822 THE ICE MAIDEN
' There those two sit/ said the Ice Maiden. * Many a chamois have I crushed, millions of Alpine roses have I broken to pieces, not even sparing the roots. I'll wipe them out, these thoughts—these spirit powers.'
And she laughed again.
' There rolls another avalanche !' said the people in the valley below.
At Montreux, the first of the towns which with Clarens, Vernex, and Crin form a garland round the north-eastern portion of the Lake of Geneva, lived Babette's godmother, a high-born English lady, with her daughters and a young male relative. They had only lately arrived, but the miller had already waited upon them to tell them of Babette's betrothal, and the story of Rudy and the eaglet, and of his visit to Interlaken—in short, the whole story. And the visitors were much pleased to hear it, and showed themselves very friendly towards Rudy, Babette, and the miller, who were all three urgently invited to come and see them, and came accordingly. Babette was to see her godmother, and the lady to make acquaintance with Babette.
By the little town of Villeneuve, at the extremity of the Lake of Geneva, lay the steamship which in a half-hour's trip goes from there to Vernex just below Montreux. The coast here has been sung by poets ; here, under the walnut trees, by the deep bluish-green lake, sat Byron, and wrote his melodious verses of the prisoner in the gloomy rocky fortress of Chillon. Yonder, where the weeping willows of Clarens are clearly mirrored in the water> Rousseau wandered, dreaming of Heloise. The Rhone rolls onward among the lofty snow-clad mountains of Savoy: here, not far from its mouth, lies in the lake a little island, so small that seen from the coast it appears like a ship upon the waters. It is a rock which, about a century ago, a lady caused to be walled round with stone and coated with earth, wherein three acacia trees were planted, which now overshadow the whole island.