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A miller's riches are declining, so he makes a bargain with a nixie (a beautiful water spirit) for wealth in exchange for whatever has just been born in his house.
Poor guy, it wasn't a puppy or kitten or whatever, but his baby son. He never lets his son near the water for fear of the nixie.
The boy grows up, becomes a hunter, and marries. One day he's careless while pursuing a deer, and gets too close to the millpond, so the nixie snatches him away.
His wife suspects what happened, so she goes to the pond but can't figure out how to get him back. In a dream, she sees an old woman who advises her on how to retrieve her husband.
The wife obtains magical items (a golden comb, a golden a flute, and a golden spinning wheel) that cause the waters to part on the full moon, revealing her husband inside the water.
The third time this happens, he's able to leap out and they run away.
A giant wave comes after them, but the kind old woman helps them escape. They are swept away to a new land, where after a while they recognize each other and can be happy once again.
Tale 182: The Gifts of the Little Folk
A tailor and goldsmith are traveling together when they hear strange music one night.
They go to check it out and see quaint little people dancing around, which looks totally fun, so they join the party.
Things get awkward when a strange old man whips out a blade and shaves both their heads and beards, then gives them as much coal as they can carry and sends them away.
After being all, what the what?, they find out that their hair's grown back and the coal has turned to gold. Bonus.
The goldsmith is greedy. He also has a humpback. He decides to go back the next night for more gold. They shave him again and he takes a ton more coal.
However, upon returning to the inn, he finds out that he is still bald, he's grown a second hump on his chest to go along with the one on his back, and he is left with only coal (the gold from the previous night had turned back).
Luckily the tailor's not a jerk, so he shares some of his gold with the goldsmith.
But those "little folk," a.k.a. fairies, they were totally jerks.
We recommend limiting your contact with them, and being humble if you ever do run across them.
Tale 183: The Giant and the Tailor
A tailor wanders into the forest and encounters a giant, who asks the tailor to be his servant.
Afraid (for good reason), the tailor tries to think of a way to get out of the bargain.
He boasts about every little thing the giant asks him to do; when the giant asks for a drink from the spring, the tailor asks whether he should just divert the spring to the giant's house, and so on. The giant is kind of gullible, so he begins to fear the tailor and plots how to get rid of him. Finally, the giant has the tailor sit on a willow branch, which the giant snaps back to shoot him into the air.
For all we know, the tailor might still be sailing through the air.
Tale 184: The Nail
A merchant is on the way home from the fair when someone lets him know that one of his horse's shoes is missing a nail. He decides to ignore it, which sounds like a terrible idea to Shmoop.
Another person tells him the horse is now missing a shoe. Again, he ignores it.
Finally, the horse stumbles and breaks a leg, so that the merchant has to carry all the saddlebags home himself.
Hopefully he learned a lesson about paying attention to the small things, how haste makes waste, and all that stuff.
Tale 185: The Poor Boy in the Grave
A rich man and his wife are given care of a poor boy. That sounds nice and all, except they constantly starve and beat him.
Eventually, the kid decides to just end his life so he looks for the poison they occasionally mention, but since they were lying (as usual), he ends up consuming their stashes of honey and alcohol.
He passes out in a graveyard and dies, and the terrible couple lose everything in a fire and are tormented for the rest of their days.
Yeah, that wasn't a happy one.
Tale 186: The True Bride
A maiden's stepmother gives her impossible tasks, but an old woman always appears to help her out.
One of the tasks is to build a ridiculously huge castle, which the old woman accomplishes, no problem.
The stepmother tries to lure the maiden into the cellar to murder her, but the trapdoor slams shut on the stepmother and kills her instead, to which we say, serves her right.
She meets a prince who wants to marry her, but when he returns to his own land he forgets about her, the jerk.
She goes to the wedding celebration, which lasts three nights, and dances with him each time, wearing some of her magical dresses.
Finally he recognizes her as his true bride, and they're wed. Never leave home without your magical dress, ladies.
Tale 187: The Hare and the Hedgehog
This hedgehog goes for a walk and encounters the hare, who is something of an arrogant jerk. They end up challenging one another to a race, but the hedgehog's wife hides herself and pops up as though the hedgehog had beat the hare in the race.
The hare refuses to accept defeat and so they keep racing until the hare drops dead from exhaustion.
This tale has a twofold moral: first, don't be a jerk to people, and second, marry someone from your own social class so they can help you in times like this.
You know, like, when you make a bet that relies on tricking someone into thinking that you're in more than one place at the same time.
Oh, and we guess if you want that trick to work, you had better look an awful lot like your spouse.
Tale 188: Spindle, Shuttle, and Needle
An old woman takes in an orphaned girl and teaches her to be industrious, leaving her a spindle, shuttle, and needle with which to earn a living.
A prince comes around, wanting to marry someone who is simultaneously the richest and the poorest.
He peeps in on the maiden (creepy) and she blushes when she sees him…but when he leaves, she sends her spindle, shuttle, and needle after him to show him the way to her place so that he can come and properly court her.
She is too modest to even speak to him. Yeah, that's totally gonna last.
Tale 189: The Peasant and the Devil
A clever peasant makes a deal with the devil, who is sitting on top of some treasure that is technically on the peasant's land.
He promises the devil half of what grows above the ground during the next year, but the devil is cheated when the peasant plants turnips.
The next year, the devil angrily demands the bottom half of the crop, but the peasant plants wheat. So the peasant gets the treasure and the devil gets zilch.
Tale 190: The Crumbs on the Table
A rooster tries to persuade his hens to go peck the crumbs from the kitchen table; they keep refusing because the mistress will beat them.
Finally, when they agree, the mistress comes home at that very second and beats the hens with a stick.
This leads to a teasing exchange between the hens and the rooster.