字体设置:

VI. THE VISIT TO THE MILL

"What beautiful things you have brought home!" said his old foster-mother; and her strange-looking eagle-eyes sparkled, while she wriggled and twisted her skinny neck more quickly and strangely than ever. "You have brought good luck with you, Rudy. I must give you a kiss, my dear boy."

Rudy allowed himself to be kissed; but it could be seen by his countenance that he only endured the infliction as a homely duty.

"How handsome you are, Rudy!" said the old woman.

"Don't flatter," said Rudy, with a laugh; but still he was pleased.

"I must say once more," said the old woman, "that you are very lucky."

"Well, in that I believe you are right," said he, as he thought of Babette. Never had he felt such a longing for that deep valley as he now had. "They must have returned home by this time," said he to himself, "it is already two days over the time which they fixed upon. I must go to Bex."

So Rudy set out to go to Bex; and when he arrived there, he found the miller and his daughter at home. They received him kindly, and brought him many greetings from their friends at Interlachen. Babette did not say much. She seemed to have become quite silent; but her eyes spoke, and that was quite enough for Rudy. The miller had generally a great deal to talk about, and seemed to expect that every one should listen to his jokes, and laugh at them; for was not he the rich miller? But now he was more inclined to hear Rudy's adventures while hunting and travelling, and to listen to his descriptions of the difficulties the chamois-hunter has to overcome on the mountain-tops, or of the dangerous snow-drifts which the wind and weather cause to cling to the edges of the rocks, or to lie in the form of a frail bridge over the abyss beneath. The eyes of the brave Rudy sparkled as he described the life of a hunter, or spoke of the cunning of the chamois and their wonderful leaps; also of the powerful fohn and the rolling avalanche. He noticed that the more he described, the more interested the miller became, especially when he spoke of the fierce vulture and of the royal eagle. Not far from Bex, in the canton Valais, was an eagle's nest, more curiously built under a high, over-hanging rock. In this nest was a young eagle; but who would venture to take it? A young Englishman had offered Rudy a whole handful of gold, if he would bring him the young eagle alive.

"There is a limit to everything," was Rudy's reply. "The eagle could not be taken; it would be folly to attempt it."

The wine was passed round freely, and the conversation kept up pleasantly; but the evening seemed too short for Rudy, although it was midnight when he left the miller's house, after this his first visit.

While the lights in the windows of the miller's house still twinkled through the green foliage, out through the open skylight came the parlor-cat on to the roof, and along the water-pipe walked the kitchen-cat to meet her.

"What is the news at the mill?" asked the parlor-cat. "Here in the house there is secret love-making going on, which the father knows nothing about. Rudy and Babette have been treading on each other's paws, under the table, all the evening. They trod on my tail twice, but I did not mew; that would have attracted notice."

"Well, I should have mewed," said the kitchen-cat.

"What might suit the kitchen would not suit the parlor," said the other. "I am quite curious to know what the miller will say when he finds out this engagement."

Yes, indeed; what would the miller say? Rudy himself was anxious to know that; but to wait till the miller heard of it from others was out of the question. Therefore, not many days after this visit, he was riding in the omnibus that runs between the two cantons, Valais and Vaud. These cantons are separated by the Rhone, over which is a bridge that unites them. Rudy, as usual, had plenty of courage, and indulged in pleasant thoughts of the favorable answer he should receive that evening. And when the omnibus returned, Rudy was again seated in it, going homewards; and at the same time the parlor-cat at the miller's house ran out quickly, crying,-

"Here, you from the kitchen, what do you think? The miller knows all now. Everything has come to a delightful end. Rudy came here this evening, and he and Babette had much whispering and secret conversation together. They stood in the path near the miller's room. I lay at their feet; but they had no eyes or thoughts for me.

"'I will go to your father at once,' said he; 'it is the most honorable way.'

"'Shall I go with you?' asked Babette; 'it will give you courage.'

"'I have plenty of courage,' said Rudy; 'but if you are with me, he must be friendly, whether he says Yes or No.'

