“Heavily must the soul weigh down its possessor,” she pursued, when no one returned her any answer—“very heavily! for already its approaching image overshadows me with anguish and mourning. And, alas, I have till now been so merry and light-hearted!” and she burst into another flood of tears, and covered her face with her veil.
The priest, going up to her with a solemn look, now addressed himself to her, and conjured her, by the name of God most holy, if any spirit of evil possessed her, to remove the light covering from her face. But she sank before him on her knees, and repeated after him every sacred expression he uttered, giving praise to God, and protesting “that she wished well to the whole world.”
The priest then spoke to the knight: “Sir bridegroom, I leave you alone with her whom I have united to you in marriage. So far as I can discover, there is nothing of evil in her, but assuredly much that is wonderful. What I recommend to you is—prudence, love, and fidelity.”
Thus speaking, he left the apartment; and the fisherman, with his wife, followed him, crossing themselves.
Undine had sunk upon her knees. She uncovered her face, and exclaimed, while she looked fearfully round upon Huldbrand, “Alas! you will now refuse to look upon me as your own; and still I have done nothing evil, poor unhappy child that I am!” She spoke these words with a look so infinitely sweet and touching, that her bridegroom forgot both the confession that had shocked, and the mystery that had perplexed him; and hastening to her, he raised her in his arms. She smiled through her tears; and that smile was like the morning light playing upon a small stream. “You cannot desert me!” she whispered confidingly, and stroked the knight’s cheeks with her little soft hands. He turned away from the frightful thoughts that still lurked in the recesses of his soul, and were persuading him that he had been married to a fairy, or some spiteful and mischievous being of the spirit-world. Only the single question, and that almost unawares, escaped from his lips.
“Dearest Undine, tell me this one thing: what was it you meant by ‘spirits of earth’ and ‘Kuhleborn,’ when the priest stood knocking at the door?”
“Tales! mere tales of children!” answered Undine, laughing, now quite restored to her wonted gaiety. “I first frightened you with them, and you frightened me. This is the end of the story, and of our nuptial evening.”
“Nay, not so,” replied the enamoured knight, extinguishing the tapers, and a thousand times kissing his beautiful and beloved bride; while, lighted by the moon that shone brightly through the windows, he bore her into their bridal apartment.