The water-nix



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.
从前有兄妹两人在井边玩耍,不小心掉进了井里。 下面住着一个女水妖,把他们抓了去,说:"现在你们可是在我的手里了,替我好好干活吧!"她给小姑娘一把乱糟糟的脏亚麻要她纺,给她一个漏了的水桶要她打水;男孩子则被迫去砍伐木头,可斧子是钝的,根本砍不动树。 至于吃的,除了像石头一般硬的面疙瘩就再也没有别的了。 孩子们忍无可忍,在一个星期天,趁水妖上教堂的工夫,兄妹俩悄悄地溜走了。 水妖从教堂回来,发现小鸟们飞走了,撒腿就追。
远远看到水妖追来,姑娘便朝身后扔了一把刷子,刷子顿时变成了一座长满荆棘的大山,水妖只好艰难地往上爬,终于爬过来了。 孩子们一看不好,男孩又扔出一把梳子,那梳子顿时变成成千上万颗牙齿,可是水妖还是稳稳当当地跨过来了。 小姑娘又扔了一块镜子,镜子变成一座光滑的山峰,任水妖怎么爬也难以爬上来。 水妖想:"还是快些回家象把斧子来把这玻璃山砍成两半吧。"可是等她取来斧子把玻璃山砍开时,小兄妹早已逃得远远的了。 女水妖只好又回到井里去了。

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