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The Girl-Fish

"Didn't I say that the fish would be delicious?" she cried. Plunging her spoon into the dish the girl helped herself to a large piece. But the instant it touched her mouth a cold shiver ran through her. Her head seemed to flatten and her eyes to look oddly round the corners. Her legs and arms were stuck to her sides, and she gasped wildly for breath. With a mighty bound she sprang through the window and fell into the river, where she soon felt better, and was able to swim to the sea, which was close by.

No sooner had she arrived there than the sight of her sad face attracted the notice of some of the other fishes, and they pressed round her, begging her to tell them her story.

"I am not a fish at all," said the newcomer, swallowing a great deal of salt water as she spoke, for you cannot learn how to be a proper fish all in a moment. "I am not a fish at all but a girl, at least I was a girl only a few minutes ago --" And she ducked her head under the waves so that they should not see her crying.

"Only you did not believe that the fish you caught had the power to carry out its threat," said an old tuna. "Well, never mind, that has happened to many of us, and it really is not such a bad life. Cheer up and come with us and see our queen, who lives in a palace."

The new fish felt a little afraid of taking such a journey, but as she was still more afraid of being left alone, she waved her tail in token of consent. Off they all set, hundreds of them swimming together. At first our little fish felt as if she were blind in the dark waters, but by-and-by she began to make out one object after another in the green dimness, and by the time she had swum for a few hours all became clear.

"Here we are at last," cried a big fish, going down into a deep valley, for the sea has its mountains and valleys just as much as the land. "That is the palace of the queen of the fishes, and I think you must confess that the emperor himself has nothing so fine.

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