uncle, "we have the
chamois, they do not die out so soon as the mountain goat! It is a
great deal better here now, than in the old times; they may talk about
their glory as much as they please. The present time is much better,
for a hole has been made in the purse and light and air let into our
quiet valley. When old worn-out customs die away, something new
springs forth!" said he. When uncle became talkative, he told of the
years of his childhood and of his father's active time, when Valais
was still a closed purse, as the people called it, and when it was
filled with sick people and miserable cretins. French soldiers came,
they were the right kind of doctors, they not only shot down the
sickness but the men also.

"The Frenchmen can beat the stones until they surrender! they cut the
Simplon-road out of the rocks--they have hewn out such a road, that I
now can tell a three year old child to go to Italy! Keep to the
highway, and a child may find his way there!" Then the uncle would
sing a French song and cry hurrah for Napoleon Bonaparte.

Rudy now heard for the first time of France, of Lyons--the large city
of the Rhone--for his uncle had been there.

"I wonder if Rudy will become an agile chamois hunter in a few years?
He has every disposition for it!" said his uncle, and instructed him
how to hold a rifle, how to aim and to fire. In the hunting season, he
took him with him in the mountains and made him drink the warm chamois
blood, which prevents the hunter from becoming dizzy. He taught him to
heed the time when the avalanches roll down the different sides of the
mountain--at mid-day or at night-fall--which depended upon the heat of
the rays of the sun. He taught him to notice the chamois, in order to
learn from them how to jump, so as to alight steadily upon the feet.
If there was no resting place in the clefts of the rock for the foot,
he must know how to support himself with the elbow, and be able to
climb by means of the muscles of the thigh and calf, even the neck
must serve when it is necessary. The chamois are cunning, they place
out-guards--but the hunter must be still more cunning and follow the
trail--and he can deceive them by hanging his coat and hat on his
alpine stick, and so make the chamois take the coat for the man.

One day when Rudy was out with his uncle hunting, he tried this sport.

The rocky path was not wide; indeed there was scarcely any, only a
narrow ledge, close to the dizzy abyss. The snow was half-thawed, the
stones crumbled when trodden upon, and his uncle stretched himself out
full length and crept along. Each stone as it broke away, fell,
knocked itself, bounded and then rolled down; it made many leaps from
one rocky wall to another until it found repose in the black deep.
Rudy stood about a hundred steps behind his uncle on the outermost
cliff, and saw a huge golden vulture, hovering over his uncle, and
sailing towards him through the air, as though wishing to cast the
creeping worm into the abyss with one blow of his wing, and to make
carrion of him. His uncle had only eyes for the chamois and its young
kid, on the other side of the cleft. Rudy looked at the bird,
understood what it wanted, and laid his hand on his rifle in order to
shoot it. At that moment the chamois leaped--his uncle fired--the ball
hit the animal, but the kid was gone, as though flight and danger had
been its life's experience. The monstrous bird terrified by the report
of the gun, took flight in another direction, and Rudy's uncle knew
nought of his danger, until Rudy told him of it.

As they now were on their way home in the gayest spirits--his uncle
playing one of his youthful melodies on his flute--they suddenly
heard not far from them a singular sound; they looked sideways, they
gazed aloof and saw high above them the snow covering of the rugged
shelf of the rock, waving like an outspread piece of linen when
agitated by the wind. The icy waves cracked like slabs of marble, they
broke, dissolved in foaming, rushing water and sounded like a muffled
thunder-clap. It was an avalanche rolling down, not over Rudy and his
uncle, but near, only too near to them.

"Hold fast, Rudy," cried he, "firm, with your whole strength!"

And Rudy clasped the trunk of a tree; his uncle climbed into its
branches and held fast, whilst the avalanche rolled many fathoms away
from them. But the air-drift of the blustering storm, which
accompanied it, bowed down the trees and bushes around them like dry
reeds and threw them beyond. Rudy lay cast on the earth; the trunk of
the tree on which he had held was as though sawed off, and its crown
was hurled still farther along. His uncle lay amongst the broken
branches, with his head shattered; his hands were yet warm, but his
face was no longer to be recognized. Rudy stood pale and trembling;
this was the first terror of his life, the first hour of fear that he
had ever known.

Late in the evening, he returned with his message of death to his
home, which was now one of sorrow.

The wife stood without words, without tears, and not until the corpse
was brought home did her sorrow find an outburst. The poor cretin
crept to his bed and was not seen all day, but towards evening he came
to Rudy, and said: "Write a letter for me. Saperli cannot write!
Saperli can take the letter to the post office."

"A letter for you," asked Rudy, "and to whom?"

"To our Lord Christ!"

"What do you mean?"

And the half-witted creature gave a touching glance at Rudy, folded
his hands and said piously and solemnly: "Jesus Christ! Saperli wishes
to send him a letter, praying him to let Saperli lie dead and not the
man of this house!"

And Rudy pressed his hand, "the letter cannot be sent, the letter will
not give him back to us!"

It was difficult for Rudy to explain the impossibility to him.

"Now you are the stay of the house!" said his foster-mother, and Rudy
became it.



Who is the best shot in Canton Valais? The chamois knew only too well:
"Beware of Rudy!" they could say. Who is the handsomest hunter?--"It
is Rudy." The young girls said this also, but they did not say:
"Beware of Rudy!" No, not even the grave mothers, for he nodded to
them quite as amicably as to the young girls. He was so bold and gay,
his cheeks were brown, his teeth fresh and white and his coal-black
eyes glittered; he was a handsome young fellow and but twenty years
old. The icy water did not sting him when he swam, he could turn
around in it like a fish; he could climb as did no one, and he was as
firm on the rocky walls as a snail--for he had good sinews and muscles
that served him well in leaping--the cat had first taught him this,
and later the chamois. One could not trust one's self to a better
guide than to Rudy. In this way he could collect quite a fortune, but
he had no taste for the trade of a cooper, which his uncle had taught
him; his delight and pleasure was to shoot chamois, and this was
profitable also. Rudy was a good match if one did not look higher than
one's station, and in dancing he was just the kind of dancer that
young girls dream about, and one or the other were always thinking of
him when they were awake.

"He kissed me whilst dancing!" said the schoolmaster's Annette to her
most intimate friend, but she should not have said this, not even to
her dearest friend, but it is difficult to keep such things to one's
self--like sand in a purse with a hole in it, it soon runs out--and
although Rudy was so steady and good it was soon known that he kissed
whilst dancing.

"Watch him," said an old hunter, "he has commenced with A, and he will
kiss the whole alphabet through!"

A kiss, at a dance, was all they could say in their gossipping, but he
had kissed Annette, and she was by no means the flower of his heart.

Down near Bex, between the great walnut trees, close by a rapid little
stream, dwelt the rich miller. The dwelling-house was a large
three-storied building, with little towers covered with wood and
coated with sheets of lead, which shone in the sunshine and in the
moonshine; the largest tower had for a weather-cock a bright arrow
which pierced an apple and which was intended to represent the apple
shot by Tell. The mill looked neat and comfortable, so that it was
really worth describing and drawing, but the miller's daughter could
neither be described nor drawn, at least so said Rudy. Yet she was
imprinted in his heart, and her eyes acted as a fire-brand upon it,
and this had happened suddenly and unexpectedly. The most wonderful
part of all was, that the miller's daughter, the pretty Babette,
thought not of him, for she and Rudy had never even spoken two words
with each other.

The miller was rich, and riches placed her much too high to be
approached; "but no one," said Rudy to himself, "is placed so high as
to be unapproachable; one must climb and one does not fall, when one
does not think of it." _This_ knowledge he had brought from home with

Now it so happened that Rudy had business at Bex and it was quite a
journey there, for the railroad was not completed. The broad valley of
Valais stretches itself from the glaciers of the Rhone, under the foot
of the Simplon-mountain, between many varying mountain-heights, with
its mighty river, the Rhone, which often swells and destroys
everything, overflooding fields and roads. The valley makes a bend,
between the towns of Sion and St. Maurice, like an elbow and becomes
so narrow at Maurice, that there only remains sufficient room for the
river bed and a cart way. Here an old tower stands like a sentry
before the Canton Valais; it ends at this point and overlooks the
bridge, which has a wall towards the custom-house. Now begins the
Canton called Pays de Vaud and the nearest town is Bex, where
everything becomes luxuriant and fruitful--one is in a garden of
walnut and chestnut trees and here and there, cypress and pomegranate
blossoms peep out--it is as warm as the South; one imagines one's self
transplanted into Italy.

Rudy reached Bex, accomplished his business and looked about him, but
he did not see a single miller's boy, not to speak of Babette. It
appeared as though they were not to meet.

It was evening, the air was heavy with the wild thyme and blooming
linden, a glistening veil lay over the forest-clad mountains, there
was a stillness over everything, but not the quiet of sleep. It seemed
as though all nature retained her breath, as if she felt disposed to
allow her image to be imprinted upon the firmament.

Here and there, there were poles standing on the green fields, between
the trees; they held the telegraph wire, which has been conducted
through this peaceful valley. An object leant against one of these
poles, so immoveable, that one might have taken it for a withered
trunk of a tree; but it was Rudy. He slept not and still less was he
dead; but as the most important events of this earth, as well as
affairs of vital moment for individuals pass over the wires, without
their giving out a tone or a tremulous movement, even so flashed
through Rudy, thoughts--powerful, overwhelming, speaking of the
happiness of his life; his, henceforth, "_constant thought_." His eyes
were fixed upon a point in the trellis-work, and this was a light in
Babette's sitting room. Rudy was so motionless, one might have thought
that he was observing a chamois, in order to shoot it. Now, however,
he was like the chamois--which appears sculptured on the rock, and
suddenly if a stone rolls, springs and flies away--thus stood Rudy,
until a thought struck him.

"Never despair," said he. "I shall make a visit to the mill, and say:
Good evening miller, good evening Babette! One does not fall when one
does not think of it! Babette must see me, if I am to be her husband!"

And Rudy laughed, was of good cheer and went to the mill; he knew what
he wanted, he wanted Babette.

The river, with its yellowish white water rolled on; the willow trees
and the lindens bowed themselves deep in the hastening water; Rudy
went along the path, and as it says in the old child's song:

    ---- ---- ---- Zu des Müllers Haus,
    Aber da war Niemand drinnen
    Nur die Katze schaute aus![B]

The house-cat stood on the step, put up her back and said: "Miau!" but
Rudy had no thoughts for her language, he knocked, no one heard, no
one opened. "Miau!" said the cat. If Rudy had been little, he would
have understood the speech of animals and known that the cat told him:
"There is no one at home!" He was obliged to cross over to the mill,
to make inquiries, and here he had news. The master of the house was
away on a journey, far away in the town of Interlaken--_inter lacus_,
"between the lakes"--as the school-master, Annette's father, had
explained, in his wisdom. Far away was the miller and Babette with
him; there was to be a shooting festival, which was to commence on
the following day and to continue for a whole week. The Swiss from all
the German cantons were to meet there.

Poor Rudy, one could well say that he had not taken the happiest time
to visit Bex; now he could return and that was what he did. He took
the road over Sion and St. Maurice, back to his own valley, back to
his own mountain, but he was not down-cast. On the following morning,
when the sun rose, his good humour had returned, in fact it had never
left him.

