Once upon a time, there was a young prince who was never satisfied with what he had. Prince George was never content. In spite of everything he enjoyed as a Prince, he always needed and wanted more.
One day, the king summoned Prince George.
“My cousin Prince Andrew has invited me for a visit to see his new boat. I am sending you in my place and convey my deepest apologies for my absence. Henry, my faithful servant will go with you.”
The prince went to Prince Andrew’s estate where he was received warmly by Prince Andrew and his wife, Princess Matilda. They were to spend two days sailing in the new boat.
Everything went well until Prince George was escorted to his bedchamber in the boat. It was not good enough for him.
“I need a bigger and better bedchamber,” he demanded.
He was shown two other rooms before he found one to his satisfaction. At dinner, he made a fuss over the wine, the food, and even the seating arrangements. He complained about the waves which rocked the boat from time to time.
“If you have a bigger boat, it can withstand the waves, and we would be comfortable,” Prince George told his hosts.
Unknown to everyone, Princess Matilda was a witch, the good type I suppose. She had been very patient with the young prince but her annoyance was becoming evident.
Early the following day, Prince George wandered to the deck of the boat, and he came across Princess Matilda.
“I assume you are not happy with your stay here, your highness, considering your many complaints and insufferable demands?” Princess Matilda asked.
Prince George did not like what the older Princess said.
“You are right, Princess Matilda, your boat doesn’t really meet my approval. It is not fit for royal guests. And to think you were so bold as to invite the king himself.”
“The King would have shown us courtesy, whereas you have been nothing but selfish and inconsiderate.”
“Do I need to remind you that you are talking to the future King?”
“With that attitude, you will never become king.” Princess Matilda waved her hand and Prince George was covered in mist.
“I will turn you into a fish who will grant wishes. You love to demand for things you thought you deserved. People will wish for unbearable things from you. You have to grant them however impossible they are. If you reject one wish, you will be a fish forever.”
When the mist cleared, Prince George was gone and in its place on the floor, a golden fish jumped up and down screaming, “What have you done? Undo this immediately! You will be punished for this!”
“I have put you under a spell which can only be broken when you find someone who will wish for a simple thing and be content with it.”
Henry came into the deck just in time to see the whole thing. When Princess Matilda saw him, Henry rushed to pick up the golden fish and jumped off the deck into the water but as he dropped into the sea, he also turned into a fish, a gray fish.
They swam away from the boat, knowing in their hearts that they had to live in the sea for the rest of their lives unless they find someone with a contented spirit.
One day, as the golden fish was swimming alone, he saw a lone fisherman sitting on a small boat with his rod. He swam in front of the fisherman and called out, “Fisherman, can you hear me?”
The fisherman was filled with fear when he saw the golden fish.
“A talking fish!” the fisherman cried as he stood up and lost his balance. He fell off his boat and swam away with all his might.
He told Henry about the fisherman.
“Why did you not tell him you can grant him one wish,” Henry asked.
“He looked so frightened, Henry. Of course, a talking fish would scare off people.”
“Others would catch us and sell us for gold,” Henry said.
Suddenly, they heard a voice, “Oh, fish, golden fish… please show yourself to me. I am the fisherman who ran away.”
“Henry, he’s back.”
“Let’s go and find out why.”
They swam to where the fisherman was and the golden fish asked, “What do you want?”
“My wife says that a talking fish could be an enchanted being who could grant wishes. Can you?”
“Yes, I can grant wishes. And yes, I am an enchanted prince. What do you want?”
“It’s not me but my wife. She wants a cottage because she does not want to live in a small hut anymore.”
“Go home, she has it already,” the fish said.
“Let’s hope she is content with that one simple wish,” Henry muttered.
Days later, Henry and his master wondered why they remained fish after that simple wish. They wondered if it was really granted. Then they heard the fisherman’s voice, “Oh, golden fish… please show yourself to me.”
“I hope he is here to thank me for the cottage,” he said to Henry.
