Undine: A Romance, by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Re: Undine: A Romance, by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque

Postby admin » Sun Jan 31, 2016 10:05 am

CHAPTER 9: HOW THE KNIGHT TOOK AWAY HIS YOUNG WIFE

NEXT morning, as Huldbrand awoke from sleep his lovely companion was not at his side, and he began to return to those strange thoughts which pictured to him his marriage, and the enchanting Undine herself, as delusions and sorceries. But then she entered the room, kissed him, seated herself on the bed, and said, "I have been forth somewhat early, that I might see if my uncle keeps his word. He has already brought back all the waters into his quiet bed, and now runs as before, solitary and musing, through the forest. His friends in air and water have also gone to rest. All is again quiet and orderly in the neighbourhood; and thou canst journey home dry-foot as soon as thou wilt."

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Huldbrand knew not whether he was awake or still dreaming, so little could he understand the strange kindred of his wife. Yet he made no remark; and soon the unspeakable grace of his gentle Undine lulled to rest every mysterious foreboding. As some time afterwards he stood with her at the door, and looked over the reappearing points of land, with their bright boundaries of water, he felt this cradle of his love so dear to him, that he said, "Why should we journey forth today? We shall find no happier days in the world out yonder than we spend in this quiet home. Let us see the sun go down here yet two or three times."

"As my lord desires," said Undine, with sweet humility. "It is only that the old people must part from me in sorrow; and if they discern in me a true soul, and know how heartily I can now love and honour them, the weak sight of their eyes will be quenched by the abundance of their tears. They still hold my quietness and gentleness for nothing better than what they once were -- the calm of the sea when the wind is hushed; and they will learn to take as much pleasure in a plant or flower as in me. Let me not show them this newly given heart, which overflows with love, in the very moment when they must lose it for this world; and how can I conceal it if we remain longer together?"

Huldbrand agreed to these words, and spoke to the old couple of the journey which he meant to undertake that very hour.

The priest offered to accompany the young pair; and after taking a short farewell, he and the knight lifted the beautiful wife on the horse, and hastily went towards the forest, along the dried-up course of the river. Undine wept silently but bitterly; the old people cried aloud; it seemed as if they had some glimmering idea of what they had lost in their sweet foster-child.

The three travellers had reached in silence the thickest shades of the wood. It was fair to see, under the green leafy vault, how the lovely lady sat on the noble, daintily decked steed; while, carefully guarding her, on one side walked the reverend priest, in the white dress of his order; on the other the blooming young knight, in brightly coloured clothes, girt with his splendid sword.

Huldbrand only looked at his sweet wife. Undine, who had dried her gentle tears, had eyes but for him; and they soon began a silent discourse of looks and gestures, from which they were at length aroused by a low conversation which the priest was holding with a fourth companion, who had joined them unobserved. He wore a white garment, almost like the habit of the monk, only that its hood came low over his face; and the whole hung about him in such ample folds, that every moment he had to gather it up, and throw it over his arm, or arrange it in some other way, though his progress did not seem in the least hindered by it.

Just as the young couple became aware of his presence, he was saying, "And so have I dwelt for many years in this wood, reverend sir, without anyone calling me a hermit in your sense of the word; for, as I said, I know nothing of penance, and do not believe that I want it particularly. And I love this wood so much, because it seems to me most especially beautiful; and it makes sport for me when I go with my floating white garments through the dark boughs and shadows, and there unexpectedly glances down upon me a sweet sunbeam."

"You are a very strange man," answered the priest, "and I would willingly know more of you."

"And who, then, are you, to pass from one subject to another?" asked the stranger.

'I am called Father Heilmann," said the priest; "and I come from the monastery of Mary's Salutation, beyond the lake."

"So, so," answered the stranger. "I am called Kuhleborn; and, if courtesy is consulted, I may as well be called Lord Kuhleborn, or Free-Lord Kuhleborn; for I am free as the birds of the wood, perchance somewhat freer. For instance, I have something to say to the young woman yonder."

And before it could be perceived, he was on the other side of the priest, close to Undine. He stretched himself up, as if to whisper in her ear, but she turned away frightened, saying, "I have nothing more to do with you."

"Ho, ho!" laughed the stranger; "have you made such a grand marriage that you no longer know your relations? Know you not uncle Kuhleborn, who so faithfully brought you on his back to this country?"



"I pray you," said Undine, "not to come before me again. I fear you now; and my husband will learn to dislike me, if he sees me with such strange companions and relations."

"Little niece," said Kuhleborn, "thou must not forget that I am here your guide, else might the malicious goblins of the earth play foolish pranks with you. So let me go quietly along with you. The old priest yonder remembers me better than thou dost appear to do, for he assured me just now that I seemed well known to him, and that I must have been with him in the boat from which he fell into the water. In sooth, there I was; for I was the very water-spout which threw him out, and brought him safely to land for thy wedding."

Undine and the knight looked at Father Heilmann, but he seemed to be in a waking dream, and to have heard nothing of all that was said. Then said Undine to Kuhleborn, "I see already yonder the end of the wood. We need your assistance no longer, and you now cause us only terror; therefore, in all love and kindness, I pray you to vanish, and leave us in peace."

This seemed to displease Kuhleborn; he made a hideous face, and gnashed his teeth at Undine, who screamed loudly, and called upon her husband for help. Like lightning the knight was on the other side of the horse, and he brandished his sharp sword against Kuhleborn's head; but he struck against a waterfall which rushed down from a high rock near them, and suddenly drenched them with a splash, which sounded almost like laughter, and wetted them to the skin.

The priest, as if suddenly awakening, said to them, "I have long expected that, because the stream ran so close to the edge of that height. At first it seemed to me almost as if it were a man who could speak."

The waterfall sounded clearly to Huldbrand's ears these words: --" Rash knight -- impetuous knight -- I am not angry -- I will not quarrel. Only ever so guard thy lovely little wife, thou impetuous knight! thou fiery youth!"

A few steps more, and they were in the open country. The imperial city lay brightly before them, and the evening sun which gilded its towers dried kindly the clothes of the drenched travellers.
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Re: Undine: A Romance, by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque

Postby admin » Sun Jan 31, 2016 10:05 am

CHAPTER 10: HOW THEY LIVED IN THE CITY

THE sudden disappearance of the young knight Huldbrand of Ringstetten had excited great attention in the town, and much grief among all the people, whose affection he had won, both by his skill at the tourney and dance, and by his gentle friendly manners. His attendants would not leave the place without their master, though not one of them took courage to ride after him into the shades of that dreaded forest; so they remained in the hostelry, hoping, without acting, as is the wont with men, and keeping alive the memory of their lost master by their lamentations. When, soon afterwards, the great storm and floods were perceived, no longer did men doubt the certain destruction of the graceful stranger. Bertalda herself mourned him openly, and bewailed her folly in having urged him to the fatal ride. Her noble foster-parents had arrived to take her away from the city; but she persuaded them to remain with her until certain news was heard of Huldbrand's life or death. She endeavoured to move several young knights who were eagerly courting her to ride into the forest after the gallant adventurer; but since she would not promise her hand as the reward of the attempt, because she yet hoped that she might belong to Huldbrand on his return, none would adventure his life to fetch back so dangerous a rival for the sake of a glove, or a ribbon, or even a kiss.

When, then, Huldbrand appeared suddenly and unexpectedly, his servants and the citizens greatly rejoiced; almost all people, indeed, except Bertalda; for when the others were well pleased at his bringing with him a wife of so wondrous beauty, and father Heilmann as the witness of the marriage, she could not be otherwise than troubled; first, because she very heartily loved the young knight, and also this affection had become, through her grief for his disappearance, far more publicly known than was now fitting. Nevertheless, in these circumstances she demeaned herself as a wise maiden, and lived on the most friendly terms with Undine, whom all the city took for a princess freed by Huldbrand from some wicked enchanter in the forest. When she herself or her husband was questioned on the subject, they held their tongue, or dexterously evaded the question. Father Heilmann's lips were sealed to every idle word; and besides, immediately after Huldbrand's arrival he had returned to his monastery; so that people were obliged to content themselves with their own strange conjectures, and even Bertalda knew no more of the truth than the rest.