"Babette is in Interlaken, many a day's journey from here!" said he to
himself, "it is a long road thither, if one goes by the highway, but
not so far if one passes over the rocks and that is the road for a
chamois hunter! I went this road formerly, for there is my home, where
I lived with my grandfather when I was a little child, and they have
a shooting festival in Interlaken! I will be the _first_ one there,
and that will I be with Babette also, as soon as I have made her

With his light knapsack containing his Sunday clothes, with his gun
and his huntsman's pouch, Rudy ascended the mountain. The short road,
was a pretty long one, but the shooting-match had but commenced to-day
and was to last more than a week; the miller and Babette were to
remain the whole time, with their relations in Interlaken. Rudy
crossed the Gemmi, for he wished to go to Grindelwald.

He stepped forwards merry and well, out into the fresh, light mountain
air. The valley sank beneath him, the horizon widened; here and there
a snow-peak, and soon appeared the whole shining white alpine chain.
Rudy knew every snow mountain, onward he strode towards the
Schreckhorn, that elevates its white powdered snow-finger high in the

At last he crossed the ridge of the mountain and the pasture-grounds
and reached the valley of his home; the air was light and his spirits
gay, mountain and valley stood resplendent with verdure and flowers.
His heart was filled with youthful thoughts;--that one can never grow
old, never die; but live, rule and enjoy;--free as a bird, light as a
bird was he. The swallows flew by and sang as in his childhood: "We
and you, and You and we!" All was happiness.

Below lay the velvet-green meadow, with its brown wooden houses, the
Lütschine hummed and roared. He saw the glacier with its green glass
edges and its black crevices in the deep snow, and the under and
upper glacier. The sound of the church-bells was carried over to him,
as if they chimed a welcome home; his heart beat loudly and expanded,
so, that for a moment, Babette vanished from it; his heart widened, it
was so full of recollections. He retraced his steps, over the path,
where he used to stand when a little boy, with the other children, on
the edge of the ditch, and where he sold carved wooden houses. Yonder,
under the fir-trees was his grandfather's house,--strangers dwelled
there. Children came running up the path, wishing to sell; one of them
held an alpine rose towards him. Rudy took it for a good omen and
thought of Babette. Quickly he crossed the bridge, where the two
Lütschines meet; the leafy trees had increased and the walnut trees
gave deeper shade. He saw the streaming Swiss and Danish flags--the
white cross on the red cloth--and Interlaken lay before him.

It was certainly a magnificent town; like no other, it seemed to Rudy.
A Swiss town in its Sunday dress, was not like other trading-places, a
mass of black stone houses, heavy, uninviting and stiff. No! it looked
as though the wooden houses, on the mountain had run down into the
green valley, to the clear, swift river and had ranged themselves in a
row--a little in and out--so as to form a street, the most splendid of
all streets, which had grown up since Rudy was here as a child. It
appeared to him, that here all the pretty wooden houses that his
grandfather had carved, and with which the cup-board at home used to
be filled, had placed themselves there and had grown in strength, as
the old, the oldest chestnut trees had done. Each house had carved
wood-work around the windows and balconies, projecting roofs, pretty
and neat; in front of every house a little flower garden extended into
the stone-covered street. The houses were all placed on one side, as
if they wished to conceal the forest-green meadow, where the cows with
their tinkling bells made one fancy one's self near the high alpine
pasture-grounds. The meadow was enclosed with high mountains, that
leaned to one side so that the Jungfrau, the most stately of the Swiss
mountains, with its glistening snow-clad top, was visible.

What a quantity of well dressed ladies and gentlemen from foreign
countries! What multitudes of inhabitants from the different cantons!
The shooters, with their numbers placed in a wreath around their
hats, waiting to take their turn. Here was music and song,
hurdy-gurdys and wind instruments, cries and confusion. The houses and
bridges were decked with devices and verses; banners and flags
floated, rifles sounded shot after shot; this was the best music to
Rudy's ear and he entirely forgot Babette, although he had come for
her sake.

The marksmen thronged towards the spot where the target-shooting was;
Rudy was soon among them and he was the best, the luckiest, for he
always hit the mark.

"Who can the strange hunter be?" they asked, "He speaks the French
language as though he came from Canton Valais!" "He speaks our German
very distinctly!" said others. "He is said to have lived in the
neighbourhood of Grindelwald, when a child!" said one of them.

There was life in the youth; his eyes sparkled, his aim was true. Good
luck gives courage, and Rudy had courage at all times; he soon had a
large circle of friends around him, they praised him, they did homage
to him, and Babette had almost entirely left his thoughts. At that
moment a heavy hand struck him on the shoulder, and a gruff voice
addressed him in the French tongue:

"You are from Canton Valais?"

Rudy turned around. A stout person, with a red, contented countenance,
stood by him and that was the rich miller of Bex. He covered with his
wide body, the slight pretty Babette, who however, soon peeped out
with her beaming dark eyes. The rich peasant became consequential
because the hunter from his canton had made the best shot and was the
honoured one. Rudy was certainly a favourite of fortune, that, for
which he had journeyed thither and almost forgotten had sought him.

When one meets a countryman far from one's home, why then one knows
one another, and speaks together. Rudy was the first at the shooting
festival and the miller was the first at Bex, through his money and
mill, and so the two men pressed each other's hands: this they had
never done before. Babette also, gave Rudy her little hand and he
pressed her's in return and looked at her, so--that she became quite

The miller told of the long journey which they had made here, of the
many large towns which they had seen--that was a real journey; they
had come in the steam-boat and had been driven by post and rail!

"I came by the short road," said Rudy, "I came over the mountains;
there is no path so high, that one can not reach it!"

"But one can break one's neck," said the miller, "you look as though
you would do so some day, you are so daring!"

"One does not fall, when one does not think of it!" said Rudy.

And the miller's family in Interlaken, with whom the miller and
Babette were staying, begged Rudy to pay them a visit, for he was from
the same canton as their relations.

These were glad tidings for Rudy, fortune smiled upon him, as it
always does on those that rely upon themselves and think upon the
saying: "Our Lord gives us nuts, but he does not crack them for us!"
Rudy made himself quite at home with the miller's relations; they
drank the health of the best marksman. Babette knocked her glass
against his and Rudy gave thanks for the honour shown him.

In the evening, they all walked under the walnut trees, in front of
the decorated hôtels; there was such a crowd, such a throng, that Rudy
was obliged to offer his arm to Babette. "He was so rejoiced to have
met people from Pays de Vaud," said he, "Pays de Vaud and Valais were
good neighbourly cantons." His joy was so profound that it struck
Babette, she must press his hand. They walked along almost like old
acquaintances; she was so amusing, the darling little creature, it
became her so prettily Rudy thought, when she described what was
laughable and overdone in the dress of the ladies, and ridiculed their
manners and walk. She did not do this in order to mock them, for no
doubt they were very good people, yes! kind and amiable. Babette knew
what was right, for she had a god-mother that was a distinguished
English lady. She was in Bex, eighteen years ago, when Babette was
baptized; she had given Babette, the expensive breastpin which she
wore. The god-mother had written her two letters; this year she was to
meet her in Interlaken, with her daughters; they were old maids, over
thirty years old, said Babette;--she was just eighteen.

The sweet little mouth was not still a minute; everything that Babette
said, sounded to Rudy of great importance. Then he related how often
he had been in Bex, how well he knew the mill; how often he had seen
Babette, but she of course had never remarked him; he told how, when
he reached the mill, with many thoughts to which he could give no
utterance, she and her father were far away; still not so far as to
render it impossible for him to ascend the rocky wall which made the
road so long.

Yes, he said this; and he also said how much he thought of her; that
it was for her sake and not on account of the shooting festival that
he had come.

Babette remained very still, for what he confided to her was almost
too much joy.

The sun set behind the rocky wall, whilst they were walking, and there
stood the Jungfrau in all her radiant splendour, surrounded by the
dark green circle of the adjacent mountains. The vast crowd of people
stopped to look at it, Rudy and Babette also gazed upon its grandeur.

"It is nowhere more beautiful than here!" said Babette.

"Nowhere!" said Rudy, and looked at Babette.

"I must leave to-morrow!" said he, a little later.

"Visit us in Bex," whispered Babette, "it will delight my father!"


    The cat looked out from the miller's house,
    No one was in, not even a mouse!



Ah! how much Rudy carried with him, as he went home the next morning
over the mountains. Yes, there were three silver goblets, two very
fine rifles and a silver coffee pot, which one could use if one wished
to go to house-keeping; but he carried with him something far, far
more important, far mightier, or rather _that_ carried him over the
high mountains.

The weather was raw, moist and cold, grey and heavy; the clouds
lowered over the mountain-tops like mourning veils, and enveloped the
shining peaks of the rocks. The sound of the axe resounded from the
depths of the forest, and the trunks of the trees rolled down the
mountain, looking in the distance like slight sticks, but on
approaching them they were heavy trees, suitable for making masts. The
Lütschine rushed on with its monotonous sound, the wind blustered, the
clouds sailed by.

Suddenly a young girl approached Rudy, whom he had not noticed before;
not until she was beside him; she also was about crossing the
mountain. Her eyes had so peculiar a power that one was forced to look
into them; they were so strangely clear--clear as glass, so deep, so

"Have you a beloved one?" asked Rudy; for to have a beloved one was
everything to him.

"I have none!" said she, and laughed; but it was as though she was not
speaking the truth. "Do not let us take a by-way," continued she, "we
must go more to the left, that way is shorter!"

"Yes, so as to fall down a precipice!" said Rudy; "Do you know no
better way, and yet wish to be a guide?"

"I know the road well," said she, "my thoughts are with me; yours are
beneath in the valley; here on high, one must think on the Ice-Maiden,
for they say she is not well disposed to mankind!"

"I do not fear her," said Rudy, "she was forced to let me go when I
was a child, so I suppose I can slip away from her now that I am

The darkness increased, the rain fell, the snow came; it shone and
dazzled. "Give me your hand, I will help you to ascend!" said the
girl, and touched him with icy-cold fingers.

"You help me," said Rudy, "I do not yet need a woman's help in
climbing!" He strode quickly on, away from her; the snow-shower
formed a curtain around him, the wind whistled by him and he heard the
young girl laugh and sing; it sounded so oddly! Yes, that was
certainly a spirit in the service of the Ice-Maiden. Rudy had heard of
them, when he had passed a night on high; when he had crossed the
mountain, as a little boy.

The snow fell more scantily and the shadows lay under him; he looked
back, there was no one to be seen, but he heard laughing and _jodling_
and it did not appear to come from a human being. When Rudy reached
the uppermost portion of the mountain, where the rocky path leads to
the valley of the Rhone, he saw in the direction of Chamouni, two
bright stars, twinkling and shining in the clear streaks of blue; he
thought of Babette, of himself, of his happiness and became warmed by
his thoughts.



"You bring princely things into the house!" said the old
foster-mother, her singular eagle-eyes glistened and she made strange
and hasty motions with her lean neck.

"Fortune is with you, Rudy, I must kiss you, my sweet boy!"

Rudy allowed himself to be kissed, but one could read in his
countenance, that he but submitted to circumstances and to little
household miseries. "How handsome you are, Rudy!" said the old woman.

"Do not put notions into my head!" answered Rudy, and laughed, but
still it pleased him.

