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Main > German folktales > Fairy tale "The Fisherman and his Wife"

The Fisherman and his Wife

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There was a parlour, a bedchamber, and a kitchen; and behind the cottage there was a little garden with all sorts of flowers and fruits, and a courtyard full of ducks and chickens.

"Ah," said the fisherman, "how happily we shall live!"

"We will try to do so, at least," said his wife.

Everything went right for a week or two, and then Dame Alice said—

"Husband, there is not room enough in this cottage, the courtyard and garden are a great deal too small. I should like to have a large stone castle to live in, so go to the fish again and tell him to give us a castle."

"Wife," said the fisherman, "I don't like to go to him again, for perhaps he will be angry. We ought to be content with the cottage."

"Nonsense!" said the wife, "he will do it very willingly. Go along and try."

The fisherman went, but his heart was very heavy, and when he came to the sea it looked blue and gloomy, though it was quite calm. He went close to it, and said—

"O man of the sea, Come listen to me, For Alice my wife, The plague of my life, Hath sent me to beg a boon of thee!"

"Well, what does she want now?" said the fish.

"Ah!" said the man very sorrowfully, "my wife wants to live in a stone castle."

"Go home, then," said the fish; "she is standing at the door of it already."

Away went the fisherman, and found his wife standing before a great castle.

"See," said she, "is not this grand?"

With that they went into the house together, and found a great many servants there, the rooms all richly furnished, and full of golden chairs and tables; and behind the castle was a garden, and a wood half a mile long, full of sheep, goats, hares, and deer; and in the courtyard were stables and cow-houses.

"Well," said the man, "now will we live contented and happy for the rest of our lives."

"Perhaps we may," said the wife, "but let us consider and sleep upon it before we make up our minds;" so they went to bed.

The next morning when Dame Alice awoke it was broad daylight, and she jogged the fisherman with her elbow, and said—

"Get up, husband, and bestir yourself, for we must be king of all the land.

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