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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Ice-maiden - IX. THE ICE-MAIDEN
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The Ice-maiden - IX. THE ICE-MAIDEN Post by :Mark_Pocock Category :Long Stories Author :Hans Christian Andersen Date :April 2012 Read :1669

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The Ice-maiden - IX. THE ICE-MAIDEN

IX. THE ICE-MAIDEN

The early spring time had unfolded the green leaves of the walnut and chestnut trees; they were remarkably luxuriant from the bridge of St. Maurice to the banks of the lake of Geneva.

The Rhone, which rushes forth from its source, has under the green glacier the palace of the Ice-Maiden. She is carried by it and the sharp wind to the elevated snow-fields, where she extends herself on her damp cushions in the brilliant sunshine. There she sits and gazes, with far-seeing sight, upon the valley where mortals busily move about like so many ants.

"Beings endowed with mental powers, as the children of the Sun, call you," said the Ice-Maiden--"ye are worms! _One snow-ball rolled and you and your houses and towns are crushed and swept away!" She raised her proud head still higher and looked with death-beaming eyes far around and below her. From the valley resounded a rumbling, a blasting of rocks, men were making railways and tunnels. "They are playing like moles," said she, "they excavate passages, and a noise is made like the firing of a gun. When I transpose _my castles, it roars louder than the rolling of the thunder!"

A smoke arose from the valley and moved along like a floating veil, like a waving plume; it was the locomotive which led the train over the newly built railroad--this crooked snake, whose limbs are formed of cars upon cars. It shot along with the speed of an arrow.

"They are playing the masters with their mental powers," said the Ice-Maiden, "but the powers of nature are the ruling ones!" and she laughed and her laugh was echoed in the valley.

"Now an avalanche is rolling!" said the men below.

Still more loudly sang the children of the Sun; they sang of the "thoughts" of men which fetter the sea to the yoke, cut down mountains and fill up valleys; of human thoughts which rule the powers of nature. At this moment, a company of travellers crossed the snow-field where the Maiden sat; they had bound themselves firmly together with ropes, in order to form a large body on the smooth ice-field by the deep abyss.

"Worms!" said she, "as if you were lords of creation!" She turned from them and looked mockingly upon the deep valley, where the cars were rushing by.

"There sit those _thoughts in their power of strength! I see them all!--There sits one, proud as a king and alone! They sit in masses! There, half are asleep! When the steam-dragon stops, they will descend and go their way! The thoughts go out into the world!" She laughed.

"There rolls another avalanche!" they said in the valley.

"It will not catch us!" said two on the back of the steam dragon;--"two souls and one thought"--these were Rudy and Babette; the miller was there also.

"As baggage," said he, "I go along, as the indispensable!"

"There sit the two," said the Ice-Maiden, "I have crushed many a chamois; I have bent and broken millions of alpine roses, so that no roots were left! I shall annihilate _them_! The thoughts! The mental powers!" She laughed.

"There rolls another avalanche!" they said in the valley.

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