"So they turned to go in, and Rudy trod heavily on my tail; he certainly is very clumsy. I mewed; but neither he nor Babette had any ears for me. They opened the door, and entered together. I was before them, and jumped on the back of a chair. I hardly know what Rudy said; but the miller flew into a rage, and threatened to kick him out of the house. He told him he might go to the mountains, and look after the chamois, but not after our little Babette."

"And what did they say? Did they speak?" asked the kitchen-cat.

"What did they say! why, all that people generally do say when they 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 so far above you,' said the miller; 'she has heaps of gold, as you know. You should not attempt to reach her.'

"'There is nothing so high that a man cannot reach, if he will,' answered Rudy; for he is a brave youth.

"'Yet you could not reach the young eagle,' said the miller, laughing. 'Babette is higher than the eagle's nest.'

"'I will have them both,' said Rudy.

"'Very well; I will give her to you when you bring me the young eaglet alive,' said the miller; and he laughed till the tears stood in his eyes. 'But now I thank you for this visit, Rudy; and if you come to-morrow, you will find nobody at home. Good-bye, Rudy.'

"Babette also wished him farewell; but her voice sounded as mournful as the mew of a little kitten that has lost its mother.

"'A promise is a promise between man and man,' said Rudy. 'Do not weep, Babette; I shall bring the young eagle.'

"'You will break your neck, I hope,' said the miller, 'and we shall be relieved from your company.'

"I call that kicking him out of the house," said the parlor-cat. "And now Rudy is gone, and Babette sits and weeps, while the miller sings German songs that he learnt on his journey; but I do not trouble myself on the matter,- it would be of no use."

"Yet, for all that, it is a very strange affair," said the kitchen-cat.

 

6.拜访磨坊

“你带了这么多的好东西回来!”他的年老的婶母说。她的奇怪的鹰眼睛射出光芒;她以一种奇怪的痉挛动作前后摇着她那满是皱纹的瘦颈,而且摇得比平时还要快。“洛狄,你正在走运!我的亲爱的孩子,我得吻你一下!”

洛狄让她吻了一下,但是从他的脸上可以看出他只不过是勉强接受这种家庭的小小温情。

“你长得多么漂亮啊,洛狄!”这老太婆说。

“不要叫我胡思乱想吧,”洛狄回答说,大笑了一声。他喜欢听这类的话。

“我再说一次,”她说,“你在走运!”

“对,我想你是对的!”他说,同时想起了巴贝德。

他从来没有像现在这样渴望到那深溪里去一趟。

“他们现在一定已经到家了,”他对自己说。“照他们应该到家的日子算来,已经过了两天了。我得到贝克斯去一趟!”

洛狄于是到贝克斯去;磨坊里的人都回来了。大家都欢迎他:住在因特尔拉根的人也托人向他致意。巴贝德没有讲很多话。她现在变得很沉默,但是她的眼睛在讲话——对洛狄说来,这已经很够了。磨坊主素来多话,而且喜欢以他自己的想法和风趣话使别人发笑;但是这次他似乎只愿意听洛狄讲自己的打猎故事:羚羊猎人在高山上有不可避免的危险和困难,他们怎样得在石崖上的不牢的“雪檐”上爬(这些雪檐是冰雪和寒气冻在石壁上的),他们怎样得走过横跨深渊的雪桥。

洛狄一谈起猎人的生活、羚羊的狡猾和它的惊人的跳跃、狂暴的“浮恩”和来势汹汹的雪崩,他的脸上就显得格外好看,他的眼睛就射出光芒。他注意到他每讲一个新的故事,磨坊主对他的兴趣就增加一分。使这老头子特别感到兴趣的是这年轻猎人所讲的一个关于兀鹰和巨鹰的故事。

离这儿不远,在瓦利斯州,有一个鹰窠很巧妙地建筑在一个悬崖下面。窠里有一只小鹰;要捉住它可不是一件容易的事情。几天以前有一个英国人曾经答应过,假如洛狄能把那只雏鹰活捉下来,他可以给他一大把金币。

“但是什么东西都有一个限度呀,”洛狄说。“那只雏鹰是没有办法捉到的;除非你是个疯子,你才敢去试试。”

他们不停地喝酒,不停地聊天;洛狄觉得夜太短了。这是他第一次拜访磨坊。他离开的时候,已经过了夜半了。

灯光还在窗子里和绿树枝间亮了一会儿。客厅的猫从天窗里爬出来,与沿着排水管走来的厨房的猫相会。

“磨坊里有什么消息没有?”客厅的猫问。“屋子里有人秘密地订了婚,而父亲却一点也不知道。洛狄和巴贝德整晚在桌子底下彼此踩着脚爪。他们甚至还有两次踩到我的脚爪上,但是我却没有叫,为的是怕引起别人注意!”

