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Undine by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque

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"And he is so indeed, Bertalda," interrupted Undine. "Look here, the
stranger, whom you took for the master of the fountain, told me the
whole story in detail. He wished to dissuade me from taking you with
me to castle Ringstetten, and this led him to disclose the secret."

"Well, then," said Bertalda, "if it must be so, my father said, 'I
will not take you with me until you are changed. Venture to come to
us alone through the haunted forest; that shall be the proof whether
you have any regard for us. But do not come to me as a lady; come
only as a fisher-girl!' So I will do just as he has told me, for I
am forsaken be the whole world, and I will live and die in solitude
as a poor fisher-girl, with my poor parents. I have a terrible dread
though of the forest. Horrible spectres are said to dwell in it, and
I am so fearful. But how can I help it? I only came here to implore
pardon of the noble lady of Ringstetten for my unbecoming behavior
yesterday. I feel sure, sweet lady, you meant to do me a kindness,
but you knew not how you would wound me, and in my agony and
surprise, many a rash and frantic expression passed my lips. Oh
forgive, forgive! I am already so unhappy. Only think yourself what
I was yesterday morning, yesterday at the beginning of your banquet,
and what I am now!"

Her voice became stifled with a passionate flood of tears, and
Undine, also weeping bitterly, fell on her neck. It was some time
before the deeply agitated Undine could utter a word; at length she

"You can go with us to Ringstetten; everything shall remain as it
was arranged before; only do not speak to me again as 'noble lady.'
You see, we were exchanged for each other as children; our faces
even then sprang as it were from the same stem, and we will now so
strengthen this kindred destiny that no human power shall be able to
separate it. Only, first of all, come with us to Ringstetten. We
will discuss there how we shall share all things as sisters."

Bertalda looked timidly toward Huldbrand. He pitied the beautiful
girl in her distress, and offering her his hand he begged her
tenderly to intrust herself with him and his wife. "We will send a
message to your parents," he continued, "to tell them why you are
not come;" and he would have added more with regard to the worthy
fisherman and his wife, but he saw that Bertalda shrunk with pain
from the mention of their name, and he therefore refrained from
saying more.

He then assisted her first into the carriage, Undine followed her;
and he mounted his horse and trotted merrily be the side of them,
urging the driver at the same time to hasten his speed, so that very
soon they were beyond the confines of the imperial city and all its
sad remembrances; and now the ladies began to enjoy the beautiful
country through which their road lay.

After a journey of some days, they arrived one exquisite evening, at
castle Ringstetten. The young knight had much to hear from his
overseers and vassals, so that Undine and Bertalda were left alone.

They both repaired to the ramparts of the fortress, and were
delighted with the beautiful landscape which spread far and wide
through fertile Swabia.

Presently a tall man approached them, greeting them respectfully,
and Bertalda fancied she saw a resemblance to the master of the
fountain in the imperial city. Still more unmistakable grew the
likeness, when Undine angrily and almost threateningly waved him
off, and he retreated with hasty steps and shaking head, as he had
done before, and disappeared into a neighboring copse. Undine,
however, said:

"Don't be afraid, dear Bertalda, this time the hateful master of the
fountain shall do you no harm." And then she told her the whole
story in detail, and who she was herself, and how Bertalda had been
taken away from the fisherman and his wife, and Undine had gone to
them. The girl was at first terrified with this relation; she
imagined her friend must be seized with sudden madness, but she
became more convinced that all was true, for Undine's story was so
connected, and fitted so well with former occurrences, and still
more she had that inward feeling with which truth never fails to
make itself known to us. It seemed strange to her that she was now
herself living, as it were, in the midst of one of those fairy tales
to which she had formerly only listened.

She gazed upon Undine with reverence, but she could not resist a
sense of dread that seemed to come between her and her friend, and
at their evening repast she could not but wonder how the knight
could behave so lovingly and kindly toward a being who appeared to
her, since the discovery she had just made, more of a phantom than a
human being.



The writer of this story, both because it moves his own heart, and
because he wishes it to move that of others, begs you, dear reader,
to pardon him, if he now briefly passes over a considerable space of
time, only cursorily mentioning the events that marked it. He knows
well that he might portray skilfully, step by step, how Huldbrand's
heart began to turn from Undine to Bertalda; how Bertalda more and
more responded with ardent affection to the young knight, and how
they both looked upon the poor wife as a mysterious being rather to
be feared than pitied; how Undine wept, and how her tears stung the
knight's heart with remorse without awakening his former love, so
that though he at times was kind and endearing to her, a cold
shudder would soon draw him from her, and he would turn to his
fellow-mortal, Bertalda. All this the writer knows might be fully
detailed, and perhaps ought to have been so; but such a task would
have been too painful, for similar things have been known to him by
sad experience, and he shrinks from their shadow even in
remembrance. You know probably a like feeling, dear reader, for such
is the lot of mortal man. Happy are you if you have received rather
than inflicted the pain, for in such things it is more blessed to
receive than to give. If it be so, such recollections will only
bring a feeling of sorrow to your mind, and perhaps a tear will
trickle down your cheek over the faded flowers that once caused you
such delight. But let that be enough. We will not pierce our hearts
with a thousand separate things, but only briefly state, as I have
just said, how matters were.

Poor Undine was very sad, and the other two were not to be called
happy. Bertalda especially thought that she could trace the effect
of jealousy on the part of the injured wife whenever her wishes were
in any way thwarted by her. She had therefore habituated herself to
an imperious demeanor, to which Undine yielded in sorrowful
submission, and the now blinded Huldbrand usually encouraged this
arrogant behavior in the strongest manner. But the circumstance that
most of all disturbed the inmates of the castle, was a variety of
wonderful apparitions which met Huldbrand and Bertalda in the
vaulted galleries of the castle, and which had never been heard of
before as haunting the locality. The tall white man, in whom
Huldbrand recognized only too plainly Uncle Kuhleborn, and Bertalda
the spectral master of the fountain, often passed before them with a
threatening aspect, and especially before Bertalda; so much so, that
she had already several times been made ill with terror, and had
frequently thought of quitting the castle. But still she stayed
there, partly because Huldbrand was so dear to her, and she relied
on her innocence, no words of love having ever passed between them,
and partly also because she knew not whither to direct her steps.
The old fisherman, on receiving the message from the lord of
Ringstetten that Bertalda was his guest, had written a few lines in
an almost illegible hand, but as good as his advanced age and long
dis-would admit of.

