In fact, the whole valley was now heaving with waves, that had swollen rapidly to a great height. “This must be Kuehleborn, the wicked sprite, trying to drown us!” cried the Knight. “Have you no charm to keep him off, friend?”—“I do know of one,” said the driver, “but I can’t and won’t make use of it, till you know who I am.”—“Is this a time for riddles?” shouted the Knight; “the flood is rising every moment, and what care I to know who you are?”—“It rather concerns you, however, to know,” said the driver, “for I am Kuehleborn.” And he grinned hideously into the wagon—which was now a wagon no longer, nor were the horses horses; but all dissolved into foaming waves; the wagoner himself shot up into a giant Waterspout, bore down the struggling horse into the flood, and, towering over the heads of the hapless pair, till he had swelled into a watery fountain, he would have swallowed them up the next moment.
But now the sweet voice of Undine was heard above the wild uproar; the moon shone out between the clouds, and at the same instant Undine came into sight, upon the high grounds above them. She addressed Kuehleborn in a commanding tone, the huge wave laid itself down, muttering and murmuring; the waters rippled gently away in the moon’s soft light, and Undine alighted like a white dove from her airy height, and led them to a soft green spot on the hillside, where she refreshed their jaded spirits with choice food. She then helped Bertalda to mount her own white palfrey, and at length they all three reached the Castle of Ringstetten in safety.
XV.—THE TRIP TO VIENNA
For some time after this adventure they led a quiet and peaceful life in the castle. The Knight was deeply touched by his wife’s angelic goodness, so signally displayed by her pursuing and saving them in the Black Valley, where their lives were threatened by Kuehleborn. Undine herself was happy in the peace of an approving conscience; besides that, many a gleam of hope now brightened her path, as her husband’s love and confidence seemed to revive; Bertalda meanwhile was grateful, modest, and timid, without claiming any merit for being so. If either of her companions alluded to the sealing up of the fountain, or the adventures in the Black Valley, she would implore them to spare her on those subjects, because she could not think of the fountain without a blush, nor the valley without a shudder. She was therefore told nothing further; indeed, what would have been the use of enlightening her? Nothing could add to the peace and happiness which had taken up their abode in the Castle of Ringstetten; they enjoyed the present in full security, and the future lay before them, all blooming with fair fruits and flowers.