Midwife for a Nixie


A midwife in Westerhausen was sitting one evening at home when someone knocked on her window and shouted that she should come outside. She did so, and there stood a nix, who told her to follow him. They walked to the Beck [a deep pond near Westerhausen], and the nix took a rod and struck the water with it. The water separated, and with dry feet they walked to the bottom.

Here the woman helped the nix’s wife deliver a child. To thank the midwife, the nixie told her that when the nix asked her how she should be paid, instead of money, she should ask for some of the sweepings.

Then the midwife bathed the new baby, and while doing so she heard the nix’s other children — there were five of them — running around and asking their father, “Shall we pinch her? Shall we pinch her?” But the father told them not to.

When the midwife was finished the nix asked, “What shall I pay you?”

Following the wife’s advice, she requested some of the sweepings from behind the door.

“God told you to say that,” said the nix, giving her what she wanted. Then he took her back home, and when she looked at the sweepings, they had turned to pure gold.

  • Source: Adalbert Kuhn and Wilhelm Schwartz, Norddeutsche Sagen, Märchen und Gebräuche (Leipzig: F. A. Brockhaus, 1848), pp. 173-74.
  • This is the third legend in a group titled collectively “Der Nickelmann.” The individual legends are not given separate titles.
  • Link to the original German text (books.google.com).
  • Westerhausen is a village near Halberstadt in northern Germany.
  • The water spirit in this legend is identified in the original German as the Nickelmann, translated here as the generic nix (female nixie).
  • Return to the table of contents.
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