ET us pay a visit to Switzerland. Let us look around
us in that magnificent mountainous country, where the
woods creep up the sides of the precipitous walls of
rock; let us ascend to the dazzling snow-fields above,
and descend again to the green valleys beneath, where
the rivers and the brooks foam along as if they were
afraid that they should not fast enough reach the ocean
and be lost in its immensity. The sun's burning rays
shine on the deep dales, and they also shine upon the
heavy masses of snow
 above, so that the ice-blocks
which have been accumulating for years melt and become
rolling avalanches, piled-up glaciers. Two such lie in
the broad mountain clefts under Schreckhorn and
Wetterhorn, near the little mountain town of
Grindelwald. They are wonderful to behold, and
therefore in summer-time many strangers come here from
every foreign land. They come over the lofty
snow-covered hills; they come through the deep valleys,
and thence for hours and hours they must mount; and
always, as they ascend, the valleys seem to become
deeper and deeper, until they appear as if viewed from
a balloon high up in the air. The clouds often hang
like thick, heavy curtains of smoke around the lofty
mountain peaks, while down in the valley, where the
many brown wooden houses lie scattered about, a bright
ray of the sun may be shining, and bringing into strong
relief some brilliant patch of green, making it look as
if it were transparent. The waters foam and roar as
they rush along below—they murmur and tinkle above.
They look, up there, like silver ribbons streaming down
over the rocks.
On both sides of the ascending road lie wooden houses.
Each house has its little potato-garden; and this is a
necessity, for with indoors yonder are many mouths—the
houses are crammed with children, and children often
waste food. From all the cottages they sally forth in
swarms and throng round travelers, whether these are on
foot or in carriages. The whole troop of children are
little merchants—they offer for sale charming toy
wooden houses, models of the dwellings one sees here
among the mountains. Whether it be fair weather or
foul, the crowds of children issue forth with their
Some twenty years ago occasionally stood here, but
always at a short distance from the other children, a
little boy who was also ready to engage in trade. He
stood with an earnest, grave expression of countenance,
and holding his deal box fast with both hands as if he
were afraid of losing it. The very earnestness of his
face and his being such a little fellow caused him to
be remarked and called forward, so that he often sold
the most—he did not himself know why. Higher up among
the hills lived
 his maternal grandfather, who cut out the neat, pretty
houses, and in a room up yonder was an old press full
of all sorts of things—nut-crackers, knives,
forks, boxes with prettily carved leaf-work, and
springing chamois: there was everything to please a
child's eye. But the little Rudy, as he was called,
looked with greater interest and longing at the old
firearms and other weapons which were hung up under the
beams of the roof. "He should have them some day," said
his grandfather, "when he was big enough and strong
enough to make use of them." young as the boy was, he
was set to take care of the goats, and he who had to
clamber after them was obliged to keep a good lookout
and to be a good climber. And Rudy was an excellent
climber; he even went higher than the goats, for he was
fond of seeking for birds'-nests up among the tops of
the trees. Bold and adventurous he was, but no one ever
saw him smile except when he stood near the roaring
cataract or heard the thunder of a rolling avalanche.
He never played with the other children—he never
went near them, except when his grandfather sent him
down to sell the things he made. And Rudy did not care
much for that; he preferred scrambling about among the
mountains or sitting at home with his grandfather and
hearing him tell stories of olden days and of the
people near by at Meyringen, whence he came. "This
tribe had not been settled there from the earliest ages
of the world," he said; "they were wanderers from afar;
they had come from the distant north, where their race
still dwelt, and were called 'Swedes.'" This was a
great deal for Rudy to learn, but he learned more form
other sources, and these were the animals domiciled in
the house. One was a large dog, Ajola, a legacy from
Rudy's father; the other a tom-cat. Rudy had much for
which to thank the latter—he had taught him to
"Come out upon the roof with me!" the Cat had said,
distinctly and intelligibly; for when one is a young
child, and can scarcely speak, fowls and ducks, cats
and dogs, are almost as easily understood as the
language that fathers and mothers use. One must be very
little indeed then, however; it is the time
 when grandpa's stick neighs and becomes a horse with
head, legs, and tail.
Some children retain these infantine thoughts longer
than others; and of these it is said that they are very
backward, exceedingly stupid children—people say
"Come out upon the roof with me, little Rudy!" was
one of the fierst things the Cat said, and Rudy
"It is all nonsense to fancy one must fall down; you
won't fall unless you are afraid. Come! set one of your
paws here, the other there, and take care of yourself
with the rest of your paws! Keep a sharp lookout, and
be active in your limbs! If there be a hole, spring
over it, and keep a firm footing as I do."
And so also did little Rudy; often and often he sat
on the shelving roof of the house with the Cat; often,
too, on the tops of the trees; but he sat also higher
up among the towering rocks, which the Cat did not
"Higher! higher!" said the Trees and the Bushes. "Do
you not see how we climb up—to what height we go,
and how fast we hold on, even among the narrowest
points of rock?"
And Rudy gained the top of the hill earlier than the
sun had gained it; and there he took his morning
draught,the fresh, envigorating mountain air—that
drink that only our Lord can prepare, and which mankind
pronounces to be the early fragrance from the mountain
herbs and the wild thyme and mint in the valley. All
that is heavy the overhanging clouds absorb within
themselves, and the winds carry them over the pine
woods, while the spirit of fragrance becomes
air—light and fresh; and this was Rudy's morning
The sunbeams, those daughters of the sun, who bring
blessings with them, kissed his cheeks; and dizziness
stood near on the watch, but dared not approach him;
and the swallows from his grandfather's house beneath
(there were not less than seven nests) flew up to him
and the goats, singing, "We and you, and you and we!"
They brought him greetings from his home, even from the
two hens, the only birds in the establishment, though
Rudy was not intimate with them.
 Young as he was, he had traveled, and traveled a good
deal for such a little fellow. He was born in the
Canton Valais, and brought thence over the hills. He
had visited on foot Staubbach, that seems like a silver
veil to flutter before the snowclad, glittering white
mountain Jungrau. And he had been at the great
glaciers near Grindelwald, but that was connected with
a sad event; his mother had found her death there, and
his grandfather used to say, "little Rudy had got all
his childish merriment knocked out of him." Before the
child was a year old "he laughed more than he cried,"
his mother had written; but from the time that he fell
into the crevasse in the ice his disposition had
entirely changed. The grandfather did not say much
about this in general, but the whole hill knew the
Rudy's father had been a postilion, and the large dog
who now shared Rudy's home had always accompanied him
in his journeys over the Simplon down to the Lake of
Geneva. Rudy's kindred on his father's side lived in
the valley of the Rhone in the Canton Valais; his uncle
was a celebrated chamois-hunter and a well-known Alpine
guide. Rudy was not more than a year old when he lost
his father; and his mother was anxious to return with
her child to her own family in the Bernese Oberland.
Her father dwelt at the distance of a few hours'
journey from Grindelwald; he was a carver in wood, and
he made so much by this that he was very well off.
Carrying her infant in her arms, she set out homeward
in the month of June, in company with two
chamois-hunters, over the Gemmi to reach Grindelwald.
They had accomplished the greater portion of the
journey, had crossed the highest ridges to the
snow-fields, and could already see her native valley
with all its well-known scattered brown cottages; they
had now only the labor of going over the upper part of
one great glacier. The snow had recently fallen and
concealed a crevasse—not one so deep as to reach to the
abyss below where the water foamed along, but deeper
far than the height of any human being. The young
woman, who was carrying her infant, slipped, sank in,
 suddenly disappeared; not a shriek, not a groan
was heard—nothing but the crying of a little child.
Upward of an hour elapsed before her two companions
were able to obtain from the nearest house ropes and
poles to assist them in extricating her; and it was
with much difficulty and labor that they brought up
from the crevasse two dead bodies, as they thought.
Every means of restoring animation was employed, and
they were successful in recalling the child to life,
but not the mother; and so the old grandfather received
into his house, not a daughter, but a daughter's
son—the little one "who laughed more than he cried."
