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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Ice-maiden - V. HOMEWARDS
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The Ice-maiden - V. HOMEWARDS Post by :klubbing Category :Long Stories Author :Hans Christian Andersen Date :April 2012 Read :1287

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The Ice-maiden - V. HOMEWARDS

V. HOMEWARDS

Ah! how much Rudy carried with him, as he went home the next morning over the mountains. Yes, there were three silver goblets, two very fine rifles and a silver coffee pot, which one could use if one wished to go to house-keeping; but he carried with him something far, far more important, far mightier, or rather _that carried him over the high mountains.

The weather was raw, moist and cold, grey and heavy; the clouds lowered over the mountain-tops like mourning veils, and enveloped the shining peaks of the rocks. The sound of the axe resounded from the depths of the forest, and the trunks of the trees rolled down the mountain, looking in the distance like slight sticks, but on approaching them they were heavy trees, suitable for making masts. The Luetschine rushed on with its monotonous sound, the wind blustered, the clouds sailed by.

Suddenly a young girl approached Rudy, whom he had not noticed before; not until she was beside him; she also was about crossing the mountain. Her eyes had so peculiar a power that one was forced to look into them; they were so strangely clear--clear as glass, so deep, so fathomless--

"Have you a beloved one?" asked Rudy; for to have a beloved one was everything to him.

"I have none!" said she, and laughed; but it was as though she was not speaking the truth. "Do not let us take a by-way," continued she, "we must go more to the left, that way is shorter!"

"Yes, so as to fall down a precipice!" said Rudy; "Do you know no better way, and yet wish to be a guide?"

"I know the road well," said she, "my thoughts are with me; yours are beneath in the valley; here on high, one must think on the Ice-Maiden, for they say she is not well disposed to mankind!"

"I do not fear her," said Rudy, "she was forced to let me go when I was a child, so I suppose I can slip away from her now that I am older!"

The darkness increased, the rain fell, the snow came; it shone and dazzled. "Give me your hand, I will help you to ascend!" said the girl, and touched him with icy-cold fingers.

"You help me," said Rudy, "I do not yet need a woman's help in climbing!" He strode quickly on, away from her; the snow-shower formed a curtain around him, the wind whistled by him and he heard the young girl laugh and sing; it sounded so oddly! Yes, that was certainly a spirit in the service of the Ice-Maiden. Rudy had heard of them, when he had passed a night on high; when he had crossed the mountain, as a little boy.

The snow fell more scantily and the shadows lay under him; he looked back, there was no one to be seen, but he heard laughing and _jodling and it did not appear to come from a human being. When Rudy reached the uppermost portion of the mountain, where the rocky path leads to the valley of the Rhone, he saw in the direction of Chamouni, two bright stars, twinkling and shining in the clear streaks of blue; he thought of Babette, of himself, of his happiness and became warmed by his thoughts.

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