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

The Fisherman and his Wife

"What would she have now?" inquired the fish.

"She wants to be emperor," replied the fisherman.

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

So he went home again, and as he came near, he saw his wife sitting on a very lofty throne made of solid gold, with a crown on her head, full two yards high; and on each side of her stood her guards and attendants in a row, ranged according to height, from the tallest giant to a little dwarf, no bigger than one's finger. And before her stood princes, and dukes, and earls; and the fisherman went up to her, and said—

"Wife, are you emperor?"

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

"Ah!" said the man, as he gazed on her, "what a fine thing it is to be emperor!"

"Husband," said she, "why should we stay at being emperor? We will be pope next."

"O wife, wife!" said he. "How can you be pope? There is but one pope at a time in Christendom."

"Husband," said she, "I will be pope this very day."

"But," replied the husband, "the fish cannot make you pope."

"What nonsense!" said she. "If he can make an emperor, he can make a pope; go and try him."

So the fisherman went; but when he came to the shore the wind was raging, the sea was tossed up and down like boiling water, and the ships were in the greatest distress and danced upon the waves most fearfully. In the middle of the sky there was a little blue; but towards the south it was all red, as if a dreadful storm was rising. The fisherman repeated the words, and the fish appeared before him.

"What does she want now?" asked the fish.

"My wife wants to be pope," said the fisherman.

"Go home," said the fish; "she is pope already."

Then the fisherman went home, and found his wife sitting on a throne, with three crowns on her head, while around stood all the pomp and power of the Church. On each side were two rows of burning lights of all sizes; the greatest as large as a tower, and the smallest no larger than a rushlight.

"Well, wife," said the fisherman, as he looked at all this grandeur, "are you pope?

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