802 THE ICE MAIDEN
say against him until now: he had certainly kissed Annette, but she was not the beloved one of his heart.
Down in the valley near Bex, among the great walnut trees, by a little brawling mountain stream, lived the rich miller. The dwelling-house was a great building, three stories high, with little towers, roofed with planks and covered with plates of metal that shone in the sunlight and in the moonlight; the principal tower was surmounted by a weather-vane, a flashing arrow that had pierced an apple—an emblem of Tell's famous feat. The mill looked pleasant and comfortable, and could be easily drawn and described ; but the miller's daughter could neither be drawn nor described—so, at least, Rudy would have said ; and yet she was portrayed in his heart, where her eyes gleamed so brightly that they had lighted up a fire. This had burst out quite suddenly, as other fires break forth ; and the strangest thing of all was, that the miller's daughter, pretty Babette, had no idea of the conquest she had made, for she and Rudy had never exchanged a word together.
The miller was rich, and this wealth of his made Babette very difficult to get at. But nothing is so high that it may not be reached if a man will but climb ; and he will not fall, if he is not afraid of falling. That was a lesson Rudy had brought from his first home.
Now it happened that on one occasion Rudy had some business to do in Bex. It was quite a journey thither, for in those days the railway had not yet been completed. From the Rhone glacier, along the foot of the Simplon, away among many changing mountain heights, the proud valley of Wallis extends, with its mighty river the Rhone, which often overflows its banks and rushes across the fields and high roads, carrying destruction with it. Between the little towns of Sion and St. Maurice the valley makes a bend, like an elbow, and becomes so narrow below St. Maurice that it only affords room for the bed of the river and a narrow road. An old tower here stands as a sentinel at the boundary of the Canton of Wallis, which ends here. The tower looks across over the stone bridge at the toll-house on the opposite side. There commences the Canton of Waud, and at a little distance is the first town of that Canton, Bex. At every step the signs of