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.


A gentle tap at the door broke the silence, and made them all start:  it sometimes happens that a mere trifle, coming quite unexpectedly, strikes the senses with terror.  They looked at each other hesitating; the tap was repeated, accompanied by a deep groan, and the Knight grasped his sword.  But the old man muttered, “If it is what I fear, it is not a sword that will help us!” Undine, however, stepped forward to the door, and said boldly and sharply, “If you are after any mischief, you spirits of earth, Kuehleborn shall teach you manners.”

The terror of the others increased at these strange words; they looked at the maiden with awe, and Huldbrand was just mustering courage to ask her a question, when a voice answered her from without:  “I am no spirit of earth; call me, if you will, a spirit pent in mortal clay.  If you fear God, and will be charitable, you dwellers in the cottage, open the door to me.”  Undine opened it before he had done speaking, and held out a lamp into the stormy night, so as to show them the figure of an aged Priest, who started back as the radiant beauty of Undine flashed upon his sight.  Well might he suspect magic and witchery, when so bright a vision shone out of a mean-looking cottage; he accordingly began a canticle, “All good spirits give praise to the Lord!”

“I am no ghost,” said Undine, smiling; “am I so frightful to behold?  And you may see that a pious saying has no terrors for me.  I worship God, too, and praise Him after my own fashion; He has not created us all alike.  Come in, venerable father; you will find worthy folks here.”

The holy man walked in, bowing and casting his eyes around, and looking most mild and venerable.  Every fold of his dark garment was dripping with water, and so were his long white beard and hoary locks.  The Fisherman and the Knight led him to a bedroom, and gave him change of clothing, while the women dried his wet garments by the hearth fire.  The aged stranger thanked them with all humility and gentleness, but would by no means accept of the Knight’s splendid mantle, which he offered him; he chose himself an old gray wrapper of the Fisherman’s instead.  So they returned to the kitchen; the dame up gave her own arm-chair to the Priest, and had no peace till he sat himself down on it:  “For,” said she, “you are old and weary, and a priest besides.”  Undine pushed her little footstool toward the good man’s feet, and altogether behaved to him quite properly and gracefully.  Huldbrand took notice of this, in a playful whisper; but she answered very gravely:  “Because he is a servant of the Maker of us all; that is too serious for a jest.”

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