The Water Nixie

When my mom was little she had a bunch of records of narrated stories. She hung on to them and when I was little she played them for me. I loved them. There was one with Hans Christian Anderson stories told in song, another one that told Snow White and the Seven Dwarves acted out by different voice actors. My favorite, however, was Grimm’s Fairy Tales told by Danny Kaye:


The stories told were some of the “lesser known” ones: Clever Gretel, Water Nixie, The Bean, the Straw and the Coal. The Musicians of Bremen, The Fox and the Geese, Rumpelstilskin, Sweet Porridge. Danny Kaye told them with hilarious dramatic flair using voices that drew me in and created such beautiful visuals for me. I loved these stories so much that my mom transcribed them for me in a little book. It was covered in fabric that had tiny red and blue flowers on a yellow background. As much as I loved listening to the records I loved more when my mom read them to me out of this little book. My favorite on the record was Clever Gretel.

My favorite that my mom read was The Water Nixie:

Long ago in another land a thousand miles away

A brother and sister went to the woods to play.

And as they played they came upon an old enchanted well

All overgrown with vines and moss and so, of course, they fell.

The well was deep, the sides were steep and down and down they dropped

Until they reached the bottom and into the water plopped!

Now here and there lived a nixie, a lazy water elf,

Who laughed and said, “You’ll do the work I used to do meself.”

She gave the girl some tangled flax and made her sit and spin it

And carry water in a can that had no bottom in it!

She gave the boy a heavy ax, as dull as it could be,

And made him chop her kindling from the very hardest tree!

She gave them sour dumplings (but only one a day)

And the boy said to his sister, “We’ll have to run away!”

“We’ll leave on Sunday morning when the nixie goes to church,

Then we’ll be gone an hour before she starts to search!”

And so they ran away.

And of course the nixie was furious when she returned

and she angrily set out after them.

She soon caught sight of the runaway two

And took up the chase as a nixie can do

By taking great strides that covered great stretches

While shrieking, “Come back her, you ungrateful retches!!”

But the girl dropped a brush that had magical bristles

That surrounded the nixie with acres of thistles.

And the boy dropped a comb that was magical too

Whose teeth became thorns, but the nixie came through.

Then the girl dropped a mirror, the most magical of all,

And it grew into a mountain range so shiny smooth and tall

And so slippery that the nixie could not climb its glassy sides

For she slipped each time she tried to take her giant nixie stride!

The the mountain grew much steeper, really quite remarkable

And for every forward step she took, the nixie slid back three.

So the children escaped…

And the Nixie?


Why the more she tried to climb

The more she slipped and slid and fell

And finally came tumbling down

And landed in her well.

The End

It’s a simple enough story but the way my mom told it transformed it into something I would remember for years. I still have it memorized, as you can see, and I now tell Jaden the story and she loves it too. One thing I wish I had, well two things really, is a recording of the original record but mostly I wish my mom had recorded her telling me the stories I loved so much.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and I think I’m going to record some of Jaden’s favorite stories so she can listen to them whenever she wants and then as Jonas gets older, he can enjoy them.

And then, if they have kids of their own maybe they will share them with their children.


One Response

  1. That certainly is a different story from the one I remember, but I love all the kiddies stories that are in rhyme, they’re that much easier to read to them, kinda in a sing-song voice lol

    I think it’s a terrific idea that you’re going to record yourself reading these stories….when I read that I was sitting here thinking “Now I wish I’d thought of something like that!”

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