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.

Undine: A Romance, by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque

Postby admin » Sun Jan 31, 2016 9:30 am

by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque
A New Translation with Illustrations, 1860




Table of Contents:

• Preface
• Chapter 1: How the Knight Came to the Fisherman
• Chapter 2: How Undine Had Come to the Fisherman
• Chapter 3: How They Found Undine Again
• Chapter 4: Of That Which Befel the Knight in the Wood
• Chapter 5: How the Knight Lived on the Neck of Land
• Chapter 6: Of a Wedding
• Chapter 7: What Further Happened on the Wedding Evening
• Chapter 8: The Day After the Wedding
• Chapter 9: How the Knight Took Away His Young Wife
• Chapter 10: How They Lived in the City
• Chapter 11: Bertalda's Birthday
• Chapter 12: How They Journeyed From the Free City
• Chapter 13: How They Lived in the Castle Ringstetten
• Chapter 14: The Black Valley
• Chapter 15: The Journey to Vienna
• Chapter 16: Of What Further Befell Huldbrand
• Chapter 17: The Knight's Dream
• Chapter 18: How Sir Huldbrand Kept His Wedding
• Chapter 19: How Sir Huldbrand Was Buried

And she began: "Thou shouldst know, my beloved, that there exist in the elements beings not very unlike you men, and who yet seldom let themselves be seen by you. The wondrous salamanders glisten and sport in the flames; the rough, malicious gnomes dwell deep in the earth; the woods are haunted by spirits which are of the air; while the far-spread race of water-spirits live in lakes, and streams, and brooks; they dwell too in resounding crystal vaults, through which heaven with its sun and stars shines in; lofty coral plants with blue and red fruits shine in their gardens; they wander over bright sands, and over gay, many-coloured muscles, and all that the old world possessed of beautiful which the present world is no longer worthy to enjoy, and which the waves conceal with their mysterious veil of silver; below still glitter noble ruins high and stately, and gently washed by loving waters which allure forth from them delicate mosses and wreathing bulrushes. Those who dwell there are pure and lovely to look upon, fairer than even mankind. Many a fisherman has had the good fortune to espy a mermaid as she rose up from the waters, and sang: then would he tell to many of her beauty; and such wondrous women have been called by men Undines. Thou seest before thee an Undine, dearest."

"We live far more happily than other men -- for men we call ourselves, as in countenance and stature we resemble you; but there is one very evil thing with us. We, and our fellows in the other elements, we perish and pass away both in body and spirit, so that no trace of us is left behind; and when you at length awaken to a purer life, we remain as sands and sparks, winds and waves remain. For we have no souls; the element animates us, it obeys us as long as we live, it ever scatters us as soon as we die; and we are gay without care, as are nightingales, and golden fish, and other lovely children of nature. But all would aim higher than they are; so my father, who is a mighty sea-prince in the Mediterranean, longed that his only daughter should possess a soul, even if therewith she gained the sorrows of those gifted with souls. But a soul can be obtained by our kind only by a union of deepest love with one of your race. Now have I a soul; I thank thee for my soul, O thou unspeakably beloved."

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

Postby admin » Sun Jan 31, 2016 9:39 am




IN sending forth a new edition of this celebrated romance, it has been thought desirable to prefix the following explanatory remarks, extracted from the author's postscript to the last edition of his Selected Works.

How this darling gift of my muse first arose (1807) from the mystical laboratory of the aged, whimsical Theophrastus Paracelsus, [Treatise of Elemental Spirits,] has already been alluded to [1] here, however, the particulars shall be given more at length. It was not so easy, out of the deeply mysterious natural philosopher, sometimes seized with ostentation, and even charlatanry, as also contentious pride, but at the same time penetrated and enlightened by ever valid presentiments, and rich in an undeniably genuine experience, in any degree to make any thing, as the saying is. All the less easy was it, inasmuch as his oracles are delivered in a mixture of kitchen, or at best monkish, Latin and indolent provincial dialect, similar to the present Tyrolese, so that the like in literature can scarcely anywhere else be found. Very few treatises, and not exactly the most interesting, are composed throughout in Latin; and, yet, perhaps, there is no one quite free from the occurrence, as it were by accident, of German phrases. It resembles the communication of an adventurer, far-travelled in foreign lands, who yet could never quite forget his mother tongue, and now throws all together in confused variety, as it may chance to fall. Something of this sort I have been told of a French sailor, and numberless times has the old Theophrastus Paracelsus Bombastus ab Hohenheim (for thus stands his full title) reminded me of it. I, notwithstanding, ceased not to study an old edition of my speech-monger, which fell to me at an auction; -- and that carefully. Even his receipts I read through in their order, just as they had been showered into the text, still continuing in the firm expectation, that from every line something wonderfully magical might float up to me and strike the understanding. Single sparks, here and there darting up, confirmed my hopes, and drew me still deeper into the mines beneath. Somewhat thereto might have been contributed, by the symbolic figures, very skilfully impressed upon the leathern covers of the ten or twelve quarto volumes, as also by the, to me, unintelligible gold letters here and there dispersed among them, and the wood-cut (inserted as a title-page) of the wonderful master, representing him in an antiquated jacket; his features strongly marked, almost inclined to wrath, yet bearing a true- hearted mildness; his head already grey and bald, but with one lock, almost Apollonian, over the forehead; both his nerved hands folded together, and resting on a knight's two-handed sword.

"Now, ancient master, thanks to thee,
A valiant course thou leddest me," --

for, as a pearl of soft radiance, that may be compared to a mild tear of melancholy, there at last sparkled towards me, from out its rough-edged shell-work -- "UNDINE!"

My reflection of the image succeeded all the better, and more naturally, as the hoary magician treated with the most unshaken conviction, one is almost induced to say faith, of the indisputable reality of his elemental spirits; not only of the undines or undenes, as he expresses it, but also of sylphs, or spirits of the air; salamanders, or spirits of the fire; gnomes, or spirits of the earth. Founded upon such ideas, the author, at a latter period called some other tales into light, and, as he may well say, not without success. But the words of his old master, A. W. Schlegel, spoken for a very different occasion, will yet here apply: "Undine remains the first love, and this is felt only once!"

In those times of gloomy events for the poet's fatherland, wherein it sprang from out his spirit not untinged, as it well might be, with many of his own peculiar sufferings, it assumed a hue of deep melancholy, which yet its subject might have also called forth amid the sunshine of brighter days. The eyes of a water-maiden must, according to her nature, beam bright with tears, although sometimes the wanton sports of aquatic nymphs, like luxuriant loop-plants on the banks of a rivulet, may juggle around the lovely child. Thus might the bleeding heart of the poet, with the pelican's faculty, have poured somewhat into his fiction, and so gained for it that abundant sympathy which it so heartily met with, both in and out of the German land.

As may be judged, however, from the most important, as the best known of the Rosicrucians’ symbols, there is one which has never been hitherto understood even by modern mystics. It is that of the “Pelican” tearing open its breast to feed its seven little ones — the real creed of the Brothers of the Rosie-Cross and a direct outcome from the Eastern Secret Doctrine. Whether the genus of the bird be cygnus, anser, or pelecanus, it is no matter, as it is an aquatic bird floating or moving on the waters like the Spirit, and then issuing from those waters to give birth to other beings. The true significance of the symbol of the Eighteenth Degree of the Rose-Croix is precisely this, though poetised later on into the motherly feeling of the Pelican rending its bosom to feed its seven little ones with its blood.

-- The Secret Doctrine -- The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy, by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

And now, my darling child, go forth on thy renewed appearance, accompanied by the gracious salutation of our exalted master Goethe, on sending thee back to a noble lady, after having replaced the worn-out binding of a library copy by a new one: --

"Here one may see how men are fabricated
Of passion only -- conscience have they none;
How ill have they the beauteous child entreated --
Its dress almost from off its body gone!
In later time, howe'er, this luck befell me --
The pious youth will envy me, I trow;
You gave me, friend, the opportunity
To clothe the lovely prize from top to toe."

[The author then goes on to mention the various languages into which "Undine" had been translated -- French, Italian, English [2] Russian, Polish.]

To Undine

Undine! thou fair and lovely sprite,
Since first from out an ancient lay
I saw gleam forth thy fitful light,
How hast thou sung my cares away!

How hast thou nestled next my heart,
And gently offered to impart
Thy sorrows to my listening ear,
Like a half-shy, half-trusting child,
The while my lute, in wood-notes wild,
Thine accents echoed far and near!

