Two children play close to a well. When they fall in, they are captured by a water nixie…
The Water Nixie is a Brothers Grimm fairy tale about a brother and sister who fall in a well. They are captured by a water nixie and need to work for her. They escape and when she pursues them they create magical barriers from a brush, a comb, and a mirror, ending up free again.
Complete text The Water Nixie
A little brother and sister were once playing by a well. While they were 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!”
She 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. The boy had to hew down a tree with a blunt ax. They got nothing to eat but dumplings as hard as stones.
At last, the children became so impatient, that they waited until one Sunday when the nix was at church and ran away. When the church was over, the nix saw that the birds were flown, and followed them with great strides.
The children saw her from afar. The girl threw a brush behind her which formed an immense hill of bristles, with thousands and thousands of spikes. 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. The nix managed to keep herself steady on them, and at last crossed over.
Then the girl threw behind her a mirror which formed a hill of mirrors, so slippery that it was impossible for the nix to cross it.
She thought, “I will go home quickly and fetch my ax, 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. There was nothing left to do for the water nixie to return to her well again.
Tips for Telling The Water Nixie
- Not all your listeners will know what a water nixie is. To help them form an image it is best to describe it a little, but not too much. In this article on Wikipedia you can read more about water nixies and see some pictures.
- Take your time when describing the escape of the children. Something really magical happens, if you go to fast, it will lose the magic.
- I remember when I was a child, we had a well near our house. Are there still wells in your neighbourhood? No? Maybe then change the well to some kind of water that exists in your area.
All Questions Answered
It was published by the Brothers Grimm in the first edition of their Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Their source was Marie Hassenpflug.
The Brothers Grimm included it in the 1812 first edition of their Grimm’s fairy tales.
The fairy tale of the Water Nixie is also known as ‘The Water-Nix’.
A water nixie is a water spirit. They live in the water, look like humans but often have a merman/mermaid-like tail.
More Useful information
Photo credits: Theodor Kittelsen (Public Domain)
The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales on this website are based on the authentic translation of Margaret Hunt. They were edited and reformatted for pleasant reading and telling by Storyteller Rudolf Roos.
See the complete list of The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales (link to internationalstoryteller.com).