The Fisherman and His Wife

Fairy Tale Fridays

I felt the urge to read some more Brother’s Grimm after a long hiatus, so here is a Fairy Tale Friday!  This week’s tale is The Fisherman and His Wife – paraphrased from my copy of Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales by the Brothers Grimm.

The Fisherman and his Wife by Alexander Zick

Once upon a time there was a fisherman and his wife.  They lived in a miserable pigsty by the sea.  Every day the fisherman would go out fishing.

One day, when fishing, he caught a large flounder.  The flounder said to him, “Please, let me go, for I am an enchanted prince and it will do no good to kill me.”

“I would certainly set free a fish that can talk,” said the fisherman, and he put the flounder back into the clear water.

When the fisherman got home, his wife asked him what he had caught that day.  The fisherman confessed that he had only caught a flounder, who said he was an enchanted prince so had let him go again. The wife was astounded.

“Did you not wish for anything first?” she asked.

“No,” said the fisherman, “What should I wish for?”

“You might have wished for a better place for us to live!” exclaimed the wife, “for it is difficult to live in this dirty pigsty.  You should have wished for a small cottage.  Go back and call him and tell him that we want a small cottage.”

The fisherman was reluctant to go, but he did not like to oppose his wife and so he went back to the sea.  The sea was green and yellow, and the fisherman stood and said,

“Flounder, Flounder in the sea, come I pray you here to me; For my wife, good Isabel, has sent me here against my will.”

The flounder came swimming and asked what she wanted.  The fisherman relayed her request for a cottage.

“Go then, for she has it already,” replied the flounder.

The man returned and in place of the pigsty where they used to live was a small and pleasant cottage with lovely furnishings, a yard, and a little garden.

“Now we will live quite contented,” remarked the fisherman.

“We will think about that,” said the wife, and they went to bed.

They lived happily in the cottage for number of weeks, but before long the wife went to her husband and exclaimed that she was not satisfied.  The cottage was far too small and she thought the flounder should have given them somewhere larger, like a large stone castle.  The fisherman, who thought the cottage was quite good enough for them, was reluctant, but as he did not like to oppose his wife he was eventually persuaded to go back to the sea.  The sea was dark and purple and thick but still quiet. The fisherman stood and repeated his rhyme:

“Flounder, Flounder in the sea, come I pray you here to me; For my wife, good Isabel, has sent me here against my will.”

The flounder came swimming and asked what she wanted.  The fisherman relayed that his wife was not satisfied and requested a castle.

“Go then, for she has it already,” replied the flounder.

The fisherman returned and in place of the small cottage was a large castle, well equipped, stocked, surrounded by beautiful grounds, and staffed by a swarm of servants.

“Now we will live quite contented,” remarked the fisherman.

“We will think about that,” said the wife, and they went to bed.

In the morning, the wife went to her husband and exclaimed that she was not satisfied, for she thought they should be King.  The fisherman protested, for he did not want to be King.  The wife declared that she would like to be King, and implored her husband to go again to the flounder. The fisherman was very reluctant  and argued that the request was too much, but he did not like to oppose his wife and so he went again, unhappily.  The sea was a heaving dark-grey mass with a rotten smell when the fisherman repeated,

“Flounder, Flounder in the sea, come I pray you here to me; For my wife, good Isabel, has sent me here against my will.”

The flounder came swimming and asked what she wanted.  The fisherman relayed that his wife was not satisfied and requested to be King.

“Go then, for she is King already,” replied the flounder.

The fisherman returned and in place of the large castle, was an even more magnificent palace with great halls, soldiers, and splendors within.  His wife sat upon a throne of gold and diamonds, with a scepter in her hand and a golden crown on her head.

“Now that you are King, let all else be and we will live quite contented,” remarked the fisherman.

“No,” said the wife, “for I am King but I must be Emperor, too.”

The fisherman protested once more, arguing that it was too much to ask, for he was afraid. The wife commanded her husband, and the fisherman was very reluctant but he did not like to oppose his wife and so he went again.  The sea was black and bubbling and the wind was sharp and cold when the fisherman repeated,

“Flounder, Flounder in the sea, come I pray you here to me; For my wife, good Isabel, has sent me here against my will.”

The flounder came swimming and asked what she wanted.  The fisherman relayed that his wife was not satisfied and wanted to be Emperor.

“Go then, for she is Emperor already,” replied the flounder.

The fisherman returned and in place of the magnificent palace was a larger, opulent palace of polished marble.  There were trumpets and nobles and his wife sat upon a golden throne at least three feet high, with a great golden crown encrusted with precious jewels. Kings and Princes fawned around her.

“Now you can be content, for you are Emperor,” remarked the fisherman.

“Why are you standing there?” said the wife, “Now, I am Emperor, but I will be Pope too. Go to the flounder.”

The fisherman was very afraid and very reluctant. He protested once more, but his wife commanded him.  He did not like to oppose his wife and so he went again, filled with despair.  The wind roared and the water pitched with violent waves against the shore when the fisherman repeated,

“Flounder, Flounder in the sea, come I pray you here to me; For my wife, good Isabel, has sent me here against my will.”

The flounder came swimming and asked what she wanted.  The fisherman relayed that his wife was not satisfied and requested to be Pope.

“Go then, for she is Pope already,” replied the flounder.

The fisherman returned to a large church, surrounded by palaces.  Inside, surrounded by thousands of candles, he found his wife.  She sat upon an even higher throne, clad in gold, with three crowns upon her head and Emperors and Kings fawning around her.

“Now that you are Pope, be satisfied” remarked the fisherman, “for there is nothing greater you can become now.”

“I will think about that,” said the wife, and they went to bed.

The fisherman slept soundly, for he had run around quite a bit during the day, but the wife could not sleep. In the morning, the wife woke her husband and exclaimed that she was not satisfied, for she wanted to be like God is, to command the sun and moon to rise.  The fisherman was deeply afraid and protested that such a thing was not possible. The wife went into a rage and commanded her husband to go again to the flounder. The fisherman was sick with fear but he did not like to oppose his wife and so he went again.  A great storm raged outside and the fisherman could barely walk for the wind was blowing so hard.  Houses and trees were flattened, the ground trembled, and the sky was black and streaked with lightning and thunder.  The waves of the sea rose like mountains and smashed upon the shore when the fisherman repeated,

“Flounder, Flounder in the sea, come I pray you here to me; For my wife, good Isabel, has sent me here against my will.”

The flounder came swimming and asked what she wanted.  The fisherman relayed that his wife was not satisfied and wanted to be like God.

“Go then,” replied the flounder, ” and you will find her back again in the dirty pigsty.”

There they lived until the end of their days.

Oh greed!  The wife has gone too far!  It occurs to me that that husband could have and should have refused to go again to the Flounder.  He clearly knew it was wrong!!

A good reminder to be satisfied with our rewards 🙂

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