Then many a youth I won to muse
With love on thy mysterious ways,
And many a fair one to peruse
The legend of thy wondrous days.

And now doth dame and youth would fain
List to my tale yet once again;
Nay, sweet Undine, be not afraid!
Enter their halls with footstep light,
Greet courteously each noble knight,
But fondly every German maid.

And should they ask concerning me,
Oh, say, "He is a cavalier,
Who truly serves, and valiantly,
In tournay and festivity,
With lute and sword, each lady fair!"




1. The reference is to the author's autobiography, which appeared the previous year.

2. "Let me not part with England (the author adds) without quoting the following judgment of Sir Walter Scott, the greatest master of the romantic, properly so called, which Britain has ever produced: -- 'Fouque's Undine or Naiade,' he says, after a hasty glance at the author's other romances, 'is ravishing. The suffering of the heroine is a real one, though it be the suffering of a fantastic being.'"

To this Coleridge's judgment may be added: -- '"Undine' is a most exquisite work. The character of the heroine, before she receives a soul, is marvellously beautiful," -- Table-Talk, p. 83. To which is subjoined, in a note by the Editor: -- " Mr. C.'s admiration of this romance was unbounded. He said there was something here even beyond Scott -- that his characters and conceptions were composed; by which I understood him to mean, that Baillie Nicol Jarvie, for instance, was made up of old particulars, and received its individuality from the author's power of fusion; being in the result an admirable product, as Corinthian brass was said to be the conflux of the spoils of a city. But 'Undine,' he said was one and single in projection; and had presented to his imagination -- what Scott had never done -- an absolutely new idea."
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Re: Undine: A Romance, by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque

Postby admin » Sun Jan 31, 2016 10:00 am



MANY a hundred years may now have now passed since a good old fisherman sat one fair evening before his door and mended his nets. He dwelt in a very beautiful spot. The grassy land on which his cottage was built extended far out into a great lake; and it seemed as if, out of love, this strip of ground stretched itself into the clear blue, and wonderfully bright waters, and also as if the waters, with loving arms, clasped the fair meadows with their high waving grass and flowers, and the refreshing shade of the trees. Each seemed the guest of the other, and this it was made both so lovely. Yet was this pleasant place seldom or never trodden by any but the fisherman and his household: for behind the slip of land lay a very wild wood, which, on account of its gloom and impassable ways, and of the strange beings and spectres which were met in it, most men dreaded too much to enter without necessity. The pious old fisherman had truly passed through it many times without molestation, when he carried the choice fish which he caught off his fair peninsula to a town which lay not far beyond the great wood. It was commonly thus easy for him to go through the forest, because he cherished well nigh none but holy thoughts; and, besides, each time that he entered the dreaded shades he was wont to sing a hymn, with a clear voice and an honest heart.

As now on this evening he was sitting in his guilelessness beside his nets, there yet came upon him an unexpected terror; for he heard in the darkness of the wood a rustling as of a man and horse, and the noise drew near and more near to the peninsula. Then that which he had dreamt on many a stormy night of the mysteries of the forest rushed into his mind, and chiefly the image of a gigantic snow-white man, who, after a strange fashion, incessantly nodded his head. Yea, as he raised his eyes towards the wood, it seemed as though he saw the nodding man issue forth from the leafy screen. But soon he became calm again, reflecting that nothing important had ever befallen him in the wood itself, and that on the open land the evil spirits could still less have any power over him. At the same time he repeated fervently from his heart a verse of the Bible, whereby his good courage came back to him, and he almost laughed when he saw how much he had been mistaken. The white nodding man became suddenly a well-known stream, which ran bubbling out of the forest and fell into the lake; and the rustling noise had been caused by a gaily attired knight, who came forth on horseback from the shades of the forest, and rode towards the cottage. A scarlet mantle hung over his violet doublet, embroidered with gold: red and violet feathers floated in his golden-coloured cap, and a rarely-beautiful and richly worked sword glittered from his golden belt. The white horse which bore the knight was more slender than chargers are wont to be, and trod so lightly over the grass that its green carpet seemed not to receive the slightest injury from his tread. The old fisherman's mind was not quite at ease, although he deemed that no evil could befall him from so bright an apparition, so he courteously took off his cap to the approaching stranger, and remained quietly by his nets. Then the knight stopped, and asked whether he and his horse could here find shelter and food for a night.

These games ended, the whole knightly company sat down to one of those rich banquets already described. It was here that all the superb dresses of both knights and ladies best displayed themselves. The chevaliers in their long mantles of scarlet, which at the end of the fourteenth century on their admittance to chivalry they were accustomed to receive, reviving in these mantles the colour of the ancient military cloaks of the Romans. These, the French kings were accustomed, at the two seasons of winter and summer, to renew for their knights. It was also usual for the king at the time he gave the young newly-created knight a scarlet mantle, to also give him a horse, or if not that, then a bit for the same, ornamented with gold, which represented the pledge used in Investitures as a sign of an alienated fief. The cost of these mantles, horses, and bits, frequently occur in the Exchequer Rolls of the period -- particularly those of Philip le Bel in 1307-8.

At this banquet of his initiation in Chivalry, the knight would, for the first time, put on the gold collar pertaining to that order, here again, in these collars of gold, reviving the practice of the Equestrian order of ancient Roman days. These knight's collars were probably, in the early days of Chivalry, plain gold circles, and they obtained them, not from the favour of a sovereign lord, but as a personal right appertaining to their status as Chevaliers. This was a right descended from a long ancestry of warriors, for twisted collars of metal and torques are found in the burying-places of all the older dwellers in Northern Europe. The British Chiefs wore them, and golden torques were around the necks of the leaders of the first Saxon, and afterwards Danish, invaders of Britain, and they contiued to be worn by the Saxon warriors down to the time of the last King -- Edward the Confessor, who was buried with a chain-collar of gold two feet long, carrying a jewelled cross. The quaint chroniclers of the age even gave these gold collars a more remote ancestry. They asserted that Joseph, after explaining Pharoah's dream, was rewarded with such by the king, on his creation as first minister of the realm. They asserted that the youthful Daniel received the same as a mark of favour of Belshazzar; and Darius the king so rewarded, with a collar of gold, Zorobabel the son of Salathiel. (Leber.)

Afterwards, these collars developed often into a more elaborate form, and were greatly superseded by the glittering collars and chains bestowed by the sovereigns who founded and instituted a sort of "imperium in imperio" in knighthood, for their own special benefit. It was perhaps natural, it certainly was a wise action, in nearly every king when knighthood no longer was hampered and held in leash by feudal chains, to try, by setting up these secular orders of theirs, to forge new chains to knit together, to their own interests, groups of free knights. Thus in both France, Germany, Italy, Spain and England these many royal and individual orders arose. The inspiration for such was found in the religious military orders which the first Crusade called into being.

-- A Knight's Life in the Days of Chivalry, by Walter Clifford Meller

"As regards your horse, dear sir," answered the fisherman, "I can show him no better stable than this shady meadow, and no better fodder than the grass which grows thereon; but for yourself, I will gladly provide you with supper and lodging of our very best in my cottage."

The knight was well satisfied with this: he dismounted from his horse, which they both together freed from saddle and bridle; then letting it go forth into the flowery meadow, the knight said to his host, "Had I even found you less hospitable and well-disposed, my dear old fisherman, you would not yet have been quit of me to-day; for, as I perceive, a broad sea spreads before us, and God forbid that I should ride back into the wonderful wood when the shades of evening are falling!"

"We will not speak too much of that," said the fisherman, and led his guest into the cottage.

Within, the aged wife of the fisherman sat by the hearth, from which a scanty fire gave light to the dusky but clean room; at the entrance of the noble guest, she arose with a kindly greeting, but seated herself again in the place of honour, without offering it to the stranger; whereat the fisherman said, with a smile, "Be not displeased, young sir, that she does not present you with the best seat in the house. It is the custom amongst poor people that it ever should belong to the old."

"Ay, husband," said the wife with a quiet smile, "of what art thou then thinking? Our guest must belong to christened men; and how then could it please his good young heart to drive old people from their seat? Be seated, young sir," continued she, turning to the knight; "yonder is a very pleasant stool, only you must not shake it too much from side to side, for one of its legs is no longer of the firmest."

