A little brother and sister were once playing by a well, and while
they were thus playing, they both fell in. A water-nixie 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 nixie was at church, and ran away. But when church was over,
the nixie 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 nixie 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 ridge with a thousand times a thousand teeth, but the nixie managed to keep
herself steady on them, and at last crossed over. 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 nixie 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-nixie was obliged to
trundle back to her well again.