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.

“Kuehleborn?” said Huldbrand to his wife with a suppressed shudder, as they walked home through the dark streets.  “Yes, it was he,” replied Undine “and he tried to put all sorts of nonsense into my head.  However, without intending it he delighted me by one piece of news.  If you wish to hear it, now, my kind lord, you have but to say so, and I will tell you every word.  But if you like to give your Undine a very great delight, you will wait two days, and then have your share in the surprise.”

The Knight readily granted her what she had asked so meekly and gracefully; and as she dropped asleep she murmured, “How it will delight her! how little she expects such a message from the mysterious man—­dear, dear Bertalda!”

XI.—­BERTALDA’S BIRTHDAY

The guests were now assembled at table; Bertalda sat at the top, adorned with flowers like the goddess of spring, and flashing with jewels, the gifts of many friends and relations.  Undine and Huldbrand were on either side of her.  When the sumptuous meal was ended, and the dessert served, the doors were opened—­according to the good old German custom—­to let the common people look in and have their share in the gaiety of the rich.  The attendants offered wine and cake to the assembled crowd.  Huldbrand and Bertalda were eagerly watching for the promised disclosure, and both kept their eyes fixed upon Undine.  But she was still silent; her cheeks dimpled occasionally with a bright, conscious smile.  Those that knew what she was about to do, could perceive that her interesting secret was ready to burst from her lips, but that she was playfully determined to keep it in, as children sometimes will save their daintiest morsels for the last.  Her silent glee communicated itself to the other two, who watched impatiently for the happy news that was about to gladden their hearts.  Some of the company now asked Undine for a song.  She seemed to be prepared with one, and sent for her lute, to which she sang as follows:—­

The sun gilds the wave,
  The flowers are sweet,
And the ocean doth lave
  The grass at our feet!

What lies on the earth
  So blooming and gay? 
Doth a blossom peep forth
  And greet the new day?

Ah, ’tis a fair child! 
  She sports with the flowers,
So gladsome and mild,
  Through the warm sunny hours

O sweet one, who brought thee? 
  From far distant shore
Old Ocean he caught thee,
  And many a league bore.

Poor babe, all in vain
  Thou dost put forth thy hand
None clasp it again,
  ’Tis a bleak foreign land: 

The flowers bloom brightly,
  And soft breathes the air,
But all pass thee lightly: 
  Thy mother is far!

Thy life scarce begun,
  Thy smiles fresh from heaven,
Thy best treasure is gone,
  To another ’tis given.

A gallant charger treads the dell,
  His noble rider pities thee;
He takes thee home, he tends thee well,
  And cares for thee right gen’rously.

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