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.
home.”—­“No, no, you are free; it shall be as you please!” murmured Undine, half tears, half smiles.  “But I think thou wilt not cast me away; is not my heart bound up in thine?  Carry me over to that little island opposite.  There I will know my fate.  I could indeed easily step through the little waves; but I love to rest in thine arms! and thou mayest cast me off; this may be the last time.”  Huldbrand, full of anxious emotion, knew not how to answer.  He took her up in his arms, and carried her over, now recollecting that from this very island he had borne her home to the Fisherman, on the night of his arrival.  When there, he placed his fair burden on the turf, and was going to sit down beside her; but she said, “No, sit there, opposite me—­I will read my doom in your eyes, before your lips have spoken it.  Now listen, and I will tell you all.”  And she began:—­

“You must know, my own love, that in each element exists a race of beings, whose form scarcely differs from yours, but who very seldom appear to mortal sight.  In the flames, the wondrous Salamanders glitter and disport themselves; in the depths of earth dwell the dry, spiteful race of Gnomes; the forests are peopled by Wood-nymphs, who are also spirits of air; and the seas, the rivers and brooks contain the numberless tribes of Water-sprites.  Their echoing halls of crystal, where the light of heaven pours in, with its sun and stars, are glorious to dwell in; the gardens contain beautiful coral plants, with blue and red fruits; they wander over bright sea-sands, and gay-coloured shells, among the hidden treasures of the old world, too precious to be bestowed on these latter days, and long since covered by the silver mantle of the deep:  many a noble monument still gleams there below, bedewed by the tears of Ocean, who garlands it with flowery sea-weeds and wreaths of shells.  Those that dwell there below, are noble and lovely to behold, far more so than mankind.  Many a fisherman has had a passing glimpse of some fair water-nymph, rising out of the sea with her song; he would then spread the report of her apparition, and these wonderful beings came to be called Undines.  And you now see before you, my love, an Undine.”

The Knight tried to persuade himself that his fair wife was in one of her wild moods, and had invented this strange tale in sport.  But though he said this to himself, he could not for a moment believe it; a mysterious feeling thrilled him; and, unable to utter a word, he kept his eyes rivetted on the beautiful speaker.  She shook her head sadly, heaved a deep sigh, and went on:—­

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