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Main > German folktales > Fairy tale "The Sturgeon"

The Sturgeon

It was midwinter. On the bank of the river stood the purveyor of the convent, accompanied by the lady abbess herself and a great number of the nuns. They waited to watch the first haul made by the fishermen on the New Year's morning, according to the custom which had prevailed in the convent for centuries. It was not usual for the river to be open at that time, but this year there was not a piece of ice on its surface. The fishermen put out in their boats, and cast their nets into the current; then, making the circuit of the spot, they returned to the bank and commenced to haul them in. Little difficulty was at first experienced by them in this operation. For several years preceding the supply of fish had scarcely sufficed to defray the expense of catching. It would seem, however, as if fortune were inclined to smile on the sisterhood once more. The nets had not been more than half drawn in when the fishermen began to perceive that they contained something heavier than usual. The lady abbess and the nuns were made acquainted with the circumstance, and they watched, in eager expectancy, the landing of the fish. The nets were at length with much trouble hauled on shore.

"Hilloa!" said the principal fisherman, an aged man, to the purveyor of the convent, "hast thou ever seen such monsters before? My soul! but this will glad the hearts of the whole convent, and make many poor folk happy, an it be but the harbinger of a return to the old times."

While he spoke two immense sturgeon were landed. The abbess and her train approached the landing-place, and admired the strength and superior size of the fish.

"It would be but folly to set one of them free," she partially soliloquised and partially spoke to the purveyor. "The convent has not had such a treat for years past, and we absolutely require some change. I'll warrant me they will eat delightfully."

The purveyor, a wily Jewish-looking fellow, who passed for an Italian, at once assented to the observations of his mistress, and added a few remarks of his own in support of them.

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