"I have now become," he wrote, "a poor old widower, for my dear and
faithful wife is dead. However lonely I now sit in my cottage,
Bertalda is better with you than with me. Only let her do nothing to
harm my beloved Undine! She will have my curse if it be so." The
last words of this letter, Bertalda flung to the winds, but she
carefully retained the part respecting her absence from her father--
just as we are all wont to do in similar circumstances.

One day, when Huldbrand had just ridden out, Undine summoned
together the domestics of the family, and ordered them to bring a
large stone, and carefully to cover with it the magnificent fountain
which stood in the middle of the castle-yard. The servants objected
that it would oblige them to bring water from the valley below.
Undine smiled sadly. "I am sorry, my people," she replied, "to
increase your work. I would rather myself fetch up the pitchers, but
this fountain must be closed. Believe me that it cannot be
otherwise, and that it is only by so doing that we can avoid a
greater evil."

The whole household were glad to be able to please their gentle
mistress; they made no further inquiry, but seized the enormous
stone. They were just raising it in their hands, and were already
poising it over the fountain, when Bertalda came running up, and
called out to them to stop, as it was from this fountain that the
water was brought which was so good for her complexion, and she
would never consent to its being closed. Undine, however, although
gentle as usual, was more than usually firm. She told Bertalda that
it was her due, as mistress of the house, to arrange her household
as she thought best, and that, in this, she was accountable to no
one but her lord and husband. "See, oh, pray see," exclaimed
Bertalda, in an angry, yet uneasy tone, "how the poor beautiful
water is curling and writhing at being shut out from the bright
sunshine and from the cheerful sight of the human face, for whose
mirror it was created!"

The water in the fountain was indeed wonderfully agitated and
hissing; it seemed as if something within were struggling to free
itself, but Undine only the more earnestly urged the fulfilment of
her orders. The earnestness was scarcely needed. The servants of the
castle were as happy in obeying their gentle mistress as in opposing
Bertalda's haughty defiance; and in spite of all the rude scolding
and threatening of the latter the stone was soon firmly lying over
the opening of the fountain. Undine leaned thoughtfully over it, and
wrote with her beautiful fingers on its surface. She must, however,
have had something very sharp and cutting in her hand, for when she
turned away, and the servants drew near to examine the stone, they
perceived various strange characters upon it, which none of them had
seen there before.

Bertalda received the knight, on his return home in the evening,
with tears and complaints of Undine's conduct. He cast a serious
look at his poor wife, and she looked down as if distressed. Yet she
said with great composure: "My lord and husband does not reprove
even a bondslave without a hearing, how much less then, his wedded

"Speak," said the knight with a gloomy countenance, "what induced
you to act so strangely?"

"I should like to tell you when we are quite alone," sighed Undine.

"You can tell me just as well in Bertalda's presence," was the

"Yes, if you command me," said Undine; "but command it not. Oh pray,
pray command it not!"

She looked so humble, so sweet, and obedient, that the knight's
heart felt a passing gleam from better times. He kindly placed her
arm within his own, and led her to his apartment, when she began to
speak as follows:--

"You already know, my beloved lord, something of my evil uncle,
Kuhleborn, and you have frequently been displeased at meeting him in
the galleries of this castle. He has several times frightened
Bertalda into illness. This is because he is devoid of soul, a mere
elemental mirror of the outward world, without the power of
reflecting the world within. He sees, too, sometimes, that you are
dissatisfied with me; that I, in my childishness, am weeping at
this, and that Bertalda perhaps is at the very same moment laughing.
Hence he imagines various discrepancies in our home life, and in
many ways mixes unbidden with our circle. What is the good of
reproving him? What is the use of sending him angrily away? He does
not believe a word I say. His poor nature has no idea that the joys
and sorrows of love have so sweet a resemblance, and are so closely
linked that no power can separate them. Amid tears a smile shines
forth, and a smile allures tears from their secret chambers."

She looked up at Huldbrand, smiling and weeping; and he again
experienced within his heart all the charm of his old love. She felt
this, and pressing him more tenderly to her, she continued amid
tears of joy:--

"As the disturber of our peace was not to be dismissed with words, I
have been obliged to shut the door upon him. And the only door by
which he obtains access to us is that fountain. He is cut off by the
adjacent valleys from the other water-spirits in the neighborhood,
and his kingdom only commences further off on the Danube, into which
some of his good friends direct their course. For this reason I had
the stone placed over the opening of the fountain, and I inscribed
characters upon it which cripple all my uncle's power, so that he
can now neither intrude upon you, nor upon me, nor upon Bertalda.
Human beings, it is true, can raise the stone again with ordinary
effort, in spite of the characters inscribed on it. The inscription
does not hinder them. If you wish, therefore, follow Bertalda's
desire, but, truly! she knows not what she asks. The rude Kuhleborn
has set his mark especially upon her; and if much came to pass which
he has predicted to me, and which might, indeed, happen without your
meaning any evil, ah! dear one, even you would then be exposed to

Huldbrand felt deeply the generosity of his sweet wife, in her
eagerness to shut up her formidable protector, while she had even
been chided for it by Bertalda. He pressed her in his arms with the
utmost affection, and said with emotion: "The stone shall remain,
and all shall remain, now and ever, as you wish to have it, my sweet

She caressed him with humble delight, as she heard the expressions
of love so long withheld, and then at length she said: "My dearest
husband, you are so gentle and kind to-day, may I venture to ask a
favor of you? See now, it is just the same with you as it is with
summer. In the height of its glory, summer puts on the flaming and
thundering crown of mighty storms, and assumes the air of a king
over the earth. You, too, sometimes, let your fury rise, and your
eyes flash and your voice is angry, and this becomes you well,
though I, in my folly, may sometimes weep at it. But never, I pray
you, behave thus toward me on the water, or even when we are near
it. You see, my relatives would then acquire a right over me. They
would unrelentingly tear me from you in their rage; because they
would imagine that one of their race was injured, and I should be
compelled all my life to dwell below in the crystal palaces, and
should never dare to ascend to you again; or they would send me up
to you--and that, oh God, would be infinitely worse. No, no, my
beloved husband, do not let it come to that, if your poor Undine is
dear to you."

He promised solemnly to do as she desired, and they both returned
from the apartment, full of happiness and affection. At that moment
Bertalda appeared with some workmen, to whom she had already given
orders, and said in a sullen tone, which she had assumed of late: "I
suppose the secret conference is at an end, and now the stone may be
removed. Go out, workmen, and attend to it."