Undine each day loved the graceful maiden better. "We must have known one another before," she would often say to her; "or else there must be some strange connection between us; for without some cause -- I mean, some deep hidden cause -- one person does not love another so dearly as I loved you from the first moment."

And even Bertalda could not deny that she felt a bond of sympathy and love with Undine, however much she thought that she had cause for bitter complaints against her as her happy rival. This mutual affection made Undine persuade her husband, and Bertalda her foster-parents, to postpone more and more the day of their departure. It had even been proposed that Bertalda should for a time accompany Undine to castle Ringstetten, at the source of the Danube.

They were speaking of this one evening as they walked up and down the public square of the town, which was surrounded with lofty trees. The young husband and wife had invited Bertalda to the late walk, and all three walked familiarly together hither and thither beneath the deep blue sky, often interrupting their discourse to wonder at the beautiful fountain in the middle of the square, and at its strange rushings and splashings. All was solemn and delightful to them; the glimmering lights from the neighbouring houses stole in upon them through the branches of the trees; a low murmur of children at play, and people walking for pleasure, sounded around them; and they felt so alone, and yet so pleasantly in the midst of a bright living world: all that had seemed difficult during the day, now of itself became easy; and the three friends could no longer comprehend what objection, however slight, could be urged against Bertalda's journeying to Ringstetten. Then, as they were about to fix the day for their common departure, a tall man came towards them from the middle of the market-place, bowed respectfully to the party, and said something in the young wife's ear.

Vexed at the interruption and the interrupter, she went some steps apart with the stranger, and both began to whisper in a foreign language. Huldbrand thought he knew the intruder, and gazed so fixedly at him that he neither heard nor answered Bertalda's astonished questions. All at once, Undine joyfully clapped her hands, and laughing, left the stranger, who, shaking his head, went away with hasty displeased strides, and stepped down into the fountain.

Then Huldbrand felt sure that he was right; but Bertalda asked, "What had the master of the fountain to say to thee, dear Undine?"

Undine laughed to herself and answered: "The day after tomorrow, on thy birthday, thou shalt know, thou lovely child."

And nothing more could be obtained from her. She invited Bertalda, and through her her foster-parents, to the noonday repast on the day she spoke of, and soon after they parted.

"Kuhleborn?" asked Huldbrand of his wife, with a secret shudder, when they had taken leave of Bertalda, and were returning home by themselves through the darkening streets.

"Yes, he it was," answered Undine; "and he wanted chiefly to speak to me of a very foolish matter; but in the midst of this he gave me, quite against his intention, most welcome intelligence. If thou wouldst know this at once, my beloved lord and husband, thou hast only to command, and I will tell thee all, from my heart; but if thou wilt give thine Undine a real great pleasure, thou wilt wait till the day after to-morrow, and thou wilt also gain a surprise thereby."

The knight readily granted his wife what she so sweetly asked for; and even as she fell asleep, she murmured to herself with a smile, "How she will rejoice, and how she will wonder at the news of the master of the fountain, dear, dear Bertalda!"
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Re: Undine: A Romance, by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque

Postby admin » Sun Jan 31, 2016 10:06 am

CHAPTER 11: BERTALDA'S BIRTHDAY

THE guests were assembled at the table; at the upper end sat Bertalda, adorned like the goddess of spring, with flowers, and also with jewels, the rich gifts of her foster-parents and friends; at her side were Huldbrand and Undine. When the splendid repast was concluded, and the attendants were bringing in the dessert, the doors were set open, according to the good old custom in German countries, so that the people might look in and rejoice in the joy of their masters. Servants carried round wine and cakes to the lookers-on.

Huldbrand and Bertalda awaited with secret impatience for the promised explanation, and turned away their eyes as little as possible from Undine. But the lovely wife remained silent, and only smiled to herself with deep hidden joy. Those who knew of her promise could see that every moment she was on the point of betraying her happy secret, and yet repressed it in gay self-denial, as children are wont to play with their choicest dainties. Bertalda and Huldbrand shared this delicious feeling, awaiting with hopeful impatience the new happiness that would shower down upon them from their friend's lips. Just then several of the company prayed Undine to sing to them. She seemed to agree gladly to this, and when her lute had been brought to her, she sang the following words: --

"Bright was the morn, and gay the flowers,
The grass grew sweet and tall;
But there lay on the brink of the breezy lake
A form more bright than all.

"What glitters so fair among the grass --
What glitters so fair and white?
Is it a flower from fairy-land,
Or a gem from the realms of light?

"Oh, gaze on it! 'tis a tender child,
That all unconscious plays
With the rosy buds that blossom around,
And the sunbeam's dancing rays.

"Alas, alas, thou sweetest one!
From an unknown distant strand
The waves of the lake have borne thee on
To a new and stranger land.

"Oh, stretch not forth thy tiny hand!
No answering hand meets thine;
The flowers around, all strange and mute,
In senseless beauty shine.

They can attire themselves in light,
And sweetly scent the grove;
But none can press thee to its heart,
Or give thee love for love.

"Far off is thy mother's yearning breast;
Alas, for thine orphan lot!
Thou hast lost the tenderest, sweetest, best,
Poor child, and thou know'st it not!

"A noble duke rides slowly by,
And halts, beholding thee;
He brings thee up in his castle-halls
As a maid of high degree.

"Splendour and wealth, thou fairest fair,
Their blessings around thee pour;
But, alas, the purest and best of joys
Thou hast left on the unknown shore!"


Undine let fall her lute with a sad smile; the eyes of the noble foster-parents of Bertalda filled with tears.

"Thus was it on the morning that I found thee, thou poor, lovely orphan," said the duke, much moved. "The fair singer is right; we have not been able to give thee the best."

"But we must hear how it went with the poor parents," said Undine: she struck the strings, and sang: --

"The mother, she wanders through the house --
She seeks through every room;
With tears she seeks, but she knows not what;
She finds but an empty home!

"An empty home! Oh, word of woe
To the heart whose best delight
Was to guide an infant's steps by day,
And its cradle rock by night!

"Again the trees are fresh and green
On the blue lake's smiling shore;
But, mother, O mother, cease thy search;
For thy loved one comes no more!

"And when, by the glimmer of twilight stars,
The father home returns,
He fain would smile as he smiled of yore,
But his cheek a tear-drop burns;

"For he knows that his home is desolate --
Its stillness he cannot bear,
Nor the sound of the wail of that mother pale,
With no child to greet him there!"


"Oh, in God's name, Undine, where are my parents?" cried the weeping Bertalda. "Thou must know it, assuredly; thou must have learned it; else wouldst thou not so have torn my heart. Are they perchance here? Can it be?" Her eyes glanced quickly round the brilliant company, and rested on a lady of princely family, who sat next to her foster-father.

Then Undine turned towards the door: tears of the sweetest emotion were flowing from her eyes. "Where, then, are the poor patient parents?" she asked; and the old fisherman and his wife came forth from among the spectators, with trembling steps. Their eyes rested inquiringly, now on Undine, now on the beautiful maiden who was said to be their daughter.

"It is she!" murmured the delighted Undine. And the old pair hung on the neck of their recovered child, weeping aloud, and praising God.

But the angry and terrified Bertalda tore herself from their embraces. Such a discovery was too much for her proud spirit at the moment when she had firmly expected to rise yet higher than her former lot, and her hopes spoke to her of thrones and crowns. She deemed that her rival had planned all this to humble her more completely before Huldbrand and the whole company. She upbraided Undine; she upbraided the old people; the hateful words "deceiver" and "bribed wretches" passed her lips.

Then said the old woman very gently to herself: "Ah, good God, she has grown up to be a bad woman! and yet I feel in my heart that she was born of me."

The fisherman folded his hands, and silently prayed that she might not be his daughter.

Undine, pale as death, turned from the parents to Bertalda, and from Bertalda to the parents. She had suddenly been thrown from the heavenly happiness she had imaged to herself, into an anguish and affright which hitherto she had not known even in her dreams.

"Hast thou a soul? Hast thou indeed a soul, Bertalda,?" she cried repeatedly to her angry friend, as if with an effort to recall her from a sudden madness or a distracting night-vision.

