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VIII. WHAT FRESH NEWS THE PARLOR-CAT HAD TO TELL

"There is what you asked for," said Rudy, as he entered the miller's house at Bex, and placed on the floor a large basket. He removed the lid as he spoke, and a pair of yellow eyes, encircled by a black ring, stared forth with a wild, fiery glance, that seemed ready to burn and destroy all that came in its way. Its short, strong beak was open, ready to bite, and on its red throat were short feathers, like stubble.

"The young eaglet!" cried the miller.

Babette screamed, and started back, while her eyes wandered from Rudy to the bird in astonishment.

"You are not to be discouraged by difficulties, I see," said the miller.

"And you will keep your word," replied Rudy. "Each has his own characteristic, whether it is honor or courage."

"But how is it you did not break your neck?" asked the miller.

"Because I held fast," answered Rudy; "and I mean to hold fast to Babette."

"You must get her first," said the miller, laughing; and Babette thought this a very good sign.

"We must take the bird out of the basket," said she. "It is getting into a rage; how its eyes glare. How did you manage to conquer it?"

Then Rudy had to describe his adventure, and the miller's eyes opened wide as he listened.

"With your courage and your good fortune you might win three wives," said the miller.

"Oh, thank you," cried Rudy.

"But you have not won Babette yet," said the miller, slapping the young Alpine hunter on the shoulder playfully.

"Have you heard the fresh news at the mill?" asked the parlor-cat of the kitchen-cat. "Rudy has brought us the young eagle, and he is to take Babette in exchange. They kissed each other in the presence of the old man, which is as good as an engagement. He was quite civil about it; drew in his claws, and took his afternoon nap, so that the two were left to sit and wag their tails as much as they pleased. They have so much to talk about that it will not be finished till Christmas." Neither was it finished till Christmas.

The wind whirled the faded, fallen leaves; the snow drifted in the valleys, as well as upon the mountains, and the Ice Maiden sat in the stately palace which, in winter time, she generally occupied. The perpendicular rocks were covered with slippery ice, and where in summer the stream from the rocks had left a watery veil, icicles large and heavy hung from the trees, while the snow-powdered fir-trees were decorated with fantastic garlands of crystal. The Ice Maiden rode on the howling wind across the deep valleys, the country, as far as Bex, was covered with a carpet of snow, so that the Ice Maiden could follow Rudy, and see him, when he visited the mill; and while in the room at the miller's house, where he was accustomed to spend so much of his time with Babette. The wedding was to take place in the following summer, and they heard enough of it, for so many of their friends spoke of the matter.

Then came sunshine to the mill. The beautiful Alpine roses bloomed, and joyous, laughing Babette, was like the early spring, which makes all the birds sing of summer time and bridal days.

"How those two do sit and chatter together," said the parlor-cat; "I have had enough of their mewing."

 

8.客厅的猫透露出的消息

“这就是您所要求的东西!”洛狄说。这时他走进了贝克斯的磨坊主的家里。他把一个大篮子放在地板上,然后把盖子揭开。一对有黑圈围着的黄眼睛在凶狠地望着人。这对眼睛是那么明亮,那么凶猛,简直像要燃烧起来、把所看见的东西咬一口似的。这鸟的短而结实的嘴大张着准备啄人。它的颈是红的,盖着一层绒毛。

“小鹰!”磨坊主说。巴贝德大叫一声,向后退了几步;可是她的目光却没有从洛狄和这小鹰身上移开。

“你居然不害怕!”磨坊主说。

“而你也不食言!”洛狄说。“各人有各人的特点!”

“不过你怎么没有把脖子跌断呢?”磨坊主问。

“因为我抓得牢呀!”洛狄回答说。“我现在还是这样!我把巴贝德抓得也很牢!”

“先等等吧,看你什么时候能得到她!”磨坊主说,大笑起来。他这样笑是一个很好的征兆,巴贝德知道。

“赶快把小鹰从篮子里拿出来,它这副盯着人的样子真可怕!你怎样把它捉下来的?”

洛狄现在不得不描写一番了。磨坊主的一双眼睛望着他,越睁越大。

“你这样有勇气,这样运气好,你简直可以养活三个太太!”磨坊主说。

“谢谢您!谢谢您!”洛狄大声说。

“但是现在你还得不到巴贝德!”磨坊主说着,同时在这年轻猎人的肩上开玩笑地拍了一下。

“你知道磨坊里最近的消息吗?”客厅的猫问厨房的猫。

“洛狄送给我们一只小鹰,但是他却要把巴贝德拿去作为交换。他们已经接过吻,而且还让爸爸在旁边亲眼看着呢!这简直等于订婚了!老头子没有再踢他出去。他缩回脚,打起盹来,让这两个年轻人坐在一起,喵个不停。他们彼此要讲的话真多;不到圣诞节,他们是讲不完的!”

事实上他们到了圣诞节也没有讲完。风把黄叶吹得满天飞;雪在山谷里飘,也在山上飘。冰姑娘坐在壮丽的宫殿里,而在冬天这宫殿一天比一天扩大。石崖盖上了一层冰块;冰柱像笨重的象牙似的从上面垂下来——在夏天的时候,溪水在这儿散出一层潮湿的雾。奇形怪状的冰花在盖满了雪球的杉树上射出光彩。冰姑娘乘着急风在深谷上驰骋。雪地的面积扩大到贝克斯来;因此她也能随着雪地的扩大到贝克斯来了,并且望见坐在屋子里的洛狄。这年轻人老是跟巴贝德坐在一起——他以前从来没有这样一个习惯。他们的婚礼将要在夏天举行。他们的耳朵里老有声音在响①,因为他们的朋友经常在谈论他们。

一切像太阳光那样明朗;最美丽的石楠也开了。可爱的、满面笑容的巴贝德现在好像是春天——那使一切鸟儿歌唱夏

天和婚礼的美丽的春天。

“他们两个人老坐在一起,偎在一起!”客厅的猫说。“老听着他们喵喵叫,真使我腻烦极了!”

①这是北欧的迷信:一个人的耳朵里如果有声音在响,那就是有人在谈论他。