826 THE ICE MAIDEN
put out the light in a hurry, saw that all the bolts of the windows were well secured, and then let him whoop and tu-whoo to his heart's content.
It would be dreadful if Rudy were in the mill just now ! But Rudy was not in the mill ; no—what was worse still, he stood just under the elm tree. Presently there were loud and angry voices, and there might be a fight there, and even murder. Babette opened the window in a fright, and called Rudy by name, begging him to go, and declaring that she would not allow him to remain.
' You won't allow me to remain ? ' he shouted. ' Then it's a planned thing ! You expect good friends, better men than I ! For shame, Babette ! '
' You are odious ! ' cried Babette. ' I hate you ! Go, go!'
' I have not deserved this,' he said, and went away, his face burning like fire, and his heart burning as fiercely.
Babette threw herself on her bed and wept.
' So dearly as I love you, Rudy ! And that you should think evil of me ! '
Then she broke out in anger; and that was good for her, for otherwise she would have suffered too much from her grief ; and now she could sleep—could sleep the strengthening sleep of health and youth.
Rudy quitted Bex and took the way towards his home ; he went up the mountain, into the fresh cool air, where the snow lay on the ground, where the Ice Maiden ruled. The leafy trees stood far below him and looked like field plants ; the'pines and bushes all looked tiny from here ; the Alpine roses grew beside the snow, that lay in long patches like linen lying to bleach. A blue gentian that stood by his path he crushed with a blow of his rifle-stock.
Higher up still two chamois came in view. Rudy's eyes brightened and his thoughts took a new direction ; but he was not near enough to be sure of his aim, so he mounted