But as Bertalda only raved the more impatiently, and the rejected parents began to lament aloud, and the company to take different sides and to contend, she prayed with such dignity and earnestness for permission to speak in her husband's hall, that all around her became silent at her sign. She then walked to the upper end of the table, where Bertalda had sat, and firmly and meekly spoke as follows, while all eyes were fixed upon her:

"Ye guests, who look so troubled and angry, and who have so cruelly disturbed my happy festival, God knows I am ignorant of your foolish customs and your harsh manners, and I pray to be kept from them all my life long. The blame is not mine that all has turned out so unkindly; but believe me it may be yours, little as you think it. Nevertheless, I have not much to say to you on the subject; but one thing must be said: -- I have spoken the truth. I cannot and I will not give you witnesses beyond my assurances; but I will affirm it. He told me of it who allured Bertalda from her parents into the water, and then laid her in the green meadow, in the duke's way."

"She is a sorceress!" cried Bertalda; "a witch, who has intercourse with evil spirits. She acknowledges it herself."

"Nay, I do not!" said Undine, with heavenly innocence and confidence in her eyes. "I am no witch; look upon me."

"Then she lies and deceives," continued Bertalda; "and cannot prove that I am the child of those miserable people. My noble parents, I pray you take me from this company, and from this city, where they strive but to bring me to shame."

The honourable old duke remained, however, without moving; and his wife said: "We must discover how things really are. God forbid that I should leave this hall before that is done." Then the old woman drew near and curtsied low to the duchess, saying: "You have opened my heart, noble lady, for you fear God. I must say to you, that if this bad maiden is my daughter, she has between her shoulders a mark like a violet, and the same on the instep of her left foot. If she will only come with me from this hall --"

"I will not uncover myself before a peasant," said Bertalda, proudly turning away from her.

"But before me you will," said the duchess, very gravely. "You will follow me into that chamber, maiden; and the good old woman will come with us."

They all three disappeared; and the others remained behind, in silent expectation. After a little time they returned. Bertalda was deadly pale; and the duchess said: "Justice must be done; therefore I declare that our hostess has spoken the exact truth. Bertalda is the daughter of the fisherman; and that is all that need here be told."

The noble pair went out with their foster-daughter; at a sign from the duke, the fisherman and his wife followed them. The other guests went away in silence, or with concealed murmurs; and Undine, bitterly weeping, sank into her husband's arms.
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Re: Undine: A Romance, by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque

Postby admin » Sun Jan 31, 2016 10:07 am

CHAPTER 12: HOW THEY JOURNEYED FROM THE FREE CITY

FAR better pleased would the lord of Ringstetten have been, indeed, if all had turned out otherwise; but yet as things were, it could not but delight him that his sweet wife had shown herself so kind, so gentle, and so affectionate.

"If I have given her a soul," he would often say to himself, "I have given her one far better than my own;" and now he thought only of comforting his weeping Undine, and also of leaving the next day a place which, since these events, must be unpleasant to her. It is true that no one judged her unfavourably. From the first something wonderful had been expected from her, so that the strange discovery of Bertalda's birth did not cause so much surprise; and it was with Bertalda alone that all who had heard the story, and seen her violent behaviour, were indignant. But the knight and the lady knew nothing of this; besides, the one feeling would have been as painful to Undine as the other; and therefore they had nothing better to do than to leave the old walls of the city behind them.

In the first dawn of the morning, a beautiful equipage awaited Undine at the door of the inn; the horses of Huldbrand and his attendants were pawing in the court. The knight was leading his beautiful wife from the door, when a fisher-girl approached them.

"We need not thy merchandise," said Huldbrand; "we are just leaving the city."

The girl began to weep bitterly; and then first the husband and wife saw that it was Bertalda. They went back with her to their apartments immediately, and learned from her that the duke and duchess had been so displeased by her want of feeling and her violence on the day before, that they had entirely withdrawn their protection from her, though not until they had given her a rich dowry. The fisherman also had received valuable gifts, and with his wife had already taken his way back to the peninsula.

"I would fain have gone with them," added she, "but the old man, who is said to be my father --"

"He is truly thy father, Bertalda," interrupted Undine. "Hearken, he whom thou thoughtest to be the master of the fountain told me clearly how it was. He wanted to dissuade me from taking thee with us to Castle Ringstetten, and then this secret escaped him."

"Well then," said Bertalda, "my father, if it must be so, -- my father said, 'I take thee not with me till thou art changed. Adventure thyself alone through the dreaded forest to come to us; that shall give the proof whether thou carest aught for us. But come not as a lady; come as a fisher-girl.' Now would I do as he has said; for I am forsaken by all the world; and as a miserable fisher-girl will I live and die alone with my poor parents. But I greatly dread the forest; hideous spectres dwell there, and I am so very fearful. But what help is there for it? I came here but to implore forgiveness from the noble lady of Ringstetten for having yesterday demeaned myself so unworthily. I know that you meant well, gentle lady; but you knew not the anguish you inflicted; and, in my distress and surprise, many bold and thoughtless words passed my lips. All, forgive me, forgive me! I am already so very unhappy. Think only yourself what I was yesterday morning, yesterday at the beginning of your feast, and what I am to-day!"

Her words were choked by a sorrowful burst of tears, and Undine, also bitterly weeping, fell on her neck. It was long before she could utter a word; but then she said:

"Thou shalt go with us to Ringstetten; all shall be as it was before arranged; only say again 'thou' to me, and not 'noble lady.' See, we were exchanged as children; that at once united our destinies, and we will henceforth be so closely united that no power of man shall be able to sever us. But thou must first come to Ringstetten; we can there talk of how we shall share everything like sisters."

Bertalda looked timidly up at Huldbrand. He felt for the fair deserted maiden, and giving her his hand, he kindly told her to trust herself to him and to his wife.

"We will send to apprise your parents," he said, "wherefore you are not come;" and he would have added much more about the good old couple, but he saw how Bertalda shuddered at the recollection, and he therefore quickly desisted from speaking of them. He gave her his arm, placed first her, and afterwards Undine, in the chariot; then he rode gaily beside them, and so urged the driver, that they swiftly left behind them, the imperial city and its territory, and with it all painful recollections; and then the friends could take greater pleasure in the beautiful country through which their road lay.

After a few days' journey, they came, one fair evening, to the Castle of Ringstetten. The young knight had much business to transact with his steward and with his other dependents, so that Undine was left alone with Bertalda. They both went out upon the lofty walls of the fortress, and rejoiced in the lovely landscape, which extended far into the fertile Swabia. Just then a tall man came up to them, who greeted them courteously, and almost seemed to Bertalda like the master of the fountain in the city. The resemblance grew stronger when Undine, vexed and well-nigh indignant, made a sign to him to begone; and he departed, as before, with hasty steps and shaking his head, till he vanished in a neighbouring thicket.

Undine said: "Be not afraid, dear Bertalda; that hateful master of the fountain shall this time do nothing to vex thee." And then she distinctly told her the whole story, and who she herself was, and how Bertalda had been taken from the old couple, and Undine brought to them. The maiden was at first terrified by this disclosure; she thought that a sudden madness had come upon her friend. But she was more and more convinced that all was true, by Undine's connected words, so well suited to what had occurred, and still further by the inward feeling which never fails to make truth known to us. It seemed very strange to be living, as it were, in the midst of a legend, which she had often before heard related. She reverently gazed at Undine, but could not shake off a feeling of dread which came between her and her friend; and at supper could not refrain from wondering at the tenderness and kindness of the knight for a being who, since the last disclosure, had seemed to her to belong to the world rather of spirits than of men.
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Re: Undine: A Romance, by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque

Postby admin » Sun Jan 31, 2016 10:07 am

CHAPTER 13: HOW THEY LIVED IN THE CASTLE RINGSTETTEN

DEAR reader, the writer of this tale craves a favour of thee, because it touches his own heart, and he would fain that it did the same by others. Forgive him if he now pass over a somewhat long period in a few words, and only tell thee generally what occurred in it. He knows that he might skilfully, and step by step, unfold how Huldbrand's heart began to turn from Undine and towards Bertalda; how Bertalda met him with ever increasing love; and how to both of them the poor wife seemed to become a creature rather to fear than to compassionate; how Undine wept, and her tears awoke the pangs of conscience in the knight's heart, but failed to awaken his former love, so that he would often speak kindly to her, but yet a cold shudder would quickly drive him away from her, and lead him to Bertalda, the daughter of man; -- all this, the writer well knows, could be distinctly drawn out; perchance it should be, but it makes him too sorrowful; for he has known such things, and dreads even the shadow of their recollection. Thou knowest probably a like feeling, dear reader; for it is the lot of mortal man. And happy art thou if thou hast felt the pain, rather than caused it; for in this case it is more blessed to receive than to give. Then, at such a recollection, a gentle sorrow will glide into thy soul, and perhaps a quiet tear trickle down thy cheek at the remembrance of thy faded flower, over which thou didst once so heartily rejoice. But enough of this; we will not pierce our hearts with a thousand separate stings, but be satisfied with the mere knowledge that all came to pass on this occasion as I have said.

