THERE was once a poor man and a poor woman who had nothing but a little cottage, and who earned their bread by fishing, and always lived from hand to mouth. But it came to pass one day when the man was sitting by the water-side, and casting his net, that he drew out a fish entirely of gold. As he was looking at the fish, full of astonishment, it began to speak and said, "Hark you, fisherman, if you will throw me back again into the water, I will change your little hut into a splendid castle." Then the fisherman answered, "Of what use is a castle to me, if I have nothing to eat?" The gold fish continued, "That shall be taken care of, there will be a cupboard in the castle in which, when you open it, shall be dishes of the most delicate meats, and as many of them as you can desire." "If that be true," said the man, "then I can well do you a favour." "Yes," said the fish, "there is, however, the condition that you shall disclose to no one in the world, whosoever he may be, whence your good luck has come, if you speak but one single word, all will be over." Then the man threw the wonderful fish back again into the water, and went home. But where his hovel had formerly stood, now stood a great castle. He opened wide his eyes, entered, and saw his wife dressed in beautiful clothes, sitting in a splendid room, and she was quite delighted, and said, "Husband, how has all this come to pass? It suits me very well." "Yes," said the man, "it suits me too, but I am frightfully hungry, just give me something to eat." Said the wife, "But I have got nothing and don't know where to find anything in this new house." "There is no need of your knowing," said the man, "for I see yonder a great cupboard, just unlock it." When she opened it, there stood cakes, meat, fruit, wine, quite a bright prospect.
Then the woman cried joyfully, "What more can you want, my dear?" and they sat down, and ate and drank together. When they had had enough, the woman said, "But, husband, whence come all these riches?
The Story of the Leopard, the Tortoise, and the Bush Rat
Category: Nigerian folktales
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