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.

But no sooner were her eyes closed, than everyone in the boat thought he saw, just opposite his own eyes, a terrific human head rising above the water; not like the head of a swimmer, but planted upright on the surface of the river, and keeping pace with the boat.  Each turned to his neighbour to show him the cause of his terror, and found him looking equally frightened, but pointing in a different direction, where the half-laughing, half-scowling goblin met his eyes.  When at length they tried to explain the matter to each other, crying out, “Look there; no, there!” each of them suddenly perceived the other’s phantom, and the water round the boat appeared all alive with ghastly monsters.  The cry which burst from every mouth awakened Undine.  Before the light of her beaming eyes the horde of misshapen faces vanished.  But Huldbrand was quite exasperated by these fiendish tricks and would have burst into loud imprecations, had not Undine whispered in the most beseeching manner, “For God’s sake, my own lord, be patient now; remember we are on the water.”  The Knight kept down his anger, and soon sank into thought.  Presently Undine whispered to him:  “My love, had not we better give up the foolish journey, and go home to Ringstetten in comfort?” But Huldbrand muttered angrily, “Then I am to be kept a prisoner in my own castle? and even there I may not breathe freely unless the fountain is sealed up?  Would to Heaven the absurd connection”—­But Undine pressed her soft hand gently upon his lips.  And he held his peace, and mused upon all she had previously told him.

In the meantime, Bertalda had yielded herself up to many and strange reflections.  She knew something of Undine’s origin, but not all! and Kuehleborn in particular was only a fearful but vague image in her mind; she had not even once heard his name.  And as she pondered these wonderful subjects, she half unconsciously took off a golden necklace which Huldbrand had bought for her of a travelling jeweller a few days before; she held it close to the surface of the river playing with it, and dreamily watching the golden gleam that it shed on the glassy water.  Suddenly a large hand came up out of the Danube, snatched the necklace, and ducked under with it.  Bertalda screamed aloud, and was answered by a laugh of scorn from the depths below.  And now the Knight could contain himself no longer.  Starting up, he gave loose to his fury, loading with imprecations those who chose to break into his family and private life, and challenging them—­were they goblins or sirens—­to meet his good sword.  Bertalda continued to weep over the loss of her beloved jewel, and her tears were as oil to the flames of his wrath, while Undine kept her hand dipped into the water with a ceaseless low murmur, only once or twice interrupting her mysterious whispers to say to her husband in tones of entreaty, “Dearest love, speak not roughly to me here; say whatever you will, only spare me here; you know why!” and he still restrained his tongue

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