But a change seemed to have come over him since he had
been in the glacier-spalten—in the cold underground
iceworld, where the souls of the condemned are
imprisoned until Doomsday, as the Swiss peasants
Not unlike a rushing stream, frozen and pressed into
blocks of green crystal, lies the glacier, one great
mass of ice balanced upon another; in the depths
beneath tears along the accumulating stream of melted
ice and snow; deep hollows, immense crevasses yawn with
it. A wondrous palace of crystal it is, and in it
dwells the Ice-maiden—the queen of the glaciers. She,
the slayer, the crusher, is half the mighty ruler of
the rivers, half a child of the air; therefore she is
able to soar to the highest hunts of the chamois, to
the loftiest peaks of the snow-covered hills, where the
boldest mountaineer has to cut footsteps for himself in
the ice; she sails on the slightest sprig of the
pine-tree over the raging torrents below, and bounds
lightly from one mass of ice to another, with her long
snow-white hair fluttering about he and her
bluish-green robe shining like the water in the deep
"To crush—to hold fast—such power is mine!" she cries.
"Yet a beautiful boy was snatched from me—a boy whom I
had kissed, but not kissed to death. He is again among
mankind; he tends the goats upon the mountain heights;
he is always climbing higher and higher still, away,
away from other human beings, but not from me! He is
mine—I wait for him!"
And she commanded Vertigo to undertake the mission. It
 was in summer-time; the Ice-maiden was melting in the
green valley where the green mint grew, and Vertigo
mounted and dived. Vertigo has several sisters, quite
a flock of them, and the Ice-maiden selected the
strongest among the many who exercise their power
within doors and without—those who sit on the banisters
of steep staircases and the outer rails of lofty
towers, who bound like squirrels along the mountain
ridges, and, springing thence, tread the air as the
swimmer treads the water, and lure their victims
onward, down to the abyss beneath.
Vertigo and the Ice-maiden both grasped after mankind,
as the polypus grasps after all that comes within its
reach. Vertigo was to seize Rudy.
"Seize him, indeed!" cried Vertigo. "I cannot do it!
That good-for-nothing Cat has taught him its art. Yon
child of the human race possesses a power within
himself which keeps me at a distance. I cannot reach
the little urchin when he hangs from the branches out
over the depths below, or I would willingly loosen his
hold and send him whirling down through the air. But I
"We must seize him, though!" said the Ice-maiden.
"Either you or I! I will—I will!"
"No, no!" broke upon the air, like a mountain echo of
the church-bells' peal; but it was a whisper, it was a
song, it was the liquid tones of a chorus from other
spirits of Nature—mild, soft, and loving, the daughters
of the rays of the sun. They station themselves every
evening in a circle upon the mountain peaks and spread
out their rose-tinted wings, which, as the sun sinks,
become redder and redder until the lofty Alps seems all
in a blaze. Men call this the Alpine glow. When the
sun has sunk they retire within the white snow on the
crests of the hills and sleep there until sunrise, when
they come forth again. Much do they love flowers,
butterflies, and mankind; and among the latter they had
taken a great fancy for little Rudy.
"You shall not imprison him—you shall not get him!"
 "Greater and stronger have I seized and imprisoned,"
said the Ice-maiden.
Then sang the daughters of the sun of the wanderer
whose hat the whirlwind tore from his head and carried
away in its stormy flight. The wind could take his
cap, but not the man himself—no, it could make him
tremble with is violence, but it could not sweep him
away. "The human race is stronger and more ethereal
even than we are; they alone may mount higher than even
the sun, our parent. They know the magic words that
can rule the wind and the waves so that they are
compelled to obey and to serve them. You loosen the
heavy, oppressive weight, and they soar upward."
Thus sang the sweet tones of the bell-like chorus.
And every morning the sun's rays shone through the one
little window in the grandfather's house upon the quiet
child. The daughters of the rays of the sun kissed
him—they wished to thaw, to obliterate the ice-kiss
that the queenly maiden of the glaciers had given him
when, in the his dead mother's lap, he lay in the deep
crevasse of ice from which almost as by a miracle he
had been rescued.
THE JOURNEY TO THE NEW HOME
 RUDY was now eight years of age. His father's brother,
who lived in the valley of the Rhone, on the other side
of the mountain, whished to have the boy, as he could
be better educated and taught to do for himself there;
so also thought the grandfather, and he therefore
agreed to part with him.
The time for Rudy's departure drew nigh. There were
many more to take leave of than only his grandfather.
First here was Ajola, the old dog.
"Your father was the postilion, and I was the
positlion's dog," said Ajola. "We have often journeyed
up and down, and I know both dogs and men on both sides
of the mountains, It has not been my habit to speak
much, but now that we shall have so short a time for
conversation I will say a little more than usual, and
will relate to you something upon which I have
ruminated a great deal. I cannot understand it, nor
can you; but that is of no consequence. But I have
gathered this from it—that the good things of this
world are not dealt out equally either to dogs or to
mankind; all are not born to lie in laps or to drink
milk. I have never been accustomed to such
indulgences. But I have seen a whelp of a little dog
traveling in the inside of a
 post-chaise, occupying a
man's or a woman's seat, and the lady to whom he
belonged, or whom he governed, carried a bottle of
milk, from which she helped him; she also offered him
sponge cakes, but he would not condescend to eat them;
he only sniffed at them, so she hate them herself. I
was running in the sun by the side of the carriage, as
hungry as a dog could be, but I had only to chew the
cud of bitter reflection. Things were not so justly
meted out as they might have been—but when are they?
May you come to drive in carriages and lie in Fortune's
lap; but you can't bring all this about yourself. I
never could, either by barking or growling."
This was Ajola's discourse; and Rudy threw his arms
round his neck and kissed him on his wet mouth; and
then he caught up the Cat in his arms, but the animal
was angry at this, and exclaimed: "You are getting
too strong for me, but I will not use my claws against
you. Scramble away over the mountains—I have taught
you how to do so; never think of falling, but hold
fast, have no fear, and you will be safe enough."
And the Cat sprang down and ran off, for he did not
wish Rudy to see how sorry he was.
The hens hopped upon the floor; one of them had lost
her tail, for a traveler, who chose to play the
sportsman, had shot off her tail, mistaking the poor
fowl for a bird of prey.
"Rudy is going over the hills," murmured one of the
"He is in a hurry," said the other, "and I don't like
the leave-takings"; and they both hopped out.
The goats also bleated their farewells, and very sorry
Just at that time there were two active guides about to
cross the mountains; they proposed descending the other
side of the Gemmi, and Rudy was to accompany them on
foot. It was a long and laborious journey for such a
little fellow, but he had a good deal of strength and
had courage that was indomitable.
The swallows flew a little way with him, and sang to
him, "We and you, and you and we!"
The travelers' path led across the rushing Lutschine,
which in numerous small streams falls from the dark
clefts of the
 Grindelwald glaciers. The trunks of
fallen trees and fragments of rock serve here as
bridges. They had soon passed the thicket of alders,
and commenced to ascend the mountain, close to where
the glaciers had loosened themselves from the side of
the hill; and they went upon the glacier over the
blocks of ice and round them.
Rudy crept here and walked there, his eyes sparking
with joy as he firmly placed his iron-tipped
mountain-shoe wherever he could find footing for it.
The small patches of black earth, which the mountain
torrents had cast upon the glacier, imparted to it a
burned appearance, but still the bluish-green,
glass-like ice shone out visibly. They had to go round
the little pools which were dammed up, as it were,
amidst detached masses of ice; and in this circuitous
route they approached an immense stone which lay
rocking on the edge of a crevasse in the ice. The
stone lost its equipoise, toppled over, and rolled
down, and the echo of its thundering fall resounded
faintly from the glacier's deep abyss, far, far
Upward, always upward, they journeyed on; the glacier
itself stretched upward, like a continued stream of
masses of ice piled up in wild confusion, amidst bare
and rugged rocks. Rudy remembered for a moment what
had been told him—that he, with his mother, had lain
buried in one of these cold, mysterious fissures, but
he soon threw off such gloomy thoughts and only looked
upon the talked as one among the many fables he had
heard. Once or twice, when the men with whom he was
traveling thought that it was rather difficult for so
little a boy to mount up, they held out their hands to
help him, but he never needed any assistance, and he
stood upon the glaciers as securely as if he had been a
Now they came upon rocky ground, sometimes amidst mossy
stones, sometimes amidst low pine-trees, and again out
upon the green pastures—always changing, always new.
