The Journey to Vienna
After this last adventure they lived quietly and happily at the castle. The knight more and more clearly perceived the heavenly goodness of his wife, which had been so nobly exhibited by her pursuit and her rescue in the Black Valley, where Kuehleborn’s power again commenced; Undine herself felt that peace and security which is never lacking to a mind so long as it is distinctly conscious of being on the right path, and, besides, in the newly-awakened love and esteem of her husband many a gleam of hope and joy shone upon her. Bertalda, on the other hand, showed herself grateful, humble, and timid, without regarding her conduct as anything meritorious. Whenever Huldbrand or Undine were about to give her any explanation regarding the covering of the fountain or the adventure in the Black Valley, she would earnestly entreat them to spare her the recital, as she felt too much shame at the recollection of the fountain and too much fear at the remembrance of the Black Valley. She learned therefore nothing further of either; and for what end was such knowledge necessary? Peace and joy had visibly taken up their abode at Castle Ringstetten. They felt secure on this point, and imagined that life could now produce nothing but pleasant flowers and fruits.
In this happy condition of things winter had come and passed away, and spring with its fresh green shoots and its blue sky was gladdening the joyous inmates of the castle. Spring was in harmony with them, and they with spring; what wonder then that its storks and swallows inspired them also with a desire to travel? One day when they were taking a pleasant walk to one of the sources of the Danube, Huldbrand spoke of the magnificence of the noble river, how it widened as it flowed through countries fertilized by its waters, how the charming city of Vienna shone forth on its banks, and how with every step of its course it increased in power and loveliness. “It must be glorious to go down the river as far as Vienna!” exclaimed Bertalda, but immediately relapsing into her present modesty and humility she paused and blushed deeply.
This touched Undine deeply, and with the liveliest desire to give pleasure to her friend she asked, “What hinders us from starting on the little voyage?” Bertalda exhibited the greatest delight, and both she and Undine began at once to picture in the brightest colors the tour of the Danube. Huldbrand also gladly agreed to the prospect; only he once whispered anxiously in Undine’s ear, “But Kuehleborn becomes possessed of his power again out there!”
“Let him come,” she replied with a smile; “I shall be there, and he ventures upon none of his mischief before me.” The last impediment was thus removed; they prepared for the journey, and soon after set out upon it with fresh spirits and the brightest hopes.
But wonder not, O man, if events always turn out different from what we have intended! That malicious power, lurking for our destruction, gladly lulls its chosen victim to sleep with sweet songs and golden fairy tales; while on the other hand the rescuing messenger from Heaven often knocks sharply and alarmingly at our door.