"I say it once more," said the old woman, "fortune is with you!"

"Yes, I agree with you there!" said he; thought of Babette and longed
to be in the deep valley. "They must have returned, two days have
passed since they expected to do so. I must go to Bex!"

Rudy went to Bex, and the inhabitants of the mill had returned; he was
well received and they brought him greetings from the family at
Interlaken. Babette did not talk much, she had grown silent; but her
eyes spoke and that was quite enough for Rudy. The miller who
generally liked to carry on the conversation--for he was accustomed to
have every one laugh at his witty sayings and puns--was he not the
rich miller?--seemed now to prefer to listen. Rudy recounted to him
his hunting expeditions; described the difficulties, the dangers and
the privations of the chamois hunter when on the lofty mountain peak;
how often he must climb over the insecure snow-ledges, that the wind
had blown on the rocky brink, and how he must pass over slight bridges
that the snow-drifts had thrown across the abyss. Rudy looked
fearless, his eyes sparkled whilst he spoke of the shrewdness of the
chamois, of their daring leaps, of the violence of the Föhn and of the
rolling avalanches. He observed that with every description he won
more and more favour; but what pleased the miller more than all, was
the account of the lamb's vulture and the bold golden eagle.

In Canton Valais, not far from here, there was an eagle's nest, very
slyly built under the projecting edge of the rock; a young one was in
it, but no one could steal it! An Englishman had offered Rudy a few
days before, a whole handful of gold, if he would bring him the young
one alive, "but everything has a limit," said he, "the young eagle
cannot be taken away, and it would be madness to attempt it!"

The wine and conversation flowed freely; but the evening appeared all
too short for Rudy; yet it was past midnight, when he went home from
his first visit to the mill.

The light shone a little while longer through the window and between
the green trees; the parlour-cat came out of an opening in the roof
and the kitchen-cat came along the gutter.

"Do you know the latest news at the mill?" said the parlour-cat,
"there has been a silent betrothal in the house! Father does not yet
know it, but Rudy and Babette have reached each other their paws under
the table, and he trod three times on my fore-paws, but still I did
not mew, for that would have awakened attention!"

"I should have done it, nevertheless!" said the kitchen-cat.

"What is suited to the kitchen is not suited to the parlour," said the
parlour-cat. "I should like to know what the miller will say, when he
hears of the betrothal!"

Yes, what the miller would say! That was what Rudy would have liked to
know, for Rudy was not at all patient. When the omnibus rumbled over
the bridge of the Rhone, between Valais and Pays de Vaud not many days
after, Rudy sat in it and was of good cheer; filled with pleasing
thoughts of the "Yes," of the same evening.

When evening came and the omnibus returned, yes, there sat Rudy
within, but the parlour-cat, was running about in the mill with great

"Listen, you, in the kitchen! The miller knows everything now. This
has had an exquisite ending! Rudy came here towards evening; he and
Babette had much to whisper and to chatter about, as they stood in the
walk, under the miller's chamber. I lay close to their feet but they
had neither eyes nor thoughts for me. 'I am going directly to your
father,' said Rudy, 'this is an honourable affair!' 'Shall I follow
you?' asked Babette, 'it may give you more courage!' 'I have courage
enough,' said Rudy, 'but if you are there, he will be forced to look
at it in a more favourable light!' They went in. Rudy trod heavily on
my tail! Rudy is indescribably awkward; I mewed, but neither he nor
Babette had ears to hear it. They opened the door, they entered and I
preceded them; I leaped upon the back of a chair, for I did not know
but that Rudy would overturn everything! But the miller reversed all,
that was a great step! Out of the door, up the mountains, to the
chamois! Rudy can aim at them now, but not at our little Babette!"

"But what was said?" asked the kitchen-cat.

"Said? Everything. 'I care for her and she cares for me! When there is
milk enough in the jug for one, there is milk enough in the jug for
two!' 'But she is placed too high for you,' said the miller, 'she sits
on gold dust, so now you know it; you can not reach her!' 'Nothing is
too high; he who wills can reach anything!' said Rudy. He is too
headstrong on this subject! 'But you cannot reach the eaglet, you said
so yourself lately! Babette is still higher!' 'I will have them both!'
said Rudy. 'Yes, I will bestow her upon you, if you make me a present
of the eaglet alive!' said the miller and laughed until the tears
stood in his eyes.

"'Thanks for your visit, Rudy! Come again to-morrow, you will find no
one at home. Farewell, Rudy!' Babette said farewell also, as
sorrowfully as a kitten, that cannot see its mother. 'A word is a
word, a man is a man,' said Rudy, 'do not weep Babette, I shall bring
the eaglet!' 'I hope that you will break your neck!' said the miller.
That's what I call an overturning! Now Rudy has gone, and Babette sits
and weeps; but the miller sings in German, he learned to do so whilst
on his journey! I do not intend to trouble myself any longer about it,
it does no good!"

"There is still a prospect!" said the kitchen-cat.



Merry and loud sounded the _jodel_ from the mountain-path, it
indicated good humour and joyous courage; it was Rudy; he was going to
his friend Vesinand.

"You must help me! We will take Ragli with us; I am going after the
eaglet on the brink of the rock!"

"Do you not wish to go after the black spot in the moon? That is quite
as easy," said Vesinand; "you are in a good humour!"

"Yes, because I am thinking of my wedding; but seriously, you shall
know how my affairs stand!"

Vesinand and Ragli soon knew what Rudy wished.

"You are a bold fellow," said they, "do not do this! You will break
your neck!"

"One does not fall, when one does not think of it!" said Rudy.

About mid-day, they set out with poles, ladders and ropes; their path
lay through bushes and brambles, over the rolling stones, up, up in
the dark night.

The water rushed beneath them; the water flowed above them and the
humid clouds chased each other in the air. The hunters approached the
steep brink of the rock; it became darker and darker, the rocky walls
almost met; high above them in the narrow fissure the air penetrated
and gave light. Under their feet there was a deep abyss with its
roaring waters.

They all three sat still, awaiting the grey of the morning; then the
eagle would fly out; they must shoot him before they could think of
obtaining the young one. Rudy seemed to be a part of the stone on
which he sat; his rifle placed before him, ready to take aim, his eyes
immoveably fastened on yon high cleft which concealed the eagle's
nest. The three huntsmen waited long.

A crashing, whizzing noise sounded high above them; a large hovering
object darkened the air. Two rifle barrels were aimed as the black
eagle flew from its nest; a shot was heard, the out-spread wings moved
an instant, then the bird slowly sank as if it wished to fill the
entire cliff with its outstretched wings and bury the huntsmen in its
fall. The eagle sank in the deep; the branches of the trees and bushes
cracked, broken by the fall of the bird.

They now displayed their activity; three of the longest ladders were
tied together; they stood them on the farthest point where the foot
could place itself with security, close to the brink of the
precipice--but they were not long enough; there was still a great
space from the outermost projecting cliff, which protected the nest;
the rocky wall was perfectly smooth. After some consultation, they
decided to lower into the opening two ladders tied together and to
fasten them to the three already beneath them. With great difficulty
they dragged them up and attached them with cords; the ladders shot
over the projecting cliffs and hung over the chasm; Rudy sat already
on the lowest round.

It was an ice-cold morning, and the mist mounted from the black
ravine. Rudy sat there like a fly on a rocking blade of grass, which a
nest-building bird has dropped in its hasty flight, on the edge of a
factory chimney; but the fly had the advantage of escaping by its
wings, poor Rudy had none, he was almost sure to break his neck. The
wind whistled around him and the roaring water from the thawed
glaciers, the palace of the Ice-Maiden, poured itself into the abyss.

He gave the ladders a swinging motion--as the spider swings herself by
her long thread--he seized them with a strong and steady hand, but
they shook as if they had worn-out hasps.

The five long ladders looked like a tremulous reed, as they reached
the nest and hung perpendicularly over the rocky wall. Now came the
most dangerous part; Rudy had to climb as a cat climbs; but Rudy could
do this, for the cat had taught it to him. He did not feel that
Vertigo trod in the air behind him and stretched her polypus-like arms
towards him. Now he stood on the highest round of the ladder and
perceived that he was not sufficiently high to enable him to see into
the nest; he could reach it with his hands. He tried how firm the
twigs were, which plaited in one another formed the bottom of the
nest; when he had assured himself of a thick and immoveable one, he
swung himself off of the ladder. He had his breast and head over the
nest, out of which streamed towards him a stifling stench of carrion;
torn lambs, chamois and birds lay decomposing around him. Vertigo, who
had no power over him, blew poisonous vapours into his face to stupify
him; below in the black, yawning abyss, sat the Ice-Maiden herself, on
the hastening water, with her long greenish-white hair and stared at
him with death-like eyes, which were pointed at him like two rifle

"Now, I shall catch you!"

Seated in one corner of the eagle's nest was the eaglet, who could not
fly yet, although so strong and powerful. Rudy fastened his eyes on
it, held himself with his whole strength firmly by one hand, and with
the other threw the noose around it. It was captured alive, its legs
were in the knot; Rudy cast the rope over his shoulder, so that the
animal dangled some distance below him, and sustained himself by
another rope which hung down, until his feet touched the upper round
of the ladder.

"Hold fast, do not think that you will fall and then you are sure not
to do so!" That was the old lesson, and he followed it; held fast,
climbed, was sure not to fall and he did not.

There resounded a strong _jodling_, and a joyous one too. Rudy stood
on the firm, rocky ground with the young eaglet.



"Here is what you demanded!" said Rudy, on entering the house of the
miller at Bex, as he placed a large basket on the floor and took off
the covering. Two yellow eyes, with black circles around them, fiery
and wild, looked out as if they wished to set on fire, or to kill
those around them. The short beak yawned ready to bite and the neck
was red and downy.

"The eaglet!" cried the miller. Babette screamed, jumped to one side
and could neither turn her eyes from Rudy, nor from the eaglet.

"You do not allow yourself to be frightened!" said the miller.

"And you keep your word, at all times," said Rudy, "each has his
characteristic trait!"

"But why did you not break your neck?" asked the miller.

"Because I held on firmly," answered Rudy, "and I hold firmly on

"First see that you have her!" said the miller and laughed; that was a
good sign; Babette knew this.

"Let us take the eaglet from the basket, it is terrible to see how he
glares! How did you get him?"

Rudy was obliged to recount his adventure, whilst the miller stared at
him with eyes, which grew larger and larger.

"With your courage and with your luck you could take care of three
wives!" said the miller.

"Thanks! Thanks!" cried Rudy.

"Yes, but you have not yet Babette!" said the miller as he struck the
young chamois hunter, jestingly on the shoulder.

"Do you know the latest news in the mill?" said the parlour-cat to the
kitchen-cat. "Rudy has brought us the young eagle and taken Babette in
exchange. They have kissed each other and the father looked on. That
is just as good as a betrothal; the old man did not overturn anything,
he drew in his claws, took his nap and left the two seated, caressing
each other. They have so much to relate, they will not get through
till Christmas!"

They had not finished at Christmas.

The wind whistled through the brown foliage, the snow swept through
the valley as it did on the high mountains. The Ice-Maiden sat in her
proud castle and arrayed herself in her winter costume; the ice walls
stood in glazed frost; where the mountain streams waved their watery
veil in summer, were now seen thick elephantine icicles, shining
garlands of ice, formed of fantastic ice crystals, encircled the
fir-trees, which were powdered with snow.

