The Nixie of the Mill-Pond
"The Nixie of the Mill-Pond" is a German fairy tale. The Brothers Grimm collected in their Grimm's Fairy Tales, as tale number 181. Andrew Lang included a version in The Yellow Fairy Book, citing his source Hermann Kletke and titling it The Nixy.
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A miller became poor as custom no longer favored the watermill. A nixie appeared to him with the boon of returning him to a man of means if he yielded to her in troth, that which had just been birthed within the bounds of his house and home. Thinking it a trifle, but a kitten or a puppy, he trothed. In truth, he returned home to find his wife cradling a newborn in comfort. The miller's wife had just birthed their new son through a hard labor. Bound in troth, blessed with a newborn son, he never let the boy go near the millpond lest the trixy nixie settle account, leaving him with nix and naught bar the means for which he was bound.
The boy grew up into the world of adulthood and became a hunter, a hunter skilled enough to be taken into a lord's service. Taken into service thus, he betrothed and later wed. The day dawned true and bright, yielding to a warm afternoon. In the afternoon a strong deer gave chase. Long, long went the pursuit before the hunter brought it down. Upon dusk the hunter went to freshen in the millpond. In the twilight, the nixie seized him, drawing him down, down into the cold millpond's unknowable depths.
His wife searched everywhere in the dark of night, searching for her husband with the light of the moon, calling and weeping from her heart all the time for her lost husband, her lost husband who had in truth failed by sundown to return to hearth. She continuing weeping and calling all the while for her lost husband, searching everywhere that is, except the millpond. Weeping and calling for her husband, she neither saw nor heard anything as neither the millpond nor the watermill were milling. Spent, she fell asleep and dreamt of climbing a nearby mountain and finding an old woman.
Upon waking, she ascended the mountain of which she had dreamt, and there was an old woman. The woman gave her a golden comb and instructed her to comb her hair by the pond whilst thinking of her husband and then when finished, to lay the golden comb upon the sand. This the man's wife did. As the nixie stole the comb her husband's head emerged from the millpond. The man's wife returned to the old woman of the mountain who gave her a golden flute, bidding her play and to do the same with the golden flute as she had done with the golden comb. The woman returned to the millpond and did as she was bidden, to play whilst thinking of her husband. Leaving the flute on the sand upon finishing the golden song of her heart, the nixie looted a second time. As the flute submerged, half her husband's body emerged.
The third time, she received a golden spinning wheel from the old woman; upon the nixie's procuring of the spinning wheel of gold, her husband emerged completely from the millpond, and he stole his wife's hand with view for escape, to get far away from the millpond. Tempestuous, the nixie tried to drown them, but the man's wife called upon the old woman of the mountain, who turned her into a toad and him into a frog. The ensuing flood of the nixie's wrath sundered them. They regained their human forms on dry land, but far, far apart.
Time passed as time does and many things changed. They both became shepherds. Fortune's turning favored a reconciliation. Without either recognizing the other they met tending their herds. The old man played a tune on his flute that she remembered, it was the same tune she played to him on the magical golden flute, the flute now lost and treasured with loot of the nixie. She wept as he recognized her and his tears of joy ran together with hers as they kissed.
- Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Grimm's Fairy Tales
- Andrew Lang, The Yellow Fairy Book