The Fish and the Ring
ONCE upon a time there was a rich
baron in the north of England. He was a great magician and knew everything
that was going to happen in the future. So one day, when his little son was
four years old, he looked into his magic books to see the future of his son.
And he found out that his son would be married to a poor girl who had just
been born 1 in the city of York. The baron knew that the
father of the little girl was very, very poor, and he had five children
already. So the baron got on to his horse and rode to York. He saw the man as
he passed by his house. The poor father was sitting by the door, sad and
unhappy. So the baron got down off his horse, went up to the house and said,
"What is the matter, my good man?"
And the man said, "I have five
children already, and now the sixth has just been born. Where can I get the
bread to fill all their mouths?"
"If that is your trouble, I can help
you," said the baron, "I'll take away the last little baby, and you won't have
to think about it."
"Thank you very much, sir," said the
man, and he went in and brought out a baby girl and gave her to the baron. The
baron got on to his horse and rode away with the baby. Then as he rode by the
bank of the River Ouse, he threw the child into the river and rode off to his
But the baby girl did not sink. Her
clothes kept her up for a time, and she floated till she was carried to the
bank just in front of a fisherman's little house. The fisherman found her, and
he felt pity for the child. 2 He took it into his house and
gave it to his wife. So the little girl lived with the fisherman and his wife
till she was fifteen years old. She was now a beautiful young girl.
One day it happened that the baron and
some of his men were hunting along the banks of the River Ouse. It was a hot
day, and they wanted to drink. So they stopped at the fisherman's house and
asked for some water. The girl came out to give them water. They all noticed
her beauty, and one of them said to the baron, "You can read fates,
3 baron. Who will she marry? What do you think?"
"Oh, that's easy to guess," said the
baron, "some villager. Come here, girl, and tell me on what day you were
"I don't know, sir. I was picked up
just here by the river about fifteen years ago," said the girl.
Then the baron knew who she was, and
when they went away he rode back and said to the girl:
"I'll make your fortune, girl. Take
this letter to my brother in Scarborough, and he will take care of you for all
The girl took the letter and said,
"Thank you very much. I shall go to your brother."
Now this was what he had written in
Take this girl and put her to death
at once. 4
Your brother, Humphrey.
So soon the girl set out for
Scarborough. She slept the first night at a little inn, and that very night a
band of robbers broke into the inn. 5 They searched the girl,
who had no money, but they found the letter. They opened it and read it, and
thought it was a shame to kill the poor girl. The leader of the robbers took a
pen and paper and wrote this letter:
Take this girl and marry her to my
son at once.
Your brother, Humphrey.
He gave the letter to the girl and
told her to go to Scarborough.
So she went to the baron's brother.
This brother was a noble knight, and the baron's son was living in his house
at that time. When she gave the letter to the baron's brother, he ordered his
servants to prepare everything for the wedding at once, and the two young
people were married that very day.
Soon the baron himself came to his
brother's castle, and what was his surprise when he saw that his son was
married to the poor man's daughter. The baron took the girl out for a walk
towards the mountains by the sea. And when they were alone, he took her by the
arms, and was going to throw her into the sea. But she begged hard for her
life. "I have not done anything," she said, "if you spare my life,
6 I'll do all you wish. I'll never see you or your son again
till you wish it."
Then the baron took off his gold ring
and threw it into the sea. "Never let me see your face 7 till
you can show me the ring," he said and let her go.
The poor girl walked on and on, till
at last she came to a castle. She asked for work there and she was given work
in the kitchen.
One day the baron, his son and his
brother came to this castle: they were invited to the dinner. The poor girl
saw them through the window. She did not know what to do, but then she
thought, "They will not see me here in the kitchen."
So she went back to her work and began
to clean a great fish which she had to cook for the master's dinner. And as
she was cleaning it, she saw something inside it that shone like gold. And
what do you think she found? The baron's ring, the ring he had thrown into the
sea. She was very glad. Then she cooked the fish as nicely as she could, and
the servant took it to the hall.
Well, when the fish came on the table,
the guests liked it so much that they asked the master of the castle who had
cooked it. He said he didn't know, but called to his servants, "Send in the
cook who cooked that fine fish."
So they went down to the kitchen and
told the girl she was wanted in the hall. She put the baron's gold ring on her
thumb and went into the hall.
When the guests saw such a young,
beautiful cook, they were surprised. Only the baron was very angry and wanted
to hit her. But the girl went up to him and showed him her hand with the ring
on it. After that she took off the ring and put it down before him on the
Then the baron said, "What will be
will be," 8 and he told her to sit down and told the people
that this was his son's true wife. And he took her and his son home to his
castle; and they lived as happy as could be ever afterwards.
1 found out that his
son would he married to a poor girl who had just been born — узнал, что его
сын женится на бедной девушке, которая только что родилась
2 he felt pity for the
child — он пожалел ребенка
3 read fates — зд.
4 put her to death at
once — предай ее смерти немедленно
5 that very night a
band of robbers broke into the inn — в ту самую ночь шайка разбойников
ворвалась на постоялый двор
6 if you spare my life
— если вы пощадите меня
Never let me see your face
— Не смей показываться мне на глаза (букв. Чтобы я лица твоего больше не видел)
will be will be — Чему быть, того не