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The Story of the Fisherman and His Wife

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'Ah, wife,' he said, 'he cannot make you emperor; I don't like to ask him that. There is only one emperor in the kingdom. Indeed and indeed he cannot make you emperor.'

'What!' said his wife. 'I am king, and you are my husband. Will you go at once? Go! If he can make king he can make emperor, and emperor I must and will be. Go!'

So he had to go. But as he went, he felt quite frightened, and he thought to himself, 'This can't be right; to be emperor is too ambitious; the flounder will be tired out at last.'

Thinking this he came to the shore. The sea was quite black and thick, and it was breaking high on the beach; the foam was flying about, and the wind was blowing; everything looked bleak. The fisherman was chilled with fear. 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 flounder.

'Alas! flounder,' he said, 'my wife wants to be emperor.'

'Go home,' said the flounder; 'she is that already.'

So the fisherman went home, and when he came there he saw the whole castle was made of polished marble, ornamented with alabaster statues and gold. Before the gate soldiers were marching, blowing trumpets and beating drums. Inside the palace were walking barons, counts, and dukes, acting as servants; they opened the door, which was of beaten gold. And when he entered, he saw his wife upon a throne which was made out of a single block of gold, and which was quite six cubits high. She had on a great golden crown which was three yards high and set with brilliants and sparkling gems. In one hand she held a sceptre, and in the other the imperial globe, and on either side of her stood two rows of halberdiers, each smaller than the other, from a seven-foot giant to the tiniest little dwarf no higher than my little finger. Many princes and dukes were standing before her. The fisherman went up to her quietly and said:

'Wife, are you emperor now?'

'Yes,' she said, 'I am emperor.

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