Once upon a time an old miller crafted new paddle staves to replace the many worn out staves of his waterwheel. Sacks of oats ready to be milled lined the walls of the long shed where he worked. After many hours of labor he decided to take a nap. He arranged three oat sacks to that purpose and stretched out in comfort. Soon he was asleep and dreaming.
In the dream he stood by the mill stream. He felt afraid and soon knew why. For from the stream there arose inch by inch slowly until completely emerged a river hag wrapped in a long red cloak. As rivulets of water ran down the sodden cloak, the hag engaged the old miller eyes to eyes with a dark frozen stare.
‘When you awake, be quick, be sharp, and bring to the mill my lost golden harp,’ croaked the hag, and poof she was gone, and the miller awoke.
He ran home and told his good wife all about the dream. She sat in the rocking chair, rocking and thinking, rocking and thinking. The old miller, who always relied on his good wife for counsel, waited patiently for her to speak.
She stopped rocking and said, ‘It’s this. A sorceress has enchanted you. You must find her golden harp and bring it here. I will send for our nephew to run the mill until you return.’
And so the miller set off. He went from village to village, castle to castle, explaining his quest, and not once did he hear tales of a river hag’s golden harp until a day many years later when he rested sitting in a deep wood with his back against the thick trunk of great twisted oak. Soon he nodded off to sleep. He dreamed.
Again, in the dream, he stood by the mill stream. He trembled with fear and soon knew why. The river hag rose from the stream and engaged him again eyes to eyes with a dark frozen stare.
‘When you awake, be quick, go home, never more so far to roam. I found my harp, no thanks to you. Forget all about it, and I’ll forget, too,’ croaked the hag, and poof she was gone, and the miller awoke.
He arose from the oat sacks in his long shed and returned to crafting new staves.