828 THE ICE MAIDEN
to take it away, and I do not drink it, therefore you must drink it.'
And the girl brought the wine, and poured it into a wooden cup, which she gave to Rudy.
* That is good wine,' said he. ' I've never tasted any so strong or so fiery ! '
And his eyes glistened, and a glowing, lifelike feeling streamed through him, as if every care, every pressure, had melted into air, and the fresh bubbling human nature stirred within him.
1 Why, this must be Annette!' he cried. ' Give me a kiss.'
* Then give me the beautiful ring that you wear on your finger.'
* My betrothal ring 1 *
' Yes, that very one,' said the girl.
And again she poured wine in the cup, and she put it to his lips, and he drank. The joy of life streamed into his blood : the whole world seemed to be his, and why should he mourn ? Everything is made for us to enjoy, that it may make us happy. The stream of life is the stream of enjoyment, and to be carried along by it is happiness. He looked at the young girl—it was Annette, and yet not Annette ; still less did it seem like the phantom, the goblin as he called it, which had met him at Grindelwald. The girl here on the mountain looked fresh as the white snow, blooming as an Alpine rose, and swift-footed as a kid ; but still she looked as much a mortal as Rudy himself. And he looked in her wonderfully clear eyes, only for a moment he looked into them, and—who shall describe it ?—in that moment, whether it was the life of the spirit or death that filled him, he was borne upward, or else he sank into the deep and deadly ice cleft, lower and lower. He saw the icy walls gleaming like blue-green glass, fathomless abysses yawned around, and the water dropped tinkling down like shining bells, clear as pearls, glowing with pale blue flames. The Ice Maiden kissed him—a kiss which sent a shudder from neck to brow ; a cry of pain escaped from him ; he tore himself away, staggered, and—it was night before his eyes ; but soon he opened them again. Evil powers had been playing their sport with him.