Turkish: The Fish-Peri

To see all the illustrations for this story, you can read the online edition of the book at Internet Archive: The Fish-Peri.

 This story is about a Turkish "peri," what we might call a "fairy." The word is Persian in origin: pari. You can read more about Middle Eastern peris at Wikipedia.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Turkish Fairy Tales unit. Story source: Forty-four Turkish Fairy Tales by Ignacz Kunos, with illustrations by Willy Pogany (1913).

The Fish-Peri

THERE was once a fisherman of the name of Mahomet who made a living by catching fish and selling them. One day, being seriously ill and having no hope of recovery, he requested that, after his death, his wife should never reveal to their son that their livelihood had been derived from the sale of fish.

The fisherman died, and time passed away until the son reached an age when he should begin to think about an occupation. He tried many things, but in none did he succeed. Soon afterwards his mother also died, and the boy found himself alone in the world and destitute, without food or money. One day he ascended to the lumber-room of the house, hoping to find there something he might be able to sell.

During his search he discovered his father's old fishing-net. The sight of it convinced the youth that his father had been a fisherman, so he took the net and went to the sea. A modest success attended his efforts, for he caught two fish, one of which he sold, purchasing bread and coal with the money. The remaining fish he cooked over the coal he had bought and, having eaten it, he resolved that he would follow the occupation of a fisherman.

It happened one day that he caught a fish so fine that it grieved him either to sell it or to eat it. So he took it home, dug a well, and put the fish therein. He went supperless to bed and, being hungry, he got up early next morning to catch more fish.

When he came home in the evening, we may imagine his astonishment at finding that his house had been swept and put in order during his absence. Thinking, however, that he owed it to his neighbours' kindness, he prayed for them and called down Allah's blessing upon them.

Next morning he rose as usual, cheered himself with a sight of the fish in the well, and went to his daily work. On returning in the evening he found that again everything in the house had been made beautifully clean and tidy.

After amusing himself for some time by watching the fish, he went to a coffeehouse where he tried to think who it could be that had put his house in order. His reflective mood was noticed by one of his companions, who asked what he was thinking about. When the youth had told the story, his companion inquired where the key was kept and who remained at home during the fisherman's absence. The youth informed him that he carried the key with him and that there was no living creature about except the fish. The companion then advised him to remain at home next day and watch in secret.

The youth accordingly went home, and next morning instead of going out, merely made a pretence of doing so. He opened the door and closed it again, and then hid himself in the house.

All at once he saw the fish jump out of the well and shake itself, when behold! it became a beautiful maiden. The youth quickly seized the fish's skin, which it had shed, and cast it into the fire. "You should not have done that," said the maiden reprovingly, "but as it cannot now be helped, it does not matter."

Being thus set free, the maiden consented to become the youth's wife, and preparations were made for the wedding. All who saw the maiden were bewildered by her beauty and said she was worthy to become the bride of a Padishah.

This news reaching the ears of the Padishah, he ordered her to be brought before him. When he saw her he fell in love with her instantly and determined to marry her.

Therefore, he sent for the youth, and said to him: "If in forty days you can build me a palace of gold and diamonds in the middle of the sea, I will not deprive you of the girl, but if you fail, I shall take her away."

The youth went home very sadly and wept.

"Why do you weep?" asked the maiden.

He told her what the Padishah had commanded, but she said cheerfully: "Do not weep; we shall manage it. Go to the spot where you caught me as a fish and cast in a stone. An Arab will appear and utter the words 'your command?' Tell him the lady sends her compliments and requests a cushion. He will give you one; take it, and cast it into the sea where the Padishah wishes his palace built. Then return home."





(800 words)






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