The knight took the stool carefully, put it gently down, and felt as if he had been of kin to this little household, and but now returned to it from afar. The three soon began to talk most lovingly and confidentially together. It is true that the old man would not hearken to much about the wood, of which the knight was several times about to speak; at nightfall, said he, was it least of all to be talked of; but the old couple spoke all the more of their household and of their usual manner of life; and they gladly listened when the knight spoke to them of his voyages, and told them that he had a castle by the source of the Danube, and that he was called Sir Huldbrand of Ringstetten. During their discourse the stranger had often noticed a splashing sound at the lower casement, as if some one were throwing water against it. The old man frowned in displeasure at every splash; but when at length a shower dashed against the panes, and was scattered about the room through the ill-closed window-frame, he got up angrily and called out in a threatening tone, "Undine! wilt thou not then leave off thy childish tricks? A stranger-knight is today in our cottage."

All became quiet without; only a low laugh was still heard, and the fisherman coming back said, "You must forgive this, my honoured guest, and perhaps much more rude behaviour; but she means no harm: for it is my foster-daughter Undine, who will not cease from these childish ways, although she must be already in her eighteenth year. But as I said, she is in the main full of goodness."

"Yes, so thou mayst say," answered the old woman, shaking her head. "When thou returnest from thy fishing, or from a journey, her pranks may seem very pretty; but to have her at one's side all day, and to hear no words of sense, and instead of finding her more helpful in the household as she grows older, to have ever to be on the watch that she does not altogether ruin us by her tricks, that is quite another thing, and the patience of a saint would be at length wearied. Yet --"

"Well, well," said the old man smiling, "thou hast to do with Undine, and I with the sea. It often breaks through my dykes and my nets, but yet I love it; and thou too lovest that dainty child, for all the torment and vexation she brings: is it not so?"

"One cannot be angry with her, in truth," said the old woman, and she smiled well pleased.

Then flew open the door, and a fair and strangely beautiful maiden glided in laughing, and said, "Father, have you only mocked me? Where is then your guest?" At the same instant she became aware of the knight's presence, and stood in astonishment before the beautiful youth. Huldbrand gazed with delight on the lovely vision, and tried to fix rapidly its features on his mind; for he deemed it was only her surprise which gave him time for this, and that she would soon turn away in deeper confusion from his looks. But it happened quite otherwise; for after she had long gazed upon him, she drew near confidingly, knelt down before him, and said, as she played with a golden medal hanging from a rich chain round his neck, "O, thou beautiful and friendly guest! how didst thou then come to our poor cottage? Hast thou had to wander long about the world before thou couldst find us? Dost thou come out of the wild wood, my beautiful friend?"

The angry old woman left him no time to answer; she bade the maiden behave herself seemly, and go work. But Undine, without answering, drew a little footstool near Huldbrand's seat, sat down to her spinning, and said good-humouredly, "I shall work here."

The old man did after the fashion of parents with spoilt children, he appeared not to mark Undine's self-will, and was about to speak of something else, but the maiden did not suffer him: she said, "I have asked our beautiful guest how he came hither, and he has not yet answered me."

"I came out of the wood, thou lovely being," answered Huldbrand. And she went on, "Then thou must tell me why thou didst enter it, for all men dread it; and what wonderful adventures befell thee there, for without such none can pass through it."

Huldbrand shuddered slightly at the recollection, and involuntarily he looked towards the window, for he felt as if some of the strange forms which had met him in the forest must be now grinning at him from without: he saw nothing but the deep black night, which had already closed in. Then he collected himself, and was about to begin his narration when the old man interrupted him with these words: "Not so, sir knight; this is no fitting time for the like tale." But Undine sprang angrily up from her stool, put her little hands on her sides, and cried out as she placed herself close before the fisherman, "He is not to tell his tale, father? -- he is not? But I will have it; he shall tell it, he shall!" And then she stamped her tiny feet vehemently on the ground; yet all this was done with such comic grace that Huldbrand could even less withdraw his eyes from her in her anger than before in her gentleness. But the suppressed displeasure of the old man broke forth in open flame. He severely reproved Undine's disobedience, and her unmannerly behaviour towards the stranger. The old wife chimed in. Then said Undine, "If you choose to scold, and to do nothing that I like, you may sleep alone in your old smoky hut;" and like an arrow she was at the door and out into the dark night.
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Re: Undine: A Romance, by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque

Postby admin » Sun Jan 31, 2016 10:00 am


HULDBRAND and the fisherman sprang from their seats, and were about to follow the wrathful maiden; but before they had reached the door of the cottage, Undine had long vanished in the gloomy darkness without, and not even a sound of her light feet betrayed whither she had turned her flight. Huldbrand looked inquiringly at his host; he almost deemed that the lovely form which had so quickly plunged into the darkness was but another of the wonderful appearances which had before bewildered him in the forest with their pranks; but the old man murmured low, "This is not the first time that she has thus behaved to us. Now will anxiety dwell in our hearts, and sleep flee from our eyes through the live-long night: for who knows what evil may befall her when she thus abides alone in the darkness till morning dawn?"

"Then let us follow her, father, for God's sake!" cried Huldbrand anxiously.

The old man replied, "Wherefore? It would be a sinful deed if I let you alone follow the foolish maiden in darkness and solitude; and my old limbs would never reach that runaway, even did we know whither she has run."

"At least we must call after her and implore her to return," said Huldbrand; and began to cry out with much emotion, "Undine! ah, Undine! return then!"

The old man shook his head, saying, "All those calls will help nothing; the knight knows not how perverse the little one is."

Still he could not desist from often calling out into the dark night, "Undine! ah, dear Undine! I pray thee return once more."

It came to pass as the fisherman had said. Undine was neither heard nor seen; and as the old man would not consent to Huldbrand's going in quest of the fugitive, they at length both returned to the cottage. There they found the fire almost extinguished on the hearth; and the old dame, who did not take Undine's flight nearly so much to heart as her husband, was already gone to rest. The old man stirred up the embers, laid dry logs upon them, and, by the light of the kindling flame, sought for a flask of wine, which he placed between himself and his guest. "You are also disturbed about this foolish maiden, sir knight," said he, "and we had better pass a portion of the night in drinking and conversing, than seek in vain for sleep upon our mattresses. Is it not so?"

Huldbrand readily agreed; the fisherman made him take the leathern arm-chair of the sleeping dame; and they both drank and talked together as beseemed two worthy and friendly men. It is true that whenever the least thing moved before the window, and often when nothing moved, one of them would look up, saying, "She comes;" then they were silent for a few moments, after which they continued their talk with a sigh and a shake of the head. But as neither of them could well think of anything but Undine, nothing pleased the knight better than to hear after what fashion Undine had come to the fisherman, and nothing pleased the old fisherman better than to relate the story; which he began as follows:

"It may be now fifteen years ago, when I was passing through that desolate forest to the city to sell my fish. My wife had remained at home as was her wont; and this time for a very happy reason, since God had bestowed upon us in our already somewhat advanced age a wondrously fair infant. It was a girl; and already we talked with one another, whether, for the sake of the newcomer we would not leave our beautiful peninsula, that we might the better bring up this precious gift of God in a more inhabited spot. Not that this is so easy to poor people as you might think, sir knight; but each one must do as best he may. Well, as I went on my way this talk returned to my mind. I loved our slip of land so heartily, and I shuddered when, amidst the noise and carousings of the city, I thought to myself, 'Thou wilt soon have thy dwelling amongst men like these, or not much quieter.' But I did not for that murmur against our good God, but rather silently thanked him for our newborn babe. I should lie if I said that either coming or going through the wood I met anything more remarkable than usual, for I have never seen aught of mysterious in it. The Lord was ever with me in its wonderful shades."

