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Main > German folktales > Fairy tale "The Sturgeon"

The Sturgeon

Not so, however, the old fisherman, who overheard the conversation, having approached the abbess with the purveyor to learn her will and pleasure as to the disposal of the fish.

"Nay, nay, master," he interposed, in his rough way, "not so fast, not so fast. My father fished on this river for full fifty years, and my father's father did the same; and fifty years have I drawn net here too, all in the service of the noble ladies of Schwartz-Rheindorf. Never, in that time, knew I other than this done with these fish—the one to be let free, the other to be given away among the poor. I'll do nought else with them."

The abbess and the purveyor were but ill-pleased to hear what the old man said.

"You must do as I bid you, Herman," said the former.

"You must obey my lady, your mistress," echoed the latter. "She is too good and gracious to ye."

"Not I," said the old man bluntly,—"not I. For all the broad lands on the Rhine I would not have hand, act, nor part in such a matter. Do as ye list, but I'll be none your servant in the matter."

The old man walked away as he said these words, and neither the entreaties of the abbess, the threats of the purveyor, nor the interposition of some of the nuns present could bring him back.

Others, however, were soon found among his companions who were less scrupulous; and the two fish were accordingly removed to the convent, and consigned to the care of the cook, to be served up for dinner that day.

The dinner-hour arrived—the sisterhood were all seated at table—the servitors, marshalled by the supple purveyor, made their appearance, bearing the expected banquet in large covered dishes. A hasty grace was muttered, and then every eye was turned to the covers. The abbess had ordered the sturgeon to be served up first.

"And now, sisters," she said, with a complacent look of benignant condescension, "I hope soon to know how you approve of our dinner. It is my constant study to make you happy, and my efforts are unceasing to afford you every gratification in my power.

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