The Ice-Maiden rode on the blustering wind over the deepest valleys.
The snow covering lay over all Bex; Rudy stayed in doors more than was
his wont, and sat with Babette. The wedding was to take place in the
summer; their friends talked so much of it that it often made their
ears burn. All was sunshine with them, and the loveliest alpine rose
was Babette, the sprightly, laughing Babette, who was as charming as
the early spring; the spring that makes the birds sing, that will
bring the summer time and the wedding day.

"How can they sit there and hang over each other," exclaimed the
parlour-cat, "I am really tired of their eternal mewing!"



The early spring time had unfolded the green leaves of the walnut and
chestnut trees; they were remarkably luxuriant from the bridge of St.
Maurice to the banks of the lake of Geneva.

The Rhone, which rushes forth from its source, has under the green
glacier the palace of the Ice-Maiden. She is carried by it and the
sharp wind to the elevated snow-fields, where she extends herself on
her damp cushions in the brilliant sunshine. There she sits and gazes,
with far-seeing sight, upon the valley where mortals busily move about
like so many ants.

"Beings endowed with mental powers, as the children of the Sun, call
you," said the Ice-Maiden--"ye are worms! _One_ snow-ball rolled and
you and your houses and towns are crushed and swept away!" She raised
her proud head still higher and looked with death-beaming eyes far
around and below her. From the valley resounded a rumbling, a blasting
of rocks, men were making railways and tunnels. "They are playing like
moles," said she, "they excavate passages, and a noise is made like
the firing of a gun. When I transpose _my_ castles, it roars louder
than the rolling of the thunder!"

A smoke arose from the valley and moved along like a floating veil,
like a waving plume; it was the locomotive which led the train over
the newly built railroad--this crooked snake, whose limbs are formed
of cars upon cars. It shot along with the speed of an arrow.

"They are playing the masters with their mental powers," said the
Ice-Maiden, "but the powers of nature are the ruling ones!" and she
laughed and her laugh was echoed in the valley.

"Now an avalanche is rolling!" said the men below.

Still more loudly sang the children of the Sun; they sang of the
"thoughts" of men which fetter the sea to the yoke, cut down mountains
and fill up valleys; of human thoughts which rule the powers of
nature. At this moment, a company of travellers crossed the snow-field
where the Maiden sat; they had bound themselves firmly together with
ropes, in order to form a large body on the smooth ice-field by the
deep abyss.

"Worms!" said she, "as if you were lords of creation!" She turned from
them and looked mockingly upon the deep valley, where the cars were
rushing by.

"There sit those _thoughts_ in their power of strength! I see them
all!--There sits one, proud as a king and alone! They sit in masses!
There, half are asleep! When the steam-dragon stops, they will descend
and go their way! The thoughts go out into the world!" She laughed.

"There rolls another avalanche!" they said in the valley.

"It will not catch us!" said two on the back of the steam
dragon;--"two souls and one thought"--these were Rudy and Babette; the
miller was there also.

"As baggage," said he, "I go along, as the indispensable!"

"There sit the two," said the Ice-Maiden, "I have crushed many a
chamois; I have bent and broken millions of alpine roses, so that no
roots were left! I shall annihilate _them_! The thoughts! The mental
powers!" She laughed.

"There rolls another avalanche!" they said in the valley.



In Montreux, one of the adjoining towns, which with Clarens, Vernex
and Crin forms a garland around the northeast part of the lake of
Geneva, dwelt Babette's god-mother, a distinguished English lady, with
her daughters and a young relation. Although she had but lately
arrived, the miller had already made her his visit and announced
Babette's engagement; had spoken of Rudy and the eaglet; of the visit
to Interlaken and in short had told the whole story. This had rejoiced
her in the highest degree, both for Rudy and Babette's sake, as well
as for the miller's; they must all visit her--therefore they came.
Babette was to see her god-mother, and the god-mother was to see

At the end of the lake of Geneva, by the little town of Villeneuve,
lay the steam-boat which after half an hour's trip from Vernex,
arrived at Montreux. This is one of the coasts which are sung of by
the poets. Here sat Byron, by the deep bluish green lake, under the
walnut trees and wrote his melodious verses upon the prisoner of the
deep sombre castle of Chillon. Here, where Clarens with its weeping
willows, mirrored itself in the waters, once wandered Rousseau and
dreamt of Heloïse. Yonder, where the Rhone glides along under Savoy's
snow-topped mountains and not far from its mouth, in the lake lies a
little island, indeed it is so small, that from the coast it is taken
for a vessel. It is a valley between the rocks, which a lady caused
to be dammed up a hundred years ago and to be covered with earth and
planted with three acacia-trees, which now shade the whole island.
Babette was quite charmed with this little spot; they must and should
go there, yes, it must be charming beyond description to be on the
island; but the steamer sailed by, and stopped as it should, at

The little party wandered between the white, sunlighted walls, which
surround the vineyards of the little mountain town of Montreux,
through the fig-trees which flourish before every peasant's house and
in whose gardens, the laurel and cypress trees are green. Half-way up
the hill stood the boarding house where the god-mother resided.

The reception was very cordial. The god-mother was a large amiable
person and had a round smiling countenance; as a child she must have
had a real Raphael's angel head, but now it was an old angel's head
with silvery white hair, well curled. The daughters were tall,
slender, refined and much dressed. The young cousin who was with them,
was clad in white from head to foot; he had golden hair and immense
whiskers; he immediately showed little Babette the greatest attention.

Richly bound books, loose music and drawings lay strewn about the
large table; the balcony door stood open and one had a view of the
beautiful out-spread lake, which was so shining, so still, that the
mountains of Savoy with their little villages, their forest and their
snowy peaks mirrored themselves in it.

Rudy, who usually was so full of life, so merry and so daring, did not
feel in his element; he moved about over the smooth floor as though
he were treading on peas. How wearily the time dragged along, it was
just as if one was in a tread mill! If they did go walking, why, that
was just as slow; Rudy could take two steps forwards and two steps
backwards and still remain in the pace of the others.

When they came to Chillon, (the old sombre castle on the rocky island)
they entered in order to see the dungeon and the martyr's stake, as
well as the rusty chains on the wall; the stone bed for those
condemned to death and the trap-door where the wretched beings impaled
on iron goads, were hurled into the breakers. It was a place of
execution elevated through Byron's song to the world of poetry. Rudy
was sad, he lent over the broad stone sill of the window, gazed into
the deep blue water and over to the little solitary island with its
three acacias and wished himself there, free from the whole gossiping
society. Babette was remarkably merry, she had been indescribably
amused. The cousin found her perfect.

"Yes, a perfect jackanapes!" said Rudy; this was the first time, that
he had said something, that did not please her. The Englishman had
presented her with a little book, as a souvenir of Chillon,--Byron's
poem of "The Prisoner of Chillon," in the French language, so that
Babette might read it.

"The book may be good," said Rudy, "but the finely combed fellow that
gave it to you does not please me!"

"He looked like a meal-bag, without meal in it!" said the miller and
laughed at his own wit. Rudy laughed and thought that this was very
well said.



When Rudy came to the mill, a couple of days afterwards, he found the
young Englishman there. Babette had just cooked some trout for him and
had dressed them with parsley in order to make them appear more
inviting. That was assuredly not necessary. What did the Englishman
want here? Did he come in order to have Babette entertain and wait
upon him?

Rudy was jealous and that amused Babette; it rejoiced her, to learn
the feelings of his heart, the strong as well as the weak ones.

Until now love had been a play and she played with Rudy's whole heart;
yet he was her happiness, her life's thought, the noblest one! The
more gloomy he looked, the more her eyes laughed and she would have
liked to kiss the blonde Englishman with his golden whiskers, if she
could have succeeded by so doing, in making Rudy rush away furious.
Then, yes then, she would have known how much he loved her. That was
not right, that was not wise in little Babette; but she was only
nineteen! She did not reflect and still less did she think how her
behaviour towards the young Englishman might be interpreted; for it
was lighter and merrier than was seemly for the honourable and newly
affianced daughter of the miller.

The mill lay where the highway slopes--under the snow covered rocky
heights--which are called here, in the language of the country
"Diablerets" close to a rapid mountain stream, which was of a greyish
white, like bubbling soap suds. A smaller stream, rushes forth from
the rocks on the other side of the river, passes through an enclosed,
broad rafter-made-gutter and turns the large wheel of the mill. The
gutter was so full of water, that it streamed over and offered a most
slippery way, to one who had the idea of crossing more quickly to the
mill; a young man had this idea--the Englishman. Guided by the light,
which shone from Babette's window, he arrived in the evening, clothed
in white, like a miller's boy; he had not learnt to climb and nearly
tumbled head over heels into the stream, but escaped with wet sleeves
and splashed pantaloons. He reached Babette's window, muddy and wet
through, there he climbed into the old linden tree and imitated the
screech of an owl, for he could not sing like any other bird. Babette
heard it and peeped through the thin curtains, but when she remarked
the white man and recognized him, her little heart fluttered with
alarm, but also with anger. She hastily extinguished the light,
fastened the windows securely and then she let him howl.

If Rudy was in the mill it would have been dreadful, but Rudy was not
there; no, it was much worse, for he was below. There was loud
conversation, angry words; there might be blows; yes, perhaps murder.

Babette was terrified; she opened the window, called Rudy's name and
begged him to go; she said she would not suffer him to remain.

"You will not suffer me to remain," he exclaimed, "then it is a
preconcerted thing! You were expecting other friends, friends better
than myself; shame on you, Babette!"

"You are detestable," said Babette, "I hate you!" and she wept. "Go!

"I have not deserved this!" said he, and departed. His cheeks burned
like fire, his heart burned like fire.

Babette threw herself on her bed and wept.

"So much as I love you, Rudy, how can you believe ill of me!"

She was angry, very angry, and this was good for her; otherwise she
would have sorrowed deeply; but now she could sleep, and she slept the
strengthening sleep of youth.



Rudy forsook Bex and went on his way home, in the fresh, cool air, up
the snow-covered mountain, where the Ice-Maiden ruled. The leafy trees
which lay beneath him, looked like potato vines; fir-trees and bushes
became less frequent; the alpine roses grew in the snow, which lay in
little spots like linen put out to bleach. There stood a blue anemone,
he crushed it with the barrel of his gun.

Higher up two chamois appeared and Rudy's eyes gained lustre and his
thoughts took a new direction; but he was not near enough to make a
good shot; he ascended still higher, where only stiff grass grows
between the blocks of stone; the chamois were quietly crossing the
snow field; he hurried hastily on; the fog was descending and he
suddenly stood before the steep rocky wall. The rain commenced to

He felt a burning thirst; heat in his head, cold in all his limbs; he
grasped his hunting flask, but it was empty; he had not thought of
filling it when he rushed up the hill. He had never been ill, but now
he was so; he was weary and had a desire to throw himself down to
sleep, but everything was streaming with water. He endeavoured to
collect his ideas, but all objects danced before his eyes. Suddenly he
perceived a newly built house leaning against the rocks and in the
doorway stood a young girl. Yes, it appeared to him that it was the
schoolmaster's Annette, whom he had once kissed whilst dancing; but it
was not Annette and yet he had seen her before--perhaps in
Grindelwald, on the evening when he returned from the shooting-festival
at Interlaken.