Around them towered lofty snow-clad mountains, those of
which every child in the neighborhood knows the
names—Jungrau, the Monk, and Eiger.
 Rudy had never before been so far from his home, never
before beheld the wide-spreading ocean of snow that lay
with its immovable billows of ice, from which the wind
occasionally swept little clouds of powdery snow, as it
sweeps the scum from the waves of the sea. Glacier
stretched close to glacier—one might have said they
were hand in hand; and each is a crystal palace
belonging to the Ice-maiden, whose pleasure and
occupation it is to seize and imprison her victims.
The sun was shining warmly, and the snow dazzled the
eyes as if it had been strewn with flashing pale-blue
diamonds sparks. Innumerable insects, especially
butterflies and bees, lay dead in masses on the snow;
they had winged their way too high, or else the wind
had carried them upward to the regions, for them, of
cold and death. Around Wetterhorn hung what might be
liked to a large tuft of very fine dark wool, a
threatening cloud; it sank, bulging out with what it
had concealed in itself—a fohn,
fearfully violent in
its might when it should break loose.
The whole of this journey—the night quarters above, the
while track, the mountain clefts where the water during
an incalculably long period of time had penetrated
through the blocks of stone—made an indelible
impression upon little Rudy's mind.
A forsaken stone building beyond the sea of snow gave
the travelers shelter for the night. Here they found
some charcoal and branches of pine-trees. A fire was
soon kindled, couches of some kind were arranged as
well as they could be, and the men placed themselves
near the blazing fire, took out their tobacco, and
began to drink the warm spiced beverage they had
prepared for themselves, nor did they forget to give
some to Rudy.
The conversation fell upon the mysterious beings who
haunt the Alpine land; upon the strange gigantic snakes
in the deep lakes—the night folks—the specter host,
that carry sleepers of through the air to the
wonderful, almost floating city of Venice—the wild
herdsman, who drives his black sheep over the green
pastures; if these had not been seen, the sound of
their bells had
 undoubtedly been heard, and the
frightful noise made by the phantom herds.
Rudy listened with intense curiosity to these
superstitious talks, but without any fear, for that he
did not know; and while he listened he fancied that he
heard the uproar of the wild spectral herd. Yes, it
became more and more distinct; the men heard it, too.
They were awed into silence; and as they harkened to
the unearthly noise they whispered to Rudy that he must
It was a fohn that had burst forth—that violent
tempestuous wind which issues downward from the
mountains into the valley beneath, and in its fury
snaps large trees as if they were but reeds, and
carries the wooden houses from one bank of a river to
the other as we would move men on a chess-board.
After an hour had elapsed Rudy was told that it was all
over and he might now go to sleep safely; and, weary
with his long walk, he did sleep, as if in duty bound
to do so.
At a very early hour in the morning the party set off
again. The sun that day lighted up for Rudy new
mountains, new glaciers, and new snow-fields. They had
entered the Canton Valais, and were upon the other side
of the ridge of hills seen from Grindelwald, yet still
far from his new home.
Other mountain clefts, other pastures, other woods, and
other hilly paths unfolded themselves; other houses,
and other people, too, Rudy saw. But what kind of
human beings were these? The outcasts of fate they
were , with frightful, disgusting, yellowish faces, and
necks of which the hideous flesh hung down like bags.
They were the cretins—poor, diseased wretches, dragging
themselves along and looking with stupid, lusterless
eyes upon the strangers who crossed their path—the
women even more disgusting than the men. Were such the
persons who surrounded his new home?
IN his uncle's house, when Rudy arrived there, he saw,
and he thanked God for it, people such as he had been
 see. There was only one cretin there, a
poor idiotic lad, one of those unfortunate beings who,
in their poverty—in fact, in their utter destitution—go
by turns to different families and remain a month or
two in each house. Poor Saperli happened to be in his
uncle's house when Rudy arrived.
The uncle was a bold and experienced hunter, and was
also a cooper by trade; his wife a lively little woman,
with a face something like that of a bird, eyes like
those of an eagle, and a long skinny throat.
Everything was new to Rudy—the dress, customs,
employments, even the language itself, but his childish
ear would soon learn to understand that. The contrast
between his home at his grandfather's and his uncle's
abode was very favorable to the latter. The house was
larger; the walls were adorned by horns of the chamois
and brightly polished guns; a painting of the Virgin
Mary hung over the door, and fresh Alpine roses, and a
lamp that was kept always burning, were placed before
His uncle, as has been told, was one of the most
renowned chamois-hunters of the district, and was also
one of the best and most experienced of the guides.
Rudy became the pet of the house; but there was another
pet as well—a blind, lazy old hound, who could no
longer be of any use; but he had been useful, and the
worth of the animal in his earlier days was remembered,
and he therefore now lived as one of the family and had
every comfort. Rudy patted the dog, but the animal did
not like strangers, and as yet Rudy was a stranger; but
he soon won every heart and became as one of
"Things don't go so badly in Canton Valais," said his
uncle. "We have plenty of chamois; they do not die off
so fast as the wild he-goats; matters are much better
nowadays than in old times, although they are so
bepraised. A hole is burst in the bag, and we have a
current of air now in our confined valley. Something
better always starts up when antiquated things are done
The uncle became quite chatty and discoursed to the boy
of the events of his own boyhood and those of his
 was then, as he called it, only a
receptacle for sick people—miserable cretins; 'but the
French soldiers came, and they made capital doctors;
they soon killed the disease, and the patients with it.
They know how to strike—aye, how to strike in many
ways—and the girls could smite, too!" And thereupon
the uncle nodded to his wife, who was a French decent,
and laughed. "The French could split solid stones if
they chose. It was they who cut out the rocks the road
over the Simplon—yes, cut such a road that I could say
to a child of three years of age, Go down to Italy!
You have but to keep to the highroad, and you find
yourself there." The good man then sang a French
chanson, and wound up by shouting "Hurrah!" for
It was the first time that Rudy had ever heard of
France, and he was interested in hearing of it,
especially Lyons, that great city on the river Rhone,
where his uncle had been.
The uncle prophesied that Rudy would become in a few
years a smart chamois-hunter, as he had quite a talent
for it. He taught the boy to hold, load, and fire a
gun; he took him up with him in the hunting-season
among the hills and made him drink of the warm chamois'
blood to ward off giddiness from the hunter; he taught
him to know the time when, upon the different sides of
the mountains, avalanches were about to fall, at midday
or in the evening, whenever the sun's rays took effect;
he taught him to notice the movements of the chamois,
and learn their spring, so that he might alight on his
feet and stand firmly, and told him that if on the
fissures of the rock there was no footing he must
support himself by his elbows, and exert the muscles
of his thighs and the calves of his legs to hold on
fast. Even the neck could be made of use if necessary.
The chamois are cunning, and place outposts on the
watch, but the hunter must be more cunning and scent
them out. Sometimes he might cheat them by hanging up
his hat and coat on an Alpine staff, and the chamois
would mistake the coat for the man. This trick the
uncle played one day when he was out hunting with Rudy.
The mountain pass was narrow; indeed, there was
 path at all, scarcely more than a slight
cornice close to the yawning abyss. The snow that lay
there was partially thawed, and the stones crumbled
away whenever they were trod on. So the uncle laid
himself down his full length and crept forward. Every
fragment of stone that broke off fell, rolling and
knocking from one side of the rocky wall to another,
until it sank ot rest in the dark depths below. About
a hundred paces behind his uncle stood Rudy, upon the
verge of the last point of solid rock, and as he stood
he saw careering through the air, and hovering just
over his uncle, an immense lammergeyer, which, with the
tremendous stroke of its wing, would speedily cast the
creeping worm into the abyss beneath, there to prey
upon his carcass.
The uncle had eyes for nothing but the chamois, which,
with its young kid, had appeared on the other side of
the crevasse. Rudy was watching the bird; well did he
know what was its aim, and therefore he kept his hand
on the gun to fire the moment it might be necessary.
Just then the chamois made a bound upward; Rudy's uncle
fired, and the animal was hit by the deadly bullet, but
the kid escaped as cleverly as if it had had a long
life's experience in danger and flight. The enormous
bird, frightened by the loud report, wheeled off in
another direction, and the uncle was freed form a
danger of which he was quite unconscious until he was
told of it by Rudy.
