THE ICE MAIDEN 789
the draught that the bountiful Creator above can prepare, and the recipe for making which, according to the reading of men, consists in mingling the fragrant aroma of the mountain herbs with the scent of the wild thyme and mint of the valley. All that is heavy is absorbed by the brooding clouds, and then the wind drives them along, and rubs them against the tree-tops, and the spirit of fragrance is infused into the air to make it lighter and fresher, ever fresher. And this was Rudy's morning draught.
The sunbeams, the blessing-laden daughters of the sun, kissed his cheeks, and Giddiness, who stood lurking by, never ventured to approach him ; but the swallows, who had no less than seven nests on his grandfather's roof, flew round about him and his goats, and sang, ' We and ye ! we and ye ! ' They brought him a greeting from home, even from the two fowls, the only birds in the house, but with whom Rudy never became at all intimate.
Small as he was, he had been a traveller, and for such a little fellow he had made no mean journey. He had been born over in the Canton of Wallis, and had been carried across the high mountains to his present dwelling. Not long ago he had made a pilgrimage on foot to the ' Staub-bach * or ' Dust Fountain ', which flutters through the air like a silver tissue before the snow-covered dazzling white mountain called the ' Jungfrau ' or ' Maiden \ He had also been in the Grindelwald, at the great glacier ; but that was a sad story. His mother had met her death there ; and there, said Grandfather, little Rudy had lost his childlike cheerfulness. When the boy was not a year old his mother had written concerning him that he laughed more than he cried, but from the time when he sat in the ice cleft, another spirit came upon him. His grandfather seldom talked of it, but the people through the whole mountain region knew the story.
Rudy's father had been a postilion. The great dog that lay in grandfather's room had always followed him in his journeys over the Simplon down to the Lake of Geneva. In the valley of the Rhone, in the Canton of Wallis, lived some relatives of Rudy on the father's side. His uncle was a first-rate chamois hunter and a well-known guide. Rudy was only a year old when he lost his father,