"Where do you come from?" asked he.

"I am at home," said she, "I tend my flock!"

"Your flock, where do they pasture? Here are only cliffs and snow!"

"You have a ready answer," said she and laughed; "below there is a
charming meadow! There are my goats! I take good care of them! I lose
none of them, what is mine, remains mine!"

"You are bold!" said Rudy.

"So are you!" answered she.

"Have you any milk? Do give me some, my thirst is intolerable!"

"I have something better than milk," said she, "and you shall have
it! Travellers came yesterday with their guide, but they forgot a
flask of wine, such as you have never tasted; they will not come for
it, I shall not drink it, so drink you!"

She brought the wine, poured it in a wooden cup and handed it to Rudy.

"That is good," said he, "I have never drunk such a warming, such a
fiery wine!" His eyes beamed, a life, a glow came over him; all sorrow
and oppression seemed to die away; gushing, fresh human nature stirred
itself within him.

"Why this is the schoolmaster's Annette," exclaimed he, "give me a

"Yes, give me the beautiful ring, which you wear on your finger!"

"My engagement ring?"

"Just that one!" said the young girl and pouring wine into the cup,
put it to his lips and he drank. Then the joy of life streamed in his
blood; the whole world seemed to belong to him. "Why torment one's
self? Every thing is made for our enjoyment and happiness! The stream
of life is the stream of joy, and forgetfulness is felicity!" He
looked at the young girl, it was Annette and then again not Annette;
still less, an enchanted phantom, as he had named her, when he met her
near Grindelwald. The girl on the mountain was fresh as the newly
fallen snow, blooming as the alpine rose and light as a kid; and a
human being like Rudy. He wound his arm about her, looked in her
strange clear eyes, yes, only for a second--but was it spiritual life
or was it death which flowed through him? Was he raised on high, or
did he sink into the deep, murderous ice-pit, deeper and ever deeper?
He saw icy walls like bluish green glass, numberless clefts yawned
around, and the water sounded as it dropped, like a chime of bells;
it was pearly, clear and shone in bluish white flames. The Ice-Maiden
gave him a kiss, which made him shiver from head to foot and he gave a
cry of pain. He staggered and fell; it grew dark before his eyes, but
soon all became clear to him again; the evil powers had had their
sport with him.

The alpine maiden had vanished, the mountain hut had vanished, the
water beat against the bare rocky walls and all around him lay snow.
Rudy wet to the skin, trembled from cold and his ring had disappeared,
his engagement ring, which Babette had given him. He tried to fire off
his rifle which lay near him in the snow but it missed. Humid clouds
lay in the clefts like firm masses of snow and Vertigo watched for her
powerless prey; beneath him in the deep chasm it sounded as if a
block of the rock was rolling down and was endeavouring to crush and
tear up all that met it in its fall.

In the mill sat Babette and wept; Rudy had not been there for six
days; he who had been so wrong; he who must beg her forgiveness,
because she loved him with her whole heart.



"What confusion!" said the parlour-cat to the kitchen-cat.

"Now all is wrong between Rudy and Babette. She sits and weeps and he
thinks no longer on her, I suppose.

"I cannot bear it!" said the kitchen-cat.

"Nor I," said the parlour-cat, "but I shall not worry myself any
longer about it! Babette can take the red-whiskered one for a dear
one, but he has not been here either, since he tried to get on the

Within and without, the evil powers ruled, and Rudy knew this, and
reflected upon what had taken place both around and within him, whilst
upon the mountain. Were those faces, or was all a feverish dream? He
had never known fever or sickness before. Whilst he condemned Babette,
he also condemned himself. He thought of the wild, wicked feelings
which had lately possessed him. Could he confess everything to
Babette? Every thought, which in the hour of temptation might have
become a reality? He had lost her ring and by this loss had she won
him back. Could she confess to him? It seemed as if his heart would
break when he thought of her; so many recollections passed through his
soul. He saw her a lively, laughing, petulant child; many a loving
word, which she had said to him in the fullness of her heart, shot
like a sunbeam through his breast and soon all there was sunshine for

She must be able to confess to him and she should do so.

He came to the mill, he came to confession; and this commenced with a
kiss, and ended with the fact that Rudy was the sinner; his great
fault was, that he had doubted Babette's fidelity; yes, that was
indeed atrocious in him! Such mistrust, such violence could bring them
both into misfortune! Yes, most surely! Thereupon Babette preached him
a little sermon, which much diverted her and became her charmingly; in
one article Rudy was quite right; the god-mother's relation was a
jackanapes! She should burn the book that he had given her, and not
possess the slightest object which could remind her of him.

"Now it is all arranged," said the parlour-cat, "Rudy is here again,
they understand each other and that is a great happiness!"

"Last night," said the kitchen-cat, "I heard the rats say that the
greatest happiness was to eat tallow candles, and to have abundance of
tainted meat. Now who must one believe, the rats or the lovers?"

"Neither of them," said the parlour-cat, "that is the surest way!"

The greatest happiness for Rudy and Babette was drawing near; they
were awaiting, so they said, their happiest day, their wedding day.

But the wedding was not to be in the church of Bex, nor in the
miller's house; the god-mother wished it to be solemnized near her,
and the marriage ceremony was to take place in the beautiful little
church of Montreux. The miller insisted that her desire should be
fulfilled; he alone knew what the god-mother intended for the young
couple; they were to receive a bridal present from her, which was well
worth so slight a concession. The day was appointed. They were to
leave for Villeneuve, in time to arrive at Montreux early in the
morning, and so enable the god-mother's daughters to dress the bride.

"Then I suppose there will be a wedding here in the house, on the
following day," said the parlour-cat, "otherwise, I would not give a
single mew for the whole thing!"

"There will be a feast here," said the kitchen-cat, "the ducks are
slain, the pigeons necks wrung, and a whole deer hangs on the wall. My
teeth itch just with looking on! To-morrow the journey commences!"

Yes, to-morrow! Rudy and Babette sat together for the last time in the

Without was the alpine glow; the evening bells pealed; the daughters
of the Sun sang: "What is for the best will take place!"



The sun had gone down; the clouds lowered themselves into the Rhone
valley--between the high mountains; the wind blew from the south over
the mountains--an African wind, a Föhn,--which tore the clouds
asunder. When the wind had passed, all was still for an instant; the
parted clouds hung in fantastic forms between the forest-grown
mountains. Over the hastening Rhone, their shapes resembled
sea-monsters of the primeval world, soaring eagles of the air and
leaping frogs of the ditches--they seemed to sink into the rapid
stream and to sail on the river, yet they still floated in the air.
The stream carried away a pine tree, torn up by the roots; and the
water sent whirlpools ahead; this was Vertigo, with her attendants,
and they danced in circles on the foaming stream. The moon shone on
the snow of the mountain-peaks; it lighted up the dark forest and the
singular white clouds; the peasants of the mountain, saw through their
window panes, the nightly apparitions and the spirits of the powers of
nature, as they sailed before the Ice-Maiden. She came from her
glacier castle, she sat in a frail bark, a felled fir-tree; the water
of the glaciers carried her up the stream out to the main sea.

"The wedding guests are coming!" was whizzed and sung in the air and
in the water.

Visions without and visions within!

Babette dreamt a wonderful dream.

It appeared to her, as though she was married to Rudy, and had been so
for many years. He had gone chamois hunting and as she sat at home,
the young Englishman with the golden whiskers was beside her; his eyes
were fiery, his words seemed endowed with magical power; he reached
her his hand and she was obliged to follow him.

They flew from home. Steadily downwards.

A weight lay upon her heart and it grew ever heavier. It was a sin
against Rudy, a sin against God; suddenly she stood forsaken. Her
clothes were torn by the thorns; her hair had grown grey; she looked
up in her sorrow and she saw Rudy on the edge of the rock. She
stretched her arms towards him, but she ventured neither to call, nor
to implore him; but she soon saw that it was not he himself, only his
hunting coat and hat, which were hanging on his alpine staff, as the
hunters are accustomed to place them, in order to deceive the chamois!
Babette moaned in boundless anguish:

"Ah! would that I had died on my wedding day, my happiest day! Oh! my
heavenly Father! That would have been a mercy, a life's happiness!
Then we would have obtained, the best, that could have happened to us!
No one knows his future!" In her impious sorrow, she threw herself
down the steep precipice. It seemed as if a string broke, and a
sorrowful tone resounded.

Babette awoke--the dream was at an end and obliterated; but she knew
that she had dreamt of something terrible, and of the young
Englishman, whom she had neither seen, nor thought of, for many
months. Was he perhaps in Montreux? Should she see him at her
wedding? A slight shadow flitted over her delicate mouth, her brow
contracted; but her smile soon returned; her eyes sparkled again; the
sun shone so beautifully without, and to-morrow, yes to-morrow was her
and Rudy's wedding day.

Rudy had already arrived, when she came down stairs, and they soon
left for Villeneuve. They were so happy, the two, and the miller also;
he laughed and was radiant with joy; he was a good father, an honest

"Now we are the masters of the house!" said the parlour-cat.



It was not yet night, when the three joyous people reached Villeneuve
and took their dinner. The miller seated himself in an arm-chair with
his pipe and took a little nap. The betrothed went out of the town arm
in arm, out on the carriage way, under the bush-grown rocks, to the
deep bluish-green lake. Sombre Chillon, with its grey walls and heavy
towers, mirrored itself in the clear water; but still nearer lay the
little island, with its three acacias, and it looked like a bouquet on
the lake.

"How charming it must be there!" said Babette; she felt again the
greatest desire to visit it, and this wish could be immediately
fulfilled; for a boat lay on the shore and the rope which fastened it,
was easy to untie. As no one was visible, from whom they could ask
permission, they took the boat without hesitation, for Rudy could row
well. The oars skimmed like the fins of a fish, over the pliant water,
which is so yielding and still so strong; which is all back to carry,
but all mouth to engulph; which smiles--yes, is gentleness itself, and
still awakens terror--and is so powerful in destroying. The rapid
current soon brought the boat to the island; they stepped on land.
There was just room enough for the two to dance.

Rudy swung Babette three times around, and then they seated themselves
on the little bench, under the acacias, looked into each other's eyes,
held each other by the hand, and everything around them shone in the
splendour of the setting sun. The forests of fir-trees on the
mountains became of a pinkish lilac aspect, the colour of blooming
heath, and where the bare rocks were apparent, they glowed as if they
were transparent. The clouds in the sky were radiant with a red glow;
the whole lake was like a fresh flaming rose leaf. As the shadows
arose to the snow-covered mountains of Savoy, they became dark blue,
but the uppermost peak seemed like red lava and pointed out for a
moment, the whole range of mountains, whose masses arose glowing from
the bosom of the earth.

It seemed to Rudy and Babette, that they had never seen such an alpine
glow. The snow-covered Dent-du-Midi, had a lustre like the full moon,
when it rises to the horizon.

"So much beauty, so much happiness!" they both said.

"Earth can give me no more," said Rudy, "an evening hour like this is
a whole life! How often have I felt as now, and thought that if
everything should end suddenly, how happily have I lived! How blessed
is this world! The day ended, a new one dawned and I felt that it was
still more beautiful! How bountiful is our Lord, Babette!"