But the knight, angry at her impertinence, desired in short and very
decisive words that the stone should be left: he reproved Bertalda,
too, for her violence toward his wife. Whereupon the workmen
withdrew, smiling with secret satisfaction: while Bertalda, pale
with rage, hurried away to her room.

The hour for the evening repast arrived, and Bertalda may waited for
in vain. They sent after her, but the domestic found her apartments
empty, and only brought back with him a sealed letter addressed to
the knight. He opened it with alarm, and read: "I feel with shame
that I am only a poor fisher-girl. I will expiate my fault in having
forgotten this for a moment by going to the miserable cottage of my
parents. Farewell to you and your beautiful wife."

Undine was heartily distressed. She earnestly entreated Huldbrand to
hasten after their friend and bring her back again. Alas! she had no
need to urge him. His affection for Bertalda burst forth again with
vehemence. He hurried round the castle, inquiring if any one had
seen which way the fugitive had gone. He could learn nothing of her,
and he was already on his horse in the castle-yard, resolved at a
venture to take the road by which he had brought Bertalda hither.
Just then a page appeared, who assured him that he had met the lady
on the path to the Black Valley. Like an arrow the knight sprang
through the gateway in the direction indicated, without hearing
Undine's voice of agony, as she called to him from the window:--

"To the Black Valley! Oh, not there! Huldbrand, don't go there! or,
for heaven's sake, take me with you!" But when she perceived that
all her calling was in vain, she ordered her white palfrey to be
immediately saddled, and rode after the knight, without allowing any
servant to accompany her.



The Black Valley lies deep within the mountains. What it is now
called we do not know. At that time the people of the country gave
it this appellation on account of the deep obscurity in which the
low land lay, owing to the shadows of the lofty trees, and
especially firs, that grew there. Even the brook which bubbled
between the rocks wore the same dark hue, and dashed along with none
of that gladness with which streams are wont to flow that have the
blue sky immediately above them. Now, in the growing twilight of
evening, it looked wild and gloomy between the heights. The knight
trotted anxiously along the edge of the brook, fearful at one moment
that by delay he might allow the fugitive to advance too far, and at
the next that by too great rapidity he might overlook her in case
she were concealing herself from him. Meanwhile he had already
penetrated tolerably far into the valley, and might soon hope to
overtake the maiden, if he were on the right track. The fear that
this might not be the case made his heart beat with anxiety. Where
would the tender Bertalda tarry through the stormy night, which was
so fearful in the valley, should he fail to find her? At length he
saw something white gleaming through the branches on the slope of
the mountain. He thought he recognized Bertalda's dress, and he
turned his course in that direction. But his horse refused to go
forward; it reared impatiently; and its master, unwilling to lose a
moment, and seeing moreover that the copse was impassable on
horseback, dismounted; and, fastening his snorting steed to an elm-
tree, he worked his way cautiously through the bushes. The branches
sprinkled his forehead and cheeks with the cold drops of the evening
dew; a distant roll of thunder was heard murmuring from the other
side of the mountains; everything looked so strange that he began to
feel a dread of the white figure, which now lay only a short
distance from him on the ground. Still he could plainly see that it
was a female, either asleep or in a swoon, and that she was attired
in long white garments, such as Bertalda had worn on that day. He
stepped close up to her, made a rustling with the branches, and let
his sword clatter, but she moved not. "Bertalda!" he exclaimed, at
first in a low voice, and then louder and louder--still she heard
not. At last, when he uttered the dear name with a more powerful
effort, a hollow echo from the mountain-caverns of the valley
indistinctly reverberated "Bertalda!" but still the sleeper woke
not. He bent down over her; the gloom of the valley and the
obscurity of approaching night would not allow him to distinguish
her features.

Just as he was stooping closer over her, with a feeling of painful
doubt, a flash of lightning shot across the valley, and he saw
before him a frightfully distorted countenance, and a hollow voice
exclaimed: "Give me a kiss, you enamoured swain!"

Huldbrand sprang up with a cry of horror, and the hideous figure
rose with him. "Go home!" it murmured; "wizards are on the watch. Go
home! or I will have you!" and it stretched out its long white arms
toward him.

"Malicious Kuhleborn!" cried the knight, recovering himself, "What
do you concern me, you goblin? There, take your kiss!" And he
furiously hurled his sword at the figure. But it vanished like
vapor, and a gush of water which wetted him through left the knight
no doubt as to the foe with whom he had been engaged.

"He wishes to frighten me back from Bertalda," said he aloud to
himself; "he thinks to terrify me with his foolish tricks, and to
make me give up the poor distressed girl to him, so that he can
wreak his vengeance on her. But he shall not do that, weak spirit of
the elements as he is. No powerless phantom can understand what a
human heart can do when its best energies are aroused." He felt the
truth of his words, and that the very expression of them had
inspired his heart with fresh courage. It seemed too as if fortune
were on his side, for he had not reached his fastened horse, when he
distinctly heard Bertalda's plaintive voice not far distant, and
could catch her weeping accents through the ever-increasing tumult
of the thunder and tempest. He hurried swiftly in the direction of
the sound, and found the trembling girl just attempting to climb the
steep, in order to escape in any way from the dreadful gloom of the
valley. He stepped, however, lovingly in her path, and bold and
proud as her resolve had before been, she now felt only too keenly
the delight, that the friend whom she so passionately loved should
rescue her from this frightful solitude, and that the joyous life in
the castle should be again open to her. She followed almost
unresisting, but so exhausted with fatigue that the knight was glad
to have brought her to his horse, which he now hastily unfastened,
in order to lift the fair fugitive upon it; and then, cautiously
holding the reins, he hoped to proceed through the uncertain shades
of the valley.

But the horse had become quite unmanageable from the wild apparition
of Kuhleborn. Even the knight would have had difficulty in mounting
the rearing and snorting animal, but to place the trembling Bertalda
on its back was perfectly impossible. They determined, therefore, to
return home on foot. Drawing the horse after him by the bridle, the
knight supported the tottering girl with his other hand. Bertalda
exerted all her strength to pass quickly through the fearful valley,
but weariness weighed her down like lead, and every limb trembled,
partly from the terror she had endured when Kuhleborn had pursued
her, and partly from her continued alarm at the howling of the storm
and the pealing of the thunder through the wooded mountain.

At last she slid from the supporting arm of her protector, and
sinking down on the moss, she exclaimed: "Let me lie here, my noble
lord; I suffer the punishment due to my folly, and I must now perish
here through weariness and dread."

