The Ice Maiden What news the parlor cat had to tell Andersen's fairy tale

"Here's what you asked for!" said Rudy, as he entered the miller's house at Bex, and placed a large basket on the floor. When he took the lid off two yellow eyes surrounded by dark rings glared out, eyes so flashing, so fierce, that they looked as though they would burn or blast anything they saw. The neck was red and downy; the short strong beak opened to bite.

"The eaglet!" cried the miller. Babette screamed and sprang back, but could not tear her eyes from Rudy and the eaglet.

"Nothing frightens you!" said the miller to Rudy.

"And you always keep your word," said Rudy. "Everyone has his principles."

"But how did it happen that you didn't break your neck?" asked the miller.

"Because I held tightly," said Rudy. "And so I'm doing now - holding tightly to Babette."

"Better wait till you get her!" laughed the miller; and Babette knew that was a good sign.

"Let's take the eaglet out of the basket; it's horrible to see its eyes glaring. How did you manage to capture it?"

And Rudy had to describe his adventure. As he talked the miller's eyes opened wider and wider.

"With your courage and good luck you could take care of three wives!" said the miller.

"Thank you! Thank you!" cried Rudy.

"But you won't get Babette just yet!" said the miller, slapping the young hunter good-humoredly on the shoulder.

"Do you know the latest news at the mill?" said the Parlor Cat to the Kitchen Cat. "Rudy has brought us the eaglet, and takes Babette in exchange. They have actually kissed each other, and her father saw it! That's as good as an engagement! The old man didn't make any fuss at all; he kept his claws pulled in, took his afternoon nap, and left the two of them to sit and spoon. They have so much to tell each other that they won't have finished until Christmas!"

And they hadn't finished by Christmas, either. The wind shook down the yellow leaves; the snow drifted up in the valleys as well as on the high mountains; the Ice Maiden sat in her stately palace, which grew larger during the winter. The cliffs were covered with sleet, and icicles, big and heavy as elephants, hung down. Where in summer the mountain streams poured down, there were now enormous masses of icy tapestry; fantastic garlands of crystal ice hung over the snow-covered pine trees. Over the deepest valleys the Ice Maiden rode the howling wind. The carpet of snow spread down as far as Bex, so she could go there and see Rudy in the house where he spent so much time with Babette. The wedding was to take place the following summer; and their ears often tingled, for their friends often talked about it.

Then everything was sunny, and the most beautiful Alpine rose bloomed. The lovely, laughing Babette was as charming as the early spring itself - the spring which makes all the birds sing of the summertime and weddings.

"How those two do sit and drool over each other!" said the Parlor Cat. "I'm tired of their mewing now!"

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