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.

The Black Valley lay among the deepest recesses of the mountains.  What it is called now none can tell.  In those times it bore that name among the countrymen, on account of the deep gloom shed over it by many high trees, mostly pines.  Even the brook which gushed down between the cliffs was tinged with black, and never sparkled like the merry streams from which nothing intercepts the blue of heaven.  Now, in the dusk of twilight, it looked darker still as it gurgled between the rocks.  The Knight spurred his horse along its banks, now fearing to lose ground in his pursuit, and now again, that he might overlook the fugitive in her hiding-place, if he hurried past too swiftly.  He presently found himself far advanced in the valley, and hoped he must soon overtake her, if he were but in the right track.  Then again, the thought that it might be a wrong one roused the keenest anxiety in his breast.  Where was the tender Bertalda to lay her head, if he missed her in this bleak, stormy night, which was setting in, black and awful, upon the valley?  And now he saw something white gleaming through the boughs, on the slope of the mountain; he took it for Bertalda’s robe and made for it.  But the horse started back, and reared so obstinately that Huldbrand, impatient of delay, and having already found him difficult to manage among the brambles of the thicket, dismounted, and fastened the foaming steed to a tree; he then felt his way through the bushes on foot.  The boughs splashed his head and cheeks roughly with cold wet dew; far off, he heard the growl of thunder beyond the mountains, and the whole strange scene had such an effect upon him, that he became afraid of approaching the white figure, which he now saw lying on the ground at a short distance.  And yet he could distinguish it to be a woman, dressed in long white garments like Bertalda’s, asleep or in a swoon.  He came close to her, made the boughs rustle, and his sword ring—­but she stirred not.  “Bertalda!” cried he; first gently, then louder and louder—­in vain.  When at length he shouted the beloved name with the whole strength of his lungs, a faint mocking echo returned it from the cavities of the rocks—­“Bertalda!” but the sleeper awoke not.  He bent over her; but the gloom of the valley and the shades of night prevented his discerning her features.  At length, though kept back by some boding fears, he knelt down by her on the earth, and just then a flash of lightning lighted up the valley.  He saw a hideous distorted face close to his own, and heard a hollow voice say, “Give me a kiss, thou sweet shepherd!” With a cry of horror Huldbrand started up, and the monster after him.  “Go home!” it cried, “the bad spirits are abroad—­go home! or I have you!” and its long white arm nearly grasped him.  “Spiteful Kuehleborn,” cried the Knight, taking courage, “what matters it, I know thee, foul spirit!  There is a kiss for thee!” And he raised his sword furiously against the figure.  But it dissolved, and a drenching shower made it sufficiently

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