"I am so happy!" said she.

"Earth can give me no more!" exclaimed Rudy.

The evening bells resounded from the Savoy and Swiss mountains; the
bluish-black Jura arose in golden splendour towards the west.

"God give you that which is most excellent and best, Rudy!" said

"He will do that," answered Rudy, "to-morrow I shall have it!
To-morrow you will be entirely mine! Mine own, little, lovely wife!"

"The boat!" cried Babette at the same moment.

The boat, which was to convey them back, had broken loose and was
sailing from the island.

"I will go for it!" said Rudy. He threw off his coat, drew off his
boots, sprang in the lake and swam towards the boat.

The clear, bluish-grey water of the ice mountains, was cold and deep.
Rudy gave but a single glance and it seemed as though he saw a gold
ring, rolling, shining and sporting--he thought on his lost engagement
ring--and the ring grew larger, widened into a sparkling circle and
within it shone the clear glacier; all about yawned endless deep
chasms; the water dropped and sounded like a chime of bells, and shone
with bluish-white flames. He saw in a second, what we must say in many
long words. Young hunters and young girls, men and women, who had
once perished in the glacier, stood there living, with open eyes and
smiling mouth; deep below them chimed from buried towns the peal of
church bells; under the arches of the churches knelt the congregation;
pieces of ice formed the organ pipes, and the mountain stream played
the organ. On the clear transparent ground sat the Ice-Maiden; she
raised herself towards Rudy, kissed his feet, and the coldness of
death ran through his limbs and gave him an electric shock--ice and
fire. He could not perceive the difference.

"Mine, mine!" sounded around him and within him.

"I kissed you, when you were young, kissed you on your mouth! Now I
kiss your feet, you are entirely mine!"

He vanished in the clear blue water.

Everything was still; the church bells stopped ringing; the last tones
died away with the splendour of the red clouds.

"You are mine!" sounded in the deep. "You are mine!" sounded from on
high, from the infinite.

How happy to fly from love to love, from earth to heaven!

A string broke, a cry of grief was heard, the icy kiss of death
conquered; the prelude ended; so that the drama of life might
commence, discord melted into harmony.--

Do you call this a sad story?

Poor Babette! For her it was a period of anguish.

The boat drifted farther and farther. No one on shore knew that the
lovers were on the island. The evening darkened, the clouds lowered
themselves; night came. She stood there, solitary, despairing,
moaning. A flash of lightning passed over the Jura mountains, over
Switzerland and over Savoy. From all sides flash upon flash of
lightning, clap upon clap of thunder, which rolled continuously many
minutes. At times the lightning was vivid as sunshine, and you could
distinguish the grape vines; then all became black again in the dark
night. The lightning formed knots, ties, zigzags, complicated figures;
it struck in the lake, so that it lit it up on all sides; whilst the
noise of the thunder was made louder by the echo. The boat was drawn
on shore; all living objects sought shelter. Now the rain streamed

"Where can Rudy and Babette be in this frightful weather!" said the

Babette sat with folded hands, with her head in her lap, mute with
sorrow, with screaming and bewailing.

"In the deep water," said she to herself, "he is as far down as the

She remembered what Rudy had related to her of his mother's death, of
his preservation, and how he was withdrawn death-like, from the clefts
of the glacier. "The Ice-Maiden has him again!"

There was a flash of lightning, as dazzling as the sunlight on the
white snow. Babette started up; at this instant, the sea rose like a
glittering glacier; there stood the Ice-Maiden majestic, pale, blue,
shining, and at her feet lay Rudy's corpse. "Mine!" said she, and then
all around was fog and night and streaming water.

"Cruel!" moaned Babette, "why must he die, now that the day of our
happiness approached. God! Enlighten my understanding! Enlighten my
heart! I do not understand thy ways! Notwithstanding all thy
omnipotence and wisdom, I still grope in the darkness."

God enlightened her heart. A thought like a ray of mercy, her last
night's dream in all its vividness flashed through her; she remembered
the words which she had spoken: "the wish for the best for herself and

"Woe is me! Was that the sinful seed in my heart? Did my dream
foretell my future life? Is all this misery for my salvation? Me,
miserable one!"

Lamenting, sat she in the dark night. In the solemn stillness, sounded
Rudy's last words; the last ones he had uttered: "Earth has no more
happiness to give me!" She had heard it in the fullness of her joy,
she heard it again in all the depths of her sorrow.

       *       *       *       *       *

A couple of years have passed since then. The lake smiles, the coast
smiles; the vine branches are filled with ripe grapes; the steamboats
glide along with waving flags and the pleasure boats float over the
watery mirror, with their two expanded sails like white butterflies.
The railroad to Chillon is opened; it leads into the Rhone valley;
strangers alight at every station; they arrive with their red covered
guide books and read of remarkable sights which are to be seen. They
visit Chillon, they stand upon the little island, with its three
acacias--out on the lake--and they read in the book about the
betrothed ones, who sailed over one evening in the year 1856;--of the
death of the bridegroom, and: "it was not till the next morning, that
the despairing shrieks of the bride were heard on the coast!"

The book does not tell, however, of Babette's quiet life with her
father; not in the mill, where strangers now dwell, but in the
beautiful house, near the railway station. There she looks from the
window many an evening and gazes over the chestnut trees, upon the
snow mountains, where Rudy once climbed. She sees in the evening hours
the alpine glow--the children of the Sun encamp themselves above, and
repeat the song of the wanderer, whose mantle the whirlwind tore off,
and carried away: "it took the covering but not the man."

There is a rosy hue on the snow of the mountains; there is a rosy hue
in every heart, where the thought dwells, that: "God always gives us
that which is best for us!" but it is not always revealed to us, as it
once happened to Babette in her dream.

The Butterfly.

The butterfly wished to procure a bride for himself--of course, one of
the flowers--a pretty little one. He looked about him. Each one sat
quietly and thoughtfully on her stalk, as a young maiden should sit,
when she is not affianced; but there were many of them, and it was a
difficult matter to choose amongst them. The butterfly could not make
up his mind; so he flew to the daisy. The French call her
_Marguerite_; they know that she can tell fortunes, and she does this
when lovers pluck off leaf after leaf and ask her at each one a
question about the beloved one: "How does he love me?--With all his
heart?--With sorrow?--Above all?--Can not refrain from it?--Quite
secretly?--A little bit?--Not at all?"--or questions to the same
import. Each one asks in his own language. The butterfly flew towards
her and questioned her; he did not pluck off the leaves, but kissed
each separate one, thinking that by so doing, he would make himself
more agreeable to the good creature.

"Sweet Margaret Daisy," said he, "of all the flowers you are the
wisest woman! You can prophesy! Tell me, shall I obtain this one or
that one? Which one? If I but know this, I can fly to the charming one
at once, and pay my court!"

Margaret did not answer. She could not bear to be called a _woman_,
for she was a young girl, and when one is a young girl, one is not a

He asked again, he asked a third time, but as she did not answer a
single word, he questioned her no more and flew away without further
parley, intent on his courtship.

It was early spring time, and there was an abundance of snow-drops and
crocuses. "They are very neat," said the butterfly, "pretty little
confirmed ones, but a little green!" He, like all young men looked at
older girls.

From thence he flew to the anemones; but he found them a little too
sentimental; the tulips, too showy; the broom, not of a good family;
the linden blossoms, too small--then they had so many relations; as to
the apple blossoms, why to look at them you would think them as
healthy as roses, but to-day they blossom and to-morrow, if the wind
blows, they drop off; a marriage with them would be too short. The pea
blossom pleased him most, she was pink and white, she was pure and
refined and belonged to the housewifely girls that look well, and
still can make themselves useful in the kitchen. He had almost
concluded to make love to her, when he saw hanging near to her, a
pea-pod with its white blossom. "Who is that?" asked he. "That is my
sister," said the pea blossom.

"How now, is that the way you look when older?" This terrified the
butterfly and he flew away.

The honeysuckles were hanging over the fence--young ladies with long
faces and yellow skins--but he did not fancy their style of beauty.
Yes, but which did he like? Ask him!

The spring passed, the summer passed, and then came the autumn. The
flowers appeared in their most beautiful dresses, but of what avail
was this? The butterfly's fresh youthful feelings had vanished. In
old age, the heart longs for fragrance, and dahlias and gillyflowers
are scentless. So the butterfly flew to the mint. "She has no flower
at all, but she is herself a flower, for she is fragrant from head to
foot and each leaf is filled with perfume. I shall take her!"

But the mint stood stiff and still, and at last said: "Friendship--but
nothing more! I am old and you are old! We can live very well for one
another, but to marry? No! Do not let us make fools of ourselves in
our old age."

So the butterfly obtained no one.

The butterfly remained a bachelor.

Many violent and transient showers came late in the autumn; the wind
blew so coldly down the back of the old willow trees, that it cracked
within them. It did not do to fly about in summer garments, for even
love itself would then grow cold. The butterfly however preferred not
to fly out at all; he had by chance entered a door-way, and there was
fire in the stove--yes, it was just as warm there, as in
summer-time;--there he could live. "Life is not enough," said he, "one
must have sunshine, liberty and a little flower!"

He flew against the window-panes, was seen, was run through by a pin
and placed in a curiosity-box; one could not do more for him.

"Now I also am seated on a stalk like a flower," said the butterfly,
"it is not so comfortable after all! But it is as well as being
married, for then one is tied down!" He consoled himself with this.

"What a wretched consolation!" said the flower, that grew in the pot
in the room.

"One can not entirely trust to flowers that grow in pots," thought
the butterfly, "they have too much intercourse with men."

The Psyche.

A large star beams in the dawn of morning in the red sky--the
clearest star of the morning--its rays tremble upon the white wall, as
if they wished to write down and relate, the scenes which they had
witnessed during many centuries.

Listen to one of these stories!

A short time ago--(this _not long ago_ is with us men--centuries)--my
rays followed a young artist; it was in the realm of the Pope, in the
city of the world, in Rome. Many changes have been made, but the
imperial palace, was, as it is to-day, a ruin; between the overthrown
marble columns and over the ruined bath-rooms, whose walls were still
decorated with gold, grew fig and laurel trees. The Colosseum was a
ruin; the church bells rang, the incense arose and processions passed
through the streets with tapers and gorgeous canopies. The Church was
holy, and art was lofty and holy also. In Rome dwelt Raphael, the
greatest painter of the world, here also dwelt Michael Angelo, the
greatest sculptor of the age; even the Pope did homage to them both,
and honoured them with his visits. Art was recognized, honoured and
rewarded. All greatness and excellence is not seen and recognized.

In a little narrow street, stood an old house, which had once been a
temple; here dwelt a young artist; he was poor, he was unknown; it is
true that he had young friends, artists also, young in feelings, in
hopes, and in thoughts. They told him, that he was rich in talents
and excellence but that he needed confidence in himself. He was never
satisfied with his work and either destroyed all that he modeled or
left it unfinished; this is not the proper course to adopt, if one
would be known, appreciated and live.

"You are a dreamer," said they, "this is your misfortune! You have not
yet lived, you have not inhaled life in large healthy draughts, you
have not yet enjoyed it. One should do this in youth and become a man!
Look at the great master Raphael whom the Pope honours and the world
admires,--he takes wine and bread with him."

