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Main > Russia folktales > Fairy tale "The Golden Fish"

The Golden Fish

"Old man," says the fish, "do not kill me. I beg you throw me back into the blue waters. Some day I may be able to be of use to you."

"What?" says the old fisherman; "and do you talk with a human voice?"

"I do," says the fish. "And my fish's heart feels pain like yours. It would be as bitter to me to die as it would be to yourself."

"And is that so?" says the old fisherman. "Well, you shall not die this time." And he threw the golden fish back into the sea.

You would have thought the golden fish would have splashed with his tail, and turned head downwards, and swum away into the blue depths of the sea. Not a bit of it. It stayed there with its tail slowly flapping in the water so as to keep its head up, and it looked at the fisherman with its wise eyes, and it spoke again.

"You have given me my life," says the golden fish. "Now ask anything you wish from me, and you shall have it."

The old fisherman stood there on the shore, combing his beard with his old fingers, and thinking. Think as he would, he could not call to mind a single thing he wanted.

"No, fish," he said at last; "I think I have everything I need,"

"Well, if ever you do want anything, come and ask for it," says the fish, and turns over, flashing gold, and goes down into the blue sea.

The old fisherman went back to his hut, where his wife was waiting for him.

"What!" she screamed out; "you haven't caught so much as one little fish for our supper?"

"I caught one fish, mother," says the old man: "a golden fish it was, and it spoke to me; and I let it go, and it told me to ask for anything I wanted."

"And what did you ask for? Show me."

"I couldn't think of anything to ask for; so I did not ask for anything at all."

"Fool," says his wife, "and dolt, and us with no food to put in our mouths. Go back at once, and ask for some bread."

Well, the poor old fisherman got down his net, and tramped back to the seashore. And he stood on the shore of the wide blue sea, and he called out,—

"Head in air and tail in sea, Fish, fish, listen to me.

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