The Golden Lads
'Ah!' said he, 'don't ask me. I dare not tell you. If I reveal the secret to anyone, it will be all up with us.'
'Very well,' she replied, 'if I'm not to be told, of course I don't want to know anything about it.'
But she was not really in earnest, for her curiosity never left her a moment's peace by day or night, and she teazed and worried her husband to such a pitch, that at length he quite lost patience and blurted out that it all came from a wonderful golden fish which he had caught and set free again. Hardly were the words well out of his mouth, when castle, cupboard, and all vanished, and there they were sitting in their poor little fishing hut once more.
The man had to betake himself to his former trade, and set to fishing again. As luck would have it, he caught the golden fish a second time.
'Now listen,' said the fish, 'if you'll throw me back into the water, I'll give you back the castle and the cupboard with all its good things; but now take care, and don't for your life betray where you got them, or you'll just lose them again.'
'I'll be very careful,' promised the fisher, and threw the fish back into the water. When he went home he found all their former splendour restored, and his wife overjoyed at their good fortune. But her curiosity still continued to torment her, and after restraining it with a great effort for a couple of days, she began questioning her husband again, as to what had happened, and how he had managed.
The man kept silence for some time, but at last she irritated him so much that he burst out with the secret, and in one moment the castle was gone, and they sat once more in their wretched old hut.
'There!' exclaimed the man, 'you _would_ have it--now we may just go on short commons.'
'Ah!' said his wife, 'after all I'd rather not have all the riches in the world if I can't know where they come from--I shall not have a moment's peace.'
The man took to his fishing again, and one day fate brought the gold fish into his net for the third time.
The Story of the Three Calenders, Sons of Kings, and of Five Ladies of Bagdad
Category: Arabic folktales
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