"No, sweet friend, I will never leave you!" cried Huldbrand, vainly
endeavoring to restrain his furious steed; for, worse than before,
it now began to foam and rear with excitement, until at last the
knight was glad to keep the animal at a sufficient distance from the
exhausted maiden lest her fears should be increased. But scarcely
had he withdrawn a few paces with the wild steed, than she began to
call after him in the most pitiful manner, believing that he was
really going to leave her in this horrible wilderness. He was
utterly at a loss what course to take. Gladly would he have given
the excited beast its liberty and have allowed it to rush away into
the night and spend its fury, had he not feared that is this narrow
defile it might come thundering with its iron-shod hoofs over the
very spot where Bertalda lay.

In the midst of this extreme perplexity and distress, he heard with
delight the sound of a vehicle driving slowly down the stony road
behind them. He called out for help; and a man's voice replied,
bidding him have patience, but promising assistance; and soon after,
two gray horses appeared through the bushes, and beside them the
driver in the white smock of a carter; a great white linen cloth was
next visible, covering the goods apparently contained in the wagon.
At a loud shout from their master, the obedient horses halted. The
driver then came toward the knight, and helped him in restraining
his foaming animal.

"I see well," said he, "what ails the beast. When I first travelled
this way, my horses were no better. The fact is, there is an evil
water-spirit haunting the place, and he takes delight in this sort
of mischief. But I have learned a charm; if you will let me whisper
it in your horse's ear, he will stand at once just as quiet as my
gray beasts are doing there."

"Try your luck then, only help us quickly!" exclaimed the impatient
knight. The wagoner then drew down the head of the rearing charger
close to his own, and whispered something in his ear. In a moment
the animal stood still and quiet, and his quick panting and reeking
condition was all that remained of his previous unmanageableness.
Huldbrand had no time to inquire how all this had been effected. He
agreed with the carter that he should take Bertalda on his wagon,
where, as the man assured him, there were a quantity of soft cotton-
bales, upon which she could be conveyed to castle Ringstetten, and
the knight was to accompany them on horseback. But the horse
appeared too much exhausted by its past fury to be able to carry its
master so far, so the carter persuaded Huldbrand to get into the
wagon with Bertalda. The horse could be fastened on behind. "We are
going down hill," said he, "and that will make it light for my gray

The knight accepted the offer and entered the wagon with Bertalda;
the horse followed patiently behind, and the wagoner, steady and
attentive, walked by the side.

In the stillness of the night, as its darkness deepened and the
subsiding tempest sounded more and more remote, encouraged by the
sense of security and their fortunate escape, a confidential
conversation arose between Huldbrand and Bertalda. With flattering
words he reproached her for her daring flight; she excused herself
with humility and emotion, and from every word she said a gleam
shone forth which disclosed distinctly to the lover that the beloved
was his. The knight felt the sense of her words far more than he
regarded their meaning, and it was the sense alone to which he
replied. Presently the wagoner suddenly shouted with loud voice,--

"Up, my grays, up with your feet, keep together! remember who you

The knight leaned out of the wagon and saw that the horses were
stepping into the midst of a foaming stream or were already almost
swimming, while the wheels of the wagon were rushing round and
gleaming like mill-wheels, and the wagoner had jot up in front, in
consequence of the increasing waters.

"What sort of a road is this? It goes into the middle of the
stream." cried Huldbrand to his guide.

"Not at all, sir." returned the other, laughing, "it is just the
reverse, the stream goes into the very middle of our road. Look
round and see how everything is covered by the water"

The whole valley indeed was suddenly filled with the surging flood,
that visibly increased. "It is Kuhleborn, the evil water-spirit, who
wishes to drown us!" exclaimed the knight. "Have you no charm,
against him, my friend?"

"I know indeed of one," returned the wagoner, "but I cannot and may
not use it until you know who I am."

"Is this a time for riddles?" cried the knight. "The flood is ever
rising higher, and what does it matter to me to know who you are?"

"It does matter to you, though," said the wagoner, "for I am

So saying, he thrust his distorted face into the wagon with a grin,
but the wagon was a wagon no longer, the horses were not horses--all
was transformed to foam and vanished in the hissing waves, and even
the wagoner himself, rising as a gigantic billow, drew down the
vainly struggling horse beneath the waters, and then swelling higher
and higher, swept over the heads of the floating pair, like some
liquid tower, threatening to bury them irrecoverably.

Just then the soft voice of Undine sounded through the uproar, the
moon emerged from the clouds, and by its light Undine was seen on
the heights above the valley. She rebuked, she threatened the floods
below; the menacing, tower-like wave vanished, muttering and
murmuring, the waters flowed gently away in the moonlight, and like
a white dove, Undine flew down from the height, seized the knight
and Bertalda, and bore them with her to a fresh, green, turfy spot
on the hill, where with choice refreshing restoratives, she
dispelled their terrors and weariness; then she assisted Bertalda to
mount the white palfrey, on which she had herself ridden here, and
thus all three returned back to castle Ringstetten.



After this last adventure, they lived quietly and happily at the
castle. The knight more and more perceived the heavenly goodness of
his wife, which had been so nobly exhibited by her pursuit, and by
her rescue of them in the Black Valley, where Kuhleborn's power
again commenced; Undine herself felt that peace and security, which
is never lacking to a mind so long as it is distinctly conscious of
being on the right path, and besides, in the newly-awakened love and
esteem of her husband, many a gleam of hope and joy shone upon her.
Bertalda, on the other hand, showed herself grateful, humble and
timid, without regarding her conduct as anything meritorious.
Whenever Huldbrand or Undine were about to give her any explanation
regarding the covering of the fountain or the adventure in the Black
Valley, she would earnestly entreat them to spare her the recital,
as she felt too much shame at the recollection of the fountain, and
too much fear at the remembrance of the Black Valley. She learned
therefore nothing further of either; and for what end was such
knowledge necessary? Peace and joy had visibly taken up their abode
at castle Ringstetten. They felt secure on this point, and imagined
that life could now produce nothing but pleasant flowers and fruits.

In this happy condition of things, winter had come and passed away,
and spring, with its fresh green shoots and its blue sky, was
gladdening the joyous inmates of the castle. Spring was in harmony
with them, and they with spring. What wonder then, that its storks
and swallows inspired them also with a desire to travel? One day
when they were taking a pleasant walk to one of the sources of the
Danube, Huldbrand spoke of the magnificence of the noble river, and
how it widened as it flowed through countries fertilized by its
waters, how the charming city of Vienna shone forth on its banks,
and how with every step of its course it increased in power and

"It must be glorious to go down the river as far as Vienna!"
exclaimed Bertalda, but immediately relapsing into her present
modesty and humility, she paused and blushed deeply.