As in high good humor they were wending their way
homeward, and the uncle was humming an air he
remembered from his childish days, they suddenly heard
a peculiar noise which seemed to come from no great
distance. They looked round on both sides; they looked
upward, and there, in the heights above, on the sloping
verge of the mountain, the heavy covering of snow was
lifted up, and it heaved as a sheet of linen stretched
out heaves when the wind creeps under it. The lofty
mass cracked as if it had been a marble slab; it broke
and, resolving itself into a foaming cataract, came
rushing down with a rumbling noise like that of a
distant thunder. It was an avalanche that had fallen,
not indeed over Rudy and his uncle, but near them—all
 "Hold fast, Rudy—hold fast with all your might!" cried
And Rudy threw his arms around the trunk of a tree that
was close by, while his uncle climbed above him and
held fast to the branches of the tree. The avalanche
rolled past at a little distance from them, but the
gust of wind that swept like the tail of a hurricane
after it rattled around the trees and bushes, snapped
them asunder as if they had been but dry rushes, and
cast them down in all directions. Rudy was dashed to
the ground, for the trunk of the tree to which he had
clung was thus overthrown; the upper part was flung to
a great distance. There, amidst the shattered
branches, lay his poor uncle with his skull fractured!
His hand was still warm, but it would have been
impossible to recognize his face. Rudy stood pale and
trembling; it was the first shock in his young life,
the first moment he had ever felt terror.
Late in the evening he reached his home with the fatal
tidings—his home which was now to be the abode of
sorrow. The bereaved wife stood like statute—she did
not utter a word, she did not shed a tear, and it was
not until the corpse was brought in that her grief
found its natural vent. The poor cretin stole away to
his bed, and nothing was seen of him during the whole
of the next day; toward evening he came to Rudy.
"Will you write a letter for me?" he asked. "Saperli
cannot write—Saperli can only go down to the
post-office with the letter."
"A letter for you?" exclaimed Rudy; "and to whom?"
"To our Lord Christ!"
"Whom do you mean?"
And the half-idiot, as the cretin was called, looked
with a most touching expression at Rudy, clasped his
hands, and said, solemnly and reverentially:
"Jesus Christ! Saperli would send Him a letter to pray
of Him that Saperli may lie dead, and not the good
master of the house here."
And Rudy took his hand and wrung it. "That letter
 not reach up yonder; that letter would not
restore to us him we have lost."
But Rudy found it very difficult to convince Saperli of
the impossibility of his wishes.
"Now you must be the support of the house," said his
aunt to him; and Rudy became such.
 WHO is the best marksman in the Canton Valais? The
chamois well new. "Save yourselves from Rudy!" they
might have said. And "Who is the handsomest marksman?"
"Oh, it is Rudy!" said the girls. But they did not
add, "Save yourselves from Rudy"; neither did the sober
mothers say so, for he bowed politely to them as to the
young girls. He was so brave and joyous, his cheeks so
brown, his teeth so white, his dark eyes so sparkling.
A handsome young man he was, and only twenty years of
age. The most ice-chill water never seemed too cold
for him when he was swimming; in fact, he was like a
fish in the water; he could climb better than any one
else; he could also cling fast like a snail to the wall
of rock. There were good muscles and sinews in him;
this was quite evident whenever he made a spring. He
had learned first from the Cat how to spring, and from
the chamois afterward. Rudy had the reputation of
being the best guide on the mountain, and he could have
made a great deal of money by his occupation. His
uncle had also taught him the cooper’s trade, but he
had no inclination for that. He cared for nothing but
chamois-hunting; in this he delighted, and it also
brought in money. Rudy would be an excellent match, it
was said, if he only did not look too high. He was
such a good dancer that the girls who were his partners
 of him, and more than one let her
thoughts dwell on him even after she awoke.
"He kissed me in the dance!" said Annette, the
schoolmaster’s daughter, to her dearest friend; but she
should not have said this even to her dearest friend.
Such secrets are seldom kept; like sand in a bag that
has holes, they ooze out. Therefore, however well
behaved Rudy might be, it was soon spread about that he
kissed in the dance; and yet he had never kissed her
whom he would have liked to kiss.
"Take care of him!" said an old hunter. "He has kissed
Annette. He has begun with A, and he will kiss through
the whole alphabet."
A kiss in the dance was all that the gossips could find
to bring against Rudy; but he certainly had kissed
Annette, and yet she was not the flower of his heart.
Below at Bex, amidst the great walnut-trees, close to a
small rushing mountain stream, lived the rich Miller.
His dwelling-house was a large building three stories
high, with small turrets; its roof was composed of
shavings of wood covered with tinned iron plates, which
shone in sunshine and moonshine; on the highest turret
was a vane, a glittering arrow passed through an apple,
in allusion to Tell’s celebrated arrow-shot. The mill
ws a conspicuous object, and permitted itself to be
sketched or written about; but the Miller’s daughter
did not permit herself to be described in writing or to
be sketched—so at least Rudy would have said And yet
her image was engraved on his heart; both her eyes
blazed in on it so that it was quite in flames. The
fire had, like other fires, come on suddenly; and the
strangest part of it was that the Miller’s daughter,
the charming Babette, was quite ignorant of it, for she
and Rudy had never so much as spoken two words to each
The Miller was rich, and on account of his wealth
Babette was rather high to aspire to. "But nothing is
so high," said Rudy himself, "that one may not aspire
to it. One must climb perseveringly, and if one has
confidence one does not fall." He had received this
teaching in his early home.
It so happened that Rudy had some business to transact
at Bex. It was a long journey to that place, for there
was then no railroad. From the glaciers of the Rhone,
immediately at the foot of the Simplon, among many and
often shifting mountain peaks, stretches the broad
valley of the Canton Valais, with its mighty river, the
Rhone, whose waters are often so swollen as to overflow
its banks, inundating fields and roads and destroying
all. Between the town of Sion and St. Maurice the
valley takes a turn, bending like an elbow, and below
St. Maurice becomes so narrow that there is only space
for the bed of the river and the confined
carriage-road. An old tower, like the guardian of the
Canton Valais, which ends here, stands on the side of
the mountain and commands a view over the stone bridge
to the custom-house on the other side, where the Canton
Vaud commences; and nearest of the not very distant
towns lies Bex. In this part, at every step forward,
are displayed increased fruitfulness and abundance; one
enters, as it were, a grove fo chestnut and walnut
trees, here and there peep forth cypresses and
pomegranates. It is almost as warm there as in Italy.
Rudy reached Bex, got through his business, and looked
about him; but not a soul (putting Babette out of the
question) belonging to the mill did he see. This was
not what he wanted.
Evening came on; the air was filled with the perfume of
the wild thyme and the blossoming lime-trees; there lay
what seemed a shining sky-blue veil over the wooded
green hills; a stillness reigned around, not the
stillness of sleep, not the stillness of death; no, it
was as if all nature was holding its breath in order
that its image might be photographed upon the blue
surface of the heavens above. Here and there amidst the
trees stood poles, or posts, which conveyed the wires
of the telegraph along the silent valley; close against
one of these leaned an object, so motionless that one
might have thought it was the decayed trunk of a tree;
but it was Rudy, who was standing there as still as was
all around him at that moment. He was not sleeping,
neither was he dead; but, as through the wires of the
telegraph there are often transmitted the great events
 world and matters of the utmost importance to
individuals without the wires by the slightest tremor
or the faintest tone betraying them, so there passed
through Rudy's mind anxious, overwhelming thought
fraught with the happiness of his future life, and
constituting from this time forth his one unchanging
aim. His eyes were fixed on one point before him, and
that was a light in the parlor of the Miller's house,
where Babette resided. Rudy stood so still that one
might have thought he was on the watch to fire at a
chamois; but he was himself at that moment like a
chamois, which one minute could stand as if it were
chiseled out of the rock, and suddenly, if a stone but
rolled past, would make a spring and leave the hunter
in the lurch. And thus did Rudy, for a thought rolled
through his mind.
"Never despair!" said he. "A visit to the mill, say
good evening to the miller, and good day to Babette.
