THE ICE MAIDEN
Babette also held out her hand frankly to Rudy, who pressed it so warmly and gave her such an earnest look that she blushed crimson to the roots of her hair.
The miller talked of the long distance they had come, and of the many huge towns they had seen ; according to his idea, they had made quite a long journey of it, having travelled by railway, steamboat, and diligence.
' I came the shortest way,' observed Rudy. ' I walked across the mountains. No road is so high but a man may get over it.'
' And break his neck,' quoth the miller. ' You look just the fellow to break your neck one of these days, so bold as you are, too.'
1 Oh, a man does not fall unless he is afraid of falling,' observed Rudy.
The relatives of the miller in Interlaken, at whose house he and Babette were staying, invited Rudy to visit them, since he belonged to the same Canton as the rich miller. That was a good offer for Rudy. Fortune was favourable to him, as she always is to any one who seeks to win by his own energy, and remembers that * Providence provides us with nuts, but leaves us to crack them'.
Rudy sat among the miller's relatives like one of the family. A glass was emptied to the health of the best marksman, and Babette clinked her glass with the rest, and Rudy returned thanks for the toast.
Towards evening they all took a walk on the pretty road by the prosperous hotels under the old walnut trees, and so many people were there, and there was so much pushing, that Rudy was obliged to offer his arm to Babette. He declared he was very glad to have met people from Waud, for Waud and Wallis were good neighbour Cantons. He expressed his joy so heartily, that Babette could not help giving him a grateful pressure of the hand. They walked on together as if they had been old friends, and she talked and chattered away; and Rudy thought how charmingly she pointed out the ridiculous and absurd points in the costumes and manners of the foreign ladies; not that she did it to make game of them, for they might be very good honourable people, as Babette well knew, for was not her own godmother one of these grand English ladies ?