This touched Undine deeply, and with the liveliest desire to give
pleasure to her friend, she said: "What hinders us from starting on
the little voyage?"

Bertalda exhibited the greatest delight, and both she and Undine
began at once to picture the tour of the Danube in the brightest
colors. Huldbrand also gladly agreed to the prospect; only he once
whispered anxiously in Undine's ear,--

"But Kuhleborn becomes possessed of his power again out there!"

"Let him come," she replied with a smile, "I shall be there, and he
ventures upon none of his mischief before me." The last impediment
was thus removed; they prepared for the journey, and soon after set
out upon it with fresh spirits and the brightest hopes.

But wonder not, oh man, if events always turn out different to what
we have intended. That malicious power, lurking for our destruction,
gladly lulls its chosen victim to sleep with sweet songs and golden
delusions; while on the other hand the rescuing messenger from
Heaven often knocks sharply and alarmingly at our door.

During the first few days of their voyage down the Danube they were
extremely happy. Everything grew more and more beautiful as they
sailed further and further down the proudly flowing stream. But in a
region otherwise so pleasant, and in the enjoyment of which they had
promised themselves the purest delight, the ungovernable Kuhleborn
began, undisguisedly, to exhibit his power of interference. This was
indeed manifested in mere teasing tricks, for Undine often rebuked
the agitated waves, or the contrary winds, and then the violence of
the enemy would be immediately humbled; but again the attacks would
be renewed, and again Undine's reproofs would become necessary, so
that the pleasure of the little party was completely destroyed. The
boatmen too were continually whispering to each other in dismay, and
looking with distrust at the three strangers, whose servants even
began more and more to forebode something uncomfortable, and to
watch their superiors with suspicious glances. Huldbrand often said
to himself: "This comes from like not being linked with like, from a
man uniting himself with a mermaid!" Excusing himself as we all love
to do, he would often think indeed as he said this: "I did not
really know that she was a sea-maiden, mine is the misfortune, that
every step I take is disturbed and haunted by the wild caprices of
her race, but mine is not the fault." By thoughts such as these, he
felt himself in some measure strengthened, but on the other hand, he
felt increasing ill-humor, and almost animosity toward Undine. He
would look at her with an expression of anger, the meaning of which
the poor wife understood well. Wearied with this exhibition of
displeasure, and exhausted by the constant effort to frustrate
Kuhleborn's artifices, she sank one evening into a deep slumber,
rocked soothingly by the softly gliding bark.

Scarcely, however, had she closed her eyes than every one in the
vessel imagined he saw, in whatever direction he turned, a most
horrible human head; it rose out of the waves, not like that of a
person swimming, but perfectly perpendicular as if invisibly
supported upright on the watery surface, and floating along in the
same course with the bark. Each wanted to point out to the other the
cause of his alarm, but each found the same expression of horror
depicted on the face of his neighbor, only that his hands and eyes
were directed to a different point where the monster, half-laughing
and half-threatening, rose before him. When, however, they all
wished to make each other understand what each saw, and all were
crying out: "Look there! No, there!" the horrible heads all at one
and the same time appeared to their view, and the whole river around
the vessel swarmed with the most hideous apparitions. The universal
cry raised at the sight awoke Undine. As she opened her eyes, the
wild crowd of distorted visages disappeared. But Huldbrand was
indignant at such unsightly jugglery. He would have burst forth in
uncontrolled imprecations had not Undine said to him with a humble
manner and a softly imploring tone: "For God's sake, my husband, we
are on the water, do not be angry with me now."

The knight was silent, and sat down absorbed in revery. Undine
whispered in his ear: "Would it not be better, my love, if we gave
up this foolish journey, and returned to castle Ringstetten in

But Huldbrand murmured moodily: "So I must be a prisoner in my own
castle, and only be able to breathe so long as the fountain is
closed! I would your mad kindred"--Undine lovingly pressed her fair
hand upon his lips. He paused, pondering in silence over much that
Undine had before said to him.

Bertalda had meanwhile given herself up to a variety of strange
thoughts. She knew a good deal of Undine's origin, and yet not the
whole, and the fearful Kuhleborn especially had remained to her a
terrible but wholly unrevealed mystery. She had indeed never even
heard his name. Musing on these strange things, she unclasped,
scarcely conscious of the act, a gold necklace, which Huldbrand had
lately purchased for her of a travelling trader; half dreamingly she
drew it along the surface of the water, enjoying the light glimmer
it cast upon the evening-tinted stream. Suddenly a huge hand was
stretched out of the Danube, it seized the necklace and vanished
with it beneath the waters. Bertalda screamed aloud, and a scornful
laugh resounded from the depths of the stream. The knight could now
restrain his anger no longer. Starting up, he inveighed against the
river; he cursed all who ventured to interfere with his family and
his life, and challenged them, be they spirits or sirens, to show
themselves before his avenging sword.

Bertalda wept meanwhile for her lost ornament, which was so precious
to her, and her tears added fuel to the flame of the knight's anger,
while Undine held her hand over the side of the vessel, dipping it
into the water, softly murmuring to herself, and only now and then
interrupting her strange mysterious whisper, as she entreated her
husband: "My dearly loved one, do not scold me here; reprove others
if you will, but not me here. You know why!" And indeed, he
restrained the words of anger that were trembling on his tongue.
Presently in her wet hand which she had been holding under the
waves, she brought up a beautiful coral necklace of so much
brilliancy that the eyes of all were dazzled by it.

"Take this," said she, holding it out kindly to Bertalda; "I have
ordered this to be brought for you as a compensation, and don't be
grieved any more, my poor child."

But the knight sprang between them. He tore the beautiful ornament
from Undine's hand, hurled it again into the river, exclaiming in
passionate rage: "Have you then still a connection with them? In the
name of all the witches, remain among them with your presents. and
leave us mortals in peace, you sorceress!"

Poor Undine gazed at him with fixed but tearful eyes, her hand still
stretched out, as when she had offered her beautiful present so
lovingly to Bertalda. She then began to weep more and more
violently, like a dear innocent child bitterly afflicted. At last,
wearied out she said:

"Alas, sweet friend, alas! farewell! They shall do you no harm; only
remain true, so that I may be able to keep them from you. I must,
alas! go away; I must go hence at this early stage of life. Oh woe,
woe! what have you done! Oh woe, woe!"

