THE ICE MAIDEN
Rudy danced round it twice or thrice with Babette ; then they sat down, hand in hand, upon the bench under the drooping acacias, looked into each other's eyes ; and everything glowed in the radiance of the setting sun. The pine woods on the mountains were bathed in a lilac tint, like that of the blooming heather ; and where the trees ended and the naked rock was shown, it glowed as if the stone had been transparent ; the clouds in the sky were like red fire, and the whole lake lay like a fresh blushing rose leaf. Gradually the shadows crept up the snow-covered mountains of Savoy, painting-them blue-black ; but the highest summit gleamed like red lava, and seemed to give a picture from the early history of the mountains' formation, when these masses rose glowing from the depths of the earth and had not yet cooled. Rudy and Babette declared they 'had never yet beheld such a sunset in the Alps. The snow-covered Dent du Midi was tipped with a radiance like that of the full moon when she first rises above the horizon.
1 So much beauty ! So much happiness ! ' they both exclaimed.
' This earth has nothing more to give,' said Rudy. 1 An evening like this seems to comprise a whole life ! How often have I felt my happiness as I feel it now, and have thought, " If everything were to end this moment, how happily I should have lived ! How glorious is this world ! " And then the day would end, and another began, and the new day seemed more beautiful to me than the last! How immeasurably good is God, Babette ! '
' I am happy from the very depth of my heart! ' she said.
1 This earth can offer me nothing more,' said Rudy.
And the evening bells began to sound from the mountains of Savoy and from the Swiss hills, and in the west rose the black Jura range, crowned with a wreath of gold.
' May Heaven grant to thee what is happiest and best ! ' murmured Babette.
* It will,' replied Rudy. ' To-morrow I shall have it. To-morrow you will be mine entirely. My own sweet wife ! '