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The following tales relate to beings inhabiting the sea.
A FISHERMAN was sleeping on the sand, by the Baltic, when a stranger roused him, telling him that the sea was full of fish. They fished together all day, when the boat was filled, and the stranger sent the fisherman to sell the fish, insisting that he p. 105 should bring him half the profits, and give the other half to his own wife. Next day they would go fishing again. This went on day after day, and the stranger regularly received half the proceeds of the work, giving back a trifle to the fisherman in return for the use of the boat and tackle. When everything was arranged, he used to disappear behind a large stone.
Thus the fisherman became rich. He built himself a cottage, and bought a new boat, and sometimes he indulged in a glass to quench his thirst.
One day it occurred to him to give his partner less than his due; but next day the results of their fishing were much smaller, and the stranger looked at him sorrowfully. In the evening the fisherman went to sell the fish, but gave his partner still less than the day before. Next day, when they cast the nets, they did not take a single fish, and the stranger said, “You have cheated me two days running, and now you must die.” He then threw the fisherman overboard, and two days afterwards his body was found on the beach and buried. As his wife stood weeping by his grave, a tall, strong man approached, who told her to dry her tears; for if he had not drowned her husband, he would have p. 106 died on the gallows. He then gave her a bag of money, telling her that her husband had gained it honestly, and that he was the water-sprite. Then he disappeared, leaving the money, and the widow went home and lived happily with her children.
Another curious story relative to water-sprites is that of the mermaid and the lord of Pahlen (Kreutzwald). The latter found the maiden sitting on a stone by the sea-shore, and lamenting because her father, the king of the sea, compelled her to raise storms, in which many people perished, in order to please the Mother of the Winds. The nobleman freed her from her trouble by breaking the ring with which she raised the storms with his teeth, and she rewarded him with two large barrels of gold.