Grimm's Household Tales with the
translated by Margaret Hunt
A LITTLE brother and sister were
once playing by a well, and while they were thus playing, they both fell
in. A water-nix lived down below, who said, "Now I have got you,
now you shall work hard for me!" and carried them off with her. She
gave the girl dirty tangled flax to spin, and she had to fetch water in
a bucket with a hole in it, and the boy had to hew down a tree with a
blunt axe, and they got nothing to eat but dumplings as hard as stones.
Then at last the children became so impatient, that they waited until
one Sunday, when the nix was at church, and ran away. But when church
was over, the nix saw that the birds were flown, and followed them with
great strides. The children saw her from afar, and the girl threw a brush
behind her which formed an immense hill of bristles, with thousands and
thousands of spikes, over which the nix was forced to scramble with great
difficulty; at last, however, she got over. When the children saw this,
the boy threw behind him a comb which made a great hill of combs with
a thousand times a thousand teeth, but the nix managed to keep herself
steady on them, and at last crossed over that. Then the girl threw behind
her a looking-glass which formed a hill of mirrors, and was so slippery
that it was impossible for the nix to cross it. Then she thought, "I
will go home quickly and fetch my axe, and cut the hill of glass in half."
Long before she returned, however, and had hewn through the glass, the
children had escaped to a great distance, and the water-nix was obliged
to betake herself to her well again.
Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. Household Tales. Margaret Hunt, translator. London: George Bell, 1884, 1892. 2 volumes.
From Hanau. It is a pursuit of the children by the witch, as in the story of Dearest Roland No. 56; she is at the same time Frau Holle, and the wicked one who makes people spin entangled flax, and gives them stones to eat instead of food. For the whole, compare J. Grimm's Irmenstrasse.