THE WATER-SPRITE. gti
the animal ran out of the forest into a field, where he overtook it, and with one shot brought it to the ground. So earnest was he over his sport, that he did not notice his nearness to the dangerous water in which lived the water-sprite.
After he had killed and cut up the deer, he went to wash his blood-stained hands in the water. No sooner, however, had he touched it, than the water-sprite rose, and with a smile entwined her arms round him, and drew him down so quickly that the waves closed over him, and scarcely a ripple remained to show where he had gone.
i When evening came on, and the keeper did not return, his wife was in great trouble, and at last wrent out to look for him. He had often told her of the danger to which he was exposed by his father's promise to the water-sprite, and how he was obliged to avoid carefully the water of the mill stream, and to this she hastened at once in great fear.
On arriving at the bank of the stream, she saw the game that her husband had killed lying near the water, and knew directly the fate which had come upon him. Wringing her hands, and with loud lamentations, she called him byname, again and again running from side to side of the water. She reproached the water-sprite for her cruelty with hard words, but there was no reply.
The water remained as smooth as a mirror, in which the face of the half moon was clearly reflected. The poor young wife would not leave the mill stream ; she kept walking up and down without ceasing, sometimes in silence, and at other times complaining in low murmurs, or uttering cries of despair.
At last she became so worn out that she sank to the ground, and fell into a deep sleep, in which she dreamed a wonderful dream. She dreamed that she was walking over rugged rocks, and, as she walked, thorns and nettles pricked and stung her feet. The rain beat in her face, and the wind blew her long hair in wild confusion. But, on reaching the top, a very different scene presented itself The sky was blue, the air soft and warm, while the sides of the mountain sloped downwards to verdant meadows, enamelled with bright flowers, in which stood a charming cottage.
She approached, and opened the door of the cottage, in which sat an old woman with white hair, who looked kindly at her; but just as she was about to speak, the poor wife awoke from her dream !