THE ICE MAIDEN
down, where in the summer the mountain stream spread its misty veil; garlands of ice of whimsical forms hung sparkling on the snow-powdered fir trees. The Ice Maiden rode on the rushing wind over the deepest valleys. The snowy covering reached almost down to Bex, and the Ice Maiden came thither also, and saw Rudy sitting in the mill: this winter he sat much more indoors than was his custom—he sat by Babette. The wedding was to be next summer; their ears often buzzed, their friends spoke so much about it. In the mill there was sunshine—the loveliest Alpine rose bloomed there, the cheerful smiling Babette, beautiful as the spring, the spring that makes all the birds sing of summer and of marriage feasts.
c How those two are always sitting together—close together !' said the Parlour Cat. ' I've heard enough of their mewing.'
The Ice Maiden
Spring had unfolded its fresh green garland on the walnut and chestnut trees extending from the bridge at St. Maurice to the shore of the Lake of Geneva, along the Rhone that rushes along with headlong speed from its source beneath the green glacier, the ice palace where the Ice Maiden dwells, and whence she soars on the sharp wind up to the loftiest snow-field, there to rest upon her snowy couch : there she sat, and gazed with far-seeing glance into the deep valleys, where the men ran busily to and fro, like ants on the stone that glitters in the sun.
' Ye spirit powers, as the Children of the Sun call you,' said the Ice Maiden, ' ye are but worms. Let a snowball roll from the mountain, and you and your houses and towns are crushed and swept away ! '
And higher she lifted her haughty head, and gazed out far and wide with deadly flashing eyes.
But from the valley there arose a rumbling sound. They were blasting the rocks. Human work was going on. Roads and tunnels for railways were being constructed.
' They're playing like moles ! ' she said. ' They're digging passages under the earth, and thence come these