Funny Story The Water Sprite and The Bear

 Water-Sprite And The Bear

In a mill, by a stream, there once lived a miller. He was a contented man and happy at his work, until one day a water-sprite came to live in the stream near the mill. The water-sprite was an ugly creature, with long, dank hair, sharp, pointed teeth and webbed feet. At first it was not so bad, because he only popped his head up out of the water and looked at the people as they went past, but soon he took to sitting on the bank and staring at them with his round, pebble-like eyes, which frightened them away. Then, one day, the miller found the water-sprite in his kitchen, sitting by the fire. It was most unpleasant and the miller could do nothing about it, for he was quite scared of the water-sprite. No one knew where he was likely to appear next. One day the water-sprite saw the miller's wife roast some meat over the fire. He went closer and sniffed the meat. Next morning, he arrived with five fish on a stick and he sat down without a word and roasted them over the fire. Then he sat in a corner and ate them, heads and tails and all. When he had finished, he sat and watched the miller and his wife eating their breakfast, which quite put them off their food. He soon came into the mill whenever it pleased him, sitting under the table at supper time, or in front of the fire in the kitchen, or suddenly appearing on a dark corner of the stairs at bedtime. The servant girl left in a hurry when she found that the water-sprite had been lying on her bed and made the blankets all wet, for he dripped water wherever he went. Three other servant girls followed her, one after the other, for no one would stay long with the water-sprite around. Then he took to starting the mill wheel turning in the middle of the night, so that it woke the miller and his wife with a start and the miller had to get out of bed to see what was the matter. Soon, the boy who helped in the mill got another job and before long, the miller's wife left and went home to her mother. The miller, who had to make a living, was left all alone with the water-sprite. Life was very lonely and miserable for him now. 

No one from the village would come and work for him, to take the boy's place, and no servant girl would come near the house. The water-sprite had driven everyone away. One night, a bear trainer, with a bear on the end of a chain, knocked the mill door. He was on his way to the next town, where there was a fair. There, his bear would dance and perform tricks. He asked the miller if he might have a bed for the night, for himself and the bear. The miller longed for some company for a change, but he explained about the water-sprite. "You would be much better walking the other three miles to the village," he said. "No one will come here now that the water-sprite is here." The bear trainer only laughed. "I am not afraid of a water-sprite," he said. "Bruin, my bear, has strong paws and sharp claws. He can soon take care of a water-sprite." The miller was pleased to have a guest and he took the bear trainer and his bear inside and gave them supper. The water-sprite had gone back to the stream, so they had a pleasant evening chatting. Finally, they went to bed. The bear trainer had the guest room and Bruin was chained to the bed post.

Next morning the miller went down to make breakfast and his heart sank, for there, on the hearth, sat the water-sprite. He was huddled over the remains of the fire, cooking his fish. Four grilled fish were spread out beside him and he was turning the fifth over the fire. As the miller and the bear trainer entered the room, the water-sprite turned and showed his pointed teeth in a grin. "Look, Bruin," he said pointing to the fish. "Breakfast." The bear ambled over and sniffed at the fish. Then he picked one up and gobbled it quickly. He picked up a second and gobbled that, but as he stretched out his paw for the third, the water-sprite rushed at him, shrieking and waving his fists. The bear did not move. He lifted one massive paw and dealt the water-sprite a blow which made his ears ring. The water-sprite turned and fled, shrieking, from the kitchen, chased by the growling bear. There was a splash, as the water-sprite leapt into the stream beside the mill. The bear went back to the fire and ate the other three fish, while the bear trainer laughed loudly. "I told you Bruin could make short work of any water-sprite," he said. Then he and the miller sat down to breakfast. Afterwards, the bear trainer and his bear went on their way. "I hope you have seen the last of your water-sprite," called the bear trainer, as he waved goodbye. As the hours went by and the miller did not see a sign of the water-sprite, he began to feel happier. All that day, the water-sprite did not make an appearance. It was the same the next day and the next, for nearly a week. Each day, the miller grew more cheerful and he began to think of the happy times he and his wife had had before the water-sprite had come. He decided he would take the next day off and go over to his wife's mother's house, to ask his wife to come home, but, next morning, when the miller went into the kitchen to cook his breakfast, there was the water-sprite again, sitting in front of the fire cooking his fish. He turned and smiled at the miller, showing his long, pointed teeth. The miller was too miserable to smile back.

There was silence for a few minutes, then the water-sprite said, "By the way, miller, where is that big cat of yours? I have not seen it for several days." He had mistaken the bear for a big cat. How the miller longed to have the bear back again. Then, suddenly, an idea struck him. "Oh, the cat," he said. "She has not gone away, but I am not surprised you have not seen her. She has had kittens. There are seven of them and they are all like their mother. They are only tiny at the moment, of course, but they will soon grow. A look of horror appeared on the water-sprite's face. He dropped the fish he was cooking and jumped to his feet. "She has seven little ones?" he cried in alarm. "Then good day to you, miller. If they are all like their mother I shall go away at once. You will not see me again in this part of the world again." He rushed out of the mill door and away, like lightning, while the miller stood in the middle of the kitchen, laughing heartily to himself. Then he went down to the village, to tell everyone the good news that the water-sprite was gone and, in fact, so scared was the water-sprite that he was never seen again.         

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