Horace L Gold's "Trouble with Water" (novelette, fantasy, humor): Never pick a fight with a "water gnome"!
Among the most interesting fantasy stories I've yet seen - by anyone. Parts of it feel like something out of Indian mythology, but I've never seen this plot before. Author specifically refers to Irish folklore - so may be those familiar with that might want to comment further. Also, ample material for adapting to home story telling sessions with kids.
Author is "the founding editor of GALAXY SF", but this story is from "the maiden issue of UNKNOWN FANTASY FICTION" (according to Asimov's introduction to the story in Issac Asimov Presents the Great SF Stories).
Story summary.In a foul mood after a domestic argument with his wife, Greenberg is out fishing & ends up hooking the hat of a water gnome. Ensuing argument will get him cursed - "water & those who live in it will keep away from you."
Much of the story is of his troubles due to this. How does he row his boat back to shore while the water is refusing to touch his boat? Get into bathtub, & water leaves the tub! Try drinking water from a glass, & water spills! Though there are advantages too - like some welcome business when it rains, because there is no rain around his stall! Lot of acts like this.
He will finally be saved by an old woman familiar with Irish folklore about water gnomes - say sorry & hand the gnome some sugar (but without getting the sugar wet!) A bit of adventure finding the gnome again, but happy ending.
- This story suggests dowry was rather common in the US at the time the story was written, & worked almost the same way it works in India. I wasn't aware of woman's dowry in US.
Fact sheet.First published: Unknown, March 1939.
Related: All stories from 1930s.