Fairy Tale Friday: The Fish and the Ring

September 3, 2010 at 12:00 am 2 comments

Once upon a time in England there was a magician/baron who, whilst practicing his necromancy, learned that his son was fated to marry the daughter of a pauper down in the village. This daughter had just been born so the magician/baron swept down into the village and bought her from her poor father. (He apparently had many other children and could not even venture to think what he could possibly do with another.) The magician/baron, horrified that his near son would one day ally himself so low, proceeded to toss the newborn girl into a nearby river. The girl, however, being already lovely and virtuous, floated along the river to the house of a kindly fisherman who proceeded to raise her as his own.

One day some years later (after the girl had grown into a beautiful young woman, as girls in these sorts of stories are wont to do, and after the magician/baron had grown even more proud and nefarious, as villains in these sorts of stories are also wont to do if their villainy goes unchecked), the magician/baron was out hunting with a companion. The companion spotted the lovely maiden down by the river and immediately inquired who such a girl of unsurpassed loveliness was to marry.

“Never mind answering that, girl,” said the magician/baron. “For I am a magician and I will tell your fortune!” Dazzled, the girl assented. “Just tell me your birthday and I will reveal all,” the magician/baron promised. And the girl told him all about her day of birth and the curious circumstances that eventually led to her being the fisherman’s ward.

The magician/baron, being rather intelligent as well as proud, nefarious, and imbued with poorly defined magical powers, immediately put two and two together and realized who she was. Thus astonished and dismayed, he gave up telling her fortune and engaged her to deliver a letter to his brother. Again, she readily assented and took the letter in her hand and set off through the wood. Of course, she did not know of the magician/baron’s evil ways nor did she know that the letter was no “How fare you, dear brother!” note but rather an order to have her murdered or she no doubt would have thought twice about bearing a letter from the magician/baron.

On her way through the wood, she was set upon by a band of robbers. Happily for her, they turned out to be agreeable, literate robbers who wished nothing more than to help her on her way. So, unbeknownst to her and for reasons quite passing understanding (for what was there concern in the affair?), they altered the magician/baron’s letter to say that she should immediately be wed to his son rather than killed. Thus, upon her arrival at the brother’s home, she was tossed into the nearest church and soon emerged as Mrs. Son-of-the-Magician/Baron.

The magician/baron, hearing of this, flew into a rage and dragged her off to walk with him on a perilous cliff that was conveniently located near his castle. She begged him not to toss her off the precipice and he relented. Instead, he snatched off her golden wedding ring and threw it off the cliff instead.

“Never,” he hissed angrily at her. “Never come into my sight or that of my son’s without that ring!” He then turned on his heel and stomped angrily back to the castle, leaving her fretting at the cliff’s edge. Not knowing what else to do, but still having all the skills in making various fish-based dishes that only the ward of a fisherman may possess, the girl engaged herself in a nearby kitchen.

One day while working there, she set about preparing a particularly large and fine fish that had been recently caught in the ocean near the castle. To her surprise, as she slit open its big gut, her wedding ring fell out! Not wanting to make a fuss, she finished cooking the magnificent fish and sent it up as usual. The magician/baron happened to be a guest at the dinner table that night and marveled at the delectable poisson. He and the other guests insisted upon meeting the cook of such a fine meal. Imagine his surprise when the girl appeared–and wearing her wedding ring!

Momentarily dumbstruck, the magician/baron suddenly started laughing. “You truly can’t fight fate!” he finally crowed and accepted the beautiful girl as his daughter-in-law. She then proceeded to live happily ever after with her son-of-the-magician/baron. The end.

Moral of the story? Based on this and other English fairy tales, going to work in a kitchen seems to be the best way to eventually prove yourself and marry well if you’re a wronged heroine!



Entry filed under: Fairy Tale Friday. Tags: , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kate  |  September 3, 2010 at 8:27 am

    First, THANK YOU for posting! Second, I love both the story and the retelling — amazing. It’s half convinced me to go apply for a job as a waitress or a line cook or something, in the hopes of nabbing a Sun Valley native with a trust fund.

    • 2. Corey  |  September 16, 2010 at 7:14 am

      I’m super-belatedly responding to this, but no problem! It definitely gave me a new-found appreciation for the opportunities available to those who work in kitchens near the manorial estates of wicked barons. (Or, in your case, near the ski lodges of trust fund babies!)


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