He removed his cap from his bald head, and remained for a time in devout thought; then he covered himself again, and proceeded: "It was on this side the wood, on this side, alas! that misery met me. My wife came towards me with eyes like two fountains; she had put on mourning garments. 'O gracious God,' I sobbed, 'where is our dear child? speak!' 'With him on whom thou callest, dear husband,' answered she; and we went together to the hut in silent tears. I sought for the little corpse; then I learnt all that had happened. My wife had sat down with the child by the sea-shore, and as she was gaily and happily playing with the little one, it suddenly bent forward as if it saw something strangely beautiful in the water; my wife saw the sweet angel laugh and put out its tiny hands, but in an instant it slipped with a sudden motion out of her arms and fell into the watery mirror. I have often sought for the little body, but to no purpose; no trace of it was to be found. Now, we bereaved parents sat silently together that same evening in our cottage; we had no heart to talk, even had our tears suffered us; so we only gazed upon the fire on the hearth. Suddenly something rattled at the door, it flew open, and a little maiden, three or four years old perhaps, of rare beauty and richly dressed, stood upon the threshold and smiled at us. We remained dumb with astonishment, and at first I knew not whether this was a real little creature, or merely a magic appearance. But I saw the water trickling down from her golden hair and rich garments, and I noted also that the fair child had been in the water and was in need of help. 'Wife,' I said, 'no man was able to save our dear child; we will at least do for other people what would have made us blessed upon earth if anyone might have done it for us.' We brought in the little girl, put her in bed, and gave her warm drinks; whereat she said not a word, but only smiled on as she stared at us with both her eyes of heavenly blue. Next morning we could perceive that she had taken no farther harm; and I asked her after her parents, and how she had come hither. But she gave a confused, strange story; she must have been born far from here, for not only for these fifteen years have I been able to discover nothing of her coming hither, but she spoke, and even now at times speaks of things so marvellous that one knows not whether in fact she be not come down from the moon. Her talk is of golden castles, of crystal domes, and I know not what more. What she relates most clearly is, that she was on the sea with her mother, and fell from their bark into the water; that she first recovered her senses here under the trees; and that this fair shore seemed very pleasant to her. But we had yet a great perplexity and care on our hearts. It was soon indeed determined that we would keep and bring up this newly-found child in the place of the dear one we had lost; but who could tell whether she had been baptized or not? She herself could give us no information. 'That she was a creature made for the praise and glory of God she knew well,' would she often answer us, and she wished all to be done to her which appertained to God's glory and praise.' My wife and I thought thus: 'If she be not baptized, then is no time to be lost; and if she be, there is more harm in too little than too much of good things.' In consequence, we pondered over a good name for the child, for we knew not properly what to call her. We thought, at length, that Dorothea would suit her best -- it means God's gift; and she had been sent to us as a gift from God, as a consolation in our misery. But she would not hear of it; she said that she had been named Undine by her parents, and that she would ever be called Undine. Now this seemed to be a very heathenish name, which stood in no calendar, and I held council about it with a priest of the city. He would not hear of the name of Undine; but yet at my prayer he came through the wonderful wood to my cottage that he might perform the baptismal service. The little maiden stood before us so lovely and so fairly adorned, that she at once won the priest's heart; and she coaxed him so gracefully, and at the same time mocked him so merrily, that he soon could no longer call to mind any one of the objections which he had prepared against the name of Undine. So she was baptized Undine, and behaved during the holy rite with extraordinary gentleness and sweetness, however wild and untamed she again became afterwards. For therein my wife was quite right; we have had much to bear with her. If I should relate to you --"

The knight interrupted the fisherman to make him notice a noise as of a stream mightily rushing along, which he had heard before, during the discourse of the old man, and which now, with growing force, dashed past the window of the cottage. Both sprang to the door; there they saw, in the light of the newly-risen moon, how the stream, which ran forth from the wood had wildly burst over its banks, and was tearing away, with its strong current, stones and stems of trees. The storm, as if awakened by the noise, broke from the lowering clouds which rapidly coursed over the moon; the sea howled beneath the flapping wings of the wind; the trees on the peninsula groaned, from their roots to their summits, and then bent, as if dizzy, over the rushing waters.

"Undine! for God's sake, Undine!" cried the two terrified men. No answer returned to them, and regardless now of every other risk, they ran from the cottage calling out and seeking, each taking a different direction.
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Re: Undine: A Romance, by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque

Postby admin » Sun Jan 31, 2016 10:01 am


THE longer Huldbrand sought in the shades of night and found not, the more anxious and bewildered his mind became. The thought that Undine was a mere phantom of the forest took possession of him anew. Yea, in the midst of the howling of the winds and the waves; the cracking of the trees, the entire change of this spot but now so still and lovely, he might well have deemed the whole peninsula, with the cottage and its inhabitants, naught but a mocking delusion, had he not, in the tumult, heard ever from afar the fisherman's agonized cries after Undine, and his old wife's loud prayers and hymns. At length he came close to the edge of the overflowing stream, and saw in the moonlight how it had taken its impetuous course back towards the mysterious forest, so that it had turned the neck of land into an island.

"O merciful God!" he thought to himself, "If Undine has ventured to take a few steps into the fearful forest, perchance in her pretty waywardness at my refusal to relate aught about it, and now the stream is flowing between us, and she weeps alone there, yonder, amongst phantoms!" A cry of terror escaped him, and he stepped down on some stones and uprooted fir-trees in order to enter the raging stream; and either wading or swimming through it, to seek the lost one. It is true that everything strange and fearful which by day had befallen him under those now rustling and cracking trees again recurred to his mind. Above all, it seemed to him as if there stood on the opposite shore a tall white man, whom he too well knew, and who now grinned at him and mocked him; but these fearful visions yet more mightily urged him on, since he thought that Undine might be amongst them, alone and in deadly terror.

He had already passed a strong fir-branch, and stood supported by it in the eddying waters, in whose current he could hardly hold himself upright; but he pressed on with a resolute courage. Then a sweet voice near him called out, "Trust it not, trust it not; that old creature, that stream is crafty!" He knew the lovely sound, and stood as if entranced beneath the cloud which now rested darkly on the moon, and he became dizzy from the noise of the waters which he saw darting with the swiftness of an arrow above his knees; yet he would not draw back.

"If thou art not truly there, if thou art but a deluding vapour floating around me, then neither will I live, but become like thee, a shadow, thou dear, dear Undine!" He cried this aloud, and stepped yet farther into the stream.

"Look around thee, look around thee, then, thou beautiful, deluded youth!" This was again said close to him; and looking on one side, he saw in the again unclouded moonlight, beneath the branches of a lofty tree, on a little island formed by the flood, Undine, smiling and sweetly nestling in the flowery grass.

Oh, how much more gladly did the young man now use his fir-tree staff than before! A few steps brought him through the waters which were raging between him and the maiden, and he stood beside her on a little grass-plot, sheltered and overshadowed by ancient trees. Undine half raised herself in her leafy tent, and putting her arm round his neck, she drew him down beside her on her soft seat.

"Here thou shalt relate thy story to me, my beautiful friend," said she, whispering low; "here those cross old people cannot hear us; and this, our covering of leaves, is well worth their poor hut."

"It is heaven!" said Huldbrand; and he covered the caressing maiden with eager kisses.

In the meanwhile the old fisherman had come to the brink of the stream, and now called out, "Hey, sir knight, I received you as one true-hearted man might another, and now you are playing the lover with my foster-daughter, and leaving me the while anxious to pursue her through the darkness."

"I have myself but just now found her, old father," cried back the knight to him.

"So much the better," said the fisherman; "but bring her, without delay, to the main land."

But Undine would not hear of this; she affirmed that she would rather go quite into the forest with her beautiful friend, than back to the cottage where no one would do her will, and from which the noble knight would sooner or later depart. With an unspeakable grace she sang, as she clasped Huldbrand:

"The stream flowed out of the darksome vale,
And sought for the bright sea-shore:
She ran to her rest
In the ocean's nest,
And then ran back no more!"

The old fisherman wept bitterly at her song; but this seemed not to move her. She kissed and caressed her lover, who at length said to her, "Undine, if that old man's grief do not touch thy heart, it touches mine: we will return to him."

She opened her large blue eyes upon him in astonishment, and said at last slowly and doubtfully, "If thou so wish, it is good; all that thou wishest is right for me. But the old man yonder must first promise that he will let thee, without interruption, relate what thou hast seen in the wood, and -- but the other is sure to follow."

"Only come, come!" cried the fisherman to her, unable to utter another word. At the same time he stretched out his arms, and nodded, as if to agree to her demand: his white hair streamed strangely over his face, and Huldbrand could not but recollect the nodding man of the forest. But without daring to think of anything that might confuse him, the young knight seized the fair maiden in his arms, and bore her over the little space where the waters were rushing and foaming between their tiny island and the mainland. The old man fell on Undine's neck, and seemed never weary of rejoicing over her and kissing her; the wife, too, joined them, and most tenderly caressed her recovered child. No more reproaches were heard; and even Undine, forgetting her displeasure, almost overwhelmed her foster-parents with loving words and endearments.

