NIXIE OF THE MILL POND
There was once upon a time a miller who lived with his wife in great contentment. They had money and land, and their prosperity increased year by year more and more. But ill luck comes like a thief in the night. As their wealth had increased so did it again decrease, year by year, and at last the miller could hardly call the mill in which he lived, his own. He was in great distress, and when he lay down after his day's work, found no rest, but tossed about in his bed, sorely troubled.
One morning he rose before daybreak and went out into the
open air, thinking that perhaps there his heart might become lighter. As he was stepping
over the mill-dam the first sunbeam was just breaking forth, and he heard a rippling sound
in the pond. He
Be easy, answered the nixie, I will make you richer and
happier than you have ever been
In the meantime prosperity again returned to the miller's
house. All that he undertook succeeded. It was as if presses and coffers filled themselves
of their own accord, and as if money multiplied nightly in the cupboards. It was not long
before his wealth was greater than it had ever been before. But he could not rejoice over
it untroubled, for the bargain which he had made with the nixie tormented his soul.
Whenever he passed the mill-pond, he feared she might ascend and remind him of his debt.
He never let the
Beware, he said to him, if youdo but touch the water, a hand will rise, seize you, and draw you down. But as year after year went by and the nixie did not show herself again, the miller began to feel at ease.
The boy grew up to be a youth and was apprenticed to a
huntsman. When he had
One day the huntsman was chasing a roe. And when the
animal turned aside from the forest into the open country, he pursued it and at last shot
it. He did not notice that he was now in the neighborhood of the dangerous mill-pond, and
went, after he had disembowelled the roe, to the water, in order to wash his blood-stained
hands. Scarcely, however, had he dipped them in than the nixie ascended, smilingly wound
When it was evening, and the huntsman did not return
home, his wife became alarmed. She went out to seek him, and as he had often told her that
he had to be on his guard against the snares of the nixie, and dared not venture into the
neighborhood of the mill-pond, she already suspected what had happened. She hastened to
the water, and
The surface of the water remained calm, only the crescent
moon stared steadily back at
The old woman received her kindly, and pointed out a chair on which she might sit. You must have met with a misfortune, she said, since you have sought out my lonely cottage. With tears, the woman related what had befallen her. Be comforted, said the old woman, I will help you. Here is a golden comb for you. Tarry till the full moon has risen, then go to the mill-pond, seat yourself on the shore, and comb your long black hair with this comb. When you have done, lay it down on the bank, and you will see what will happen.
The woman returned home, but the time till the full moon
came, passed slowly. When at last the shining disc appeared in the heavens, she went out
to the mill-pond, sat down and combed her long black hair with the golden comb, and when
she had finished, she laid
Next morning she again set out and complained of her woes to the wise woman. The old woman gave her a golden flute, and said, tarry till the full moon comes again, then take this flute. Play a beautiful air on it, and when you have finished, lay it on the sand. Then you will see what will happen. The wife did as the old woman told her. No sooner was the flute lying on the sand than there was a stirring in the depths, and a wave rushed up and bore the flute away with it. Immediately afterwards the water parted, and not only the head of the man, but half of his body also arose. He stretched out his arms longingly towards her, but a second wave came up, covered him, and drew him down again. Alas, what does it help me, said the unhappy woman, that I should see my beloved, only to lose him again.
Despair filled her heart anew, but the dream led her a
third time to the house of the old woman. She set out, and the wise woman gave her a
golden spinning-wheel, consoled her and said, all is not yet fulfilled, tarry until the
time of the full moon, then take the spinning-wheel, seat yourself on the shore, and spin
the spool full, and when you have done that, place the spinning-wheel near the water, and
you will see what will happen.
He quickly sprang to the shore, caught his wife by the
hand and fled. But they had scarcely gone a very little distance, when the whole pond rose
with a frightful roar, and streamed out over the open country. The fugitives already saw
death before their eyes, when the woman in her terror implored the help of the old woman,
and in an instant they were transformed, she into a toad, he into a frog. The flood which
had overtaken them could not destroy them, but it tore them apart and carried them far
When the water had dispersed and they both touched dry
land again, they regained their human form, but neither knew where the other was. They
found themselves among strange people, who did not know their native land. High mountains
and deep valleys lay
When spring had once more broken forth on the earth, they both went out one day with their flocks, and as chance would have it, they drew near each other. They met in a valley, but did not recognize each other. Yet they rejoiced that they were no longer so lonely. Henceforth they each day drove their flocks to the same place. They did not speak much, but they felt comforted.
One evening when the full moon was shining in the sky,
and the sheep were already at rest, the shepherd pulled the flute out of his pocket, and
played on it a beautiful but