|English Fairy Tales
THE FISH AND THE RING
upon a time, there was a mighty baron in the North Countrie who was a
great magician that knew everything that would come to pass. So one
day, when his little boy was four years old, he looked into the Book of
Fate to see what would happen to him. And to his dismay, he found that
his son would wed a lowly maid that had just been born in a house under
the shadow of York Minster. Now the Baron knew the father of the little
girl was very, very poor, and he had five children already. So he
called for his horse, and rode into York; and passed by the father's
house, and saw him sitting by the door, sad and doleful. So he
dismounted and went up to him and said: "What is the matter, my good
man?" And the man said: "Well, your honour, the fact is, I've five
children already, and now a sixth's come, a little lass, and where to
get the bread from to fill their mouths, that's more than I can say."
be downhearted, my man," said the Baron. "If that's your trouble, I can
help you. I'll take away the last little one, and you wont have to
bother about her."
you kindly, sir," said the man; and he went in and brought out the lass
and gave her to the Baron, who mounted his horse and rode away with
her. And when he got by the bank of the river Ouse, he threw the
little, thing into the river, and rode off to his castle.
the little lass didn't sink; her clothes kept her up for a time, and
she floated, and she floated, till she was cast ashore just in front of
a fisherman's hut. There the fisherman found her, and took pity on the
poor little thing and took her into his house, and she lived there till
she was fifteen years old, and a fine handsome girl.
day it happened that the Baron went out hunting with some companions
along the banks of the River Ouse, and stopped at the fisherman's hut
to get a drink, and the girl came out to give it to them. They all
noticed her beauty, and one of them said to the Baron: "You can read
fates, Baron, whom will she marry, d'ye think?"
that's easy to guess," said the Baron; "some yokel or other. But I'll
cast her horoscope. Come here girl, and tell me on what day you were
don't know, sir," said the girl, "I was picked up just here after
having been brought down by the river about fifteen years ago."
the Baron knew who she was, and when they went away, he rode back and
said to the girl: "Hark ye, girl, I will make your fortune. Take this
letter to my brother in Scarborough, and you will be settled for life."
And the girl took the letter and said she would go. Now this was what
he had written in the letter:
"Dear Brother,—Take the bearer and put her to death immediately.
soon after the girl set out for Scarborough, and slept for the night at
a little inn. Now that very night a band of robbers broke into the inn,
and searched the girl, who had no money, and only the letter. So they
opened this and read it, and thought it a shame. The captain of the
robbers took a pen and paper and wrote this letter:
"Dear Brother,—Take the bearer and marry her to my son immediately.
then he gave it to the girl, bidding her begone. So she went on to the
Baron's brother at Scarborough, a noble knight, with whom the Baron's
son was staying. When she gave the letter to his brother, he gave
orders for the wedding to be prepared at once, and they were married
that very day.
after, the Baron himself came to his brother's castle, and what was his
surprise to find that the very thing he had plotted against had come to
pass. But he was not to be put off that way; and he took out the girl
for a walk, as he said, along the cliffs. And when he got her all
alone, he took her by the arms, and was going to throw her over. But
she begged hard for her life. "I have not done anything," she said: "if
you will only spare me, I will do whatever you wish. I will never see
you or your son again till you desire it." Then the Baron took off his
gold ring and threw it into the sea, saying: "Never let me see your
face till you can show me that ring;" and he let her go.
poor girl wandered on and on, till at last she came to a great noble's
castle, and she asked to have some work given to her; and they made her
the scullion girl of the castle, for she had been used to such work in
the fisherman's hut.
one day, who should she see coming up to the noble's house but the
Baron and his brother and his son, her husband. She didn't know what to
do; but thought they would not see her in the castle kitchen. So she
went back to her work with a sigh, and set to cleaning a huge big fish
that was to be boiled for their dinner. And, as she was cleaning it,
she saw something shine inside it, and what do you think she found?
Why, there was the Baron's ring, the very one he had thrown over the
cliff at Scarborough. She was right glad to see it, you may be sure.
Then she cooked the fish as nicely as she could, and served it up.
when the fish came on the table, the guests liked it so well that they
asked the noble who cooked it. He said he didn't know, but called to
his servants: "Ho, there, send up the cook that cooked that fine fish."
So they went down to the kitchen and told the girl she was wanted in
the hall. Then she washed and tidied herself and put the Baron's gold
ring on her thumb and went up into the hall.
the banqueters saw such a young and beautiful cook they were surprised.
But the Baron was in a tower of a temper, and started up as if he would
do her some violence. So the girl went up to him with her hand before
her with the ring on it; and she put it down before him on the table.
Then at last the Baron saw that no one could fight against Fate, and he
handed her to a seat and announced to all the company that this was his
son's true wife; and he took her and his son home to his castle; and
they all lived as happy as could be ever afterwards.