Journey With Story


Journey With Story

The Fisherman and his Wife E137


A Classic Fairytale to Remind Us to Be Grateful for What We Have

A Grimms Fairytale about an old woman whose husband catches a fish that grants them whatever they wish for, but the old woman is so discontented with every wish she is granted and so keeps asking for more and more to try and satisfy her greed.  (duration – 16 minutes)  An episode from Journey with Story, a storytelling podcast for kids.

The Fisherman and His Wife:E137

Kathleen’s new picture book, Five Little Angels launches tomorrow- May 14th. Be sure to join us on on Instagram@journeywithstory to learn more about the book and to enter our giveaway of the book and lots of other fun prizes.



Wondering what nice thing you are planning to do for your mum this mother’s day – if you live in the States?  And even if you don’t live in States, you still might want to do something nice for your mum! 

Happy Mother’s Day to all you wonderful Mums wherever you live!  

Join me next time for Journey with Story. 

My new book, Five Little Angels, is out this month! To celebrate, we have a few special prizes. This week, we will be offering 5 lucky winners a personalized, signed copy of the book. For more information, on the contest, please head over to my Instagram @journeywithstory. Stay tuned to the podcast this month for more ways to enter and more exciting prizes! 


Have you ever met someone who, no matter what he or she has, is just never happy?  He or she is always wanting something more, something better, something bigger.  We might call that kind of person very ungrateful, or even greedy?  How do you feel when you are around such a greedy, ungrateful person?  Yeah, it is not much fun, is it, because it makes you feel miserable too, right? 


Hello everyone. I’m Kathleen Pelley.  Welcome to Journey with Story.  Today’s tale is an old story about just this sort of person – an old woman, who, no matter what she gets, ends up wanting more and more and more – she is never ever contented. 



Let’s take a journey with… 



Once there was a fisherman and his wife who lived together in a hut by the seashore.  Every day the fisherman went out with his hook and line to catch fish. 


One day he was sitting with his rod, looking into the clear water, when suddenly, his line plunged deep deep down to the bottom of the water.  When he pulled it up, there was a huge fish on the hook. 


The fish said to him, “Fisherman, listen to me.  Let me go.  I am not a real fish but an enchanted prince.  What good shall I be to you, if you take me?  I will not taste very good at all.  So please, put me back into the water and let me swim away.” 


“Well, “ said the fisherman, “no need to worry.  Since you can speak, then I would rather let you swim away and leave you be.”  And so he dropped him back into the sea, and went home to his wife in the hut. 


“Well, husband,” said the wife, “did you catch anything today?” 


“No,” said the man.  “That is I did catch a huge fish, but he said he was really an enchanted prince, and so I let him go again.” 


“But did you not at least wish for something?” asked his wife. 


“No, what should I have wished for?” 


“Oh dear,” said his wife.  “It is dreadful that we have to live in this hovel of a hut.  You could at least have wished for a little cottage.  I dare say he will give it to us. Go, quick and ask him!” 


When the fisherman returned to the spot where he had caught the fish, the sea was green and murky, not at all clear as it had been before. So he stood and called out,  


“Oh, man of the sea, come listen to me. 

For Alice, my wife, the plague of my life, 

Has sent me to ask a favor of thee.” 


At once the fish popped up and said, “What does she want?” 


“My wife says I should have asked you for something when I caught you. She doesn’t want to live in our hut anymore. She wants a cottage.” 


“Go home,” said the fish.  “She has it already.” 


So the man went home and found, instead of a hut, a little cottage, and his wife sitting on a bench in front of the door. 


“She led him by the hand, saying, “See, isn’t this a great deal better than that hut?” 


They went inside and cooed in delight to see the sitting room, a cozy little bedroom, a cheery kitchen and a larder and outside a little yard with chickens and ducks and a garden brimming with green vegetables and all manner of sweet, ripe fruit. 


“Isn’t this wonderful?” said the wife. 


“Yes,” agreed her husband.  “If it will only last, we  we can be happy here the rest of our days. 


“We will see about that,” said his wife. 



All went well for a few weeks.  Then one day the wife said, “Look here, husband.  This cottage is all together too small.  I think the fish should give us a larger house.  I would like to live in a grand, stone castle.   Go to your fish and ask him for that!” 


“Oh, good wife,” wailed the man.  “This cottage is good enough for us, why would we want a castle?” 


“Get along,” ordered the wife.  “He might as well give it to us as not.  Do as I say!” 


Now the man was reluctant to go.  He said to himself, “This is not right.” 


But still, he went.  When he came to the seaside, the water was purple and dark blue, and gray and dark, not green and yellow as before. 


The man stood and called out, 

“Oh, man of the sea, come listen to me, 

For Alice my wife, the plague of my life, 

Has sent me to ask a favor of thee.” 


“Now then, what does she want?” asked the fish, popping his head out of the water. 

“Oh,” said the man, startled, “She…she wants to live in a large, stone castle.” 


“Go home.  She is already standing in front of the door,” said the fish. 


When the man arrived home, there in place of the cottage was a great stone castle, with his wife standing outside on the steps.  She took him by his hand and led him inside. 


They stared in wonder at the marble floors, the passages decked with tapestries, and rooms filled with golden chairs and tables.  Crystal chandeliers hung from the ceilings, the tables were laden with all kinds of delicious food, and servants bowed down as they passed them by.   


At the back of the house was a stable for horses and cattle and carriages fit for a king.  Besides, there was a splendid garden with sweet smelling flowers and rows of trees laden with the finest fruit. And as far as the eye could see, was a huge park with deer, oxen, sheep and everything the heart could wish for. 


