Prague legends

Vodník (Water Sprite)

It begins with Vodník sitting on a tree and asking the moon in a singsong voice to shine her bright light on him for tomorrow’s going to be a big day. He’s getting married.

Morning comes and a young woman gets up and gathers the clothes for the day’s wash. She’s about to set off for the lake when her mom stops her. She dreamt she was preparing a white wedding gown for her daughter. White wedding dresses symbolize sadness she tells her daughter. Wedding pearls = tears and it’s Friday, a day of bad luck. Three strikes and you’re staying home. I don’t want you anywhere near that lake today. Surprise, surprise, the girl defies her mom’s wishes and goes anyway, admitting, however, that she is unable to shake the feeling that something is “forcing” her to go down there.

While she’s doing the wash the footbridge that was supporting her collapses, sending her into the water. Vodník takes over from there and makes her his wife. They go on to have a baby but our young lady is miserable. She misses her mom terribly and is torn between her yearning to go back home and staying underwater with her beloved fish child. After plenty of pestering, Vodník finally releases his iron grip on her and allows the young woman a day’s pass to go see her mother. “But don’t hug her,” he warns. “Then you’ll be infected with human love and it will overpower our fish love.” He keeps the kid as ransom. He trusts her about as far as he can throw her. Some things between men and women never change.

Our heroine goes back up to Earth and reflexively hugs her mom. Who could blame her? Back home, they spend the entire time talking and crying, the young gal bemoaning her fate. The mother, not about to give up, assures her tear-streaked child that there’s nothing to fear because she is on land and Vodník is only powerful down in the water.

The time comes for the lass to go back. Mom locks the door. Vodník comes a-knockin’ and he ain’t too happy. He demands his wife come back home with him and fix him some supper. “Take off,” says the feisty mother-in-law. He leaves, then, comes back. “Come home and make the bed,” he says. “Get away from here,” screams mom. Third time comes around and Vodník returns saying the baby’s crying. He needs his mother. This plays on the heartstrings of our little girl. “Don’t listen to him, it’s a trap,” warns mom. “If the baby’s crying, Vodník, it means it’s hungry. Bring the baby back here. We’ll take care of it.” The desperate wails of the child can be heard plainly and then suddenly, the cries stop. A loud thump is heard outside the front door and then blood begins to seep under it, into the house. Mom opens the door. The head of the baby is outside covered in blood, severed from its equally bloody body.

POSSIBLE MORAL: It’s probably a good idea to marry someone who belongs to the same species as you.
PROBABLE MORAL: If you go too close to the water you never know what the consequences will be.

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