Image

Poor Undine was very mournful, the others not well satisfied; Bertalda, especially, thought she could detect in the slightest opposition to her wishes the jealousy of the injured wife. She had, therefore, assumed an imperious manner, to which Undine yielded in sad submission, and which was commonly most decisively supported by the blinded Huldbrand. The peace of the castle was yet more disturbed by very wonderful spectres, which appeared to Huldbrand and Bertalda in the vaulted passages, and which had never been heard of in the memory of man. The tall white man whom Huldbrand knew too well as Uncle Kuhleborn, and Bertalda as the ghost-like master of the fountain, often approached them with threats; but principally he threatened Bertalda, who had sometimes, in consequence, fallen sick from fear, and often thought of leaving the castle. But Huldbrand was all too dear to her, and she trusted to her innocence, as no declaration of love had passed between them; besides, she knew not whither she could direct her steps.

The old fisherman had answered the information of the Lord of Ringstetten, that Bertalda was with him, by a few lines hard to read, and such as old age and long disuse suffered him to form. He said: "I am now a poor widower, for my dear faithful wife has been taken from me. However lonely I may be in my cottage, I would rather that Bertalda were with you than with me: only let her give no sorrow to my dear Undine, or she would have my curse." The last words Bertalda scattered to the wind, but weighed carefully those which spoke of remaining away from her father, as we men are ever wont to do on like occasions.

One day Huldbrand had hardly ridden forth when Undine assembled the household, bade them bring a large stone, and carefully cover with it the magnificent fountain which arose in the midst of the castle court. The servants represented that they would then have to fetch water from far down in the valley; Undine smiled sadly; "It grieves me, my friends, to increase your labour," she answered -- "I would rather myself carry the water-jugs; but this fountain must now be covered in. Believe me, there is no help for it; and only thereby can we avoid a far greater evil."

The whole household rejoiced to do anything to please their gentle mistress; they asked no more questions, but took up the immense stone. It was already suspended over the fountain when Bertalda came up hastily, and called out to them to desist; out of this fountain was drawn the water she used at her toilette, which so excellently agreed with her complexion, and she would never allow it to be closed. But this time Undine maintained her purpose with unwonted firmness, though still with her wonted gentleness; she said that as mistress of the house it behooved her to regulate all the arrangements of the family as seemed best to her, and to none had she to give an account of these but to her lord and husband.

"Look! oh, look!" cried Bertalda, angry and displeased; "that poor bright water is ruffled and agitated because it is to be shut out from the clear sunshine and the joyful sight of human faces, to whom it was meant to be a mirror!"

In fact, the water bubbled and heaved strangely in the spring -- it seemed as if it would have cast up something; but Undine only the more earnestly insisted that her command should be fulfilled. This earnest desire was hardly needed. The servants of the castle were as glad to obey their gentle lady as to thwart Bertalda's self-will; and, in spite of all uncourteous reproofs and threatenings, the stone in a short time lay firm on the opening of the spring. Undine bent thoughtfully over it, and wrote on its surface, with her beautiful fingers. She must have held something sharp and corrosive in her hand; for as she turned away and the others drew nearer, they perceived immediately some strange marks on the stone, which none had before seen there.

Bertalda received the knight on his return with tears and complaints of Undine's behaviour. Huldbrand cast a severe glance on his wife, and she looked down sadly; but then she said, with much calmness:

"My lord and husband does not reprove a bondman till he has heard him; how much less, then, his wedded wife!"

"Say, what moved thee to so strange an act?" said the knight, with a gloomy countenance.

"I would say it to thee quite alone," sighed Undine.

"Thou mayest do it as well in Bertalda's presence," answered her husband.

"Yes, if thou biddest me," said Undine; "but bid me not."

She looked so humble, gentle, and obedient, that there flashed in the knight's heart as a sunbeam of better times. He took her tenderly by the hand and led her into her chamber, where she began to speak as follows:

"Thou knowest already my evil-minded Uncle Kuhleborn, my beloved lord, and thou hast often been displeased by meeting him about this castle. He has even frightened Bertalda so that she fell ill. This has happened because he is soulless, a mere mirror-like reflection of the outer world, unable to give out any light from within. Now at times he sees that thou art displeased with me, and that I, in my childishness, weep thereat; while, perchance, at the same moment, Bertalda smiles well pleased. Then he fancies very unjust things, and ofttimes mixes unbidden in our circle. What avails it that I reprove him, that I send him away in displeasure? He will not believe my words. His wretched existence can give him no idea of the sweet likeness between the joys and woes of love, and how they are united so intimately that no power can sever them. Smiles spring up beneath tears, and smiles draw forth tears from their hidden source."

She looked up at Huldbrand with smiles and tears, and again he felt in his heart all the enchantment of his former love. She knew this, pressed him more closely to her, and went on in the midst of her joyful tears:

"As the disturber of our peace would not yield to my words, I must shut the door upon him; and the only door by which he can reach us is that fountain. He is at variance with all the water-spirits of the neighbouring valleys, and his dominion does not begin again till far down the Danube, where some of his good friends fall into its waters. Therefore have I caused the stone to be placed over the mouth of the well, and inscribed upon it figures which destroy the power of my jealous uncle; so that now he cannot come in thy way, nor in mine, nor in Bertalda's. Men, indeed, can raise up the stone again with but common efforts, in spite of the figures, which cannot hinder them. If thou desirest, do as Bertalda wills it; but truly, she knows not what she asks for. The impatient Kuhleborn bears especial ill-will against her; and if that comes to pass which he has prophesied to me, and which may well happen without thy meaning harm by it, O dearest, thou thyself wouldst not be free from danger."

Huldbrand felt deep in his heart the generosity of his gentle wife in thus diligently driving away her fearful defender, although upbraided for it by Bertalda. He folded her most tenderly in his arms, and said, with emotion:

"The stone remains as it is, and all remains and shall remain as thou wilt have it, my sweet Undine."

She timidly caressed him, joying in these long withheld words of love, and said at length:

"My dearest, thou art today so exceedingly gentle and good, might I dare to make thee one prayer? See, it is with thee as with summer; in the midst of its greatest glory, it puts on a flashing and thundering crown of storms, in order to show that it is a king and divinity of the earth. Thus at times dost thou upbraid, and thy tongue and thine eyes flash; and that becomes thee well, though at times, in my folly, it makes me weep. But reprove me not thus when we are on the water, or near some water; for then would my relations regain a power over me, and they would irrevocably snatch me away from thee in their wrath, deeming that one of their race was injured; and then must I dwell all my life long below in the crystal palaces, and never again come up to thee; or if they did send me up to thee -- a heavens! then would it be unspeakably worse. No, no, beloved, let it not come to this, if thy poor Undine be dear to thee."

He solemnly promised to do as she desired, and, they both left the room, full of love and gladness. Bertalda approached with some workmen, whom she had in the meanwhile caused to be summoned, and said, in the discontented tone which she had lately assumed: "The secret conference is happily now at an end; the stone may be removed. Go, ye men, and see that it be done."

