“Why, one cannot be really angry with her, to be sure,” said the dame, smiling.
Here the door flew open, and a beautiful fair creature tripped in, and said, playfully: “Well, father, you made game of me; where is your guest?” The next moment she perceived the Knight, and stood fixed in mute admiration; while Huldbrand gazed upon her lovely form, and tried to impress her image on his mind, thinking that he must avail himself of her amazement to do so, and that in a moment she would shrink away in a fit of bashfulness. But it proved otherwise. After looking at him a good while, she came up to him familiarly, knelt down beside him, and playing with a golden medal that hung from his rich chain, she said: “So, thou kind, thou beautiful guest! hast thou found us out in our poor hut at last? Why didst thou roam the world so many years without coming near us? Art come through the wild forest, my handsome friend?” The old woman allowed him no time to answer. She desired her to get up instantly, like a modest girl, and to set about her work. But Undine, without replying, fetched a footstool and put it close to Huldbrand’s chair, sat down there with her spinning, and said cheerfully—“I will sit and work here.” The old man behaved as parents are apt to do with spoiled children. He pretended not to see Undine’s waywardness, and was beginning to talk of something else; but she would not let him. She said, “I asked our visitor where he came from, and he has not answered me yet.”
“From the forest I came, you beautiful sprite,” answered Huldbrand; and she continued:
“Then you must tell me how you came there, and what wonderful adventures you had in it, for I know that nobody can escape without some.”
Huldbrand could not help shuddering on being reminded of his adventures, and involuntarily glanced at the window, half expecting to see one of the strange beings he had encountered in the forest grinning at him through it; but nothing was to be seen except the deep black night, which had now closed in. He recollected himself, and was just beginning his narrative, when the old man interposed: “Not just now, Sir Knight; this is no time for such tales.”
But Undine jumped up passionately, put her beautiful arms akimbo, and standing before the Fisherman, exclaimed: “What! may not he tell his story, father—may not he? But I will have it; he must. He shall indeed!” And she stamped angrily with her pretty feet, but it was all done in so comical and graceful a manner, that Huldbrand thought her still more bewitching in her wrath, than in her playful mood.
Not so the old man; his long-restrained anger burst out uncontrolled. He scolded Undine smartly for her disobedience, and unmannerly conduct to the stranger, his wife chiming in.
Undine then said: “Very well, if you will be quarrelsome and not let me have my own way, you may sleep alone in your smoky old hut!” and she shot through the door like an arrow, and rushed into the dark night.