Famous Stories Every Child Should Know eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 341 pages of information about Famous Stories Every Child Should Know.
and wider, and he felt the period of his seclusion from the world must be still prolonged.  Having found an old crossbow in a corner of the cottage, and mended it, he spent part of his days roving about, waylaying the birds that flew by, and bringing whatever he killed to the kitchen, as rare game.  When he came back laden with spoil, Undine would often scold him for taking the life of the dear little joyous creatures, soaring in the blue depths of Heaven; she would even weep bitterly over the dead birds.  But if he came home empty-handed, she found fault with his awkwardness and laziness, which obliged them to be content with fish and crabs for dinner.  Either way, he took delight in her pretty fits of anger; the more so as she rarely failed to make up for them by the fondest caresses afterwards.  The old folks, having been in the young people’s confidence from the first, unconsciously looked upon them as a betrothed or even married pair, shut out from the world with them in this retreat, and bestowed upon them for comforts in their old age.  And this very seclusion helped to make the young Knight feel as if he were already Undine’s bridegroom.  It seemed to him that the whole world was contained within the surrounding waters, or at any rate, that he could never more cross that charmed boundary, and rejoin other human beings.  And if at times the neighing of his steed reminded him of former feats of chivalry, and seemed to ask for more; if his coat of arms, embroidered on the saddle and trappings, caught his eye; or if his good sword fell from the nail on which he had hung it and slipped out of its scabbard, he would silence the misgivings that arose, by thinking, Undine is not a fisherman’s daughter, but most likely sprung from some highly noble family in distant lands.  The only thing that ever ruffled him, was to hear the old woman scolding Undine.  The wayward girl only laughed at her; but to him it seemed as if his own honour were touched; and yet he could not blame the good wife, for Undine mostly deserved ten times worse than she got, therefore he still felt kindly toward the old dame, and these little rubs scarcely disturbed the even current of their lives.

At length, however, a grievance did arise.  The Knight and the Fisherman were in the habit of sitting cheerfully over a flask of wine, both at noon, and also at eventide while the wind whistled around, as it generally did at night.  But they had now exhausted the whole stock which the Fisherman had, long since, brought from the town with him and they both missed it sadly.  Undine laughed at them all day for it, but they could not join in her mirth as heartily as usual.  Toward evening she left the cottage, saying she could no longer bear such long dismal faces.  As the twilight looked stormy, and the waters were beginning to moan and heave, the Knight and the old man ran out anxiously to fetch her back, remembering the agony of that night when Huldbrand first came to the cottage.  But they were met by Undine, clapping her hands merrily.  “What will you give me if I get you some wine?  But, indeed, I want no reward for it,” she added; “I shall be satisfied if you will but look brighter, and find more to say than you have done all these tedious mornings.  Come along; the floods have washed a barrel ashore, and I will engage to sleep a whole week through if it is not a barrel of wine!”

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Famous Stories Every Child Should Know from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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