How A Fish Swam In The Air And A Hare In The Water

: The Violet Fairy Book

Once upon a time an old man and his wife lived together in a

little village. They might have been happy if only the old woman

had had the sense to hold her tongue at proper times. But

anything which might happen indoors, or any bit of news which her

husband might bring in when he had been anywhere, had to be told

at once to the whole village, and these tales were repeated and

altered till it often happened that much
ischief was made, and

the old man's back paid for it.

One day, he drove to the forest. When he reached the edge of it

he got out of his cart and walked beside it. Suddenly he stepped

on such a soft spot that his foot sank in the earth.

'What can this be?' thought he. 'I'll dig a bit and see.'

So he dug and dug, and at last he came on a little pot full of

gold and silver.

'Oh, what luck! Now, if only I knew how I could take this

treasure home with me----but I can never hope to hide it from my

wife, and once she knows of it she'll tell all the world, and

then I shall get into trouble.'

He sat down and thought over the matter a long time, and at last

he made a plan. He covered up the pot again with earth and

twigs, and drove on into the town, where he bought a live pike

and a live hare in the market.

Then he drove back to the forest and hung the pike up at the very

top of a tree, and tied up the hare in a fishing net and fastened

it on the edge of a little stream, not troubling himself to think

how unpleasant such a wet spot was likely to be to the hare.

Then he got into his cart and trotted merrily home.

'Wife!' cried he, the moment he got indoors. 'You can't think

what a piece of good luck has come our way.'

'What, what, dear husband? Do tell me all about it at once.'

'No, no, you'll just go off and tell everyone.'

'No, indeed! How can you think such things! For shame! If you

like I will swear never to----'

'Oh, well! if you are really in earnest then, listen.'

And he whispered in her ear: 'I've found a pot full of gold and

silver in the forest! Hush!----'

'And why didn't you bring it back?'

'Because we'll drive there together and bring it carefully back

between us.'

So the man and his wife drove to the forest.

As they were driving along the man said:

'What strange things one hears, wife! I was told only the other

day that fish will now live and thrive in the tree tops and that

some wild animals spend their time in the water. Well! well!

times are certainly changed.'

'Why, you must be crazy, husband! Dear, dear, what nonsense

people do talk sometimes.'

'Nonsense, indeed! Why, just look. Bless my soul, if there

isn't a fish, a real pike I do believe, up in that tree.'

'Gracious!' cried his wife. 'How did a pike get there? It IS a

pike--you needn't attempt to say it's not. Can people have said


But the man only shook his head and shrugged his shoulders and

opened his mouth and gaped as if he really could not believe his

own eyes.

'What are you standing staring at there, stupid?' said his wife.

'Climb up the tree quick and catch the pike, and we'll cook it

for dinner.'

The man climbed up the tree and brought down the pike, and they

drove on.

When they got near the stream he drew up.

'What are you staring at again?' asked his wife impatiently.

'Drive on, can't you?'

'Why, I seem to see something moving in that net I set. I must

just go and see what it is.'

He ran to it, and when he had looked in it he called to his wife:

'Just look! Here is actually a four-footed creature caught in

the net. I do believe it's a hare.'

'Good heavens!' cried his wife. 'How did the hare get into your

net? It IS a hare, so you needn't say it isn't. After all,

people must have said the truth----'

But her husband only shook his head and shrugged his shoulders as

if he could not believe his own eyes.

'Now what are you standing there for, stupid?' cried his wife.

'Take up the hare. A nice fat hare is a dinner for a feast day.'

The old man caught up the hare, and they drove on to the place

where the treasure was buried. They swept the twigs away, dug up

the earth, took out the pot, and drove home again with it.

And now the old couple had plenty of money and were cheery and

comfortable. But the wife was very foolish. Every day she asked

a lot of people to dinner and feasted them, till her husband grew

quite impatient. He tried to reason with her, but she would not


'You've got no right to lecture me!' said she. 'We found the

treasure together, and together we will spend it.'

Her husband took patience, but at length he said to her: 'You

may do as you please, but I sha'n't give you another penny.'

The old woman was very angry. 'Oh, what a good-for-nothing

fellow to want to spend all the money himself! But just wait a

bit and see what I shall do.'

Off she went to the governor to complain of her husband.

'Oh, my lord, protect me from my husband! Ever since he found

the treasure there is no bearing him. He only eats and drinks,

and won't work, and he keeps all the money to himself.'

The governor took pity on the woman, and ordered his chief

secretary to look into the matter.

The secretary called the elders of the village together, and went

with them to the man's house.

'The governor,' said he, 'desires you to give all that treasure

you found into my care.'

The man shrugged his shoulders and said: 'What treasure? I know

nothing about a treasure.'

'How? You know nothing? Why your wife has complained of you.

Don't attempt to tell lies. If you don't hand over all the money

at once you will be tried for daring to raise treasure without

giving due notice to the governor about it.'

'Pardon me, your excellency, but what sort of treasure was it

supposed to have been? My wife must have dreamt of it, and you

gentlemen have listened to her nonsense.'

'Nonsense, indeed,' broke in his wife. 'A kettle full of gold

and silver, do you call that nonsense?'

'You are not in your right mind, dear wife. Sir, I beg your

pardon. Ask her how it all happened, and if she convinces you

I'll pay for it with my life.'

'This is how it all happened, Mr. Secretary,' cried the wife.

'We were driving through the forest, and we saw a pike up in the

top of a tree----'

'What, a PIKE?' shouted the secretary. 'Do you think you may

joke with me, pray?'

'Indeed, I'm not joking, Mr. Secretary! I'm speaking the bare


'Now you see, gentlemen,' said her husband, 'how far you can

trust her, when she chatters like this.'

'Chatter, indeed? I!! Perhaps you have forgotten, too, how we

found a live hare in the river?'

Everyone roared with laughter; even the secretary smiled and

stroked his beard, and the man said:

'Come, come, wife, everyone is laughing at you. You see for

yourself, gentlemen, how far you can believe her.'

'Yes, indeed,' said the village elders, 'it is certainly the

first time we have heard that hares thrive in the water or fish

among the tree tops.'

The secretary could make nothing of it all, and drove back to the

town. The old woman was so laughed at that she had to hold her

tongue and obey her husband ever after, and the man bought wares

with part of the treasure and moved into the town, where he

opened a shop, and prospered, and spent the rest of his days in