Undine HTML version

2. In What Way Undine Had Come To The Fisherman
Huldbrand and the fisherman sprang from their seats and were on the point of following
the angry girl. Before they reached the cottage door, however, Undine had long vanished
in the shadowy darkness without, and not even the sound of her light footstep betrayed
the direction of her flight. Huldbrand looked inquiringly at his host; it almost seemed to
him as if the whole sweet apparition, which had suddenly merged again into the night,
were nothing else than one of that band of the wonderful forms which had, but a short
time since, carried on their pranks with him in the forest. But the old man murmured
between his teeth: "This is not the first time that she has treated us in this way. Now we
have aching hearts and sleepless eyes the whole night through; for who knows, that she
may not some day come to harm, if she is thus out alone in the dark until daylight."
"Then let us for God's sake follow her," cried Huldbrand, anxiously.
"What would be the good of it?" replied the old man. "It would be a sin were I to allow
you, all alone, to follow the foolish girl in the solitary night, and my old limbs would not
overtake the wild runaway, even if we knew in what direction she had gone."
"We had better at any rate call after her, and beg her to come back," said Huldbrand; and
he began to call in the most earnest manner: "Undine! Undine! Pray come back!" The old
man shook his head, saying, that all that shouting would help but little, for the knight had
no idea how self-willed the little truant was. But still he could not forbear often calling
out with him in the dark night: "Undine! Ah! dear Undine, I beg you to come back--only
this once!"
It turned out, however, as the fisherman had said. No Undine was to be heard or seen, and
as the old man would on no account consent that Huldbrand should go in search of the
fugitive, they were at last both obliged to return to the cottage. Here they found the fire
on the hearth almost gone out, and the old wife, who took Undine's flight and danger far
less to heart than her husband, had already retired to rest. The old man blew up the fire,
laid some dry wood on it, and by the light of the flame sought out a tankard of wine,
which he placed between himself and his guest. "You, sir knight," said he, "are also
anxious about that silly girl, and we would both rather chatter and drink away a part of
the night than keep turning round on our rush mats trying in vain to sleep. Is it not so?"
Huldbrand was well satisfied with the plan; the fisherman obliged him to take the seat of
honor vacated by the good old housewife, and both drank and talked together in a manner
becoming two honest and trusting men. It is true, as often as the slightest thing moved
before the windows, or even at times when nothing was moving, one of the two would
look up and say: "She is coming!" Then they would be silent for a moment or two, and as
nothing appeared, they would shake their heads and sigh and go on with their talk.