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Friedrich de la Motte Fouque
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4. Of That Which The Knight Encountered In The Wood
"It is now about eight days ago since I rode into the free imperial city, which lies on the
other side of the forest. Soon after my arrival, there was a splendid tournament and
running at the ring, and I spared neither my horse nor my lance. Once when I was
pausing at the lists, to rest after my merry toil, and was handing back my helmet to one of
my squires, my attention was attracted by a female figure of great beauty, who was
standing richly attired on one of the galleries allotted to spectators."
"I asked my neighbor, and learned from him, that the name of the fair lady was Bertalda,
and that she was the foster-daughter of one of the powerful dukes living in the country. I
remarked that she also was looking at me, and, as it is wont to be with us young knights, I
had already ridden bravely, and now pursued my course with renovated confidence and
courage. In the dance that evening I was Bertalda's partner, and I remained so throughout
A sharp pain in his left hand, which hung down by his side, here interrupted Huldbrand's
narrative, and drew his attention to the aching part. Undine had fastened her pearly teeth
upon one of his fingers, appearing at the same time very gloomy and angry. Suddenly,
however, she looked up in his eyes with an expression of tender melancholy, and
whispered in a soft voice: "It is your own fault." Then she hid her face, and the knight,
strangely confused and thoughtful, continued his narrative.
"This Bertalda was a haughty, wayward girl. Even on the second day she pleased me no
longer as she had done on the first, and on the third day still less. Still I continued about
her, because she was more pleasant to me than to any other knight, and thus it was that I
begged her in jest to give me one of her gloves. 'I will give it you when you have quite
alone explored the ill-famed forest,' said she, 'and can bring me tidings of its wonders.' It
was not that her glove was of such importance to me, but the word had been said, and an
honorable knight would not allow himself to be urged a second time to such a proof of
"I think she loved you," said Undine, interrupting him.
"It seemed so," replied Huldbrand.
"Well," exclaimed the girl, laughing, "she must be stupid indeed. To drive away any one
dear to her. And moreover, into an ill-omened wood. The forest and its mysteries might
have waited long enough for me!"
"Yesterday morning." continued the knight, smiling kindly at Undine, "I set out on my
enterprise. The stems of the trees caught the red tints of the morning light which lay
brightly on the green turf, the leaves seemed whispering merrily with each other, and in