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Undine

1. How The Knight Came To The Fisherman
There was once, it may be now many hundred years ago, a good old fisherman, who was
sitting one fine evening before his door, mending his nets. The part of the country in
which he lived was extremely pretty. The greensward, on which his cottage stood, ran far
into the lake, and it seemed as if it was from love for the blue clear waters that the tongue
of land had stretched itself out into them, while with an equally fond embrace the lake
had encircled the green pasture rich with waving grass and flowers, and the refreshing
shade of trees. The one welcomed the other, and it was just this that made each so
beautiful. There were indeed few human beings, or rather none at all, to be met with on
this pleasant spot, except the fisherman and his family. For at the back of this little
promontory there lay a very wild forest, which, both from its gloom and pathless solitude
as well as from the wonderful creatures and illusions with which it was said to abound,
was avoided by most people except in cases of necessity.
The pious old fisherman, however, passed through it many a time undisturbed, when he
was taking the choice fish, which he had caught at his beautiful home, to a large town
situated not far from the confines of the forest. The principal reason why it was so easy
for him to pass through this forest was because the tone of his thoughts was almost
entirely of a religious character, and besides this, whenever he set foot upon the evil
reputed shades, he was wont to sing some holy song, with a clear voice and a sincere
heart.
While sitting over his nets this evening, unsuspicious of any evil, a sudden fear came
upon him, at the sound of a rustling in the gloom of the forest, as of a horse and rider, the
noise approaching nearer and nearer to the little promontory. All that he had dreamed, in
many a stormy night, of the mysteries of the forest, now flashed at once through his
mind; foremost of all, the image of a gigantic snow-white man, who kept unceasingly
nodding his head in a portentous manner. Indeed, when he raised his eyes toward the
wood it seemed to him as if he actually saw the nodding man approaching through the
dense foliage. He soon, however, reassured himself, reflecting that nothing serious had
ever befallen him even in the forest itself, and that upon this open tongue of land the evil
spirit would be still less daring in the exercise of his power. At the same time he repeated
aloud a text from the Bible with all his heart, and this so inspired him with courage that
he almost smiled at the illusion he had allowed to possess him. The white nodding man
was suddenly transformed into a brook long familiar to him, which ran foaming from the
forest and discharged itself into the lake. The noise, however, which he had heard, was
caused by a knight beautifully apparelled, who, emerging from the deep shadows of the
wood, came riding toward the cottage. A scarlet mantle was thrown over his purple gold-
embroidered doublet; a red and violet plume waved from his golden-colored head-gear;
and a beautifully and richly ornamented sword flashed from his shoulder-belt. The white
steed that bore the knight was more slenderly formed than war-horses generally are, and
 
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