The Ice Maiden The cousin Andersen's fairy tale

When Rudy went to visit the mill a couple of days later, he found the young Englishman there. Babette had just set a plate of boiled trout before him, which she herself had decorated with parsley, to make it look appetizing, no doubt. Rudy thought that was entirely unnecessary. What did he want there? What was his business? To be served and pampered by Babette? Rudy was jealous, and that pleased Babette. It amused her to see revealed all the feelings of his heart - the weak as well as the strong.

Love was still an amusement to her, and she played with Rudy's heart; but it must be said that he was still the center of all her thoughts, the dearest and most cherished in the world. Still, the gloomier he looked the more merrily she laughed at him with her eyes. She would even have kissed the blond Englishman with the golden whiskers if it would have made Rudy rush out in a fury; for it would have shown her how much he loved her.

This was not the fair nor the wise thing for little Babette to do, but she was only nineteen. She had no intention of being unkind to Rudy; still less did she think how her conduct would appear to the young Englishman, or how light and improper it was for the miller's modest, newly betrothed daughter.

Where the road from Bex passes beneath the snow-clad peaks, which in the language of the country are called diablerets, the mill stood, near a rushing, grayish-white mountain stream that looked as if it were covered with soapsuds. It wasn't that stream that turned the mill wheel, but a smaller one which came tumbling down the rocks on the other side of river. It ran through a reservoir dammed up by stones in the road beneath, and forced itself up with violence and speed into an enclosed wooden basin, formed by a wide dam across the rushing river, where it turned the large mill wheel. When the water had piled up behind the dam it overflowed, and made the path so wet and slippery that it was difficult for anyone who wanted to take this short cut to the mill to do so without falling into the water. However, the young Englishman thought he would try it.

Dressed in white like a mill worker, he was climbing the path one evening, following the light that shone from Babette's window. He had never learned to climb, and so almost went head first into the stream, but escaped with wet arms and spattered trousers. Soaking wet and covered with mud, he arrived beneath Babette's window, climbed the old linden tree, and there began to make a noise like an owl, which was the only bird he could even try to imitate. Babette heard it and peeped out through the thin curtains, but when she saw the man in white, and realized who he was, her little heart pounded with fright, but also with anger. Quickly she put out her light, made sure the window was securely fastened, and then left him to his hooting and howling.

How terrible it would be, she thought, if Rudy were now at the mill! But Rudy wasn't at the mill - no, it was much worse - he was standing right under the tree. Loud words were spoken - angry words - they might come to blows, or even murder!

Babette hurried to open her window, and called down to Rudy to go away, adding that she couldn't let him stay there.

"You won't let me stay here!" he cried. "Then this is an appointment! You're expecting some good friend - someone you'd rather see than me! Shame on you, Babette!"

"You are very nasty!" said Babette, and started to cry. "I hate you! Go away! Go away!"

"I haven't deserved anything like this," said Rudy as he went away, his cheeks burning, his heart on fire.

Babette threw herself on her bed and cried. "And you can think that of me, Rudy, of me who loves you so!"

She was angry, very angry, and that was good for her; for otherwise she would have been deeply hurt. As it was, she could fall asleep and enjoy youth's refreshing slumber.

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