But the knight, indignant at her forwardness, said, in few and very grave words: "The stone remains where it is."

He also reproved Bertalda for her haughty behaviour towards his wife; whereat the workmen went away, concealing a smile of pleasure, and Bertalda, turning pale, hastened to her apartments.

The hour of supper arrived, and they waited in vain for Bertalda. They sent to summon her; the attendant found her chamber empty, and only brought back a sealed letter, directed to the knight. He opened it in amazement, and read:

"I feel with shame that I am but a poor fisher-girl. I will expiate my momentary forgetfulness in the miserable hut of my parents. May you live happy with your lovely wife!"

Undine was much troubled; she earnestly besought Huldbrand to hasten after her friend, and to bring her back again. Alas! there was no need to urge him. His love for Bertralda burnt anew fiercely; he hastened over the castle, asking if anyone had seen which way the fair fugitive had taken. He could gain no information; and be was quickly on his horse in the courtyard of the castle, determined to ride forth at all hazards on the road by which he had brought Bertalda to the castle. Then a page came up, who assured him that he had met the lady on horseback, going towards the Black Valley.

The knight darted like an arrow through the gate, in the direction pointed out to him, without hearing Undine's agonized cry from the window: "The Black Valley? Oh, go not there! Huldbrand, go not there! Else, in God's name, take me with thee!"

"When she saw that her cries were in vain, she hastily ordered her palfrey to be saddled, and followed after the knight, without allowing any attendant to accompany her.
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Re: Undine: A Romance, by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque

Postby admin » Sun Jan 31, 2016 10:08 am

CHAPTER 14: THE BLACK VALLEY

THE Black Valley lay deep within the mountains. None know how it is called now, but it was then so called by the country people on account of the deep gloom which the tall trees, chiefly fir-trees, threw over the ravine. Even the stream which bubbled between the rocks looked quite black, and far less joyous than waters are wont to do, when the blue sky shines directly down upon them; and now, in the shades of evening, it ran yet more dark and wild below the hills.

The knight rode anxiously along the bank of the stream: he now feared that, through his delay, the fugitive had gained too much upon him; and then again that, in his over-haste, he might pass her by in some hiding-place. He had the while advanced somewhat far into the valley, and hoped soon to overtake the maiden, if indeed he were on the right track; the fear that this might not be, made his heart beat in ever-increasing dread. How, if he did not find her, would the delicate Bertalda fare in the threatening stormy night, which ever darkened more fearfully over the valley?

At length he saw something white shining on the side of the mountain, through the bushes. He thought that he recognized Bertalda's dress, and hastened towards it; but his horse would not advance; it reared furiously, and the knight dismounted, that he might not lose time, and also because the brushwood would not have suffered him to penetrate through it on horseback. He fastened his foaming steed to an elm, and then cautiously made his way through the bushes. The branches roughly struck upon his brow and cheeks with the cold damp of the evening dew; distant thunder murmured beyond the mountains, and all looked so wild, that he began to feel a dread of the white figure, which now lay on the ground not far from him. He could not yet discern whether it were a sleeping or a fainting female form in those long white robes, which Bertalda had worn that very day. He quickly went up to her, rustled the branches, struck his sword: she moved not.

"Bertalda!" he cried, first low, and then more loudly: she heard not. When at last he shouted the beloved name with a violent effort, a mournful echo repeated from the recesses of the mountain, "Bertalda!" but the sleeper awoke not. He bent down over her: the darkness of the valley and of nightfall did not allow him to distinguish any of her features. But as he now, with a shuddering dread, pressed closer to her, a flash of lightning illuminated the valley, and he saw a hideously distorted face close to him, and a hollow voice called out, -- "Kiss me, thou enamoured swain!"

Shrieking with affright, Huldbrand sprang up; the hateful form followed him. "Go home," it muttered; "unholy ones are abroad! Go home, or I shall claim thee!" -- and it caught at him with its long white arms.

"Malicious Kuhleborn," cried the knight, recovering himself; "what avail thy tricks? I know thee, thou goblin! Take thy kiss!" And he struck his sword madly against the figure. But it vanished, and a drenching shower left the knight in no doubt as to his enemy.

"He would fain scare me away from Bertalda," said he aloud to himself; "he thinks to frighten me with his foolish pranks, and to make me abandon the poor terrified maiden to his vengeance. That shall he not do, the weak water-spirit. The powerless phantom little deems what a man's heart can do when his purpose is right and firmly fixed."

He felt the truth of his own words, and they brought fresh courage to his heart. Fortune also seemed to have made alliance with him; for before he had got back to his horse, he heard quite distinctly the mournful voice of Bertalda near him, as she wept over the increasing uproar of the thunder and the stormy wind.

He flew towards the sound, and found the trembling maiden endeavouring to climb the side of the hill, to escape at least from the awful darkness of the valley. He drew near to her with words of affection; and however proud and firm her resolution might have been at the first, she now felt all too keenly the happiness of being rescued from this fearful solitude by the being so dear to her heart, and the delights of his happy castle, which now, as it were, so sweetly stretched out its arms to recall her. She followed the knight with scarce any resistance; but so wearied was she, that he was glad when he had led her up to his horse, which he now hastily unfastened, in order to lift the fair fugitive upon it, and then to lead him by the bridle through the uncertain shades of the valley.

But the horse had become maddened by the wild appearance of Kuhleborn. It would have been difficult even for the knight himself to spring on the back of the pawing, foaming animal; but to place the trembling Bertalda upon it was quite impossible. Drawing on the horse by the bridle, the knight supported the failing maiden with his other arm.

Bertalda collected her strength as much as possible to get quickly through this dreadful valley; but exhaustion with leaden weight pressed upon her, and all her limbs trembled, partly from the many terrors Kuhleborn had previously caused her, and partly also from the enduring alarm of the storm and thunder which roared through the woods of the mountain. At length she slid from the supporting arm of the knight; and falling down on the grass, she said:

"Let me lie here, noble knight. I would expiate the guilt of my folly; and, in any way, I must perish here with weariness and terror."

"Never will I abandon you, sweet Bertalda!" cried the knight, in vain striving to master the frantic steed he was leading, as it began to plunge and struggle more furiously than before; till the knight was at length content to hold him so far from the fallen maiden as not to cause her a new alarm.

But when he had gone a few steps away from her with the wild animal, she began most piteously to call after him, thinking that he was about to leave her altogether in this fearful solitude. He knew not what to do; he would gladly have given full liberty to the creature, to gallop through the darkness and exhaust its fury, had he not feared that in this narrow pass it might rush over the very spot where lay Bertalda.

In this great distress and perplexity, he felt unspeakably relieved by the sound of a wagon slowly coming up the stony road. He called to its driver to stop; a man's voice answered, bidding him have patience, but promising him assistance; and immediately after two white horses appeared through the trees, and their driver in his white carter's frock, then the large white tilt with which the contents of the wagon were covered. At a loud brr .. from their master the obedient horses stopped; and he came near to the knight, and helped him to subdue the raging steed.

"I know," he said, "what is the matter with the beast. When I first passed through this valley it fared no better with my horses; for there dwells here a bad water-sprite, who takes pleasure in such pranks. But I have learned a little spell; if you will suffer me to speak it in your horse's ear, he will at once stand as quiet as my greys yonder."

"Try your spell, and quickly," cried the impatient knight.

Then the driver bent towards the restive animal, and whispered a few words in its ear. At once the horse stood still, subdued and quiet, and his panting and smoking alone bore witness to his former fury. There was little time for Huldbrand to question how this had come about; he agreed with the wagoner that he should take Bertalda into his wagon, which he said was filled with bales of the softest cotton, and convey her to Castle Ringstetten. The knight himself meant to follow on horseback; but the horse seemed too much exhausted with his exertions to be able to carry his lord so far, and the wagoner counselled the knight to take his place in the wagon beside Bertalda; then the horse could be fastened behind. "We shall go down hill," he said; "and that will be easy work for my greys." The knight accepted the offer; he got into the wagon with Bertalda; his horse obediently followed; and the driver walked beside, stoutly and watchfully.