One does not fall unless one fears to do so. If I am to
be Babette's husband she must see me some day or
And Rudy laughed and made up his mind to go to the
Miller's; he knew what he wanted, and that was to marry
The stream, with its yellowish-white water, was dashing
on; the willows and lime-trees hung over it. Rudy, as
it stands in the old nursery rhyme,
Found to the miller's house his way;
But there was nobody at home,
Except a pussy cat at play!
The cat, which was standing on the steps, put up its
back and mewed; but Rudy was no way inclined to listen
to it. He knocked at the door; no one seemed to hear
him, no one answered. The cat mewed again. Had Rudy
been still a little boy he might have understood the
cat's language and heard that it said, "No one is at
home." But now he had to go to the mill to make the
necessary inquiries, and there he was told that the
master had gone on a long journey to the town of
Interlaken—"Inter Lacus amidst the lakes," as the
school-master, Annette's father, in his great learning
had explained the name.
Ah! so far away, then, were the Miller and Babette?
There was a great shooting-match to be held at
Interlaken; it was to begin the next morning and to
last for eight days. The Swiss form all the German
cantons were to assemble there.
Poor Rudy! It was not a fortunate time for him to have
come to Bex. He had only to return again; and he did
so, taking the road over St. Maurice and Sion to his
own valley, his own hills. But he was not disheartened.
When the sun rose next morning he was in high spirits,
but indeed they had never been depressed.
"Babette is at Interlaken, a journey of many days from
this," he said to himself. "It is a long way off if one
goes by the circuitous highroad, but not so far if one
cuts across the mountains, and that way just suits a
chamois-hunter. I have gone that way before; over
yonder lies my early home, where as a little boy I
lived with my grandfather. And there are
shooting-matches; I shall take my place as the first
there, and there also shall I be with Babette, when I
become acquainted with her."
Carrying his light knapsack, with his Sunday finery in
it, with his musket and game-bag, Rudy went up the
mountains, the shortest way, yet still tolerably long;
but the shooting matches were only to commence that day
and were to continue for a week. During all that time,
he had been assured, the Miller and Babette would stay
with their relatives at Interlaken. So over the Gemmi
trudged Rudy; he proposed descending near Grindelwald.
In high health and spirits he set off, enjoying the
fresh, pure, and invigorating mountain air. The valleys
sank deeper, the horizon became more extensive; here a
snow-crested summit, there another, and speedily the
whole of the bright shining Alpine range became
visible. Rudy knew well every ice-clad peak. He kept
his course opposite to Schreckhorn, which raised its
white-powdered stone finger high toward the blue vault
At length he had crossed the loftier mountain ridge.
The pasture-lands sloped down toward the valley that
was his former home. The air was pleasant, his thoughts
were pleasant; hill and dale were blooming with flowers
and verdure, and his heart
 was full of the glowing dreams of youth; he felt as if
old age, as if death were never to approach him; life,
power, enjoyment were before him. Free as a bird, light
as a bird was Rudy; and the swallows flew past him and
sang as in the days of his childhood, "We and you, and
you and we!" All was motion and pleasure.
Beneath lay the green-velvet meadows, dotted with brown
wooden houses; the river Lütschine rushed foaming
along. He saw the glacier with its borders like green
glass edging the dirty snow, and he saw the deep
chasms, while the sound of the church-bells came upon
his ear, as if they were ringing a welcome to his old
home. His heart beat rapidly, and his mind became so
full of old recollections that for a moment he almost
He was again traversing the same road where as a little
boy he had stood along with other children to sell
their carved wooden toy houses. Yonder, above the
pine-trees, still stood his grandfather's house, but
strangers dwelt there now. The children came running
after him as formerly; they wished to sell their little
wares. One of them offered him an Alpine rose; Rudy
took it as a good omen and thought of Babette. He had
soon crossed the bridge where the two Lütschines
unite, and reached the smiling country where the walnut
and other embowering trees afford grateful shade. He
soon perceived waving flags, and beheld the white cross
on the red ground—the standard of the Swiss as of
the Danes—and before him lay Interlaken.
Rudy thought it was certainly a splendid town—a
Swess town in its holiday dress. It was not, like other
market-towns, a heap of heavy stone houses, stiff,
foreign-looking, and aiming at grandeur; no! It looked
as if the wooden houses from the hills above had taken
a start into the green valley beneath, with its clear
stream whose waters rushed swiftly as an arrow and had
ranged themselves into row, somewhat uneven, it is
true, to form the street. And that prettiest of all,
the street which had which had been built since Rudy as
a little boy had last been there—that
seemed to be composed of all the nicest wooden houses
his grandfather had cut out, and with which the
cupboard at home had been filled.
 These seemed to have transplanted themselves there and
to have grown in size, as the old chestnut-trees had
Every house almost was a hotel, as it was called, with
carved wooden work round the windows and balconies,
with smart-looking roofs, and before each house a
flower-garden, between it and the wide, macadamized
highroad. Near these houses, but only on one side of
the road, stood some other houses; had they formed a
double row they would have concealed the fresh green
meadow, where wandered the cows with bells that rang as
among the high Alpine pastures. The valley was
encircled by lofty hills which, about the ceter, seemed
to retire a little to one side so as to render visible
that glittering snow-white Jungfrau, the most beautiful
in form of all the mountains of Switzerland.
What a number of gaily dressed gentleman and ladies
form foreign lands; what crowds of Swiss from the
adjacent cantons! The candidates for the prizes carried
the numbers of their shots in a garland round their
hats. There was music of all kinds—singing,
hand-organs, and wind instruments, shouting and racket.
The houses and bridges were adorned with verses and
emblems. Flags and banners waved; the firing of gun
after gun was heard, and that was the best music to
Rudy's ears. Amid all this excitement he almost forgot
Babette, for whose sake only he had gone there.
Crowds were thronging to the target-shooting. Rudy was
soon among them, and he was always the luckiest, the
best shot, for he always struck the bull's-eye.
"Who is that young stranger—that capital
marksman?" was asked around. "He speaks the French
language as they speak it in the Canton Valais; he also
expresses himself fluently in our German," said several
"When a child he lived here in the valley, near
Grindelwald," replied some one.
The youth was full of fire; his eyes sparkled, his aim
was steady, his arm sure, and therefore his shots
always told. Good fortune bestows courage, and Rudy had
always courage. He had soon a whole circle of friends
round him. Every one noticed
 him; in short, he became the observed of all observers.
Babette had almost vanished from his thoughts. Just
then a heavy hand was laid upon his shoulder, and a
rough voice accosted him in the French language with:
"You are from the Canton Valais?"
Rudy turned round and beheld a red, jolly countenance
and a stout person. It was the rich Miller from Bex;
his broad bulk his the slender, lovely Babette, who,
however, soon came forward with her dark, bright eyes.
The rich Miller was very proud that it was a huntsman
from his own canton that had been declared the best
shot and was so much distinguished and so much praised.
Rudy was truly the child of good fortune; what he had
traveled so far to look for but had since his arrival
nearly forgotten now sought him.
When at a distance from home one meets persons from
thence, acquaintance is speedily made, and people speak
as if they knew each other. Rudy held the first place
at the shooting-matches, as the Miller held the first
place at Bex, on account of his money and his mill. So
the two men shook hands, although they had never met
before; Babette, too, held out her hand frankly to
Rudy, and he pressed it warmly and gazed with such
admiration at her that she became scarlet.
The Miller talked of the long journey they had made and
the numerous large towns they had seen and how they had
traveled both by steam and by post.
"I came the shorter way," said Rudy; "I went over the
mountains. There is no road so high that one cannot
venture to take it."
"Aye, at the risk of breaking one's neck!" replied the
Miller. "And you look just like one who will some day
or other break his neck—you are so daring!"
"One does not fall unless one has the fear of doing
so," said Rudy.
And the Miller's relations at Interlaken, with whom he
and Babette were staying, invited Rudy to visit them,
since he came from the same canton as did their
kindred. It was a pleasant
 invitation for Rudy. Luck was with him, as it always is
with those who depend upon themselves and remember that
"Our Lord bestows nuts upon us, but He does not crack
them for us!"
And Rudy sat, almost like one of the family, among the
Miller's relations, and a toast was drunk in honor of
the best shot, to which Rudy returned thanks after
clinking glasses with Babette.
