824 THE ICE MAIDEN
sat, the trap-door through which the unhappy wretches were hurled down to be impaled below upon tipped iron stakes in the water. They called it a pleasure to see all this. It was a place of execution that had been lifted by Byron's song into the domain of poetry. Rudy only associated the prison feeling with it. He leaned against one of the great stone window-frames, and looked out into the deep bluish-green water and over at the little island with the three acacias ; thither he wished himself transported, to be free from the whole chattering company. But Babette was in unusually good spirits. She declared she had enjoyed herself immensely, and told Rudy she considered the young cousin a complete gentleman.
' A complete booby ! * cried Rudy.
And it was the first time he had said anything she did not like. The Englishman had given her a little book in remembrance of Chillon. It was Byron's poem, ' The Prisoner of Chillon,' translated into French, so that Babette could read it.
' The book may be good,' said Rudy, ' but I don't like the combed and curled fellow who gave it you.'
1 He looked to me like a flour-sack without any flour,' said the miller ; and he laughed at his own joke.
Rudy laughed too, and said that was just his own opinion.
A few days after these events, when Rudy went to pay a visit at the mill, he found the young Englishman there, and Babette was just about to offer her visitor some boiled trout—which she certainly must have decorated with parsley with her own hands, so tempting did they look, —a thing that was not at all necessary. What did the Englishman want here ? And what business had Babette to treat him and pet him ? Rudy was jealous ; and that pleased Babette, for she liked to become acquainted with all the points of his character, the weak as well as the strong. Love was still only a game to her. and she played