She vanished over the side of the vessel. Whether she plunged into
the stream, or flowed away with it, they knew not; her disappearance
was like both and neither. Soon, however, she was completely lost
sight of in the Danube; only a few little waves kept whispering, as
if sobbing, round the boat, and they almost seemed to be saying: "Oh
woe, woe! oh remain true! oh woe!"

Huldbrand lay on the deck of the vessel, bathed in hot tears, and a
deep swoon soon cast its veil of forgetfulness over the unhappy man.



Shall we say it is well or ill, that our sorrow is of such short
duration? I mean that deep sorrow which affects the very well-spring
of our life, which becomes so one with the lost objects of our love
that they are no longer lost, and which enshrines their image as a
sacred treasure, until that final goal is reached which they have
reached before us! It is true that many men really maintain these
sacred memories, but their feeling is no longer that of the first
deep grief. Other and new images have thronged between; we learn at
length the transitoriness of all earthly things, even to our grief,
and, therefore. I must say "Alas, that our sorrow should be of such
short duration?"

The lord of Ringstetten experienced this whether for his good, we
shall hear in the sequel to this history. At first he could do
nothing but weep, and that as bitterly as the poor gentle Undine had
wept when he had torn from her hand that brilliant ornament with
which she had wished to set everything to rights. And then he would
stretch out his hand, as she had done, and would weep again, like
her. He cherished the secret hope that he might at length dissolve
in tears; and has not a similar hope passed before the mind of many
a one of us, with painful pleasure, in moments of great affliction?
Bertalda wept also, and they lived a long whip quietly together at
Castle Ringstetten, cherishing Undine's memory, and almost wholly
forgetful of their former attachment to each other. And, therefore,
the good Undine often visited Huldbrand in his dreams; caressing him
tenderly and kindly, and then going away, weeping silently, so that
when he awoke he often scarcely knew why his cheeks were so wet;
whether they had been bathed with her tears, or merely with his own?

These dream-visions became, however, less frequent as time passed
on, and the grief of the knight was less acute; still he would
probably have cherished no other wish than thus to think calmly of
Undine and to talk of her, had not the old fisherman appeared one
day unexpectedly at the castle, and sternly insisted on Bertalda's
returning with him as his child. The news of Undine's disappearance
had reached him, and he had determined on no longer allowing
Bertalda to reside at the castle with the widowed knight.

"For," said he, "whether my daughter love me or no, I do not care to
know, but her honor is at stake, and where that is concerned,
nothing else is to be thought of."

This idea of the old fisherman's, and the solitude which threatened
to overwhelm the knight in all the halls and galleries of the
desolate castle, after Bertalda's departure, brought out the
feelings that had slumbered till now and which had been wholly
forgotten in his sorrow for Undine; namely, Huldbrand's affection
for the beautiful Bertalda. The fisherman had many objections to
raise against the proposed marriage. Undine had been very dear to
the old fisherman, and he felt that no one really knew for certain
whether the dear lost one were actually dead. And if her body were
truly lying cold and stiff at the bottom of the Danube, or had
floated away with the current into the ocean, even then Bertalda was
in some measure to blame for her death, and it was unfitting for her
to step into the place of the poor supplanted one. Yet the fisherman
had a strong regard for the knight also; and the entreaties of his
daughter, who had become much more gentle and submissive, and her
tears for Undine, turned the scale, and he must at length have given
his consent, for he remained at the castle without objection, and a
messenger was despatched to Father Heilmann, who had united Undine
and Huldbrand in happy days gone by, to bring him to the castle for
the second nuptials of the knight.

The holy man, however, had scarcely read the letter from the knight
of Ringstetten, than he set out on his journey to the castle, with
far greater expedition than even the messenger had used in going to
him. Whenever his breath failed in his rapid progress, or his aged
limbs ached with weariness, he would say to himself: "Perhaps the
evil may yet be prevented; fail not, my tottering frame, till you
have reached the goal!" And with renewed power he would then press
forward, and go on and on without rest or repose, until late one
evening he entered the shady court-yard of castle Ringstetten.

The betrothed pair were sitting side by side under the trees, and
the old fisherman was near them, absorbed in thought. The moment
they recognized Father Heilmann, they sprang up, and pressed round
him with warm welcome. But he, without making much reply, begged
Huldbrand to go with him into the castle; and when the latter looked
astonished, and hesitated to obey the grave summons, the reverend
father said to him:--

"Why should I make any delay in wishing to speak to you in private,
Herr von Ringstetten? What I have to say concerns Bertalda and the
fisherman as much as yourself, and what a man has to hear, he may
prefer to hear as soon as possible. Are you then so perfectly
certain, Knight Huldbrand, that your first wife is really dead? It
scarcely seems so to me. I will not indeed say anything of the
mysterious condition in which she may be existing, and I know, too,
nothing of it with certainty. But she was a pious and faithful wife,
that is beyond all doubt; and for a fortnight past she has stood at
my bedside at night in my dreams, wringing her tender hands in
anguish and sighing out: 'Oh, prevent him, good father! I am still
living! oh, save his life! save his soul!' I did not understand what
this nightly vision signified; when presently your messenger came,
and I hurried thither, not to unite, but to separate, what ought not
to be joined together. Leave her, Huldbrand! Leave him, Bertalda! He
yet belongs to another; and do you not see grief for his lost wife
still written on his pale cheek? No bridegroom looks thus, and a
voice tells me that if you do not leave him, you will never be

The three listeners felt in their innermost heart that Father
Heilmann spoke the truth, but they would not believe it. Even the
old fisherman was now so infatuated that he thought it could not be
otherwise than they had settled it in their discussions during the
last few days. They therefore all opposed the warnings of the priest
with a wild and gloomy rashness, until at length the holy father
quitted the castle with a sad heart, refusing to accept even for a
single night the shelter offered, or to enjoy the refreshments
brought him. Huldbrand, however, persuaded himself that the priest
was full of whims and fancies, and with dawn of day he sent for a
father from the nearest monastery, who, without hesitation, promised
to perform the ceremony in a few days.



