Huldbrand and Bertalda waited with secret impatience for the promised explanation, and hardly moved their eyes from Undine. But she still continued silent, and merely smiled to herself with secret and heartfelt satisfaction. All who were made acquainted with the promise she had given could perceive that she was every moment on the point of revealing a happy secret; and yet, as children sometimes delay tasting their choicest dainties, she still withheld the communication. Bertalda and Huldbrand shared the same delightful feeling, while in anxious hope they were expecting the unknown disclosure which they were to receive from the lips of their friend.
At this moment several of the company pressed Undine to sing. This she seemed pleased at; and ordering her lute to be brought, she sang the following words:—
Wild-flowers so gay,
Where high grass so dewy
Crowns the wavy lake’s border.
On the meadow’s verdant bosom
What glimmers there so white?
Have wreaths of snowy blossoms,
Soft-floating, fallen from heaven?
Ah, see! a tender infant!—
It plays with flowers, unwittingly;
It strives to grasp morn’s golden beams.
O where, sweet stranger, where’s your home?
Afar from unknown shores
The waves have wafted hither
This helpless little one.
clasp not, tender darling,
With tiny hand the flowers!
No hand returns the pressure,
The flowers are strange and mute.
clothe themselves in beauty,
They breathe a rich perfume:
But cannot fold around you
A mother’s loving arms;—
Far, far away that mother’s fond embrace.
early dawn just opening faint,
Your eye yet beaming heaven’s own smile,
So soon your tenderest guardians gone;
Severe, poor child, your fate,—
All, all to you unknown.
noble duke has crossed the mead,
And near you checked his steed’s career:
Wonder and pity touch his heart;
With knowledge high, and manners pure,
He rears you,—makes his castle home your own.
great, how infinite your gain!
Of all the land you bloom the loveliest;
Yet, ah! the priceless blessing,
The bliss of parents’ fondness,
You left on strands unknown!”
Undine let fall her lute with a melancholy smile. The eyes of Bertalda’s noble foster-parents were filled with tears.