The Water Nixie

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

A little brother and little sister were playing by a well, and while they were playing there they both fell in. A water nixie was down there. She said, "Now I have you. Now you will have to work diligently for me," and she led them away with her.

She gave the girl tangled dirty flax to spin, and she had to fill a bottomless barrel with water. The boy had to chop down a tree with a dull ax, and all they got to eat were dumplings as hard as rocks.

Finally the children became so impatient, that they waited until one Sunday when the nixie was at church, and then ran away. When church was over, the nixie saw that the birds had flown away, and she followed them with long strides.

The children saw her from afar, and the girl threw a brush behind her, which turned into a large brush-mountain with thousands and thousands of spikes, which the nixie had to climb over with great difficulty, but she finally got to the other side.

When the children saw this the boy threw a comb behind him, which turned into a large comb-mountain with a thousand times a thousand teeth, but the nixie was able to keep hold of them, and finally got to the other side.

Then the girl threw a mirror behind her, which turned into a glass mountain, which was so slippery, so slippery that it was impossible for the nixie to climb over it.

Then she thought, "I will quickly go home and get my ax and chop the glass mountain in two."

However, by the time she returned and had chopped up the glass mountain, the children were far away and had escaped, so the water nixie had to trudge back to her well.

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Revised November 13, 2002.