It was between night and dawn of day that the knight was lying on
his couch, half-waking, half-sleeping. Whenever he was on the point
of falling asleep a terror seemed to come upon him and scare his
rest away, for his slumbers were haunted with spectres. If he tried,
however, to rouse himself in good earnest he felt fanned as by the
wings of a swan, and he heard the soft murmuring of waters, until
soothed by the agreeable delusion, he sunk back again into a half-
conscious state. At length he must have fallen sound asleep, for it
seemed to him as if he were lifted up upon the fluttering wings of
the swans and borne by them far over land and sea, while they sang
to him their sweetest music. "The music of the swan! the music of
the swan!" he kept saying to himself; "does it not always portend
death?" But it had yet another meaning. All at once he felt as if he
were hovering over the Mediterranean Sea. A swan was singing
musically in his ear that this was the Mediterranean Sea. And while
he was looking down upon the waters below they became clear as
crystal, so that he could see through them to the bottom. He was
delighted at this, for he could see Undine sitting beneath the
crystal arch. It is true she was weeping bitterly, and looking much
sadder than in the happy days when they had lived together at the
castle of Ringstetten, especially at their commencement, and
afterward also, shortly before they had begun their unhappy Danube
excursion. The knight could not help thinking upon all this very
fully and deeply, but it did not seem as if Undine perceived him.

Meanwhile Kuhleborn had approached her, and was on the point of
reproving her for her weeping. But she drew herself up, and looked
at him with such a noble and commanding air that he almost shrunk
back with fear. "Although I live here beneath the waters," said she,
"I have yet brought down my soul with me; and therefore I may well
weep, although you can not divine what such tears are. They too are
blessed, for everything is blessed to him in whom a true soul

He shook his head incredulously, and said, after some reflection:
"And yet, niece, you are subject to the laws of our element, and if
he marries again and is unfaithful to you, you are in duty bound to
take away his life."

"He is a widower to this very hour," replied Undine, "and his sad
heart still holds me dear."

"He is, however, at the same time betrothed," laughed Kuhleborn,
with scorn; "and let only a few days pass, and the priest will have
given the nuptial blessing, and then you will have to go upon earth
to accomplish the death of him who has taken another to wife."

"That I cannot do," laughed Undine in return; "I have sealed up the
fountain securely against myself and my race."

"But suppose he should leave his castle," said Kuhleborn, "or should
have the fountain opened again! for he thinks little enough of these

"It is just for that reason," said Undine, still smiling amid her
tears, "it is just for that reason, that he is now hovering in
spirit over the Mediterranean Sea, and is dreaming of this
conversation of ours as a warning. I have intentionally arranged it

Kuhleborn, furious with rage, looked up at the knight, threatened,
stamped with his feet, and then swift as an arrow shot under the
waves. It seemed as if he were swelling in his fury to the size of a
whale. Again the swans began to sing, to flap their wings, and to
fly. It seemed to the knight as if he were soaring away over
mountains and streams, and that he at length reached the castle
Ringstetten, and awoke on his couch.

He did, in reality, awake upon his couch, and his squire coming in
at that moment informed him that Father Heilmann was still lingering
in the neighborhood; that he had met him the night before in the
forest, in a hut which he had formed for himself of the branches of
trees, and covered with moss and brushwood. To the question what he
was doing here, since he would not give the nuptial blessing, he had
answered: "There are other blessings besides those at the nuptial
altar, and though I have not gone to the wedding, it may be that I
shall be at another solemn ceremony. We must be ready for all
things. Besides, marrying and mourning are not so unlike, and every
one not wilfully blinded must see that well."

The knight placed various strange constructions upon these words,
and upon his dream, but it is very difficult to break off a thing
which a man has once regarded as certain, and so everything remained
as it had been arranged.



If I were to tell you how the marriage-feast passed at castle
Ringstetten, it would seem to you as if you saw a heap of bright and
pleasant things, but a gloomy veil of mourning spread over them all,
the dark hue of which would make the splendor of the whole look less
like happiness than a mockery of the emptiness of all earthly joys.
It was not that any spectral apparitions disturbed the festive
company, for we know that the castle had been secured from the
mischief of the threatening water-spirits. But the knight and the
fisherman and all the guests felt as if the chief personage were
still lacking at the feast, and that this chief personage could be
none other than the loved and gentle Undine. Whenever a door opened,
the eyes of all were involuntarily turned in that direction, and if
it was nothing but the butler with new dishes, or the cup-bearer
with a flask of still richer wine, they would look down again sadly,
and the flashes of wit and merriment which had passed to and fro,
would be extinguished by sad remembrances. The bride was the most
thoughtless of all, and therefore the most happy; but even to her it
sometimes seemed strange that she should be sitting at the head of
the table, wearing a green wreath and gold-embroidered attire, while
Undine was lying at the bottom of the Danube, a cold and stiff
corpse, or floating away with the current into the mighty ocean.
For, ever since her father had spoken of something of the sort, his
words were ever ringing in her ear, and this day especially they
were not inclined to give place to other thoughts.

The company dispersed early in the evening, not broken up by the
bridegroom himself, but sadly and gloomily by the joyless mood of
the guests and their forebodings of evil. Bertalda retired with her
maidens, and the knight with his attendants; but at this mournful
festival there was no gay, laughing train of bridesmaids and

Bertalda wished to arouse more cheerful thoughts; she ordered a
splendid ornament of jewels which Huldbrand had given her, together
with rich apparel and veils, to be spread out before her, in order
that from these latter she might select the brightest and most
beautiful for her morning attire. Her attendants were delighted at
the opportunity of expressing their good wishes to their young
mistress, not failing at the same time to extol the beauty of the
bride in the most lively terms. They were more and more absorbed in
these considerations, till Bertalda at length, looking in a mirror,
said with a sigh: "Ah, but don't you see plainly how freckled I am
growing here at the side of my neck?"

They looked at her throat, and found the freckles as their fair
mistress had said, but they called them beauty-spots, and mere tiny
blemishes only, tending to enhance the whiteness of her delicate
skin. Bertalda shook her head and asserted that a spot was always a

"And I could remove them," she sighed a last, "only the fountain is
closed from which I used to have that precious and purifying water.
Oh! if I had but a flask of it to-day!"

"Is that all? "said an alert waiting-maid, laughing, as she slipped
from the apartment.

"She will not be mad," exclaimed Bertalda, in a pleased and
surprised tone, "she will not be so mad as to have the stone removed
from the fountain this very evening!" At the same moment they heard
the men crossing the courtyard, and could see from the window how
the officious waiting-woman was leading them straight up to the
fountain, and that they were carrying levers and other instruments
on their shoulders. "It is certainly my will," said Bertalda,
smiling, "if only it does not take too long." And, happy in the
sense that a look from her now was able to effect what had formerly
been so painfully refused her, she watched the progress of the work
in the moonlit castle-court.

