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Main > Indian folktales > Fairy tale "The Fish Prince"

The Fish Prince

Once there were a king and queen who had two sons. The older of the two was a very short and ugly man with only one eye, and that was in the middle of his forehead. His brother was tall and handsome and carried himself like a prince.

Naturally the king preferred his handsome son and wished to make him his heir. "My people will never obey a dwarf with only one eye," he said.

This made Deesa, the older son, very angry. "The kingdom ought to be mine," he said, "or if I cannot have it all it should be divided."

He said this to his wife, whose name was Matni, and as she was an enchantress she determined to get the whole of the kingdom for her husband if possible. She thought it all over and then invited the younger brother to a banquet in that part of the palace where she lived.

Then she said to her husband, "After supper you must sit with your brother on the balcony overlooking the river. I will change him into a fish and then you can throw him into the water. In this way we shall hear no more of him."

Deesa agreed to this, and after supper invited his brother to sit with him on the balcony. Then Matni went up on the roof of the palace and threw down some powder on the younger Prince's head. Just as soon as she did this, the Prince was changed into a little fish, and his brother picked him up and threw him into the river.

All this was done so suddenly that the Prince hardly knew what had happened to him. Over and over he turned before he struck the water, but when it had closed over him he found that he had been changed into a fish and could swim very nicely underneath the water.

He seemed to know, too, that Matni had enchanted him, and he wanted to get out of her way; so he swam on and on until at the end of two days he was outside of his father's kingdom.

Then one day he was caught in a net by some fishermen and taken to the palace of the king of that country to be served up for dinner. He was not very big, and one of the servants thought it would be much nicer to have him in a bowl than to cook him.

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