In the stillness of the darkening night, only broken by the more distant and lower peals of thunder, in the pleasant feeling of security and of easy return, an earnest discourse arose between Huldbrand and Bertalda. He caressingly blamed her for her impatient flight; she justified herself with humble and touching words; and all that she spoke was a light, which, in the midst of darkness and mystery, enabled her lover to see that she was yet his own. The knight felt the meaning of what she said, rather than listened to her words, and only to that meaning he answered.

Suddenly the driver cried, with a shout: "Step high, my horses; lift up your feet! Step together, my horses! think what you are!"

The knight looked forth from the wagon, and saw how the horses were stepping into the midst of rushing waters; they were already well nigh swimming, and the wheels of the wagon were turning and flashing, like the wheels of a mill, while the driver had mounted the wagon, to escape from the swelling waters.

"What road is this? it goes into the middle of the stream," cried Huldbrand to their guide.

"Nay, sir," answered he, with a laugh; "quite the contrary. The stream exactly crosses our road: see now how it has overflowed!"

In fact a sudden and evidently increasing flood now rushed and heaved through the whole valley.

"It is Kuhleborn, the bad water-spirit, who would drown us," cried the knight. "Knowest thou no spell against him, comrade?"

"I know one, in sooth," said the driver; "but I may not and cannot use it until you know who I am."

"Is this a time for riddles?" shouted the knight. "The waters are ever rising higher; and what is it to me who thou art?"

"But it is something to you," said the man; "for I am Kuhleborn."

Thereat he laughed into the wagon with a distorted visage; but the wagon was no longer a wagon -- the horses were no longer horses; all were turned to foaming, rushing waters, and the driver himself towered up as a gigantic wave, which dashed down the vainly-struggling horse, and then rose again -- rose high above the heads of the floating pair like a column of water about to bury them forever. Then suddenly the sweet voice of Undine sounded through the tumult, the moon broke through the clouds, and by her light Undine was seen on the height above the valley. She upbraided, she menaced the waters below: the threatening column vanished, murmuring. and muttering; the waters ran softly in the moonbeams, and Undine floated down like a white dove, laid hold of the knight and Bertalda, and led them up to a green grassplot on the hill, where she refreshed their weary and exhausted frames; then helped to lift Bertalda on her own white palfrey, and thus all three returned to Castle Ringstetten.
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Re: Undine: A Romance, by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque

Postby admin » Sun Jan 31, 2016 10:08 am

CHAPTER 15: THE JOURNEY TO VIENNA

AFTER these events, all was for a short time quiet and peaceful in the castle. The knight felt ever more and more the heavenly goodness of his wife, which had been so clearly shown in the haste with which she flew to save him in the Black Valley, where Kuhleborn's power began again. Undine herself felt that peace and security which never fails the heart so long as it feels that it is in the right way; and besides, many gleams of hope and joy arose within her at the newly-awakened love and attention of her husband. Bertalda, on her side, seemed humble, thankful, and modest; but no longer appeared to think that these demonstrations were meritorious. So often as either the husband or the wife attempted to say anything explanatory about the covering up of the well, or about the adventure in the Black Valley, she would fervently pray them to spare her, as she felt too much shame when she thought of the well, and too much terror when she thought of the Black Valley. She therefore heard nothing more of either, nor was it needful that she should; peace and joy were once more making their abode in Castle Ringstetten. They securely enjoyed their happiness, and deemed that life would henceforth bear nothing but pleasant flowers and fruits.

Winter came and went under these circumstances; and spring, with her green buds and blue sky, looked down upon the joyous party. Their hearts were gay like her, and she gay like them. What wonder if her storks and swallows awoke in them also the wish to travel! As once they were going down to the source of the Danube, Huldbrand spoke of the majesty of the noble river, and how it flowed, ever widening through fertile lands; how the majestic Vienna rose up gloriously on its banks, and it gained new might and loveliness at every step of its course.

"It must be a glorious thing to sail down it to Vienna!" exclaimed Bertalda, but immediately falling back into her usual reserve and humility, she coloured, and was silent.

This greatly moved Undine; and with an eager wish to please her beloved friend, she said, "What, then, hinders us from taking this voyage?"

Bertalda sprang up with joy, and both of them began to paint this delightful voyage on the Danube in the most glowing colours. Huldbrand gaily chimed in, only saying once, in Undine's ear, "But Kuhleborn is again powerful lower down."

"Let him come," answered she, laughing; "I shall be there, and he will venture on no mischief in my presence."

The last obstacle was thus removed; they prepared for the voyage, and set forth on it with the brightest hopes and best courage.

Wonder not, ye men, if all go ever otherwise than ye expect. The evil power which lurks to destroy us is wont to lull to sleep its chosen victim with sweet songs and golden legends; while the saving messengers of heaven often give us a sharp and terrifying summons.

The first day of their voyage they were beyond measure delighted. All seemed to them to become brighter and fairer as they sailed farther down the proudly flowing river. But in the most lovely country, whose views were to have afforded them the greatest rapture, the malicious Kuhleborn began openly to show his recovered power. It is true that he ventured on nothing worse than tricks, because Undine would often reprove the rising waves or the contrary winds, and then for an instant the power of the enemy was humbled. But the attacks began again, and again Undine's protection was needed; so that the joyousness of the little company of travellers was entirely broken up. Then the crew would whisper together, and look distrustfully at the noble passengers; while even their attendants began more and more to perceive something mysterious, and to follow their lord and ladies with strange looks.

Huldbrand would often say to himself; "This comes when we match not with our like: when a man forms a wonderful union with a mermaid!" Then trying to excuse himself, as we all fain would do, he repeatedly thought: "I knew not indeed that she was a mermaid. It is my misfortune that all my steps are hindered or hemmed in by the freaks of her mad kindred; but it is not my fault."

By these thoughts he felt himself somewhat strengthened; but, on the other hand, he became more irritated and even angry with Undine. He looked at her fiercely, and the poor wife well knew the meaning of those looks. Exhausted by sorrow and her constant opposition to Kuhleborn's devices, she sank towards evening into a deep sleep, rocked sweetly by the gently gliding bark.

But hardly had she closed her eyes when everyone in the ship perceived, whatever way he might look, the hideous head of a man, which lifted itself out of the water, not as of one swimming, but as if fixed upright in the watery mirror, only advancing as the bark advanced. Each man wanted to point out to his fellow what was terrifying him, and each found on other faces the same horror, though hands and eyes were pointing in another direction than that where the half-laughing, half-menacing phantom appeared to himself. But when they wished to explain themselves, and all cried out, "See there! nay, there!" the hideous faces all became visible to everyone, and the water around the boat swarmed with the most terrific forms.

Undine awoke at the general shriek, and the mad group of misshapen faces vanished as she opened her eyes. But Huldbrand was incensed at these hideous delusions; he had well nigh broken forth into wild imprecations, had not Undine said, with the humblest look and the softest entreaty, "In God's name, my husband, reprove me not -- we are on the water."

Huldbrand was silent; he sat down and fell into deep thought.

Undine whispered to him: "Were it not better, beloved, that we should give up this foolish voyage, and return in peace to Ringstetten?"

But Huldbrand murmured angrily: "Then am I to be a prisoner in my own castle! and only able to breathe so long as the well is closed! Would that thy mad kindred --"

Undine caressingly pressed her hand on his lips. He spoke no more, and remained quiet, pondering over all that Undine had before said to him.

Meanwhile, Bertalda had entirely given herself up to thronging thoughts. She knew much of Undine's origin, but not all, and the terrible Kuhleborn especially had ever remained to her a fearful dark riddle; she had not even learnt his name. Reflecting on all these strange things, she unfastened, unconsciously, a golden necklace which Huldbrand had bought for her on their voyage from a travelling merchant, and let it play just above the surface of the water, dreamily admiring the bright gleam which it threw upon the river, as it shone in the light of evening. Suddenly a huge hand arose out of the Danube, caught hold of the necklace and drew it down below the water. Bertalda screamed, and a mocking laugh sounded from the depths of the river. The wrath of the knight could no longer be restrained; springing up, he poured forth all his anger, cursed all those who would force themselves into relationship with him, and called upon them, whether water-spirits or syrens, to come and face his naked sword.

