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XII. EVIL POWERS

Rudy left Bex, and took his way home along the mountain path. The air was fresh, but cold; for here amidst the deep snow, the Ice Maiden reigned. He was so high up that the large trees beneath him, with their thick foliage, appeared like garden plants, and the pines and bushes even less. The Alpine roses grew near the snow, which lay in detached stripes, and looked like linen laid out to bleach. A blue gentian grew in his path, and he crushed it with the butt end of his gun. A little higher up, he espied two chamois. Rudy's eyes glistened, and his thoughts flew at once in a different direction; but he was not near enough to take a sure aim. He ascended still higher, to a spot where a few rough blades of grass grew between the blocks of stone and the chamois passed quietly on over the snow-fields. Rudy walked hurriedly, while the clouds of mist gathered round him. Suddenly he found himself on the brink of a precipitous rock. The rain was falling in torrents. He felt a burning thirst, his head was hot, and his limbs trembled with cold. He seized his hunting-flask, but it was empty; he had not thought of filling it before ascending the mountain. He had never been ill in his life, nor ever experienced such sensations as those he now felt. He was so tired that he could scarcely resist lying down at his full length to sleep, although the ground was flooded with the rain. Yet when he tried to rouse himself a little, every object around him danced and trembled before his eyes.

Suddenly he observed in the doorway of a hut newly built under the rock, a young maiden. He did not remember having seen this hut before, yet there it stood; and he thought, at first, that the young maiden was Annette, the schoolmaster's daughter, whom he had once kissed in the dance. The maiden was not Annette; yet it seemed as if he had seen her somewhere before, perhaps near Grindelwald, on the evening of his return home from Interlachen, after the shooting-match.

"How did you come here?" he asked.

"I am at home," she replied; "I am watching my flocks."

"Your flocks!" he exclaimed; "where do they find pasture? There is nothing here but snow and rocks."

"Much you know of what grows here," she replied, laughing. "not far beneath us there is beautiful pasture-land. My goats go there. I tend them carefully; I never miss one. What is once mine remains mine."

"You are bold," said Rudy.

"And so are you," she answered.

"Have you any milk in the house?" he asked; "if so, give me some to drink; my thirst is intolerable."

"I have something better than milk," she replied, "which I will give you. Some travellers who were here yesterday with their guide left behind them a half a flask of wine, such as you have never tasted. They will not come back to fetch it, I know, and I shall not drink it; so you shall have it."

Then the maiden went to fetch the wine, poured some into a wooden cup, and offered it to Rudy.

"How good it is!" said he; "I have never before tasted such warm, invigorating wine." And his eyes sparkled with new life; a glow diffused itself over his frame; it seemed as if every sorrow, every oppression were banished from his mind, and a fresh, free nature were stirring within him. "You are surely Annette, the schoolmaster's daughter," cried he; "will you give me a kiss?"

"Yes, if you will give me that beautiful ring which you wear on your finger."

"My betrothal ring?" he replied.

"Yes, just so," said the maiden, as she poured out some more wine, and held it to his lips. Again he drank, and a living joy streamed through every vein.

"The whole world is mine, why therefore should I grieve?" thought he. "Everything is created for our enjoyment and happiness. The stream of life is a stream of happiness; let us flow on with it to joy and felicity."

Rudy gazed on the young maiden; it was Annette, and yet it was not Annette; still less did he suppose it was the spectral phantom, whom he had met near Grindelwald. The maiden up here on the mountain was fresh as the new fallen snow, blooming as an Alpine rose, and as nimble-footed as a young kid. Still, she was one of Adam's race, like Rudy. He flung his arms round the beautiful being, and gazed into her wonderfully clear eyes,- only for a moment; but in that moment words cannot express the effect of his gaze. Was it the spirit of life or of death that overpowered him? Was he rising higher, or sinking lower and lower into the deep, deadly abyss? He knew not; but the walls of ice shone like blue-green glass; innumerable clefts yawned around him, and the water-drops tinkled like the chiming of church bells, and shone clearly as pearls in the light of a pale-blue flame. The Ice Maiden, for she it was, kissed him, and her kiss sent a chill as of ice through his whole frame. A cry of agony escaped from him; he struggled to get free, and tottered from her. For a moment all was dark before his eyes, but when he opened them again it was light, and the Alpine maiden had vanished. The powers of evil had played their game; the sheltering hut was no more to be seen. The water trickled down the naked sides of the rocks, and snow lay thickly all around. Rudy shivered with cold; he was wet through to the skin; and his ring was gone,- the betrothal ring that Babette had given him. His gun lay near him in the snow; he took it up and tried to discharge it, but it missed fire. Heavy clouds lay on the mountain clefts, like firm masses of snow. Upon one of these Vertigo sat, lurking after his powerless prey, and from beneath came a sound as if a piece of rock had fallen from the cleft, and was crushing everything that stood in its way or opposed its course.

But, at the miller's, Babette sat alone and wept. Rudy had not been to see her for six days. He who was in the wrong, and who ought to ask her forgiveness; for did she not love him with her whole heart?

