Two Grimm Tales
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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.
At last the children became impatient. They waited till 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 and it 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 the nix 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 had to betake herself to her well again.
Once on a time the little hen went with the little cock to the nut-hill, and they agreed together that whichever of them found a kernel of a nut should share it with the other. Then the hen found a large, large nut, but said nothing about it, intending to eat the kernel herself. The kernel, however, was so large that she could not swallow it, and it remained sticking in her throat, so that she was alarmed lest she should be choked. Then she cried, "Cock, I entreat you to run as fast you can, and fetch me some water, or I shall choke."
The little cock did run as fast as he could to the spring, and said, "Stream, you are to give me some water; the little hen is lying on the nut-hill, and she has swallowed a large nut, and is choking."
The well answered, "First run to the bride, and get her to give you some red silk."
The little cock ran to the bride and said, "Bride, you are to give me some red silk; I want to give red silk to the well, the well is to give me some water, I am to take the water to the little hen who is lying on the nut-hill and has swallowed a great nut-kernel, and is choking with it."
The bride answered, "First run and bring me my little wreath which is hanging to a willow."
So the little cock ran to the willow, and drew the wreath from the branch and took it to the bride, and the bride gave him some water for it. Then the little cock took the water to the hen, but when he got there the hen had choked in the meantime, and lay there dead and motionless. Then the cock was so distressed that he cried aloud, and every animal came to lament the little hen, and six mice built a little carriage to carry her to her grave, and when the carriage was ready they harnessed themselves to it, and the cock drove.
On the way, however, they met the fox, who said, "Where are you going, little cock?"
"I am going to bury my little hen."
"May I drive with you?"
"Yes, but seat yourself at the back of the carriage, for in the front my little horses could not drag you."
Then the fox seated himself at the back, and after that the wolf, the bear, the stag, the lion, and all the beasts of the forest did the same. Then the procession went onwards, and they reached the stream.
"How are we to get over?" said the little cock.
A straw was lying by the stream, and it said, "I will lay myself across, and you shall drive over me."
But when the six mice came to the bridge, the straw slipped and fell into the water, and the six mice all fell in and were drowned.
Then they were again in difficulty, and a coal came and said, "I am large enough, I will lay myself across and you shall drive over me."
So the coal also laid itself across the water, but unhappily just touched it, on which the coal hissed, was extinguished and died. When a stone saw that, it took pity on the little cock, wished to help him, and laid itself over the water. Then the cock drew the carriage himself, but when he got it over and reached the other shore with the dead hen, and was about to draw over the others who were sitting behind as well, there were too many of them, the carriage ran back, and they all fell into the water together, and were drowned.
Then the little cock was left alone with the dead hen, and dug a grave for her and laid her in it, and made a mound above it, on which he sat down and fretted till he died too, and then every one was dead.
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