The Complete Fairy Tales & Other Stories
By Hans Christian Andersen - online book

Oxford Complete Illustrated Edition all his stories written between 1835 and 1872.

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THE ICE MAIDEN                         819
and bite all they looked at. The short strong beak was open, ready to snap, and the neck was red and downy.
' The young eagle ! ' cried the miller.
Babette screamed aloud and started back, but she could not turn her eyes from Rudy or from the eagle.
' You're not to be frightened off,' observed the miller.
{ And you always keep your word,' answered Rudy. ' Every man has his own character.'
' But why did you not break your neck ? ' asked the miller.
' Because I held fast,' replied Rudy ; ' and I do that still. I hold Babette fast ! '
' First see that you get her,' said the miller ; and he laughed. But his laughter was a good sign, and Babette knew it.
' We must have him out of the basket ; his staring is enough to drive one mad. But how did you contrive to get at him ? '
And Rudy had to relate the adventure, at which the miller opened his eyes wider and wider.
1 With your courage and good fortune you may gain a living for three wives,' cried the miller at last.
' Thank you ! ' said Rudy.
' Still, you have not Babette yet,' continued the miller ; and he slapped the young huntsman playfully on the shoulder.
' Do you know the latest news from the mill ? ' the Parlour Cat inquired of the Kitchen Cat. ' Rudy has brought us the eaglet, and is going to take Babette away in exchange. They have kissed each other, and let the old man see it. That's as good as a betrothal. The old man didn't kick; he drew in his claws, and took his nap, and let the two young ones sit together and purr. They've so much to tell each other that they won't have done till Christmas.'
And they had not done till Christmas. The wind tossed up the brown leaves ; the snow whirled through the valley and over the high mountains ; the Ice Maiden sat in her proud castle, which increases in size during the winter ; the rocky walls were covered with a coating of ice, and icicles thick as pine trunks and heavy as elephants hung