 

12.妖魔

洛狄离开贝克斯,朝回家的路上走。他爬上空气清凉的高山;山上有积雪,有冰姑娘在统治着。下边是一片枝叶繁盛的树木,看起来像一片马铃薯的叶子。杉木和灌木林从上面看都显得非常细小。被雪盖着的石楠,东一堆,西一堆,很像晾在外面的被单。有一棵龙胆挡住他的去路;他用枪托一下子就把它摧毁了。

在更高的地方出现了两只羚羊。他一想到别的东西,眼睛就立刻亮起来了。但是要想射中这两只羚羊,距离还不够近。因此他继续向上爬,一直爬到一块只长着几根草的石堆上。这两只羚羊现在悠闲地在雪地上走着。他加快步子;云块把他罩住了。他来到了一个峻峭的石崖面前;这时开始下起倾盆大雨来。

他感到像火烧一样地干渴。他的头脑灼热,但是他的四肢寒冷。他取出打猎用的水壶,但是壶里已经空了,因为他一赌气爬上山的时候,忘记把水灌满。他一生没有病过,但是他现在却有生病的感觉了。他非常疲累,很想躺下来睡一觉,但是处处都是水。他想鼓起精神来,但是一切东西都在他眼前奇形怪状地颤动,这时他忽然看见他在这一带从来没有看见过的东西——一个靠着石崖新近搭起来的小茅屋。屋门口站着一个年轻的女子。他起初以为她就是他跳舞时吻过的那个塾师的女儿安妮特,但是她不是安妮特。他相信他以前看见过她——可能就是那天晚上他参加因特尔拉根的射击比赛后回家时,在格林达瓦尔得见过的。

“你是什么地方的人?”他问。

“我就住在这儿呀!”她说。“我在这儿看羊!”

“羊!羊在什么地方吃草呢?这儿只有雪和石头呀!”

“你知道的东西倒是不少!”她说,同时大笑起来。“在我们后面更低一点的地方有一个很好的牧场。我的羊儿就在那里!我才会看羊呢。我从来没有丢过一只。我的东西永远就是我的。”

“你的胆子真大!”洛狄说。

“你的胆子可也不小呀!”她回答说。

“请给我一点奶喝好不好——假如你有的话。我现在渴得难受!”

“我有比牛奶还好的东西,”她说。“你可以喝一点!昨天有几个旅客带着向导住在这里,他们留下半瓶酒没有带走。这种酒恐怕你从来没有尝过。他们不会再回来取的,我也不会喝酒。你拿去喝吧!”

于是她就把酒取出来,倒在一个木杯里,递给洛狄。

“真是好酒!”他说。“我从来没有喝过这样使人温暖的烈酒!”

他的眼睛射出光彩。他全身有一种活泼愉快的感觉,好像他现在再也没有什么忧愁和烦恼似的。他充满了一种活跃的新的生命力。

“她一定是塾师的女儿安妮特!”他大声说。“给我一个吻吧!”

“那么请你把你手上的这个漂亮的戒指给我吧!”

“我的订婚戒指?”

“是的,就是这个戒指。”女子说。

于是她又倒了满满一杯酒。她把这酒托到他的嘴唇边。他喝了。愉快的感觉似乎流进他的血管。他似乎觉得整个世界是属于他的;他为什么要使自己苦恼呢?一切东西都是为了我们的快乐和享受而存在的呀。生命的河流就是幸福的河流。

让它把你托起,让它把你带走——这就是幸福。他望着这个年轻的姑娘。她是安妮特,同时也不是安妮特;但是她更不像他在格林达瓦尔得附近见到过的那个所谓“鬼怪”。这个山中姑娘新鲜得像刚下的雪,娇艳得像盛开的石楠,活泼得像一只羔羊。不过她仍然是由亚当的肋骨造成的——一个像洛狄自己一样的活生生的人。

他用双手搂着她,望着她那对清亮得出奇的眼睛。他望了不过一秒钟,但是我们怎样才能用语言把这一秒钟形容出来呢?不知道是妖精还是死神控制了他的整个身体,他被高高地托起来了,他也可以说是坠进一个阴惨的、深沉的冰罅,而且越坠越深。他看见像深绿色的玻璃一样明亮的冰墙。他的周围是一些张着口的无底深渊。滴水像钟声一样响,像珠子一样亮,像淡蓝色的火焰一样发光。冰姑娘吻了他。这一吻使他全身打了一个寒颤。他发出一个痛楚的叫声,从她手中挣脱,蹒跚了几步,接着便倒下来了。他的眼睛面前是漆黑一团,但是不一会儿他又把眼睛睁开了。妖魔开了他一个玩笑。

阿尔卑斯山的姑娘不见了,那个避风雨的茅屋也不见了。水从光秃的石头上滚下来;四周是一片雪地。洛狄冻得发抖。

他全身都湿透了;他的戒指——巴贝德给他的那个订婚戒指——也不见了。他的猎枪躺在他旁边的雪地上。他把它拿起来,放了一枪,但是放不响。潮湿的云块像大堆积雪似的填满了深渊。昏迷之神就坐在这儿,等待着那些不幸的牺牲者。

他下边的深渊里起了一阵响声。这声音听起来好像有一堆石头在坠落,并且在摧毁着任何挡住它的东西。

巴贝德坐在磨坊里哭。洛狄已经有六天没有去了。这一次本是他错,他应该向她告罪——因为她全心全意地爱着他。