When at length they recovered from the rapture of this meeting, the morning red already shone over the lake; the storm was hushed, the birds sang joyously on the dripping branches. And now that Undine insisted on the promised relation of the knight's story, the old people smiled, and willingly joined in her wish. They brought out breakfast beneath the trees which grew behind the cottage towards the lake, and then sat down with thankful hearts; Undine because she would have it so, on the grass, at the knight's feet. Then Huldbrand began to speak as follows.
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Re: Undine: A Romance, by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque

Postby admin » Sun Jan 31, 2016 10:01 am


"IT may now be eight days ago when I entered the free city which lies on the other side of the forest. Soon afterwards was held a fair tournament and tiltings, and I spared neither my steed nor my lance. Once, as I was standing still in the lists to rest myself from the joyous labour, my eyes fell on a wondrously fair lady, who, in most splendid attire, was standing in one of the balconies, and looking on. I inquired of those about me, and learnt that the lovely maiden was called Bertalda, and that she was the adopted daughter of a mighty duke who dwelt in that land. I marked that she too saw me, and, as is the wont with us young knights, if I had bravely fought before, now did I fight with higher courage. That evening I was Bertalda's partner in the dance, and so I remained all the days of the festival."


A sharp pain in his left hand, which was hanging down, here interrupted Huldbrand's story, and made him look whence came the smart. Undine had fixed her pearly teeth in his finger, and now seemed gloomy and displeased; but suddenly she looked up at him with gentle sorrowful eyes, and whispered very softly, "It was thine own fault;" then she hid her face; and the knight, perplexed and thoughtful, continued his relation.

"This lady Bertalda is a strange, haughty maiden; she pleased me not so much the second day as the first, and the third still less. But I remained in attendance on her because she seemed more favourable to me than to the other knights; and it even chanced that in sport I begged a glove from her. 'On condition that thou wilt go alone,' she answered, 'to bring me tidings of what passes in the famous forest.' I recked little of her glove, but I had spoken the word, and an honour-loving knight will not require a second summons to give a proof of courage."

"I thought that she loved thee," interrupted Undine.

"So it seemed," answered Huldbrand.

"Now then," cried the maiden laughing, "She must be right foolish, to drive from her him whom she loved, and into a perilous forest! The forest and its mysteries would have waited long enough for me."

"Yester morning I set off on my way," proceeded the knight, smiling fondly at Undine; "the stems of the trees looked so brilliant and graceful in the morning light, which lay brightly on the green grass, the leaves whispered so gaily together, that I laughed in my heart at the people who, in this beautiful spot, could expect something terrific. 'The wood will quickly be passed through, both going and coming,' I said to myself with gay confidence; and before I was aware I had plunged deep into the green shades, and could no longer see the plain which lay behind me. Then first it struck me that I could very easily lose myself in this mighty forest, and that perchance this was the only peril that here threatened the traveller. I therefore stopped, and looked round at the position of the sun, which had now risen higher. As I thus gazed up, I saw a black thing in the branches of a high oak. I at first thought it was a bear, and I felt for my sword; then a man's voice, but most harsh and odious, spoke down to me: 'If I did not now break off twigs up here, how shouldst thou be roasted at midnight, Sir Wiseacre?' And then he grinned, and rustled the branches, till my horse became wild, and carried me away before I had time to see exactly what sort of a devil's beast it was."

"Thou must not name him," said the old fisherman, and crossed himself; his wife did the same, in silence; Undine looked at her lover with sparkling eyes, and said:

"The best of the story is, that they have not roasted him. Go on, thou beautiful youth."

The knight continued his tale:

"I was in danger of being dashed by my terrified horse against the stems and branches of the trees; he was streaming from dread and heat, and yet would not suffer me to hold him in. At length, he took his way straight towards a rocky precipice, when, suddenly, it seemed to me as if a tall white man threw himself directly before the maddened animal. It started from him, and stood still. I recovered the mastery over him, and then first saw that my deliverer was no white man, but a brook of silvery brightness, which rushed down from a hill close by me, impetuously crossing and stemming the course of my steed."

"Thanks, dear brook!" cried Undine, clapping her little hands. But the old man shook his head, and looked down in deep thought.

"I had hardly fixed myself again in my saddle, and properly seized the reins," continued Huldbrand, "when there stood at my side a strange little man, diminutive and hideous beyond measure, of a tawny colour, and with a nose not much smaller than all the rest of his body. He grinned in clownish courtesy with his wide-slit mouth, and scraped his foot, and bowed a thousand times.

"As this fool's-play pleased me very ill, I thanked him shortly, and turned around my still trembling horse, thinking to seek out for myself some other adventure; or, if I found none, to take my homeward way; for during my wild flight, the sun had gone down from its mid-day height towards the west. But the little fellow sprang round with the quickness of lightning, and still stood before my horse. 'Make room there,' I cried, angrily; 'the animal is fiery, and will easily run you down.'

"'Ay!' growled the wretch, and laughed yet more stupidly and fearfully; 'give me first a drink-money, for I stopped your little horse; but for me, you and your little horse would now be lying in the rocky chasm yonder. Ha!'

"'Make no more faces,' I said, 'and take thy gold, although thou liest; for see, the good brook yonder saved me, but not thou, thou most miserable wight!"

"And at the same time I let fall a piece of gold into his strange-shaped cap, which he had held before me, as if begging. Then I rode on; but he still shrieked behind me, and suddenly, with inconceivable swiftness, he was at my side. I urged my horse to a gallop; he galloped with me, although it seemed to become very painful to him, and he took strange springs, half laughable, half horrible, ever holding up the piece of gold, and shrieking out at every spring, "False gold! false coin! false coin! false gold!' and this came with so cracked a sound out of his hollow breast, that it seemed as if, at each shriek, he must fall dead to the ground. His hideous red tongue hung out of his cavern of a mouth. I stopped bewildered and asked: 'What wilt thou have, with thy cries? Take another piece of gold, take two, but then leave me.' He began anew his horribly courteous greetings, and growled out: 'Not gold; it shall not be gold, young sir; I have myself too much of that sport; I will show you.'

"All at once it seemed that I could see through the solid green ground, as it had been green glass; and the flat earth became round, and, within, a group of goblins were taking their pastime with silver and gold. They played at ball, some standing on their heads, some on their heels; they pelted each other in jest with the precious metals, and threw gold-dust in each other's faces. My hateful companion stood half on the ground, half within it; he made the others give him handfuls of gold, showed it to me laughing, and then flung it again clattering down the bottomless chasm. Then he showed the piece of gold which I had given him to the goblins within, and they laughed to death at it, and hissed out at me. At length, they all stretched out their sharp blackened fingers towards me, and up climbed the swarm, more and more wild, more and more dense, more and more maddening. Then a terror seized me, as before it had seized my horse. I plunged my spurs into him, and know not how far I was, for the second time, desperately carried away into the forest.

"But when at length I stopped, the coolness of evening was around me. I saw a white footpath shining through the branches, and deemed that it must lead from the forest back to the town. I was about to force my way through it, but a white indistinct face, with ever-varying features, looked out at me from between the leaves; I endeavoured to avoid it, but wherever I went there was the face. I grew angry, and at length spurred my horse against it; but then the phantom dashed a white foam upon me and my horse, and we turned away from it half blinded. Thus it drove us, step by step, back from the footpath, and only in one direction did it leave the way open to us; but when we took that, although it followed us close, it did not do us the least injury. When I looked around at it, from time to time, I marked well that the white foamy face belonged to an equally white body of gigantic stature. Often I even thought that it was a wandering torrent: but I never could gain any certainty on this.

"Horse and knight, both wearied out, yielded to the white man who urged us forward, and ever nodded his head, as if to say, 'Quite right! quite right!' So we at length came to the end of the wood, and out here, where I saw grass, and lake, and your little hut, and the white man vanished."

"It is well that he is gone," said the fisherman; and then he began to discourse as to how his guest might best return to the city and to his followers. Thereupon Undine began to laugh to herself very softly. Huldbrand remarked it, and said:

"I thought that thou wast glad to see me here; why art thou then rejoicing when the talk is of my departure?"

"Because thou canst not go forth," answered Undine. "Try only to pass that overflowing stream in a boat, either with thy horse or alone, as thou pleasest -- or rather try it not, for thou wouldst be crushed by the rushing down of the uprooted trees and shivered rocks; and as to the lake, I know that father dares not venture far enough out upon it in his boat."

Huldbrand rose, smiling, to see whether it was as Undine said; the old man accompanied him, and the maiden frolicked gaily beside them. They found, in fact, that Undine had spoken truly, and that the knight must consent to remain on the peninsula, now turned into an island, until the waters were abated. As they all three returned to the cottage, the knight whispered in the maiden's ear:

"How is it, little Undine? Art thou angry that I stay?"