"He dines with the baker's wife, the pretty Fornarina!" said Angelo,
one of the merry young friends.

Yes, they all appealed to his good sense and to his youth.

They wished to have the young artist join them in their merry-makings,
in their extravagances and in their mad tricks; he would do so for a
short time, for his blood was warm, his imagination strong; he could
take his part in their merry conversation, and laugh as loudly as the
others; and yet "the merry life of Raphael," as they named it,
vanished from him like the morning mist, when he saw the godlike
lustre which shone forth from the paintings of the great masters, or
when he stood in the Vatican and beheld the forms of beauty, which the
old sculptors had fashioned from blocks of marble, centuries ago. His
breast swelled, he felt something so lofty, so holy, so elevated
within him, yes, something so great and good, that he longed to create
and chisel like forms from marble blocks. He desired to give
expression to the feelings which agitated his heart; but how and in
what shape? The soft clay allowed itself to be modeled into beautiful
figures by his fingers, but on the following day, dissatisfied, he
destroyed all he had created.

One day he passed by one of the rich palaces, of which Rome has so
many; he stood a moment at the large open entrance, and gazed into a
little garden, full of the most beautiful roses, which was surrounded
by archways, decorated with paintings. Large, white callas, with their
green leaves, sprouted forth from marble shells, into which splashed
clear water; a form glided by, a young girl, the daughter of this
princely house, so elegant, so light, so charming! He had never seen
so lovely a woman. Hold! yes, once, one made by Raphael, a painting of
Psyche, in one of the palaces of Rome. There she was but painted,
here she breathed and moved.

She lived in his thoughts and in his heart; he went home to his poor
lodgings and formed a Psyche out of clay; it was the rich, young Roman
girl, the princely woman, and he gazed at his work with satisfaction,
for the first time. This had a signification--it was _She_. When his
friends looked upon it, they exclaimed with joy, that this work was a
revelation of his artistic greatness, which they had always
recognized, but which now should be recognized by the whole world.

Clay is natural, flesh like, but it has not the whiteness, the
durability of marble; the Psyche must obtain life from the block of
marble--and he had the most precious piece of marble. It had been the
property of his parents, and had been lying many years, in the court
yard; bits of broken bottles, remains of artichokes were heaped over
it and it was soiled, but its interior was white as the mountain snow;
the Psyche should rise forth from it.

One day, it so happened--it is true, that the clear stars do not
relate it, for they did not see it, but we know it--that a
distinguished Roman party, came to view the young artist's work, of
which they had casually heard. Who were the distinguished visitors?
Poor young man! All too happy young man, one may call him also. Here
in his room stood the young girl herself--with what a smile--when her
father said: "You are that, living!" One cannot picture the look, one
cannot render the look, the strange look with which she glanced at the
young artist; it was a look which elevated, ennobled and--destroyed.

"The Psyche must be executed in marble!" said the rich man. This was a
word of life, for the dead clay and for the heavy block of marble; it
was also a word of life for the young man who was overcome by emotion.
"I will buy it, as soon as the work is completed!" said the princely

It seemed as though a new era had dawned in the poor work-room;
occupation, life and gayety, lighted it up. The beaming morning star
saw how the work progressed. Even the clay had been endowed with a
soul, since _she_ had been there, and he bent entranced over the well
known features.

"Now I know what life is," he exclaimed with delight, "it is love! it
is the elevation of the heart to the divine, it is rapture for the
beautiful! What my friends call life and enjoyment, is perishable,
like bubbles in the fermenting lees, not the pure, heavenly wine of
the altar, the consecration of life!"

The marble block was erected, the chisel hewed away large pieces; the
labourer's part was done, marks and points placed, until little by
little, the stone became a body, a shape of beauty--the Psyche--as
charming as was the woman made by God. The massive stone became a
soaring, dancing, airy, light and graceful Psyche, with a heavenly,
innocent smile, the smile that had been mirrored in the young
sculptor's heart.

The star, in the rosy-tinted morning saw, and partly understood what
was agitating the mind of the young man; it understood as well, the
varying colour of his checks and the glance of his eye, whilst he
created, as though inspired by God.

"You are a master like those in the days of the Greeks," said his
enchanted friends, "the world will soon admire your Psyche!"

"My Psyche," he repeated, "mine, yes, that she must be! I am also an
artist like the great departed ones! God has granted gifts of mercy to
me, and has elevated me to the highly born!"

He sank, weeping, on his knees and offered up his thanks to God--but
forgot him again for her, for her portrait in marble, for the Psyche
form, that stood before him, as though cut out of snow, blushing, in
the morning sun.

He should see her, the living, floating one, in reality; she, whose
words sounded like music. He would himself carry the tidings, that the
marble Psyche was completed, to the rich palace. He arrived, passed
through the open court-yard, where the water splashed from dolphin's
mouths into marble shells, where callas bloomed and fresh roses
blossomed. He stepped into the large, lofty hall, whose walls and
ceilings were gorgeous with brilliant colours, with paintings and
armorial bearings. Well dressed and haughty servants, holding up their
heads, (like sleigh horses with their bells,) were pacing up and down;
some of them had even stretched themselves out comfortably and
insolently on the carved wooden benches; they appeared to be the
masters of the house. He named his business, and was conducted up the
marble steps, which were covered with soft carpets. On each side stood
statues. Then he came to richly decorated apartments, hung with
paintings and with mosaic floors.

This pomp, this splendour made him breathe a little heavily, but he
soon felt reassured; for the old prince, received him kindly, almost
cordially. After they had spoken, as he was taking leave, he begged
him to visit the young Signora, for she also wished to see him. The
servants led him through magnificent chambers and corridors to her
apartments, of which she was the glory and splendour.

She spoke with him! No Miserere, no church song could have melted the
heart more, or have more elevated the soul, than did the music of her
voice. He seized her hand and pressed it to his lips--no rose is so
soft, but a fire proceeds from this rose--a fire streams through him
and his breast heaves; words streamed from his lips, but he knew not
what he said. Does the crater know that it throws forth burning lava?
He told her his love. She stood there, surprised, insulted, proud,
yes, scornful; with an expression on her face as though a damp,
clammy frog had suddenly touched her. Her cheeks coloured, her lips
grew pale, her eyes were on fire, and still black as the darkness of

"Frantic creature! Away, away!" said she, as she turned her back upon
him. Her face of beauty seemed turned to stone, like unto the Medusa's
head with its serpent locks. He descended to the street, a weak,
lifeless thing; he entered his room like a night-walker, and in the
rage of his grief, he seized his hammer, brandished it high in the air
and sought to destroy the beautiful marble form. He did not
observe--so excited was he--that Angelo, his friend, stood near him,
and arrested his arm with a firm grasp.

"Have you become mad? What would you do?" They struggled with each
other. Angelo was the stronger, and with a deep drawn breath, he
threw the young artist on a chair.

"What has occurred?" asked Angelo, "Collect yourself! Speak!"

What could he say? What could he tell? As Angelo could not seize the
thread of his discourse, he let it drop.

"Your blood grows thick with this eternal dreaming! Be human, like
others and live not in the clouds! Drink, until you become slightly
intoxicated, then you will sleep well! The young girl from the
Campagna, is as beautiful as the princess in the marble palace, they
are both daughters of Eve, and can not be distinguished one from the
other in Paradise! Follow your Angelo! I am your good angel, the angel
of your life! A time will come when you are old, when the body will
dwindle and some beautiful sunshiny day, when everything laughs and
rejoices, you will lie like a withered straw! I do not believe what
the priests say, that there is a life beyond the grave! It is a pretty
fancy, a fairy tale for children, delightful to think upon. I do not
live in imagination, but in reality! Come with me! Become a man!"

He drew him away, he could do this now, for there was a fire in the
young artist's blood, a change in his soul; an ardent desire to tear
himself away from all his wonted ways, from all accustomed thoughts;
to forget his old self--and to-day he followed Angelo.

In the suburbs, lay an osteria, which was much frequented by artists;
it was built in the ruins of a bathing chamber. Amongst the dark
shining foliage, hung large yellow lemons which covered a portion of
the old reddish-yellow wall. The osteria was a deep vault, almost
like a hollow in the ruins; within, a lamp burned before the image of
the Madonna; a large fire flamed on the hearth, for here they roasted,
cooked and prepared the dishes for the guests. Without, under the
lemon and laurel trees, stood tables ready set.

They were received merrily and rejoicingly by their friends; they ate
little and drank much and became gay; they sang, and played on the
guitar; the Saltarello sounded and the dance began. Two Roman girls,
models of the young artists, joined in the dance and merriment; two
pretty Bacchante! They had no Psyche forms, they were not delicate
beautiful roses, but fresh, healthy flaming pinks.

How warm it was on this day, even warm at sundown! Fire in the blood,
fire in the air, fire in every glance. The air swam in gold and
roses, life was gold and roses.

"Now you have at last joined us! Allow yourself to be carried away by
the current within and without you!"

"I never felt so well and joyous before!" said the young artist. "You
are right, you are all of you right. I was a fool, a dreamer; man
belongs to reality and not to fancy!"

The young man left the osteria, in the clear starry evening, with song
and tinkling guitars, and passed through the narrow streets. The
daughters of the Campagna, the two flaming pinks, were in their train.

In Angelo's room, the voices sounded more suppressed but not less
fiery, amongst the scattered sketches, the outlines, the glowing,
voluptuous paintings; amongst the drawings on the floor there was many
a sketch of vigorous beauty, like unto the daughters of the Campagna,
yet they themselves were much more beautiful. The six-armed lamp
glowed brightly, and the human forms warmed and shone like gods.

"Apollo! Jupiter! I elevate myself to your heaven, to your glory!
Methinks, that the flower of my life has unfolded within my heart!"
Yes, it did unfold--it withered and fell to pieces; a stunning,
loathsome vapour arose, dazzling the sight, benumbing the thoughts,
extinguishing his sensual, fiery emotions, and all was dark. He went
home, sat down on his bed, and thought. "Fie!" sounded from his lips,
from the bottom of his heart. "Miserable wretch! away! away!"--and he
sighed sorrowfully.

"Away! Away!" These, her words, the words of the living Psyche,
weighed upon him, and flowed from his lips. He bowed his head upon
the pillows, his thoughts became confused and he slept.

At the dawn of day he started up.--What was this? Was it a dream? Were
her words, the visit to the osteria, the evening with the purple red
pinks of the Campagna but a dream?--No, all was reality; he had not
known this before.

The clear star beamed in the purple-tinted air, its rays fell upon
him, and upon the marble Psyche; he trembled whilst he contemplated
the image of immortality, his glance even appeared impure to him. He
threw a covering over it, he touched it once more in order to veil its
form, but he could not view his work.

Still, sombre, buried in his own meditations, he sat there the whole
day; he took no heed of what passed around him, no one knew what was
agitating this human heart. Days passed by, weeks passed by; the
nights were the longest. One morning, the twinkling star saw him rise
from his couch--pale--trembling with fever; he walked to the marble
statue, lifted the cover, gazed upon his work with a sorrowful, deep,
long look, and then almost sinking under the weight, he drew the
statue into the garden. There was a sunken, dried-up well, within it,
into which he lowered the Psyche, threw earth upon it and covered the
fresh grave with small sticks and nettles.