Bertalda meantime bewailed as lost the ornament that was so dear to her, and her tears were as oil on the knight's anger, while Undine kept her hand immersed in the water, softly murmuring to herself, and only interrupting her strange mysterious whisper from time to time as she spoke imploringly to her husband: "My best-beloved, chide me not here; chide whom else thou wilt, but not me, while we are here. Thou knowest!"

And in truth, though his voice trembled with passion, he yet abstained from any direct reproach of his wife.

Suddenly she brought forth, in the hand she had so long held beneath the water, a wondrously beautiful coral necklace, which shone so gloriously that it almost dazzled those who looked upon it.

"Take it," said she, lovingly holding it towards Bertalda; "I have had this fetched to make amends to thee; be no longer vexed, my poor child."

But the knight sprang between them; he tore the beautiful trinket from Undine's hand, flung it into the river, and exclaimed, mad with rage, "So thou still hast dealings with them? then abide with them, in the name of all the witches, thou and thy gifts, thou sorceress; and leave us men in peace!"

Poor Undine looked at him with fixed but streaming eyes, the hand still outstretched with which she had so sweetly held out her beautiful gift to Bertalda. Then she wept ever more and more bitterly, like an innocent but sorely misused child. At length she faintly said: "Farewell, dearest; ah, farewell! they shall do thee no harm, only remain faithful, that I may be able to protect thee from them. Ah, I must go hence, go hence in my spring-tide of life. Alas, alas! why didst thou so decree it? Alas, alas!"

And she floated over the side of the bark; whether she went down into the river, or was drawn in, they knew not -- it looked like both. But soon she had vanished in the Danube, only little waves sobbing around the boat seemed to whisper and to say, almost distinctly, Alas, alas! be faithful! But Huldbrand lay on the deck in bitter tears, and a deep swoon ere long wrapped the unhappy man in a welcome oblivion.
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Re: Undine: A Romance, by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque

Postby admin » Sun Jan 31, 2016 10:08 am

CHAPTER 16: OF WHAT FURTHER BEFELL HULDBRAND

SHALL we rejoice or shall we regret that our mourning is of no real duration? I mean, that deep mourning which springs from the very sources of life; which is so much a a part of our lost dear ones that it cannot be severed from them, but is ever consecrated to their image, until we reach that bourne which they have already reached. It may be indeed, that the hearts of good men are thus consecrated; but even they do not keep the first real sorrow. Other and different images have thronged in; and we end by experiencing the perishableness of all earthly things, even of our grief. Therefore must I say, "Alas! that our mourning should have no real duration!"

The lord of Ringstetten felt this -- whether for his good we shall learn in the continuation of this tale. At first he could do nothing but weep bitterly, as the poor gentle Undine had wept, when he tore from her hand the brilliant ornament with which she had tried to make all pleased and happy. Then he stretched out his hand as she had done, and, like her, wept anew. He secretly cherished the hope of at length quite melting away in tears; and has not the same thought darted with sad joy through many of us when in heavy affliction? Bertalda wept with him, and they lived together for a long time in retirement, honouring Undine's memory, and almost entirely forgetful of their former love.

The good Undine often came during this period to Huldbrand in his dreams. She caressed him softly and tenderly, and then went away silently weeping; so that often, when he awoke, he knew not how, his cheeks had been moistened -- was it by her tears, or only by his own? But by degrees these night-visions became more rare, the sorrow of the knight more subdued; and yet, perchance, he would never have cherished any other wish than to continue thus quietly to think of Undine, and to speak of her, had not the old fisherman unexpectedly appeared in the castle, and solemnly reclaimed Bertalda as his child. He had been informed of Undine's disappearance, and he could no longer suffer Bertalda to dwell in the castle with the widowed lord. "I will not now ask whether my daughter loves me or not," said he; "honour is at stake, and where that speaks, all else has nothing more to say." This determination of the old fisherman, and the solitude which the knight dreaded to feel, after Bertalda's departure, in all the halls and passages of the desolate castle, brought to light what had hitherto slumbered and been quite forgotten in the grief for Undine -- the knight's love for Bertalda. The fisherman had much to say against the proposed marriage. Undine had been very dear to the old man, and he deemed that it was yet hardly known whether her disappearance were truly death. But even if her body were lying stiff and stark at the bottom of the Danube, or had been driven by the waves far out into the ocean, still Bertalda bore part of the guilt of her death, and it did not beseem her to take the place of the poor oppressed wife. But then the fisherman dearly loved the knight; added to which were the entreaties of his daughter, who had become much more gentle and submissive, and her tears for Undine, till at length he must have given his consent; for he remained at the castle without making any further opposition, and a messenger was dispatched to father Heilmann -- who, in happier days, had blessed Huldbrand and Undine's union -- summoning him to Castle Ringstetten for the second marriage of the knight.

Hardly had the holy man read through the letter of the lord of Ringstetten, than he took the way to the castle with far greater speed than that of the messenger in coming to him. And when his breath failed in the rapid course, or his aged limbs ached with weariness, he would say to himself: "Perchance it is to hinder a crime; thou worn-out body, fail me not till I have reached the goal!" and, with renewed vigour, he pressed on and on, without stop or stay, till late one evening he reached the shady court of Castle Ringstetten.

The betrothed were sitting side by side under the trees; the old fisherman sat near them in deep thought. No sooner had they recognized father Heilmann than they sprang up, and hastened to welcome him; but he, in few words, asked the knight to go with him into the castle. As Huldbrand wondered, and hesitated to obey the solemn summons, the pious priest said: "Why should I longer persist in the wish to speak with you in private, lord of Ringstetten! That which I have to say equally concerns Bertalda and the fisherman; and what must be heard at some time, had better be heard as soon as possible. Are you then so very certain, sir knight, that your first wife is, in fact, dead? I can hardly so think it. I will not now speak of the wondrous kindred that you may have acquired through her; of that I know nothing certain; but that she was a holy, faithful wife is beyond all doubt. And for the last fortnight she has stood in dreams by my bedside, mournfully wringing her delicate hands, and sighing forth, "Ah, hinder him, dear father; I yet live! Ah, deliver his body -- deliver his soul!" I understood not what this night-vision meant; then came your messenger; and I hastened hither, not to marry, but to separate those who may not be joined together. Huldbrand, leave her! Bertalda, leave him! He yet belongs to another; and seest thou not grief for his vanished wife on his pale cheeks? He looks not like a bridegroom, and the spirit tells me, that if thou dost not leave him, thou wilt never again be joyful."

The three listeners felt in their inmost heart that father Heilmann spoke the truth, but yet they would not believe him. Even the old fisherman was so deluded as to think that all must necessarily now happen, as they had already so often planned it together. So they all resisted the warnings of the priest with eager, anxious impatience, until he left the castle mournfully shaking his head, and refusing to accept the proffered hospitality even for a night, or to taste any of the refreshments that were brought to him. Huldbrand, however, persuaded himself that the priest was a dreamer; and at the break of the next day he sent for a father from the nearest monastery, who, without hesitation, promised to give them the marriage-blessing in a few days.
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Re: Undine: A Romance, by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque

Postby admin » Sun Jan 31, 2016 10:09 am

CHAPTER 17: THE KNIGHT'S DREAM

IT was between night and the dawn of day that the knight lay on his bed, half asleep and half awake. When he would have gone fully to sleep, it seemed as if a terror rose within him and frightened him awake again, lest spectres should haunt his sleep; but when he strove to rouse himself completely, he felt fanned, as it were, by swans' wings, and sweet tones floated around him, until he fell back again into his half-conscious state of pleasant dreaminess. At length, however, he must have slept; for he thought that he was borne on the wings of many swans far over land and sea, they ever singing most sweetly the while. "The melody of swans! the songs of swans!" he repeated to himself; "that must needs portend death!" But it had apparently another meaning. He seemed to be floating over the Mediterranean. A swan loudly sounded in his ear -- "This is the Mediterranean sea!" and while he looked down upon the waters, they became like clear crystal, so that he could see to the bottom. He greatly rejoiced at this, for he saw Undine, as she sat beneath the bright crystal vault. It is true that she was weeping, and looked far more mournful than in the happy days which they had spent together at Ringstetten, either at the beginning of their stay there, or later, just before the unhappy voyage down the Danube. The knight could not but think of that intently and sadly; but it seemed not that she was aware of his presence.