"Ah!" answered she, peevishly, "do not talk to me. If I had not bitten thee, who knows what more might have been told of Bertalda in thy tale ?"
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Re: Undine: A Romance, by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque

Postby admin » Sun Jan 31, 2016 10:01 am


WHEN, dear reader, thou mayest, perhaps, after many long wanderings up and down in the world, have reached a spot where all seemed well with thee -- where all the inborn love of home and gentle peace sprang up again within thee; thou didst deem that home bloomed anew from out of beloved graves, with all the flowers of childhood and deepest, purest love; and that here thou must dwell and build thee a habitation. And even if thou didst therein err, and sadly do penance for thy error, that matters not, and thou thyself wilt not care to revert to this bitter aftertaste. But call up again in thee that unspeakably sweet emotion, that angelic greeting of peace, and thou wilt surely be able to judge how it was with the knight Huldbrand while he lived on the peninsula.

He often saw with secret delight how the forest-stream rushed each day more wildly on; how its bed became wider and wider, and thus ensured the longer separation of the island from the mainland. During part of the day he wandered about with an old crossbow, which he had found in a corner of the hut and had mended, seeking the birds which flew past, and taking such as he could strike down to improve the fare of the cottage. Whenever he brought back his prey, Undine never failed to upbraid him for thus taking away the glad life of the dear joyous little creatures of the blue air; yea, she would often weep bitterly at the sight of the dead birds; but did he ever return without having shot any thing, she blamed him not less earnestly, because, through his carelessness and want of skill, they must content themselves with fish and crabs. But at all times he heartily took delight in her pretty anger, the more so as, after a fit of ill humour she was wont to make amends for it by the sweetest caresses.

The old people seemed to understand the feelings of the young ones; they appeared to them as a betrothed or even married pair, who would ever dwell with them on their severed island and be the solace of their old age. The very retirement more firmly impressed on Huldbrand's mind that he was already Undine's bridegroom. He felt as if there were no longer a world beyond the encircling stream, or as if he could never there effect a reunion with other men; and when at times his steed neighed after him, as if to remind him of knightly deeds, or his coat of arms shone solemnly forth from the embroidery of his saddle and housings, or his beautiful sword unexpectedly fell from the nail on which it hung in the cottage, slipping from its sheath in its fall, -- he would quiet his doubts by the thought that Undine was no daughter of a fisherman, but rather, according to every probability, sprung from a princely house in some foreign land. He was only troubled when the old woman would chide Undine in his presence: it is true that the wayward maiden generally laughed heartily and openly at this; but he felt as if his honour were touched by it, and yet he could not blame the old woman, for Undine ever deserved at least ten times the reproofs that she received; then his heart would soften towards his hostess, and their life went on in its still and peaceful course.

But at length a trouble came; the fisherman and the knight were wont at the midday meal, and also in the evening, when the wind howled without, as it commonly did towards night, to cheer themselves together with a flask of wine. But now the whole provision was exhausted which the fisherman had formerly brought at different times from the city, and the two men became thereupon quite morose: Undine gaily laughed at them through a whole day, without their joining heartily as usual in her jests.

Towards evening she left the cottage, in order, she said, "to escape two faces so long and so dismal." As it grew dark the sky looked again stormy, and the waters already began to roar and rush; the knight and the fisherman sprang in terror to the door to recall the maiden, remembering the agony of that night when first Huldbrand had come to the cottage; but Undine came up to them joyously clapping her little hands.

"What will you give me," she said, "if I bring you wine? or rather you need give me nothing," she continued, "for I shall be well content if I see you more merry and of better cheer than you have been throughout this last tedious day. Only come with me; the stream has thrown a cask ashore, and I will be condemned to a whole week of sleep if it be not a wine-cask."

The men followed her, and found truly in an overgrown creek in the river a cask, which gave them hope that it might contain the generous drink for which they longed. They rolled it on as rapidly as possible towards the cottage, for heavy clouds came up in the evening sky, and they could already see in the dusk how the waves of the lake lifted up their white foamy crests, as if looking out for the rain which must soon pour down. Undine helped the men with all her strength: and as the storm suddenly raged more wildly, she said, as if threatening the dark clouds: "Beware, beware that ye wet us not; we are not yet in shelter."

The old man reproved her for this as a sinful boldness; but she only laughed low to herself, and no evil came of it to anyone. Far from it: they all three, contrary to expectation, safely reached the cheerful hearth with their booty; and not till they had opened the cask, and found that it contained a most exquisite wine, did the rain burst from the black clouds, and the storm sweep through the tops of the trees and over the heaving waves of the lake.

Some flasks were soon filled from the great cask, which promised a provision for many days: they sat drinking and jesting in their happy shelter from the raging tempest beside the blaze of the hearth. Then said the old fisherman, suddenly becoming very grave, "Ah, good God, we are here rejoicing over this precious gift, and he to whom it first belonged has perhaps lost his life for it!"

"He has not," asserted Undine; and smiling she poured out to the knight.

But he said, "By my honour, old father, if I knew how I could find him and deliver him, no obstacle of night and no danger would stop me. But this much I can promise thee: if I return again to inhabited places, I will seek out for him or his heirs, and pay them twofold and threefold for the wine."

This gladdened the old man; he nodded with satisfaction to the knight, and emptied his glass with clearer conscience and more pleasure.

But Undine said to Huldbrand, "Thou mayst do as it pleaseth thee with thy payment and thy gold; but that about following and seeking was foolishly spoken. I should weep my eyes out if thou wert lost in the search; and is it not true thou wouldst rather stay with me and with the good wine?" "Yes, by my sooth," answered Huldbrand, smiling.

"Then," said Undine, "thou didst speak foolishly; for everyone is nearest to himself; and what have we to do with other people?"

The old hostess turned away from her, sighing and shaking her head; the fisherman forgot his usual indulgence for the maiden, and scolded.

"That sounds as if Turks and heathens had brought thee up," was the end of his speech; "God forgive both me and thee, thou ill-mannered maiden."

"But whoever may have brought me up, so I always think," answered Undine; "and what avail all your words?"

"Silence!" said the fisherman; and she, who was timid in spite of all her wildness, nestled herself, trembling, close to Huldbrand, and asked him in a low voice, "Art thou angry also, my beautiful friend?"

The knight pressed her delicate hand, and played with her locks: he could not speak, for vexation at the old people's harshness towards Undine closed his lips, and they all sat for a time opposite to each other displeased and silent.
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Re: Undine: A Romance, by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque

Postby admin » Sun Jan 31, 2016 10:03 am


A SOFT knock at the door broke this silence, and frightened all who sat in the cottage; as ofttimes it will happen that some trifle which comes unexpectedly can stir up a terror in the mind. But in this case also the ill-omened forest lay very near, and the slip of land seemed perfectly inaccessible to the visit of any human being. They looked doubtfully at one another; the knocks were repeated, accompanied by a deep groan. The knight went for his sword; but the old man said gently, "If it be what I fear, no weapons will help us."

Undine in the meanwhile approached the door, and called out boldly and angrily, "If ye mean to do mischief, ye spirits of earth, Kuhleborn shall teach you better."

The terror of the others was increased by these strange words: they looked doubtingly at the maiden; and Huldbrand was summoning courage to question her, when a voice was heard from without saying, "I am no spirit of the earth, though a spirit which yet dwells in an earthly body; ye within the hut, if ye will aid me, and if ye fear God, open to me."

Undine at these words had already opened the door, and threw the light of a lamp out into the stormy night, so that they perceived an old priest, who stepped back startled by the unexpected appearance of the wondrously lovely maiden. He might well think that charms and sorceries were at work when so glorious a form appeared at the lowly cottage-door; therefore he began to pray, "All good spirits, praise the Lord God!"

"I am no ghost," said Undine, smiling; "do I then look so very hideous? besides, you may see that I fear no holy words; I have learnt of God also, and I know how to praise Him -- each one after his fashion, truly: He has created us for that. Enter, reverend father, you are come to good people."

The holy man came in bowing and looking around, and he appeared very mild and venerable. But water was trickling from all the folds of his dark garments, and from his long white beard and white hair. The fisherman and the knight took him into a chamber, and gave him other clothes, whilst they gave his vestments to be dried by the women in the sitting-room. The stranger thanked them most humbly and most kindly; but he would in no ways put on the splendid mantle of the knight which the latter held out to him: he chose instead an old grey surcoat of the fisherman. Then they went back to the other room; the old hostess gave up her arm-chair to the priest, and would not rest till he had sat down in it; "for," said she, "you are old and exhausted, and a priest to boot."