In the evening the whole party took a walk on the
pretty avenue past the gay-looking hotels under the
walnut-trees, and there was such a crowd and so much
pushing that Rudy had to offer his arm to Babette. He
told her how happy he was to have met people from the
Canton Vaud, for Vaud and Valais were close neighbors.
He spoke so cordially that Babette could not resist
slightly squeezing his hand. They seemed almost like
old acquaintances, and she was very lively—that
pretty little girl. Rudy was much amused at her remarks
on what was absurd and over-fine in the dress of the
foreign ladies and the affectation of some of them; but
she did not wish to ridicule them, for there might be
some excellent people among them—yes, nice,
amiable people, Babette was sure of that, for she had a
god-mother who was a very superior English lady,
Eighteen years before, when Babette was christened,
that lady was at Bex; she had given Babette the
valuable brooch she wore. Her god-mother had written to
her twice, and this year they were to have met her at
Interlaken, whither she was coming with her daughters;
they were old maids, going on for thirty, said
Babette—she herself was only eighteen.
The tongue in her pretty mouth was not still for a
moment, and all that she said appeared to Rudy as
matters of the greatest importance. And he told what he
had to tell–told her how he had been to Bex, how well
he knew the mill, and how often he had seen her,
though, of course, she had never remarked him. He said
he had been more distressed than he could tell when he
found that she and her father were away, far away, far
away, but still not too far to prevent one from
scrambling over the wall that made the road so long.
 He said all this, and he said a great deal more; he
told her how much she occupied his thoughts, and that
it was on her account, and not for the sake of the
shooting-matches, that he ha come to Interlaken.
Babette became very silent—it was almost too
much, all that he confided to her.
As they walked on the sun sank behind the lofty heights
and the Jungfrau stood in strong relief, clothed in a
splendor and brilliancy reflected by the green woods of
the surrounding hills. Every one stood still and gazed
at it; Rudy and Babette also stood and looked at the
"Nothing can be more beautiful than this!" said
"Nothing!" said Rudy, with his eyes fixed upon Babette.
"To-morrow I must go," he added, a little after.
"Come and visit us at Bex," whispered Babette; "my
father will be so glad to see you."
ON THE WAY HOME
 OH, how much had not Rudy to carry next day when he
started on his journey homeward over the mountains! He
had actually to carry two handsome guns, three silver
goblets, and a silver coffee-pot—the last would
be of use when he set up a house. But these valuables
were not the weightiest load he had to bear; a still
weightier load he had to carry–or did it carry
him?—over the high, high hills.
The road was rough; the weather was dismal, gloomy, and
rainy; the clouds hung like a mourning-veil over the
summits of the mountains and shrouded their shining
peaks. From the woods had resounded the last stroke of
the ax, and down the side of the hill rolled the trunks
of the trees; they looked like sticks from the vast
heights above, but nearer they were seen to be like the
thick masts of ships. The river murmured with its
monotonous sound, the wind whistled, the clouds began
to sail hurriedly along.
Close by Rudy suddenly appeared a young girl; he had
not observed her until she was quite near him. She also
was going to cross the mountain. Her eyes had an
extraordinary power; they seemed to have a spell in
them, they were so clear, so deep, so unfathomable.
"Have you a lover?" asked Rudy. All his thoughts were
filled with love.
"I have none," she replied, with a laugh, but it seemed
 if she did not speak the truth. "Let us not go the long
way round. We must keep to the left; it is shorter."
"Yes, to fall into some crevasse," said Rudy. "You
should know the paths better if you take upon yourself
to be a guide."
"I know the way well," she rejoined, "and I have my
wits about me. Your thoughts are down yonder in the
valley. Up here one should think of the Ice-maiden.
Mankind say that she is not friendly to their race."
"I am not in the least afraid of her," said Rudy. "She
could not keep me when I was a child; she shall not
catch me now I am a grown-up man."
It became very dark, the rain fell, and it began to
snow heavily; it dazzled the eyes and blinded them.
"Give me your hand and I will help you to mount
upward," said the girl, as she touched him with her
"You> help me!" cried Rudy. "I do not yet require
a woman's help in climbing"; and he walked on more
briskly away from her.
The snow-storm thickened like a curtain around him, the
wind moaned, and behind him he heard the girl laughing
and singing. It sounded so strangely. It was surely
Glamourie, she surely, one of the attendants of the
Ice-maiden; Rudy had heard of such things when as a
little boy he had spent a night on the mountain, on his
journey over the hills.
The snow fell more thickly; the clouds lay below him.
He looked back; there was no one to be seen, but he
heard laughter and jeering, and it did not seem to come
from a human being.
When at length Rudy had reached the highest part of the
mountain, where the path led down to the valley of the
Rhone, he perceived on the pale blue of the horizon, in
the direction of Chamouny, two glittering stars. They
shone so brightly; and he thought of Babette, of
himself, and of his happiness, and became warm with
THE VISIT TO THE MILL
 "YOU have really brought costly things home," said his
old foster-mother; and her strange, eagle eyes
sparkled, while she worked thin, wrinkled neck even
more quickly than usual. "You carry good luck with you,
Rudy. I must kiss you, my dear boy."
Rudy allowed himself to be kissed, but it was evident
by his countenance that he did not relish this domestic
"How handsome you are, Rudy!" exclaimed the old woman.
"Oh, don't flatter me," replied Rudy, laughing; but he
was pleased at the compliment, nevertheless.
"I repeat it," said the old woman, "and good fortune
smiles on you."
"Yes, I believe you are right there," he said, while
his thoughts strayed to Babette.
Never before had he longed so much for the deep valley.
"They must have come back," he said to himself; "it is
now more than two days over the time they fixed for
their return. I must go to Bex."
And to Bex he went. The Miller and his daughter were at
home; he was well received, and many greetings were
given to him from the family at Interlaken. Babette did
not speak much; she had become very silent. But her
eyes spoke, and that was quite enough for Rudy. The
Miller, who generally had enough to say and was
accustomed to joke and have all his jokes laughed at,
for the he was the rich Miller, seemed to prefer
listening to Rudy's stirring adventures and hearing him
tell of all the difficulties and dangers that the
chamois-hunter had to encounter on the mountain
heights—how he had to crawl along the unsafe
snowy cornice-work on the edges of the hills, which was
attached to the rocks by the force of the wind and
weather, and tread the frail bridges the snow-storm had
cast over many a deep abyss.
Rudy spoke with much spirit, and his eyes sparkled
 described the life of a hunter, the cunning of the
chamois and the wonderful springs they took, the mighty
föhn, and the rolling avalanche. He observed
that at every new description he won more and more upon
the Miller, and that the latter was particularly
interested in his account of the l mmergeier and the
bold royal eagle.
Not far from Bex, in the Canton Valais, there was an
eagle's nest, built most ingeniously under a projecting
platform of rock, on the margin of the hill; there was
a young one in it, which no one could take. An
Englishman had a few days before offered Rudy a large
handful of gold if he would bring his the young eagle
"But there are limits even to the most reckless
daring," said Rudy. "The young eagle up there is not to
be got at; it would be madness to make the attempt."
And the wine circulated fast, and the conversation
flowed on fast, and Rudy thought the evening was much
too short, although it was past midnight when he left
the Miller's house after this his first visit.
The lights shone for a short time through the windows
and were reflected on the green branches of the trees,
while through the skylight on the roof, which was open,
crept out the Parlor Cat, and met in the water-conduit
on the roof the Kitchen Cat.
"Don't you see that there is something new going on
here?" said the Parlor Cat. "There is secret
love-making in the house. The father knows nothing of
it yet. Rudy and Babette have been all the evening
treading on each other's toes under the table; they
trod on me twice, but I did not mew, for that would
have aroused suspicion."
"Well, I> would have done it," said the Kitchen
"What might suit the kitchen would not do in the
parlor," replied the Parlor Cat. "I should like very
much to know what the Miller will say when he hears of
Yes, indeed—what would the Miller say?
That> Rudy also was anxious to know. He could not
bring himself to wait long. Therefore, before many days
had passed, when the omnibus
 rolled over the bridge between the Cantons Valais and
Vaud, Rudy sat in it, with plenty of confidence as
usual, and pleasant thoughts of the favorable answer he
expected that evening.