The men raised the enormous stone with an effort; now and then
indeed one of their number would sigh, as he remembered that they
were destroying the work of their former beloved mistress. But the
labor was far lighter than they had imagined. It seemed as if a
power within the spring itself were aiding them in raising the

"It is just," said the workmen to each other in astonishment, "as if
the water within had become a springing fountain." And the stone
rose higher and higher, and almost without the assistance of the
workmen, it rolled slowly down upon the pavement with a hollow
sound. But from the opening of the fountain there rose solemnly a
white column of water; at first they imagined it had really become a
springing fountain, till they perceived that the rising form was a
pale female figure veiled in white. She was weeping bitterly,
raising her hands wailingly above her head and wringing them, as she
walked with a slow and serious step to the castle-building. The
servants fled from the spring; the bride, pale and stiff with
horror, stood at the window with her attendants. When the figure had
now come close beneath her room, it looked moaningly up to her, and
Bertalda thought she could recognize beneath the veil the pale
features of Undine. But the sorrowing form passed on, sad,
reluctant, and faltering, as if passing to execution.

Bertalda screamed out that the knight was to be called, but none of
her maids ventured from the spot; and even the bride herself became
mute, as if trembling at her own voice.

While they were still standing fearfully at the window, motionless
as statues, the strange wanderer had reached the castle, had passed
up the well-known stairs, and through the well-known halls, ever in
silent tears. Alas! how differently had she once wandered through

The knight, partly undressed, had already dismissed his attendants,
and in a mood of deep dejection he was standing before a large
mirror; a taper was burning dimly beside him. There was a gentle tap
at his door. Undine used to tap thus when she wanted playfully to
tease him "It is all fancy," said he to himself; "I must seek my
nuptial bed."

"So you must, but it must be a cold one!" he heard a tearful voice
say from without, and then he saw in the mirror his door opening
slowly--slowly--and the white figure entered, carefully closing it
behind her. "They have opened the spring," said she softly, "and now
I am here, and you must die."

He felt in his paralyzed heart that it could not be otherwise, but
covering his eyes with his hands he said: "Do not make me mad with
terror in my hour of death. If you wear a hideous face behind that
veil, do not raise it, but take my life, and let me see you not."

"Alas!" replied the figure, "will you then not look upon me once
more? I am as fair as when you wooed me on the promontory."

"Oh, if it were so!" sighed Huldbrand, "and if I might die in your
fond embrace!"

"Most gladly, my loved one," said she; and throwing her veil back,
her lovely face smiled forth divinely beautiful. Trembling with love
and with the approach of death, she kissed him with a holy kiss; but
not relaxing her hold she pressed him fervently to her, and as if
she would weep away her soul. Tears rushed into the knight's eyes,
and seemed to surge through his heaving breast, till at length his
breathing ceased, and he fell softly back from the beautiful arms of
Undine, upon the pillows of his couch--a corpse.

"I have wept him to death," said she to some servants who met her in
the ante-chamber; and, passing through the affrighted group, she
went slowly out toward the fountain.



Father Heilmann had returned to the castle as soon as the death of
the lord of Ringstetten had been made known in the neighborhood, and
he appeared at the very same moment that the monk who had married
the unfortunate couple was fleeing from the gates overwhelmed with
fear and terror.

"It is well," replied Heilmann, when he was informed of this; "now
my duties begin, and I need no associate."

Upon this he began to console the bride, now a widow, small result
as it produced upon her worldly thoughtless mind. The old fisherman,
on the other hand, although heartily grieved, was far more resigned
to the fate which had befallen his daughter and son-in-law, and
while Bertalda could not refrain from abusing Undine as a murderess
and sorceress, the old man calmly said: "It could not be otherwise
after all; I see nothing in it but the judgment of God, and no one's
heart has been more deeply grieved by Huldbrand's death than that of
her by whom it was inflicted--the poor forsaken Undine!"

At the same time he assisted in arranging the funeral solemnities as
befitted the rank of the deceased.

The knight was to be interred in the village churchyard which was
filled with the graves of his ancestors. And this church had been
endowed with rich privileges and gifts both by these ancestors and
by himself. His shield and helmet lay already on the coffin, to be
lowered with it into the grave, for Sir Huldbrand, of Ringstetten,
had died the last of his race; the mourners began their sorrowful
march, singing requiems under the bright, calm canopy of heaven;
Father Heilmann walked in advance, bearing a high crucifix, and the
inconsolable Bertalda followed, supported by her aged father.
Suddenly, in the midst of the black-robed attendants in the widow's
train, a snow-white figure was seen, closely veiled, and wringing
her hands with fervent sorrow. Those near whom she moved felt a
secret dread, and retreated either backward or to the side,
increasing by their movements the alarm of the others near to whom
the white stranger was now advancing, and thus a confusion in the
funeral-train was well-nigh beginning. Some of the military escort
were so daring as to address the figure, and to attempt to remove it
from the procession; but she seemed to vanish from under their
hands, and yet was immediately seen advancing again amid the dismal
cortege with slow and solemn step. At length, in consequence of the
continued shrinking of the attendants to the right and to the left,
she came close behind Bertalda. The figure now moved so slowly that
the widow did not perceive it, and it walked meekly and humbly
behind her undisturbed.

This lasted till they came to the churchyard, where the procession
formed a circle round the open grave. Then Bertalda saw her unbidden
companion, and starting up half in anger and half in terror, she
commanded her to leave the knight's last resting-place. The veiled
figure, however, gently shook her head in refusal, and raised her
hands as if in humble supplication to Bertalda, deeply agitating her
by the action, and recalling to her with tears how Undine had so
kindly wished to give her that coral necklace on the Danube. Father
Heilmann motioned with his hand and commanded silence, as they were
to pray in mute devotion over the body, which they were now covering
with the earth. Bertalda knelt silently, and all knelt, even the
grave-diggers among the rest, when they had finished their task. But
when they rose again, the white stranger had vanished; on the spot
where she had knelt there gushed out of the turf a little silver
spring, which rippled and murmured away till it had almost entirely
encircled the knight's grave; then it ran further and emptied itself
into a lake which lay by the side of the burial-place. Even to this
day the inhabitants of the village show the spring, and cherish the
belief that it is the poor rejected Undine, who in this manner still
embraces her husband in her loving arms.

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