“Thank Heaven, he is gone,” said the old man, and he then proceeded to consider how his guest could best return to his friends in the city. Upon this, Undine was heard to laugh in a whisper.
Huldbrand observed it, and said: “I thought you had wished me to stay; and now you seem pleased when we talk of my going?”
“Because,” replied Undine, “you cannot get away. Only try to cross the swollen brook, in a boat, on horseback, or on foot. Or rather, do not try, for you would be dashed to pieces by the branches and stones that it hurls along. And as to the lake, I know how that is: father never ventures across it in his boat.”
Huldbrand laughed, and got up to see whether she had spoken true; the old man went with him, and the maiden tripped along playfully by their side. They found she had told them no worse than the truth and the Knight resigned himself to staying in the island, as it might now be called till the floods had subsided. As they returned homeward, he whispered in his pretty companion’s ear—“Well, my little Undine! are you angry at my staying?”
“Ah,” said she sullenly, “never mind. If I had not bitten you, who knows what might have come out in your story of Bertalda?”
V.—OF THE LIFE WHICH THE KNIGHT LED ON THE ISLAND
Has it ever befallen thee, gentle reader, after many ups and downs in this troublesome world, to alight upon a spot where thou foundest rest; where the love which is born with us for fireside comfort and domestic peace, revived in thee; where thou couldst fancy thy early home with the blossoms of childhood, its pure, heartfelt affection, and the holy influence breathed from thy fathers’ graves, to be restored to thee—and that it must indeed be “good for thee to be here, and to build tabernacles?” The charm may have been broken, the dream dispelled; but that has nothing to do with our present picture; nor wilt thou care to dwell on such bitter moments; but recall to mind that period of unspeakable peace, that foretaste of angelic rest which was granted thee, and thou wilt partly conceive what the Knight Huldbrand felt, while he lived on the promontory. Often, with secret satisfaction, did he mark the forest stream rolling by more wildly every day; its bed became wider