Famous Stories Every Child Should Know eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 279 pages of information about Famous Stories Every Child Should Know.

“Then you will stay with us!” murmured Undine in a sweet voice, and she pressed closer to Huldbrand’s side.  But he was lost in deep thought.  Since the Priest had last spoken, the land beyond the wild stream had seemed to his fancy more dark and distant than ever; while the flowery island he lived in—­and his bride, the fairest flower in the picture—­bloomed and smiled more and more freshly in his imagination.  Here was the Priest at hand to unite them;—­and, to complete his resolution, the old dame just then darted a reproving look at Undine, for clinging to her lover’s side in the holy man’s presence; an angry lecture seemed on the point of beginning.  He turned toward the Priest, and these words burst from him:  “You see before you a betrothed pair, reverend sir; if this damsel and the kind old people will consent, you shall unite us this very evening.”

The old folks were much surprised.  Such a thought had often crossed their minds, but they had never till this moment heard it uttered; and it now fell upon their ears like an unexpected thing.  Undine had suddenly become quite grave, and sat musing deeply, while the Priest inquired into various circumstances, and asked the old couple’s consent to the deed.  After some deliberation, they gave it; the dame went away to prepare the young people’s bridal chamber, and to fetch from her stores two consecrated tapers for the wedding ceremony.  Meanwhile the Knight was pulling two rings off his gold chain for himself and his bride to exchange.  But this roused Undine from her reverie, and she said:  “Stay! my parents did not send me into the world quite penniless; they looked forward long ago to this occasion and provided for it.”  She quickly withdrew, and returned bringing two costly rings, one of which she gave to her betrothed and kept the other herself.  This astonished the old Fisherman, and still more his wife, who came in soon after; for they neither of them had ever seen these jewels about the child.  “My parents,” said Undine, “had these rings sewed into the gay dress which I wore, when first I came to you.  They charged me to let no one know of them till my wedding-day came.  Therefore I took them secretly out of the dress, and have kept them hidden till this evening.”

Here the Priest put a stop to the conversation, by lighting the holy tapers, placing them on the table, and calling the young pair to him.  With few and solemn words he joined their hands; the aged couple gave their blessing, while the bride leaned upon her husband, pensive and trembling.

When it was over, the Priest said:  “You are strange people after all!  What did you mean by saying you were the only inhabitants of this island?  During the whole ceremony there was a fine-looking tall man, in a white cloak, standing just outside the window opposite me.  He must be near the door still, if you like to invite him in.”—­“Heaven forbid!” said the dame shuddering; the old man shook his head without speaking; and Huldbrand rushed to the window.  He could fancy he saw a streak of white, but it was soon lost in darkness.  So he assured the Priest he must have been mistaken; and they all sat down comfortably round the fire.

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