Undine HTML version

7. What Further Happened On The Evening Of The
Both before and during the ceremony, Undine had shown herself gentle and quiet; but it
now seemed as if all the wayward humors which rioted within her, burst forth all the
more boldly and unrestrainedly. She teased her bridegroom and her foster-parents, and
even the holy man whom she had so lately reverenced, with all sorts of childish tricks;
and when the old woman was about to reprove her, she was quickly silenced by a few
grave words from the knight, speaking of Undine now as his wife. Nevertheless, the
knight himself was equally little pleased with Undine's childish behavior: but no signs,
and no reproachful words were of any avail. It is true, whenever the bride noticed her
husband's dissatisfaction--and this occurred occasionally--she became more quiet, sat
down by his side, caressed him, whispered something smilingly into his ear, and
smoothed the wrinkles that were gathering on his brow. But immediately afterward, some
wild freak would again lead her to return to her ridiculous proceedings, and matters
would be worse than before. At length the priest said in a serious and kind tone: "My fair
young maiden, no one indeed can look at you without delight; but remember so to attune
your soul betimes, that it may ever harmonize with that of your wedded husband."
"Soul!" said Undine, laughing; "that sounds pretty enough, and may be a very edifying
and useful caution for most people. But when one hasn't a soul at all, I beg you, what is
there to attune then? and that is my case." The priest was silent and deeply wounded, and
with holy displeasure he turned his face from the girl. She, however, went up to him
caressingly, and said: "No! listen to me first, before you look angry, for your look of
anger gives me pain, and you must not give pain to any creature who has done you no
wrong--only have patience with me, and I will tell you properly what I mean."
It was evident that she was preparing herself to explain something in detail, but suddenly
she hesitated, as if seized with an inward shuddering, and burst out into a flood of tears.
They none of them knew what to make of this ebullition, and filled with various
apprehensions they gazed at her in silence. At length, wiping away her tears, and looking
earnestly at the reverend man, she said: "There must be something beautiful, but at the
same time extremely awful, about a soul. Tell me, holy sir, were it not better that we
never shared such a gift?" She was silent again as if waiting for an answer, and her tears
had ceased to flow. All in the cottage had risen from their seats and had stepped back
from her with horror. She, however, seemed to have eyes for no one but the holy man;
her features wore an expression of fearful curiosity, which appeared terrible to those who
saw her. "The soul must be a heavy burden," she continued, as no one answered her,
"very heavy! for even its approaching image overshadows me with anxiety and sadness.
And, ah! I was so light-hearted and so merry till now!" And she burst into a fresh flood of
tears, and covered her face with the drapery she wore. Then the priest went up to her with
a solemn air, and spoke to her, and conjured her by the name of the Most Holy to cast
aside the veil that enveloped her, if any spirit of evil possessed her. But she sank on her