“There,” said the wife.  “Is this not beautiful?” 


“Yes,” said the man.  “If it will only last, we can be happy here for the rest of our days.” 


“We will see about that,” said his wife.   


The next morning, the wife awakened at dawn, looked out of her window, and saw the beautiful country lying all around. 


“Husband,” she called, “look out the window.  Just think if we could be King over all this country.  Go to your fish and tell him we should like to be King.” 


“Now, wife, why should we want to be Kings for?  I don’t want to be King.” 


“Well,” said the wife, “if you don’t want to be King, I will be.  Go at once to the fish and tell him that I must be King.” 


Again, the man was reluctant to go, and yet, he went all the same. 


 And when he came to the sea, it was quite dark-grey, and the water heaved and billowed.  Then he went and stood by it, and called, 


 Oh, man of the sea, come listen to me, 

For Alice my wife, the plague of my life, 

Has sent me to ask a favor of thee.” 


“Well, what does she want, now?” said the fish.  


“Alas, said the man, she wants to be king.”  


“Go to her. She is king already.” 


So the man went, and when he arrived home, he found the castle had become a palace with a great tower and magnificent ornaments, and the sentinel was standing before the door, and there were numbers of soldiers with kettle-drums and trumpets. 


 And when he went inside everything was of real marble and gold, with velvet covers and great golden tassels.  


Then the doors of the hall were opened, and there was the court in all its splendor, and his wife was sitting on a high throne of gold and diamonds, with a great crown of gold on her head, and a scepter of pure gold and jewels in her hand, and on both sides of her stood her maids-in-waiting in a row, each of them always one head shorter than the last.  


Then he went and stood before her, and said, “Ah, wife, and now you are king.”  


“Yes,” said the woman, “now I am king.”  


So he stood and looked at her, and when he had looked at her in this way for some time, he said, “And now that you are king, let all else be, now we will wish for nothing more.”  


“No, husband,” said the woman, quite anxiously, “I find time passes very heavily, I can bear it no longer. Go to the fish and tell him, thanow I am King, I must be Emperor.  Go at once. If he can make a king he can make an emperor. I will be emperor. Go instantly.”  


So the man was forced to go. As he went, however, he was troubled in mind, and thought to himself, it will not end well. It will not end well. Emperor is too shameless. The fish will at last be tired out.  


With that he reached the sea, and the sea was quite black and thick, and began to boil up from below, so that it threw up bubbles, and such a sharp wind blew over it that it curdled, and the man was afraid. Then he went and stood by it, and called,  


 Oh, man of the sea, come listen to me, 

For Alice my wife, the plague of my life, 

Has sent me to ask a favor of thee.” 


“Well, what does she want, now?” said the fish. 


“Alas, fish,” said he, “my wife wants to be emperor.”  


“Go to her,” said the flounder. “She is emperor already.” 


So the man went, and when he got there the whole palace was made of polished marble with alabaster figures and golden ornaments, and soldiers were marching before the door blowing trumpets, and beating cymbals and drums.  


And in the house, barons, and counts, and dukes were going about as servants. Then they opened the doors to him, which were of pure gold. 


 And when he entered, there sat his wife on a throne, which was made of one piece of gold, and was quite two miles high. And she wore a great golden crown that was three yards high, and set with diamonds and carbuncles, and in one hand she had the scepter, and in the other the imperial orb.  


And on both sides of her stood the yeomen of the guard in two rows, each being smaller than the one before him, from the biggest giant, who was two miles high, to the very smallest dwarf, just as big as my little finger. And before it stood a number of princes and dukes. 


Then the man went and stood among them, and said, “Wife, are you emperor now?“  


“Yes,” said she, now I am emperor.  


Then he stood and looked at her well, and when he had looked at her in this way for some time, he said, “Ah, wife, be content, now that you are emperor.”  


“We will see about that,” said his wife. 


With that they went to bed. But the wife could not sleep for thinking about what she would like to be next. 


The following morning, as she sat before the window, watching the sunrise, she said, “Oh, I know what I must have.  What if I should make the sun and the moonrise?  Husband,” she called, “wake up and go to your fish and tell him I want power over the sun and the moon.” 


“Oh wife,” said the man.  “The fish cannot do that.  Be contented, I beg you.” 


Husband,” said she, “what nonsense! If he can make me an emperor he can give me this power. Go to him directly. I am emperor, and you are nothing but my husband. Will you go at once.” 


So off he went as best he could, so full of fear was he.  And a high wind blew over the land, and the clouds flew, and towards evening all grew dark, and the leaves fell from the trees, and the water rose and roared as if it were boiling, and splashed upon the shore. He stood my the shore, trembling with fear and called out, 


 Oh, man of the sea, come listen to me, 

For Alice my wife, the plague of my life, 

Has sent me to ask a favor of thee.” 


“Well, what does she want, now?” said the fish. 


“Alas,” said the man, “she wants to order the sun and the moon.” 


“Go home with you,” said the fish, “and you will find her in the old hut.” 


And there they both are sitting to this very day. 


So, that fisherman’s wife was one discontented woman, wasn’t she?  Absolutely nothing pleased her!  She was so greedy, wasn’t she?  


Do you think she deserved to end up with nothing?  What about her husband, the fisherman, why do you think, he agreed to keep asking the fish for more and more?   This story is certainly a good reminder for us all to try and be grateful for what we do have.   As a matter of fact, when I go to schools and talk to children about writing, one tip I always share – every day, write down one thing you are most grateful for – if you do that, then you will never run out of things to write about, and you will always be a grateful person – and – a happy person. 


Grateful for all of you, loyal listeners! 


Cheerio then, join me next time for Journey with Story.

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