Just then, Kuhleborn approached her, and upbraided her for her tears; but she collected herself, and looked at him with such commanding dignity, that he almost shrank before it. "Though I dwell beneath the waters," she said, "yet have I still my soul; and therefore may I well weep, though thou canst not know what such tears are: even they are blessed, as all is blessed to one in whom there lives a true soul."

He shook his head incredulously, and said, after some reflection: "And yet, niece, thou art under the laws of our elementary race, and thou must take thine husband's life, if he become faithless to thee and weds again."

"He is a widower at this hour," said Undine, "and loves me with a sad heart."

"At the same time he is already betrothed," said Kuhleborn, was a scornful laugh; "let but two days pass and the priestly blessing will be spoken, and then must thou go up to give death to the twice-wedded."

"I cannot," answered Undine, with a smile. "I have fast closed the well for me and for my like."

"But if he leaves his castle, or has the well again opened! for he thinks little enough on all these things."

"And therefore," said Undine, again smiling through her tears -- "therefore is he now in spirit hovering above the Mediterranean, and he hears our discourse in a warning dream. I have thus carefully planned all."

Then Kuhleborn looked up furiously at the knight, menaced, stamped with his feet, and then shot down like an arrow beneath the waters. He seemed in his wrath to swell to the size of a whale. The swans began anew to sing, to beat their wings, and to fly. Again it appeared to the knight that he swept over mountains and streams, and at length was borne into Castle Ringstetten and laid on his bed.

In truth he did awake in his bed, and at the same moment his page entered and informed him that father Heilmann yet lingered in the neighbourhood; he had found him the evening before in the forest, beneath a hut which he had built for himself of branches, and lined with moss and brushwood. To the question. "What he did there, since he would not give the marriage-blessing?" the answer had been, "There are other blessings than those at the marriage-altar; and, though I come not to the wedding, I may be at another rite. We must be prepared for all things. Mourning often follows close on joy, as those may see who do not wilfully shut their eyes."

The knight thought strange things of those words and of his dream. But it is a hard task to drive away what man has once looked upon as certain; and so all remained as before.
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Re: Undine: A Romance, by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque

Postby admin » Sun Jan 31, 2016 10:09 am

CHAPTER 18: HOW SIR HULDBRAND KEPT HIS WEDDING

WERE I to relate to you how all looked at the marriage-ceremony, you would deem that you saw a multitude of bright and joyous things heaped up together, but with a black mourning veil spread over them, so that all their brilliancy shining through the dark covering gave no pleasure, but rather seemed a mockery of the nothingness of human joys. Not, however, that any spectral appearance had disturbed the festal company; for, as we know, the castle was now safe from all the freaks of the angry water-sprites. But it ever seemed to the knight, and the fisherman, and the guests, that the principal person was wanting, and that this person must be the gentle Undine, beloved by all. Whenever a door opened, all eyes involuntarily turned towards it, and when there only appeared the steward with new keys, or the cellarer with a drink of noble wine, each looked sadly down, and the few flashes of mirth and joy, which here and there had shot up were extinguished by the dew of a mournful recollection. The bride was the most thoughtless of all, and therefore the best pleased; but even to her it seemed at times strange to be seated in her green wreath and gold-embroidered robes at the upper end of the table, while Undine, by a corse, stiff and cold, at the bottom of the Danube, or was driven by the waves far out into the ocean. For since her father had spoken words like these, they were ever ringing in her ears; this day especially they would not yield or depart.

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The company dispersed before nightfall, not dismissed by the usual impatience of the bridegroom, but sadly and heavily driven away by joyless weariness and forebodings of evil. Bertalda went away with her women, and the knight with his attendants; at this sad wedding there was no talk of the usual gay escort of youths and maidens. Bertalda strove to regain her cheerfulness; she desired to have spread out before her the magnificent jewels which Huldbrand had given her, together with her rich robes and veils, that she might choose from them the most bright and beautiful for the next morning's attire. Her waiting-women rejoiced at this opportunity for saying many flattering things to their young mistress, and failed not to praise the beauty of the bride in the most glowing words. They more and more extolled her, till at length Bertalda sighed out, as she looked in a mirror, "Ah, but see ye not that freckles are appearing here, on my throat?"

They looked and saw that it was as the fair lady had said; but they called them lovely marks, little spots which set off the whiteness of her delicate skin.

But Bertalda shook her head, and said it was still a defect. "And I might be free from it," she ended, with a sigh; "but the castle-well is closed, from which I could have drawn the precious purifying water. If I had but now a single flask of it!"

"Is that all?" said the lively serving-maid, and she glided out of the room.

"She will not be so mad," said Bertalda, surprised, but well pleased, "as to have the stone removed from the well this very evening?"

They soon heard the men go forth into the court, and they could see from the window how the active maiden led them straight to the well, bearing on their shoulders levers and other tools,

"Such is indeed my will," said Bertalda, smiling, "if they do not delay too long." And rejoicing in the thought that a sign from her could now do what before had been so painfully denied her, she looked down upon the work in the moonlit castle-court.

The men raised the great stone with difficulty; and at times someone among them sighed, recollecting that they were disturbing the work of their beloved first mistress. But the labour became lighter than they had expected; it seemed as if some force within the well assisted them to lift up the stone.

"It is," said the astonished workmen to each other, "as if the water within had become a fountain."

Higher and higher rose the stone, and almost without the assistance of the men, it at length rolled on the paved court, making a hollow noise. Then there arose up slowly out of the well's mouth as it were a white column of water; the spectators at first thought that the fountain had really sprung up, until they remarked that the rising figure was a pale white-veiled woman's form. It was weeping bitterly, and distractedly wringing its hands above its head; then with slow solemn steps it took the way towards the castle. The servants rushed away from the well; the bride, pale and cold with terror, remained at the window with her attendants. As the figure now passed close under that window, it looked up sobbing, and Bertalda thought that she recognized, beneath the veil, the pale features of Undine. But on went the weeping form, slowly, reluctantly, as if forced to the place of judgment. Bertalda shrieked out that the knight must be called; but none of her maidens ventured from the spot, and the bride herself was again mute, as if trembling at her own voice.

While these stood sadly at the window, motionless as statues, the wanderer had reached the castle, gone up the well-known stairs, passed through the well-known halls, still in silent tears. Ah, how far otherwise had she once traversed them!

The knight had dismissed his attendants, and he stood in mournful thought, half undressed, before a large mirror; a torch burnt dimly beside him. Just then a light, light finger knocked at the door; Undine had often so knocked in loving sportiveness.

"It is but fancy," he said to himself; "I must to the wedding-chamber."

"Yes, thou must; but to a cold one!" he heard a weeping voice say; and then be saw in the mirror how the door opened slowly, slowly, and the white wanderer entered, and gently closed the door behind her.

"They have opened the well," she said softly; "and now I am here; and thou must die."

He felt in his beating heart that it could not be otherwise; but he covered his eyes with his hands, and said, "Drive me not wild with terror in my hour of death; if thou bear a fearful face behind thy veil, draw it not aside, and judge me without my looking on thee."

"Ah!" answered the wanderer, "wilt thou then not look at me once again? I am fair as when thou didst woo me on the little slip of land."

"Oh, that it might be so!" sighed Huldbrand; "and if I might die by a kiss from thee!"

"Right gladly, my beloved," she said; she threw back her veil, and her sweet face smiled forth in angelic beauty.

Trembling with love and with approaching death, the knight bent towards her; she kissed him with a heavenly kiss, but did not again draw back from him; she pressed him ever closer to her, and wept as if she would weep out her soul. Tears rushed into the knight's eyes, and a loving sorrow filled his breast, until at length breath failed him, and gently he sank out of her beautiful arms, and lay a corse on the cushions of his couch.

"I have wept him to death!" she said to some attendants whom she met in the antechamber; and then passed through the midst of the terrified men, and went slowly down towards the well.
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