The Story of the Fisherman and His Wife
Go down to the flounder; I will be king.'
'Alas! wife,' said the fisherman, 'why do you want to be king? I can't ask him that.'
'And why not?' said his wife. 'Go down at once. I must be king.'
So the fisherman went, though much vexed that his wife wanted to be king. 'It is not right! It is not right,' he thought. He did not wish to go, yet he went.
When he came to the sea, the water was a dark-grey colour, and it was heaving against the shore. So he stood and said:
'Once a prince, but changed you be Into a flounder in the sea. Come! for my wife, Ilsebel, Wishes what I dare not tell.'
'What does she want now?' asked the flounder.
'Alas!' said the fisherman, 'she wants to be king.'
'Go home; she is that already,' said the flounder.
The fisherman went home, and when he came near the palace he saw that it had become much larger, and that it had great towers and splendid ornamental carving on it. A sentinel was standing before the gate, and there were numbers of soldiers with kettledrums and trumpets. And when he went into the palace, he found everything was of pure marble and gold, and the curtains of damask with tassels of gold. Then the doors of the hall flew open, and there stood the whole Court round his wife, who was sitting on a high throne of gold and diamonds; she wore a great golden crown, and had a sceptre of gold and precious stones in her hand, and by her on either side stood six pages in a row, each one a head taller than the other. Then he went before her and said:
'Ah, wife! are you king now?'
'Yes,' said his wife; 'now I am king.'
He stood looking at her, and when he had looked for some time, he said:
'Let that be enough, wife, now that you are king! Now we have nothing more to wish for.'
'Nay, husband,' said his wife restlessly, 'my wishing powers are boundless; I cannot restrain them any longer. Go down to the flounder; king I am, now I must be emperor.'
'Alas! wife,' said the fisherman, 'why do you want to be emperor?'
'Husband,' said she, 'go to the flounder; I will be emperor.