"Away! Away," was the short funereal service.

The star in the rosy red atmosphere saw this, and two heavy tears
trembled on the deathly pale cheeks of the fever sick one--sick unto
death, as they called him.

The lay brother Ignatius came to him as a friend and as a physician.
He came, and with the consoling words of religion, he spoke of the
peace and happiness of the church, of the sins of man, of the mercy
and peace of God.

The words fell like warm sun beams on the moist, fermenting ground;
they dispersed and cleared away the misty clouds, from the troubled
thoughts which had held possession of him; he gazed upon his past
life; everything had been a failure, a deception--yes, _had been_. Art
was an enchantress, that but leads us into vanity, into earthly
pleasures. We become false to ourselves, false to our friends, false
to our God. The serpent speaks ever in us: "Taste and thou shalt
become like unto God."

Now, for the first time, he appeared to understand himself, to have
discovered the road to truth, to peace.

In the church was God's light and brightness, in the monk's cell was
found that peace, which enables man to obtain eternal bliss.

Brother Ignatius supported him in these thoughts, and the decision was
firmly made--a worldling became a servant of the church;--the young
artist took leave of the world, and entered the cloister.

How joyfully, how cordially the brothers greeted him! How festive the
ordination! It seemed to him that God was in the sunshine of the
church, and beamed within it, from the holy pictures and from the
shining cross. He stood in the evening sunset, in his little cell, and
opened his window and gazed in the spring-time over old Rome--with her
broken temples, her massive, but dead Colosseum; her blooming acacias,
her flourishing evergreens, her fragrant roses, her shining lemons
and oranges, her palm trees fanned by the breeze--and felt touched and
satisfied. The quiet, open Campagna extended to the blue snow-topped
mountains, which appeared to be painted on the air. Everything
breathed beauty and peace. The whole--a dream!

Yes, the world here was a dream, and the dream ruled the hours and
returned to hours again. But the life of a cloister is a life of many,
many long years.

Man is naturally impure and he felt this! What flames were these, that
at times glowed through him? Was it the power of the Evil One, that
caused these wild thoughts to rage constantly within him? He punished
his body, but without effect. What portion of his mind was that, which
wound itself around him, pliable as a serpent, and which crept about
his conscience under a loving cloak and consoled him! The saints pray
for us, the holy Virgin prays for us, Jesus himself gave his blood for

Was it a childlike feeling, or the levity of youth, that had induced
him to give himself up to grace, and which made him feel elevated
above so many? For had he not cast away the vanity of the world, was
he not a son of the church?

One day, after many years, he met Angelo, who recognized him.

"Man," said he, "yes, it is you! Are you happy now? You have sinned
against God, and cast his gifts of mercy away from you; you have
gambled away your vocation for this world. Read the parable of the
entrusted pledge. The Master who related it, spoke but truth! What
have you won and found after all? Do not make a dream life for
yourself! Make a religion for yourself, as all do. Suppose all is but
a dream, a fancy, a beautiful thought!"

"Get thee from behind me, Satan!" said the monk, and forsook Angelo.

"It is a devil, a devil personified! I saw him to-day," murmured the
monk, "I reached him but a finger, and he took my whole hand! No,"
sighed he, "the wickedness is in myself; it is also in this man, but
he is not tormented by it; he walks with elevated brow, he has his
enjoyment; I but clutch at the consolation of the church for my
welfare! But if this is only consolation! If all here consists of
beautiful thoughts and but resemble those which beguiled me in the
world? Is it but a deception like unto the beauty of the red evening
clouds and like unto the blue wave-like beauty of the distant
mountains! Seen near, how changed! Eternity, art thou like unto the
great infinite, calm ocean, which beckons to us, calls us, fills us
with presentiments, and if we venture upon it, we sink, we
vanish--die--cease to be?--

"Deceit! away! away!"

He sat tearless on his hard couch, desolate, kneeling--before whom?
Before the stone cross which was placed in the wall? No, habit alone
caused his body to bend.

The deeper he read within himself, the darker all appeared to him.
"Nothing within, nothing without! Life thrown away!" This thought,
crushed him--expunged him.

"I dare confide to none the doubts which consume me! My prisoner is my
secret and if it escape I am lost!"

The power of God, wrestled within him.

"Lord! Lord!" he exclaimed in his despair, "be merciful, give me
faith! I cast thy gifts of mercy from me and my vocation for this
world! I prayed for strength and thou hast not given it to me.
Immortality! The Psyche in my breast--away! away!--Must it be buried
like yon Psyche, the light of my life? Never to arise from the grave!"

The star beamed in the rosy red atmosphere, the star which will be
lost and will vanish, whilst the soul lives and emits light. Its
trembling ray fell upon the white wall, but it spoke not of the glory
of God, of the grace, the eternal love which beams in the breast of
every believer.

"Can the Psyche never die?--Can one live with consciousness?--Can the
impossible take place?--Yes! Yes! My being is inexplicable.
Inconceivable art thou, oh Lord! A wonder of might, glory and love!"

His eyes beamed, his eyes closed. The peal of the church bells passed
over the dead one. He was laid in holy ground and his ashes mingled
with the dust of strangers.

Years afterwards, his bones were exhumed and stood in a niche in the
cloisters, as had stood those of the dead monks before him; they were
dressed in the brown cowl, a rosary of beads placed in his hand, the
sun shone without, incense perfumed within, and mass was read.--

Years rolled by.

The bones and legs fell asunder. They stood up the skulls, and with
them, formed the whole outside wall of a church. There he stood in the
burning sunshine; there were so many, many dead, they did not know
their names, much less his.

See, something living moved in the sunshine in the two eye sockets;
what was that? A brilliant lizard was running about in the hollow
skull, slipping in and out of the large, empty sockets. This was now
the life in the head, where once elevated thoughts, brilliant dreams,
love for art and the magnificent had been rife; from which hot tears
had rolled and where the hope of immortality had lived. The lizard
leaped out and disappeared; the skull crumbled away and became dust to

Centuries passed. Unchanged, the star, clear and large, beamed on as
it had done for centuries. The atmosphere shone with a red rosy hue,
fresh as roses, flaming as blood.

Where there had once been a little street with the remains of an old
temple, now stood a convent; a grave was dug in the garden, for a
young nun had died, and she was to be lowered in the earth at this
early hour of the morning. The spade struck against a stone which
appeared of a dazzling whiteness--the white marble came forth--it
rounded into a shoulder;--they used the spade with care, and a female
head became visible--butterfly wings. They raised from the grave, in
which the young nun was to be laid on this rosy morning, a gloriously
beautiful Psyche-form, chiseled from white marble.

"How magnificent! How perfect a master work!" they said. "Who can the
artist be?" He was unknown. None knew him, save the clear star, which
had been beaming for centuries; it knew the course of his earthly
life, his trials, his failings; it knew that he was: "but a man!" But
he was dead, dispersed as dust must and shall be; but the result of
his best efforts, the glory which pointed out the divine within him,
the Psyche, which never dies, which surpasses in brightness, all
earthly renown, this remained, was seen, acknowledged, admired and

The clear morning star in the rosy tinted sky, cast its most radiant
beams upon the Psyche, and upon the smile of happiness about the mouth
and eyes of the admiring ones, who beheld the soul, chiseled in the
marble block.

That which is earthly passes away, and is forgotten; only the star in
the infinite knows of it. That which is heavenly surpasses renown; for
renown, fame and earthly glory die away, but--the Psyche lives

The Snail and the Rose-Tree.

A hedge of hazel-nut bushes encircled the garden; without was field
and meadow, with cows and sheep; but in the centre of the garden stood
a rose-tree, and under it sat a snail--she had much within her, she
had herself.

"Wait, until my time comes," said she, "I shall accomplish something
more than putting forth roses, bearing nuts, or giving milk, like the
cows and sheep!"

"I expect something fearfully grand," said the rose-tree, "may I ask
when it will take place?"

"I shall take my time," said the snail, "you are in too great a hurry,
and when this is the case, how can one's expectations be fulfilled?"

The next year the snail lay in about the same spot under the
rose-tree, which put forth buds and developed roses, ever fresh, ever
new. The snail half crept forth, stretched out its feelers and drew
itself in again.

"Everything looks as it did a year ago! No progress has been made; the
rose-tree still bears roses; it does not get along any farther!"

The summer faded away, the autumn passed, the rose-tree constantly
bore flowers and buds, until the snow fell, and the weather was raw
and damp. The rose-tree bent itself towards the earth, the snail crept
in the earth.

A new year commenced; the roses came out, and the snail came out.

"Now you are an old rose bush," said the snail, "you will soon die
away. You have given the world everything that you had in you; whether
that be much or little is a question, upon which I have not time to
reflect. But it is quite evident, that you have not done the slightest
thing towards your inward developement; otherwise I suppose that
something different would have sprung from you. Can you answer this?
You will soon be nothing but a stick! Can you understand what I say?"

"You startle me," said the rose-tree, "I have never thought upon

"No, I suppose that you have never meddled much with thinking! Can you
tell me why you blossom? And how it comes to pass? How? Why?"

"No," said the rose-tree, "I blossom with pleasure because I could
not do otherwise. The sun was so warm, the air so refreshing, I drank
the clear dew and the fortifying rain; I breathed, I lived! A strength
came to me from the earth, a strength came from above, I felt a
happiness, ever new, ever great and therefore I must blossom ever,
that was my life, I could not do otherwise!"

"You have led a very easy life!" said the snail.

"Certainly, everything has been given to me," said the rose-tree, "but
still more has been given to you. You are one of those meditative,
pensive, profound natures, one of the highly gifted, that astound the
whole world!"

"I have assuredly no such thought in my mind," said the snail, "the
world is nothing to me! What have I to do with the world? I have
enough with myself, and enough in myself!"

"But should we not all, here on earth, give the best part of us to
others? Offer what we can!--It is true, that I have only given
roses--but you? You who have received so much, what have you given to
the world? What do you give her?"

"What I have given? What I give? I spit upon her! She is good for
nothing! I have nought to do with her. Put forth roses, you can do no
more! Let the hazel bushes bear nuts! Let the cows and sheep give
milk; they have each their public, I have mine within myself! I retire
within myself, and there I remain. The world is nothing to me!"

And thereupon the snail withdrew into her house and closed it.

"That is so sad," said the rose-tree, "with the best will, I cannot
creep in, I must ever spring out, spring forth in roses. The leaves
drop off and are blown away by the wind. Yet, I saw one of the roses
laid in the hymn-book of the mother of the family; one of my roses was
placed upon the breast of a charming young girl, and one was kissed
with joy by a child's mouth. This did me so much good, it was a real
blessing! That is my recollection, my life!"

And the rose-tree flowered in innocence, and the snail sat
indifferently in her house. The world was nothing to her.

And years passed away. The snail became earth to earth and the
rose-tree became earth to earth; the remembrances in the hymn-book
were also blown away--but new rose-trees bloomed in the garden, new
snails grew in the garden; they crept in their houses and spat.--The
world is nothing to them.

Shall we read the story of the past again? It will not be different.

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    | Page 116: petulent replaced with petulant                    |
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    | Page 167: 'were' capitalized to 'Were' (new sentence)        |
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*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Ice-Maiden: and Other Tales." ***

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