“要是我,我可要叫的!”厨房的猫说。

“厨房里的事情不能与客厅里的事情相提并论,”客厅的猫说。“不过我倒很想知道,假如磨坊主听到他们订了婚,他会有些什么意见!”

的确,磨坊主会有什么意见呢?这也是洛狄想要知道的事情。不过叫他老等着,他可办不到。因此,没有过多少天,当公共马车在瓦利斯州和华德州之间的伦河桥上走过的时候,车里就坐着一个旅客——洛狄。他像平时一样,心情非常好;他愉快地相信,这天晚上他一定会得到“同意”的答复。

黄昏时候,公共马车又在往回走。洛狄也坐在里面往回走。不过客厅的猫却带着一个消息跑进磨坊。

“你这个待在厨房里的家伙,你知道发生了什么事情吗?磨坊主现在什么都知道了。事情完了!洛狄天黑时到这儿来过。他和巴贝德在磨坊主的房间外面的走廊上小声小气地讲了一大堆话。我躺在他们的脚下,但是他们没有理睬我,连想都没有想到我。

“‘我要当面对你父亲讲!’洛狄说。‘这是最可靠的办法。’

“‘要不要我跟你一块去?’巴贝德说,‘替你打打气!’

“‘我有足够的勇气,’洛狄说,‘但是有你在场,不管他高兴不高兴,他总得客气些。’

“于是他们就进去了。洛狄踩了我的尾巴,踩得真够厉害!洛狄这个人真笨。我叫了一声,不过他和巴贝德全没有理我。

他们把门推开,两个人一齐进去,我当然走在他们前面。我马上跳到椅背上,因为我怕洛狄会踢我。哪晓得磨坊主这次倒踢起人来。他踢得才凶呢!把他一脚踢出门外,一直踢到山上的羚羊那里去了。现在洛狄可以瞄准羚羊,但可不能瞄准我们的小巴贝德了。”

“不过他们究竟说了什么呀?”厨房的猫问。

“什么吗?人们在求婚时说的那套话,他们全说了。比如:‘我爱她,她爱我。如果桶里的牛奶够一个人吃,当然也可以够两个人吃的!’

“‘但是她的地位比你高得多,’磨坊主说。‘她坐在一堆金沙上——你知道得很清楚。你攀不上呀!’

“‘只要一个人有志气,世上没有什么攀不上的东西!’洛狄说,因为他是一个直爽的人。

“‘你昨天还说过,那个鹰窠你就爬不上。巴贝德比鹰窠还要高呢。’

“‘这两件东西我都要拿下来!’洛狄说。

“‘如果你能把那只小鹰活捉下来,那么我也可以把巴贝德给你!’磨坊主说,同时笑得连眼泪都流出来了。‘好吧,洛狄,谢谢你来看我们!明天再来吧,你在这儿什么人也看不到了。再会吧,洛狄!’

“巴贝德也说了再会。她的样子真可怜,简直像一只再也看不见母亲的小猫一样。

“‘男子汉,说话算话!’洛狄说。‘巴贝德,不要哭吧,我会把那只小鹰捉下来的!’

“‘我想你会先跌断你的脖子!’磨坊主说,‘要是这样,你再也不能到这儿来找麻烦了!’

“我认为这一脚踢得很结实。现在洛狄已经走了;巴贝德在坐着流眼泪。但是磨坊主却在唱着他旅行时学到的那支德文歌!这类的事儿我也不愿再管了,因为管了没有什么好处!”

“你不过是说说罢了!”厨房的猫说。