THE ICE MAIDEN
bound to show some sense of obligation. The day was fixed. On the evening before it, they were to travel to Villeneuve, so that they might drive over early to Montreux, that the young English ladies might dress the bride.
' I suppose there will be a wedding feast here in the house ? ' said the Parlour Cat : ' if not, I wouldn't give a mew for the whole affair.'
* Of course there will be a feast here,' replied the Kitchen Cat. ' Ducks and pigeons have been killed, and a whole buck is hanging against the wall. My mouth waters when I think of it. To-morrow the journey will begin.'
Yes, to-morrow. And on this evening Rudy and Babette sat for the last time together in the mill as a betrothed pair.
Without, the Alps were glowing, the evening bells sounded, and the Daughters of the Sunbeams sang, ' Let that happen which is best.'
Visions of the Night
The sun had gone down and the clouds lowered among the high mountains in the Rhone valley ; the wind blew from the south—a wind from Africa was passing over the lofty Alps, a whirlwind that tore the clouds asunder ; and when it had passed by, all was still for a moment ; the rent clouds hung in fantastic forms among the forest-clad mountains and over the hurrying Rhone ; they hung in shapes like those of the sea monsters of the primaeval world, like the soaring eagles of the air, like the leaping frogs of the marshes ; they came down towards the rushing stream, sailing upon it, and yet suspended in air. The river carried down with it an uprooted pine tree, and bubbling eddies rushed on in front of the mass ; they were Spirits of Giddiness, more than one of them, that whirled along over the foaming stream. The moon lit up the snow on the mountain-tops, the dark woods, and the wonderful white clouds—the nightly visions, the spirits of the powers of nature. The dwellers in the mountains saw them through the window-panes sailing on in troops in front of the Ice Maiden, who came out of her glacier palace, and sat on