Kuhleborn had meanwhile approached her, and was about to reprove her for weeping, when she drew herself up, and looked upon him with an air so majestic and commanding, that he almost shrank back.
“Although I now dwell here beneath the waters,” said she, “yet I have brought my soul with me. And therefore I may weep, little as you can know what such tears are. They are blessed, as everything is blessed to one gifted with a true soul.”
He shook his head incredulously; and after some thought, replied, “And yet, niece, you are subject to our laws, as a being of the same nature with ourselves; and should he prove unfaithful to you and marry again, you are obliged to take away his life.”
“He remains a widower to this very hour,” replied Undine, “and I am still dear to his sorrowful heart.”
“He is, however, betrothed,” said Kuhleborn, with a laugh of scorn; “and let only a few days wear away, and then comes the priest with his nuptial blessing; and then you must go up to the death of the husband with two wives.”
“I have not the power,” returned Undine, with a smile. “I have sealed up the fountain securely against myself and all of my race.”
“Still, should he leave his castle,” said Kuhleborn, “or should he once allow the fountain to be uncovered, what then? for he thinks little enough of these things.”
“For that very reason,” said Undine, still smiling amid her tears, “for that very reason he is at this moment hovering in spirit over the Mediterranean Sea, and dreaming of the warning which our discourse gives him. I thoughtfully planned all this.”
That instant, Kuhleborn, inflamed with rage, looked up at the knight, wrathfully threatened him, stamped on the ground, and then shot like an arrow beneath the waves. He seemed to swell in his fury to the size of a whale. Again the swans began to sing, to wave their wings and fly; the knight seemed to soar away over mountains and streams, and at last to alight at Castle Ringstetten, and to awake on his couch.
Upon his couch he actually did awake; and his attendant entering at the same moment, informed him that Father Heilmann was still lingering in the neighbourhood; that he had the evening before met with him in the forest, where he was sheltering himself under a hut, which he had formed by interweaving the branches of trees, and covering them with moss and fine brushwood; and that to the question “What he was doing there, since he would not give the marriage blessing?” his answer was—
“There are many other blessings than those given at marriages; and though I did not come to officiate at the wedding, I may still officiate at a very different solemnity. All things have their seasons; we must be ready for them all. Besides, marrying and mourning are by no means so very unlike; as every one not wilfully blinded must know full well.”
The knight made many bewildered reflections on these words and on his dream. But it is very difficult to give up a thing which we have once looked upon as certain; so all continued as had been arranged previously.