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Main > Spain folktales > Fairy tale "The Girl-Fish"

The Girl-Fish


"It is beautiful indeed," gasped the little fish, who was very tired with trying to swim as fast as the rest. The palace walls were made of pale pink coral, worn smooth by the waters, and round the windows were rows of pearls. The great doors were standing open, and the whole troop floated into the chamber of audience, where before them was the queen. She was mermaid-like, having a human form from the head to the waist and a tail from the waist down.

"Who are you, and where do you come from?" said the queen to the little fish, whom the others had pushed in front. And in a low, trembling voice, the visitor told her story.

When the fish had ended the queen answered, "I was once a young woman too, a princess in fact, and my father was the king of a great country. A husband was found for me, and on my wedding day my mother placed her crown on my head and told me that as long as I wore the crown I should likewise be queen. For a few years I was as happy as a young woman could be, especially when I had a little son to play with. But one morning, when I was walking in my gardens, along came a giant who snatched the crown from my head. Holding me fast, he told me that he intended to give my crown to his daughter, and to enchant my husband the prince, so he should not know the difference between us. Since then she had filled my place and has been queen in my stead. As for me, I was so miserable that I threw myself into the sea, and my ladies, who loved me, declared that they would die too. But instead of dying, some wizard, who pitied my fate, turned us all into fishes, though he allowed me to keep the face and upper body of a woman. And fishes we must remain until someone else brings me back my crown!"

"I will bring it back if you tell me what to do!" cried the little fish, who would have promised anything that was likely to carry her up to earth again. And the queen answered, "Yes, I will tell you what to do."

She sat silent for a moment, and then went on.

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