Undine put beneath the feet of the stranger the little stool on which she was wont to sit near Huldbrand, and most sweetly and courteously tended the good old man. Huldbrand whispered some jest to her; but she answered very gravely, "He serves Him who has made us all; that must not be jested on."

The knight and fisherman refreshed the priest with food and wine; and after he had somewhat recovered he began to relate how yesterday he had left his monastery, which, lay far on the other side of the great lake, to travel to the residence of the bishop, in order to inform him of the straits to which the monastery and its dependent villages were reduced by the present wonderful flood. Towards evening, after having been constrained on account of the waters to go very much out of his way, he found himself obliged to pass over an arm of the lake in a boat, managed by two experienced sailors; "but hardly," he continued, "had our little vessel touched the waves, when the tremendous storm which is now raging above our heads broke loose. It seemed as if the waters had only awaited us to begin the maddest, wildest dance with us. The oars were soon torn from the hands of the rowers, and the waves bore them rapidly farther and further away before us. We ourselves, a prey to the deaf powers of nature, were carried helplessly on over the lofty billows, till we approached your distant shore, which we saw rising up through the mist and spray. Our bark whirled more wildly and giddily, and I know not whether it upset, or whether I was thrown out; in all the agony of a near and terrific death I was borne on, till a wave threw me beneath the trees of your island."

"Yes, island," said the fisherman; "a short space ago it was a peninsula; but now since the forest-stream and the lake have become quite mad, all is changed with us."

"I so remarked," said the priest, "as I groped along the water in the darkness, while a wild uproar raged around. At length I saw that a frequented footpath lost itself in the waters. Then I perceived the light in your cottage, and I ventured here, where I can never enough thank my heavenly Father that, after my deliverance from the waves, He has brought me to so pious people; the more, since I know not whether besides you four, I shall ever in this life look upon human beings."

"What mean you by that?" asked the fisherman.

"Know you, then, how long this disturbance of the elements may last?" answered the priest. "I am old in years; and very easily may my life-stream sink back into the earth before the overflow of the forest-stream yonder subsides. And further, it may not be impossible that the foaming waters may rush more and more between you and the forest opposite, until you are so far cut off from the rest of the world that your fishing boat may not be able to cross over, and the dwellers on firm land may in their dissipations entirely forget you in your old age."

The old wife shuddered, crossed herself, and said, "God forbid!" But the fisherman smiled at her, saying: "How strange a creature is man! It has never been otherwise, at least with thee, dear wife, than it is now. For many years hast thou come further than the edge of the forest? and hast thou seen other human beings than Undine and me? Just lately, it is true, the knight and priest are come to us; but they will remain with us if this becomes a forgotten island, so thou wouldst gain thereby."

"I know not", said the old woman; "it is a dreary thought to be altogether cut off from other people, even if we neither know nor see them."

"Then thou stayest with us! thou stayest with us!" whispered Undine in a low voice, half chanting; and she pressed closer to Huldbrand's side. But he was lost in deep and strange thoughts. The country beyond the forest-stream had become to him, since the last words of the priest, more distant and more indistinct; the fair island on which he was, bloomed and smiled ever brighter in his heart. His bride shone as the fairest rose of this little spot, and fairer than the whole world beside. The priest was now present. At the same moment an angry look of the old woman fell upon the lovely maiden, because in the presence of the priest she leant so closely on her lover; and it seemed that a torrent of unkind words was about to follow. Then, as the knight turned towards the priest, there burst from his lips:

"You see before you, reverend sir, a betrothed pair; and if this maiden and these good old people have naught to say against it, you shall unite us this very evening."

The old couple were greatly astonished; they had indeed often thought of this before, but never spoken it out, and the knight's words appeared to them quite new and unexpected. Undine had suddenly become grave, and looked down in deep thought, whilst the priest asked for further explanation, and made himself sure of the consent of the parents. At length, after much discourse, all was made clear; the hostess went to prepare the wedding-chamber for the young pair, and to seek for two consecrated tapers, which she had long preserved for the marriage- ceremony. The knight unfastened the while his golden chain, and was about to take off two of its rings to exchange with his bride, but she, observing this, roused herself from her thoughtfulness, and said:

"Not so! My parents did not send me out into the world in utter poverty, far otherwise; they surely reckoned that such an evening as this would come."

She went swiftly to the door, and came back with two costly rings, of which she gave one to her bridegroom, and kept the other for herself. The old fisherman was astonished, and yet more so his wife, who returned at that moment, as neither of them had seen these jewels with the child.

"My parents," answered Undine, "caused these baubles to be sewed in the beautiful raiment which I had on when I came to you; they forbade me to speak of them on any pretext before my wedding-evening; I therefore secretly unfastened them and kept them in secret till to-day."

The priest interrupted further questionings and wonderings, whilst he lighted the tapers, placed himself at a table, and told the betrothed to stand before him. He united them with a few solemn words; the old people blessed the young ones, and the bride leant on the knight, thoughtful, and gently trembling.

After a time the priest said: "Ye are strange people! why did you then say that you were the only dwellers on this island. During the whole marriage-service a large tall man, in a white mantle, looked in at the window opposite to me; he must still be at the door, if you will admit him into your house."

"God forbid!" said the hostess, shuddering; the fisherman shook his head in silence, and Huldbrand sprang to the window. He himself thought that he saw a white streak, which soon, however, quite vanished in the darkness. He assured the priest that he must have been mistaken; and they all sat down familiarly round the hearth.
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Re: Undine: A Romance, by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque

Postby admin » Sun Jan 31, 2016 10:03 am


UNDINE bad behaved most gently and modestly before and during the marriage; but now it seemed as though all the strange fancies which abode in her overflowed more wildly and daringly than ever. She played every childish trick to her bride-groom, her foster-parents, and even to the priest, whom she had just before so greatly reverenced; and as the hostess was about to reprove her, she was silenced by a few grave words from the knight, in which he very significantly called Undine his wife. Yet Undine's childish behaviour as little pleased the knight himself; but neither signs nor warning words would avail. As often as the bride saw the displeasure of her lover -- and that was often -- she became indeed more quiet, sat down beside him, caressed him, whispered something, smiling, in his ear, and thus smoothed his ruffled brow. But forthwith some wilder fancy again drove her to yet stranger pranks, and all became worse than before. Then said the priest very earnestly and very kindly:

"My fair young girl! none can see thee without delight, but bethink thee so to attune thy soul, that it may bring harmony to the soul of thy wedded husband."

"Soul!" said Undine, laughing; "that sounds very pretty, and may also be, for most people, an edifying and necessary rule; but for one who has no soul, how can it be attuned? And thus it is with me."

The priest, much hurt, held his peace in holy indignation, and sadly turned away his face from the maiden. But she went caressingly to him, and said:

"Hear me out first, before you are angry with me; for your anger grieves me, and you must not grieve a creature who on her side has not willingly done you harm. Be but patient with me, and I will tell you all that I meant to say."

They could perceive that she was about to relate something most important, but suddenly she stopped as if seized with some inward terror, and broke forth into a stream of the saddest tears. They no longer knew what to think of her, and gazed on her in silence, troubled on many different accounts. At length she said, as she wiped away her tears and gazed earnestly at the priest:

"A soul must be a precious, but yet most fearful thing. In the name of God, reverend man, were it not better never to become possessed of one?"

She was again silent, as if awaiting his answer: her tears were checked. All in the cottage had risen from their seats and drew back from her shuddering. But she seemed to have eyes but for the priest; on her features rested the expression of a frightened curiosity, which to the others appeared most awful.

"Very heavily must the soul weigh," continued she, when no one answered her, "very heavily! For even its approach overshadows me with terror and anguish. And ah! I was just now so light-hearted, so joyous!"

A fresh torrent of tears broke forth, and she hid her face in her dress. Then the priest with solemn mien drew near to her, and addressed her, conjuring her in the Name of the Most Holy to throw off the disguise, if aught of evil were in her. But she fell on her knees before him, repeating all the holy words he had spoken, praising God, and affirming that she meant well to all the world. Then at length the priest said to the knight:

"Sir bridegroom, I leave her alone with you to whom I have entrusted her. So far as I can fathom there is nothing that is evil in her, though much that is wonderful. I commend her to your care, love and faith."

Therewith he went out, and the old people followed, making the sign of the cross. Undine had fallen on her knees; she unveiled her face, and said, looking timidly up at Huldbrand:

"Ah! now certainly thou wilt not keep me -- and yet have I done no wrong, I, a poor, poor child!"

She looked so unspeakably lovely and touching that her bridegroom forgot all that was awful and mysterious about her, and, hastening to her, he raised her in his arms. She smiled through her tears, as when the glow of morning plays upon a little brook.