And when the evening had come, and the omnibus was
returning, Rudy also sat in it, going homeward. But at
the Miller's the Parlor Cat jumped out again.
"Look here, you from the kitchen; the Miller knows
everything now. There was a strange end to the affair.
Rudy came here toward the afternoon, and he and Babette
had a great deal to whisper about; they stood on the
path a little below the Miller's room. I lay at their
feet, but they had neither eyes nor thoughts for me.
" 'I will go straight to your father,' said Rudy; 'my
proposal is honest and honorable.'
" 'Shall I go with you,' said Babette, 'that I may give
" 'I have plenty of courage,' replied Rudy, 'but if you
are with me he must put some control upon himself,
whether he likes the matter or not.'
"So they went in. Rudy trod heavily on my tail—he
is very clumsy. I mewed, but neither he nor Babette had
ears for me. They opened the door and entered together,
and I with them, but I sprang up to the back of a
chair. I could scarcely hear what Rudy said, but I
heard how the master blazed forth: it was a regular
turning him out of doors up to the mountains and the
chamois. Rudy might look after these, but not after our
"But what did they say?" asked the Kitchen Cat.
"Say! They said all that is generally said under such
circumstances when people go a-wooing. 'I love her and
she loves me; and when there is milk in the can for one
there is milk in the can for two.'
" 'But she is far above you,' said the Miller; 'she has
lots of gold, and you have none. Don't you see that you
cannot aspire to her?'"
" 'There is nothing or no one so high that one may not
reach if one is only determined to do so' said Rudy,
 " 'But you said not long since that you could not reach
the young eagle in its nest. Babette is a still higher
and more difficult prize for you to take.'
" 'I will take them both,' replied Rudy.
" 'Very well! I will give her to you when you bring me
the young eagle alive,' said the Miller, and he laughed
until the tears stood in his eyes. 'But now, thank you
for your visit, Rudy! If you come again to-morrow you
will find no one at home. Farewell, Rudy!'
"And Babette also said farewell in as timid and
pitiable a voice as that of a little kitten which
cannot see its mother.
" 'A promise is a promise, and a man is a man!' said
'Do not weep, Babette; I shall bring the young eagle.'
" 'You will break your neck, I hope!' exclaimed the
Miller; 'then we shall be free of this bad job.' I call
that sending him off with a flea in his ear! Now Rudy
is gone, and Babette sits and cries, but the Miller
sings German songs which he learned in his journey. I
shall not distress myself about the matter; it would do
"But it is all very curious," said the Kitchen Cat.
THE EAGLE'S NEST
 FROM the mountain path came the sound of a person
whistling in a strain so lively that it betokened good
humor and undaunted courage. The whistler was Rudy; he
was going to his friend Vesinand.
"You must help me! We shall take Ragli with us. I must
carry off the young eagle up yonder under the shelving
"Had you not better try first to take down the moon?
That would be about as hopeful an undertaking," said
Vesinand. "You are in great spirits, I see."
"Yes, for I am thinking of my wedding. But now, to
speak seriously, you shall know how matters stand with
 And Vesinand and Ragli were soon made acquainted with
what Rudy wished.
"You are a daring fellow," they said, "but you won't
succeed—you will break your neck."
"One does not fall if one has no fear!" said Rudy.
About midnight they set out with alpenstocks, ladders,
and ropes. The road lay through copsewood and
brushwood, over rolling stones—upward, always
upward, upward in the dark and gloomy night. The waters
roared below, the waters murmured above, humid clouds
swept heavily along. The hunters rached at length the
precipitous ridge of rock. It became even darker here,
for the walls of rock almost met, and light penetrated
only a little way down from the open space above. Close
by, under them, was a deep abyss, with its
hoarse-sounding, raging water.
They sat all three quite still. They had to await the
dawn of day, when the parent eagle should fly out; then
only could they fire if they had any hope to capture
the young one. Rudy sat as still as if he had been a
portion of the rock on which he sat. he held his gun
ready to fire; his eyes were steadily fixed on the
highest part of the cleft, under a projecting rock of
which the eagle's nest was concealed. The three hunters
had long to wait.
At length high above them was heard a crashing,
whirring noise; the air was darkened by a large object
soaring in it. Two guns were ready to aim at the
enormous eagle the moment it flew from it's nest. A
shot was fired; for an instant the out-spread wings
fluttered, and then the bird began to sink slowly, and
it seemed as if with its size and the stretch of its
wings it would fill the whole chasm, and in its fall
drag the hunters down with it. The eagle disappeared in
the abyss below; the cracking of the trees and bushes
was heard, which were snapped and crushed in the fall
of the stupendous bird.
And now commenced the business that had brought the
hunters there. Three of the longest ladders were tied
securely together. They were intended to reach the
outermost and last stepping-place on the margin of the
abyss; but they did not reach so high
 up, and smooth as a well-built wall was the
perpendicular rocky ascent a good way higher up, where
the nest was hidden under the shelter of the uppermost
projection portion of rock. After some consultation the
younger men came to the conclusion that there was
nothing better to be done that to hoist up two more
ladders tied together, and then to attach these the the
three which had already been raised. With immense
difficulty they pushed the two ladders up, and the
ropes were make fast; the ladders shot out form over
the rock and hung there swaying in the air above the
unfathomable depth beneath. Rudy had placed himself
already on the lowest step. It was an ice-cold morning;
the mist was rising heavily from the dark chasm below.
Rudy sat as a fly sits upon some swinging straw which a
bird, building its nest, might have dropped on the edge
of the lofty eyrie it had chosen for its site; but the
insect could fly if the straw gave way–Rudy could but
break his neck. The wind was howling around him, and
away in the abyss below roared the gushing water from
the melting glacier–the Ice-maiden's palace.
His ascent set the ladder into a tremulous motion as
the spider does which holds fast to its long, waving,
slender thread. When Rudy had gained the top of the
fourth ladder he felt more confidence in them; he knew
that they had been bound together by sure and skilful
hands, though they dangled as if they had but slight
But there was even more dangerous work before Rudy than
mounting a line of ladders that now swayed like a frame
of rushes in the air and now knocked against the
perpendicular rock; he had to climb as a cat climbs.
But Rudy could do that, thanks to the cat who had
taught him. He did not perceive the presence of
Vertigo, who trod the air behind him and stretched
forth her polypus-arms after him. He gained at length
the last step of the highest ladder, and then he
observed that he had not got high enough even to see
into the nest. It was only by using his hands that he
could raise himself up to it; he tried if the lowest
part of the thick interlaced underwood which formed the
base of the nest was sufficiently strong, and when he
had assured himself
 that the stunted trees were firm, he swung himself up
by them from the ladder until his head and breast had
reached the level of the nest. But then poured forth on
him a stifling stench of carrion; for putrefied lambs,
chamois, and birds lay there crowded together.
Swimming-in-the-Head, a sister to Vertigo, though it
could not overpower him, puffed the disgusting, almost
poisonous odor into his face, that he might become
faint; and down below, in the black yawning ravine,
upon the dank, dashing waters, sat the Ice-maiden
herself, with her long pale-green hair, and gazed
upward with her death-giving eyes, while she exclaimed:
"Now I will seize you!"
In a corner of the eagle's nest Rudy beheld the eaglet
sitting—a large and powerful creature, even
though it could not yet fly. Rudy fixed his eyes on it,
held on marvelously with one hand, and with the other
hand cast a noose around the young eagle; it was
captured alive, its legs were in the tightened cord,
and Rudy flung the sling with the bird over his
shoulder, so that the creature hung a good way down
beneath him, as, with the help of a rope, he held on
until his foot touched at last the highest step of the
"Hold fast; don't fear to fall, and you will not do
so!" Such was his early lesson, and Rudy acted on it;
he held fast, crept down, and did not fall.
Then arose a shout of joy and congratulation. Rudy
stood safely on the rocky ground, laden with his prize,
the young eagle.
WHAT MORE THE PARLOR CAT HAD TO TELL
"HERE is what you demanded!" said Rudy, as he entered
the Miller's house at Bex and placed on the floor a
large basket. When he took its cover off there glared
forth two yellow eyes surrounded with a dark
ring—eyes so flashing, so wild, that they looked
as though they would burn or blast everything they saw;
the short, hard beak opened to bite; the neck was red
 "The young eagle!" exclaimed the Miller.
