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

The Fisherman and his Wife


"Wife, wife," said the man, "why should we wish to be king? I will not be king."

"Then I will," said Alice.

"But, wife," answered the fisherman, "how can you be king? The fish cannot make you king."

"Husband," said she, "say no more about it, but go and try. I will be king."

So the man went away quite sorrowful, to think that his wife should want to be king. The sea looked a dark grey colour, and was covered with foam, as he called the fish to come and help him.

"Well, what would she have now?" asked the fish.

"Alas!" said the man, "my wife wants to be king."

"Go home," said the fish, "she is king already."

Then the fisherman went home, and as he came close to the palace he saw a troop of soldiers, and heard the sound of drums and trumpets; and when he entered, he saw his wife sitting on a high throne of gold and diamonds, with a golden crown upon her head, and on each side of her stood six beautiful maidens.

"Well, wife," said the fisherman, "are you king?"

"Yes," said she, "I am king."

When he had looked at her for a long time, he said—

"Ah! wife, what a fine thing it is to be king! now we shall never have anything more to wish for."

"I don't know how that may be," said she. "Never is a long time. I am king, 'tis true; but I begin to be tired of it, and I think I should like to be emperor."

"Alas! wife, why should you wish to be emperor?" said the fisherman.

"Husband," said she, "go to the fish. I say I will be emperor."

"Ah! wife," replied the fisherman, "the fish cannot make an emperor; and I should not like to ask for such a thing."

"I am king," said Alice; "and you are my slave, so go directly."

So the fisherman was obliged to go, and he muttered as he went along—

"This will come to no good. It is too much to ask. The fish will be tired at last, and then we shall repent of what we have done."

He soon arrived at the sea, and the water was quite black and muddy, and a mighty whirlwind blew over it; but he went to the shore, and repeated the words he had used before.

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