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Main > Fairy tale > All authors > Brothers Grimm > Fairy tale "The Lambkin and the Little Fish"

The Lambkin and the Little Fish

There were once a little brother and a little sister, who loved each other with all their hearts. Their own mother was, however, dead, and they had a step mother, who was not kind to them, and secretly did everything she could to hurt them. It so happened that the two were playing with other children in a meadow before the house, and there was a pond in the meadow which came up to one side of the house. The children ran about it, and caught each other, and played at counting out.

"Eneke Beneke, let me live,

And I to thee my bird will give.

The little bird, it straw shall seek,

The straw I'll give to the cow to eat.

The pretty cow shall give me milk,

The milk I'll to the baker take.

The baker he shall bake a cake,

The cake I'll give unto the cat.

The cat shall catch some mice for that,

The mice I'll hang up in the smoke,

And then you'll see the snow."

They stood in a circle while they played this, and the one to whom the word snow fell, had to run away and all the others ran after him and caught him. As they were running about so merrily the step mother watched them from the window, and grew angry. And as she understood arts of witchcraft she bewitched them both, and changed the little brother into a fish, and the little sister into a lamb. Then the fish swam here and there about the pond and was very sad, and the lambkin walked up and down the meadow, and was miserable, and could not eat or touch one blade of grass. Thus passed a long time, and then strangers came as visitors to the castle. The false step mother thought, "This is a good opportunity," and called the cook and said to him, "Go and fetch the lamb from the meadow and kill it, we have nothing else for the visitors." Then the cook went away and got the lamb, and took it into the kitchen and tied its feet, and all this it bore patiently. When he had drawn out his knife and was whetting it on the door step to kill the lamb, he noticed a little fish swimming backwards and forwards in the water, in front of the kitchen-sink and looking up at him.

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