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.
that all?” cried an obsequious attendant, and slipped out of the room.  “Why, she will not be so mad,” asked Bertalda in a tone of complacent surprise, “as to make them raise the stone this very night?” And now she heard men’s footsteps crossing the court; and on looking down from her window, she saw the officious handmaid conducting them straight to the fountain; they carried levers and other tools upon their shoulders.  “Well, it is my will to be sure,” said Bertalda, smiling, “provided they are not too long about it.”  And, elated by the thought that a hint from her could now effect what had once been denied to her entreaties, she watched the progress of the work in the moonlit court below.

The men began straining themselves to lift the huge stone; occasionally a sigh was heard, as someone recollected that they were now reversing their dear lady’s commands.  But the task proved lighter than they had expected.  Some power from beneath seemed to second their efforts, and help the stone upward.  “Why!” said the astonished workmen to each other, “it feels as if the spring below had turned into a waterspout.”  More and more did the stone heave, till, without any impulse from the men it rolled heavily along the pavement with a hollow sound.  But, from the mouth of the spring arose, slowly and solemnly, what looked like a column of water; at first they thought so, but presently saw that it was no waterspout, but the figure of a pale woman, veiled in white.  She was weeping abundantly, wringing her hands and clasping them over her head, while she proceeded with slow and measured step toward the castle.  The crowd of servants fell back from the spot; while, pale and aghast, the bride and her women looked on from the window.

When the figure had arrived just under that window, she raised her tearful face for a moment, and Bertalda thought she recognised Undine’s pale features through the veil.  The shadowy form moved on slowly and reluctantly, like one sent to execution.  Bertalda screamed out that the Knight must be called; no one durst stir a foot, and the bride herself kept silence, frightened at the sound of her own voice.

While these remained at the window, as if rooted to the spot, the mysterious visitor had entered the castle, and passed up the well-known stairs, and through the familiar rooms, still weeping silently.  Alas! how differently had she trodden those floors in days gone by!

The Knight had now dismissed his train; half-undressed, and in a dejected mood, he was standing near a large mirror, by the light of a dim taper.  He heard the door tapped by a soft, soft touch.  It was thus Undine had been wont to knock, when she meant to steal upon him playfully.  “It is all fancy!” thought he.  “The bridal bed awaits me.”—­“Yes, but it is a cold one,” said a weeping voice from without; and the mirror then showed him the door opening slowly, and the white form coming in, and closing the door gently behind her.  “They have opened the

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