"Thou canst not leave me!" she whispered confidingly, and stroked the cheeks of the knight with her delicate little hands. He turned away from the fearful thoughts which still lurked in the depth of his heart, and would persuade him that he had married a fairy, or else a wicked mocking being of the world of spirits; only one question involuntarily passed his lips:

"My Undine! tell me only one thing; what was it that thou didst speak of spirits of the earth when the priest knocked at the door, and of Kuhleborn?"

"Tales, childish tales!" said Undine, laughing with her old wonted joyousness; "first I frightened thee with them, and at the end thou didst frighten me. That is the end of the story and of the wedding-evening."

"No, it is not the end," said the now enraptured knight; he extinguished the tapers, and by the light of the moon, which shone softly in at the window, with a thousand fond caresses, bore his beloved to their chamber.
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Re: Undine: A Romance, by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque

Postby admin » Sun Jan 31, 2016 10:03 am


THE bright morning light awoke the young pair; Undine timidly hid her face beneath the bed-coverings: and Huldbrand lay in silent thought. So often as he had slept during the night he had been troubled by strange fearful dreams of spectres, who, grinning mysteriously, strove to disguise themselves as fair women, and of fair women who suddenly appeared with faces of serpents. And when he started up from these ghastly images, the moonlight pale and cold streamed in through the window; he looked with terror at Undine, on whose bosom he had fallen asleep, and she was resting in unchanged loveliness and grace beside him. Then he pressed a light kiss on her rosy lips, and again slumbered, to be again awakened by new terrors. When fully awake, he thought over all this calmly, and then blamed himself for every doubt which had stirred him against his sweet wife. He implored her pardon for his injustice in simple words: but she only gave him her beautiful hand, sighed deeply, and was silent. But a glance of unspeakable feeling from her eyes, such as he had never before seen, left him certain that Undine felt no anger against him. He arose with a lightened heart, and went out to the rest of the household in the common room.

The three sat around the fire with clouded countenances, not one daring to express his fears in words. It seemed as if the priest was inwardly praying that all evil might be averted. But when they saw the young husband enter with a happy face, their ruffled brows became smooth; and the old fisherman began to make merry with the knight, but so courteously and reverently, that even the old dame smiled, well pleased.

At length Undine had attired herself, and she entered the room. The others would have gone to her with greetings, but they all remained motionless with astonishment, so altered did the young wife seem to them, and yet so well known. The priest first, with fatherly love in his beaming eyes, went up to her, and as he raised his hand to bless her, the fair being sank on her knees before him with trembling reverence. She then prayed him in gentle and lowly words to forgive the follies which she had spoken the day before, and implored him with much emotion to pray for the welfare of her soul. Then she arose, kissed her foster-parents, and said, as she thanked them for all the goodness they had shown her, "Oh! now I feel in my inmost heart how much, how unspeakably much, you have done for me, my dear, dear parents!" For a time she could hardly break away from their caresses; but no sooner had she perceived that the old woman was about to make ready the breakfast, than she flew to the hearth, prepared and arranged everything, and allowed not the good old mother to take upon herself the least trouble.

She continued thus the whole day, silent, affectionate, and attentive, like a young matron, and yet a bashful, delicate girl. The three who had known her longest thought at every moment to see some capricious outbreak of her old wild mood; but they looked for it in vain, Undine remained mild and gentle as an angel. The priest could not turn his eyes away from her, and said ofttimes to the bridegroom, "Sir knight, the goodness of God has, through me, His unworthy servant, entrusted you with a treasure; cherish it as it deserves, so will it ensure your happiness for time and for eternity."

Towards evening, Undine with lowly tenderness leant on the knight's arm, and gently drew him out before the door, where the sinking sun shone gloriously upon the fresh grass, and around the tall slender stems of the trees. In the eyes of the young wife there swam as it were a dew of sadness and of love; on her lips seemed to hover a tender, anxious mystery, which only discovered itself by scarcely audible sighs. She led on her lover further and further, still in silence; she only answered his words with her looks, in which, if there was no direct reply to his questions, there was truly a whole heaven of love and modest devotion.

Thus they reached the banks of the forest-stream; and the knight wondered to see it gliding with a gentle current, so that no trace remained of its former fury and overflowing. "By tomorrow it will be quite subdued," said the fair wife, tearfully, "and thou canst ride forth where thou wilt unopposed."

"Not without thee, my little Undine," said the knight, laughing; "bethink thee, that even did I wish to ride away from thee, church and priests, empire and emperor, would interpose, and bring thee back again thy fugitive."

"It all depends on thee, all on thee," whispered Undine, half weeping, half laughing. "But yet I think thou wilt hold by me, thou art so very dear to me. Only bear me over to the little island which lies before us, there shall all be decided. I could myself easily glide through the little waves, but it is so sweet to rest in thy arms; and if thou reject me, I shall at least have rested gently there for the last time."

Huldbrand, full of a strange sadness and emotion, knew not how to answer her; he took her in his arms and bore her over, remembering now, for the first time, that this was the very same little island from which he had carried her back to the fisherman on the night of his arrival. Having reached it, he laid her down on the soft grass, and would have seated himself fondly beside his lovely burden, but she said, "Nay, sit there, opposite to me. I can read in thy eyes before thy lips have spoken. Now listen diligently to what I will relate to thee."

And she began: "Thou shouldst know, my beloved, that there exist in the elements beings not very unlike you men, and who yet seldom let themselves be seen by you. The wondrous salamanders glisten and sport in the flames; the rough, malicious gnomes dwell deep in the earth; the woods are haunted by spirits which are of the air; while the far-spread race of water-spirits live in lakes, and streams, and brooks; they dwell too in resounding crystal vaults, through which heaven with its sun and stars shines in; lofty coral plants with blue and red fruits shine in their gardens; they wander over bright sands, and over gay, many-coloured muscles, and all that the old world possessed of beautiful which the present world is no longer worthy to enjoy, and which the waves conceal with their mysterious veil of silver; below still glitter noble ruins high and stately, and gently washed by loving waters which allure forth from them delicate mosses and wreathing bulrushes. Those who dwell there are pure and lovely to look upon, fairer than even mankind. Many a fisherman has had the good fortune to espy a mermaid as she rose up from the waters, and sang: then would he tell to many of her beauty; and such wondrous women have been called by men Undines. Thou seest before thee an Undine, dearest."

The knight tried to persuade himself that one of her strange fancies had sprung up again in his beautiful wife, and that she was taking pleasure in perplexing him with brightly woven tales. But though he earnestly repeated this to himself, he could not for a moment believe it; an unnatural shudder passed through him; unable to bring out a single word, he stared with altered looks on the lovely speaker. She on her side sadly shook her head, sighed out of her full heart, and then went on as follows:

"We live far more happily than other men -- for men we call ourselves, as in countenance and stature we resemble you; but there is one very evil thing with us. We, and our fellows in the other elements, we perish and pass away both in body and spirit, so that no trace of us is left behind; and when you at length awaken to a purer life, we remain as sands and sparks, winds and waves remain. For we have no souls; the element animates us, it obeys us as long as we live, it ever scatters us as soon as we die; and we are gay without care, as are nightingales, and golden fish, and other lovely children of nature. But all would aim higher than they are; so my father, who is a mighty sea-prince in the Mediterranean, longed that his only daughter should possess a soul, even if therewith she gained the sorrows of those gifted with souls. But a soul can be obtained by our kind only by a union of deepest love with one of your race. Now have I a soul; I thank thee for my soul, O thou unspeakably beloved, and I will thank thee if thou dost not thereby make me miserable for my life; for what will become of me if thou hatest me, and drivest me from thee? But I would not detain thee by deceit. And if thou wilt reject me, do it now, go back alone to the shore; I will plunge into that brook, which is my uncle, for he leads here a hermit-life away from his other friends. But he is powerful, and receives tribute from many great streams, and as he bore me to the fisherman, a joyous laughing child, so I will he carry me back to my parents a loving, sorrowing woman gifted with a soul."

She would have said more, but Huldbrand, full of the deepest love and emotion, embraced her, and bore her back again to the shore. Then first he swore, amidst tears and kisses, never to forsake his sweet wife; and deemed himself more happy than the heathen sculptor Pygmalion, who had given life to dame Venus, his lovely statue. Undine, clinging to his arm with a sweet confidence, returned to the cottage, and then felt from her heart how little she need regret the forsaken crystal palace of her wonderful father.
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