11. The Anniversary Of Bertalda's Name-Day
The company were sitting at dinner; Bertalda, looking like some goddess of spring with
her flowers and jewels, the presents of her foster-parents and friends, was placed between
Undine and Huldbrand. When the rich repast was ended, and the last course had
appeared, the doors were left open, according to a good old German custom, that the
common people might look on, and take part in the festivity of the nobles. Servants were
carrying round cake and wine among the spectators. Huldbrand and Bertalda were
waiting with secret impatience for the promised explanation, and sat with their eyes fixed
steadily on Undine. But the beautiful wife still continued silent, and only kept smiling to
herself with secret and hearty satisfaction. All who knew of the promise she had given
could see that she was every moment on the point of betraying her happy secret, and that
it was with a sort of longing renunciation that she withheld it, just as children sometimes
delay the enjoyment of their choicest morsels. Bertalda and Huldbrand shared this
delightful feeling, and expected with fearful hope the tidings which were to fall from the
lips of Undine. Several of the company pressed Undine to sing. The request seemed
opportune, and ordering her lute to be brought, she sang the following words:--
Bright opening day,
Wild flowers so gay,
Tall grasses their thirst that slake,
On the banks of the billowy lake!
What glimmers there so shining
The reedy growth entwining?
Is it a blossom white as snow
Fallen from heav'n here below?
It is an infant, frail and dear!
With flowerets playing in its dreams
And grasping morning's golden beams;
Oh! whence, sweet stranger, art thou here?
From some far-off and unknown strand,
The lake has borne thee to this land.
Nay, grasp not tender little one,
With thy tiny hand outspread;
No hand will meet thy touch with love,
Mute is that flowery bed.
The flowers can deck themselves so fair
And breathe forth fragrance blest,