Babette screamed and sprang to one side, but could not
take her eyes off from Rudy and the eaglet.
"You are not to be frightened!" said the Miller,
"And you will keep your word," said Rudy; "every one
has his object."
"But how is it that you did not break your neck?" asked
"Because I held fast," replied Rudy; "and so I do
now—I hold fast to Babette."
"Wait till you get her!" said the Miller, laughing; and
Babette thought that was a good sign.
"Let us take the young eagle out of the basket; it is
frightful to see how its eyes glare. How did you manage
to capture it?"
Rudy had to describe his feat, and as he spoke the
Miller's eyes opened wider and wider.
"With your confidence and your good fortune you might
maintain three wives," said the Miller.
"Oh, thank you!" cried Rudy.
"But you won't get Babette just yet," said the Miller,
slapping the young Alpine hunter with good-humor on his
"Do you know there is something going on again here?"
said the Parlor Cat to the Kitchen Cat. "Rudy has
brought us the young eagle, and takes Babette as his
reward. They have kissed each other in the father's
presence! That was as good as a betrothal. The old man
did not storm at all; he pulled in his claws, too an
afternoon nap, and left the two to sit and chatter to
each other. They have so much to say that they will not
be tired talking till Christmas."
And they were not tired talking till Christmas. The
wind whirled in eddies through the groves and shook
down the yellow leaves; the snow-drifts appeared in the
valleys as well as on the lofty hill; the Ice-maiden
sat in her proud palace, which she occupied during the
winter-time; the upright walls of rocks were
 covered with sleet; enormous masses of ice tapestry
were to be seen where in summer the mountain streams
came pouring down; fantastic garlands of crystal ice
hung over the snow-powdered pine-trees. The Ice-maiden
rode on the howling wind, over the deepest dales. The
carpet of snow was laid down as far as Bex; she could
go there and see Rudy in the house where he now passed
so much of his time with Babette. The wedding was to
take place in summer, and they heard enough of
it—their friends talked so much about it.
There came sunshine; the most beautiful Alpine roses
bloomed. The lovely, laughing Babette was as charming
as the early spring—the spring which makes all
the birds sing of summer-time, when was to be the
"How these two do sit and hang over each other!"
exclaimed the Parlor Cat. "I am sick of all this
THE ICE-MAIDEN'S SCORN OF MANKIND
SPRING had unfolded her fresh green garlands of walnut
and chestnut trees, which were bursting into bloom,
particularly in the country that extends from the
bridge at St. Maurice to the Lake of Geneva and the
banks of the Rhone, which with wild speed rushes from
its source under the green glaciers—the ice
palace where the Ice-maiden dwells—whence on the
keen wind she permits herself to be borne up to the
highest fields of snow and in the warm sunshine
reclines on their drifting masses. Here she sat and
gazed fixedly down into the deep valley beneath, where
human beings, like ants on a sunlit stone, were to be
seen busily moving about.
"Beings of mental power, as the children of the sun
call you," cried the Ice-maiden, "ye are but vermin!
Let a snowball but roll down, and you and your houses
and your villages are crushed and overwhelmed." And she
raised her proud head higher, and looked with
death-threatening eyes around her and below her. But
from the valley arose a strange sound; it was the
 of rocks—the work of men—the forming of
roads and tunnels before the railway was laid down.
"They are working underground like moles; they are
digging passages in the rock, and therefore are heard
these sounds like the report of guns. I shall remove my
palaces, for the noise is greater than the roar of
There ascended from the valley a thick smoke, which
seemed agitated like a fluttering veil; it came curling
up from the locomotive which upon the newly opened
railway drew the train that, carriage linked to
carriage, looked like a winding serpent. With an
arrow's speed it shot past.
"They pretend to be the masters down yonder, these
powers of mind!" exclaimed the Ice-maiden; "but the
mighty powers of nature are still the rulers."
And she laughed, she sang; her voice resounded through
"An avalanche is falling!" cried the people down there.
Then the children of the sun sang in louder strains
about the power of thought in mankind. It commands all,
it brings the wide ocean under the yoke, levels
mountains, fills up valleys; the power of thought in
mankind makes them lords over the powers of nature.
Just at that moment there came, crossing the
snow-fields where the Ice-maiden sat, a party of
travelers; they had bound themselves fast to one
another, to be as one large body upon the slippery ice
near the deep abyss.
"Vermin!" she exclaimed. "You> the lords of the
powers of nature!" and she turned away from them and
looked scornfully toward the deep valley where the
railway—train was rushing by.
"There they go, these thoughts! They are full of might;
I see them everywhere. One stands alone like a king,
others stand in a group, and yonder half of them are
asleep. And when the steam-engine stops still they get
out and go their way. The thoughts then go forth into
the world." And she laughed.
 "There goes another avalanche!" said the inhabitants of
"It will not reach us," cried two who sat together in
the train—"two souls, but one mind," as has been
said. These were Rudy and Babette; the Miller
"Like baggage," he said, "I am with them as a sort of
"There sit the two," said the Ice-maiden. "Many a
chamois have I crushed, millions of Alpine roses have I
snapped and broken, not a root left—I destroyed
them all! Thought—power of mind, indeed!"
And she laughed again.
"There goes another avalanche!" said those down in the
 AT Montreux, one of the nearest towns, which, with
Clarens, Bernex, and Crin, encircle the northeast part
of the Lake of Geneva, resided Babette's godmother, the
distinguished English lady, with her daughters and a
young relation. They had only lately arrived, yet the
Miller had already paid them a visit, announced
Babette's engagement, and told about Rudy and the young
eagle, the visit to Interlaken—in short, the
whole story—and it had highly interested his
hearers, and pleased them with Rudy, Babbette, and even
the Miller himself. They were invited, all three, to
come to Montreux, and they went. Babette ought to see
her godmother, and her godmother wished to see her.
At the little town of Villeneuve, about the end of the
Lake of Geneva, lay the steamboat that in a voyage of
half an hour went thence to Bernex, a little way below
Montreux. It is a coast which has often been celebrated
in song by poets. There, under the walnut-trees, on the
banks of the deep, bluish-green lake, Byron sat and
wrote his melodious verses about the prisoner in the
gloomy mountain castle of Chillon. There, where Clarens
is reflected amid weeping willows in the clear water,
 Rousseau, dreaming of Héloïse, the river Rhone
glides away under the lofty snow-clad hills of Savoy;
here there lies, not far from its mouth, a small
island, so small that from the shore it looks as if it
were but a toy islet. It is a patch of rocky ground
which about a century ago a lady caused to be walled
round and covered with earth, in which three
acacia-trees were planted; these now overshadowed the
whole island. Babette had always been charmed with this
little islet; she thought it the loveliest spot thta
was to be seen on the whole voyage. She said she would
like so much to land there—she must land
there—it would be so delightful under these
beautiful trees. But the steamer passed it by and did
not stop until it had reached Bernex.
The little party proceeded thence up amid the white
sunlit walls that surrounded the vineyards in front of
the little town of Montreux, where the peasants' houses
were shaded by fig-trees, and laurels and cypresses
grow in the gardens. Half-way up the ascent stood the
boarding-house where the godmother lived.
The meeting was very cordial. The godmother was a
stout, pleasant-looking woman with a round, smiling
face. When a child she must certainly have exhibited
quite a Raphael-like cherub's head; it was still an
angel's head, but older and with silver-white hair
clustering round it. The daughters were well dressed,
elegant-looking, tall and slender. The young cousin who
was with them, and who was dressed in white almost from
top to toe, and had red hair and red whiskers large
enough to have been divided among three gentlemen,
began immediately to pay the utmost attention to little
Babette. Splendidly bound books and drawings were lying
on the large table; music-books were also to be seen in
the room. The balcony looked out upon the beautiful
lake, which was so bright and calm that the mountains
of Savoy, with their villages, woods, and snow-peaks,
were clearly reflected in it.
Rudy, who was generally to lively and so undaunted,
found himself not at all at his ease. He was obliged to
be as much on his guard as if he were walking on peas
over a slippery floor. How tediously time passed! It
was like being in a
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