“What do you want fisherman?” the golden fish asked.
“It’s my wife. She got the cottage but now she wants a stone castle,” the fisherman said uneasily.
The fish was disappointed but he said, “Go home, she has it already.”
“This woman is not content with what she has,” he said to Henry irritably.
Few days passed and he heard the voice again, “Oh, golden fish… please show yourself to me.”
He came up, “What is it this time?”
“My wife wants to be king…” the fisherman said nervously.
The fish hated the fisherman’s wife for being greedy and selfish, but he could not refuse the wish, “Go home. She is king already.”
The very next day, the fisherman came again. His wife wants to be Emperor.
“Go home, she is already Emperor,” the fish said angrily.
Henry was sad to see his master so conflicted.
“I did not want to grant that crazy woman’s wish anymore, but what can I do? I don’t want to be a fish forever.”
“You highness, she is now emperor. Maybe that’s it. She could not become more. She will be content.”
“Henry, this has taught me a lesson. I am like that woman. If I return to my human form, I will be content with whatever I have.”
The following day, the fisherman came calling again. This time his wife wants to be Pope.
The fish thought, “That crazy woman does not deserve to be Pope! But if I don’t grant her wish, I will never see my father and mother again.”
“Go home,” the fish finally said, “she is Pope already.”
“Oh, if only Princess Matilda had been more tolerant …” Henry lamented.
“Princess Matilda wanted to teach me a lesson, Henry. I deserve it. The crazy woman is now Pope. She could not be anything more. Her wishes will stop. But where do we find someone who could wish a simple thing and be content?”
If they thought the wishes had stopped, they were wrong. The very next day, the fisherman’s voice was heard again.
The golden fish came up to him and asked furiously, “What is it now?”
The fisherman said fearfully, “My wife wants to make the sun and moon rise by herself. She wants to be like God.”
The fish suddenly dived down and jumped up in the air, “How dare you wish to be like God!” He dived again and came back up before he settled in the water. “When are you going to stop asking for more? Your wife is greedy! You should have stopped her! You are a weak man! No! Not only do I reject your wish, I am going to return you to your old hut and become as poor as you were before!”
The sky suddenly turned dark, lightning cracked and the thunder was deafening. The waves rose up high which tossed the fisherman’s boat to and fro.
The fish floated with the waves and resigned to being fish all his life. If fishes could sob, he was sobbing, “How can one be so arrogant as to wish to be like God? I won’t be part of it!”
Henry was stunned by his master’s decision to reject the wish. He was proud of his master but sad for their fate.
The sea calmed down, and the sky turned blue. Then a mist appeared and as it cleared, they saw Princess Matilda standing on water, “When you gave up your life as a Prince to do the right thing, you have melted my heart. The spell is broken.”
Suddenly, two dazed men were afloat on sea. They couldn’t believe what just happened. Princess Margaret tossed them blankets before she vanished.
The King and Queen had mourned the disappearance of their son. Prince Andrew informed them that Prince George accidentally fell overboard and his servant jumped into the water to save him but both were nowhere to be found.
When they returned, there was a huge celebration in the palace. Henry and the Prince both agreed to keep their adventure a secret.
When his father asked him if he wanted to be king, Prince George replied, “I am happy with what I have now, Father. I will be king when the right time comes.”
One day, while Prince George and Henry were riding through the Fisherman’s Village, they spotted a little hut next to the shore.
They stopped and came to the hut. A couple came out to greet them. Prince George recognized the fisherman immediately.
“So, this is the crazy wife,” he thought.
They were so poor and the Prince was moved. He left them some pieces of gold to help improve their life.
“I hope she learned her lesson,” Henry said as they galloped away.
“I hope she did, because I did,” the prince agreed.
"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
This story is a Fractured Fairy Tale based on a Grimms' Fairy Tale "The Fisherman and His Wife.".
© 2020 Norma
Anya Ali from Rabwah, Pakistan on February 02, 2020:
Engrossing! Thank you for posting it here!