Fisher Joe

There was once a poor man, who had nothing in the world but his wife and

an unhappy son Joe. His continual and his only care was how to keep

them: so he determined to go fishing, and thus to keep them from day to

day upon whatever the Lord brought to his net. Suddenly both the old

folks died and left the unhappy son by himself; he went behind the oven

and did not come out till both father and mother were buried; he sat

three days behind the oven, and then remembered that his father had kept

them by fishing; so he got up, took his net, and went fishing below the

weir: there he fished till the skin began to peel off the palms of his

hands, and never caught so much as one fish. At last he said, "I will

cast my net once more, and then I will never do so again." So he cast

his net for the last time and drew to shore a golden fish. While he was

going home he thought he would give it to the lord of the manor, so that

perhaps he might grant a day's wages for it. When he got home he took

down a plate from the rack, took the fish from his bag, and laid it upon

the plate; but the fish slipped off the plate and changed into a lovely

girl, who said, "I am thine, and you are mine, love." The moment after

she asked, "Joe, did your father leave you anything?" "We had

something," replied her husband; "but my father was poor and he sold

everything; but," continued he, "do you see that high mountain yonder?

it is not sold yet, for it is too steep and no one would have it." Then

said his wife, "Let's go for a walk and look over the mountain." So they

went all over it, length and breadth, from furrow to furrow. When they

came to a furrow in the middle his wife said, "Let us sit down on a

ridge, my love, and rest a little." They sat down, and Joe laid his head

on his wife's lap and fell asleep. She then slipped off her cloak, made

it into a pillow, drew herself away, and laid Joe upon the pillow

without waking him. She rose, went away, uncoiled a large whip and

cracked it. The crack was heard over seven times seven countries. In a

moment as many dragons as existed came forth. "What are your Majesty's

commands?" said they. "My commands are these," replied she: "you see

this place--build a palace here, finer than any that exists in the

world; and whatever is needed in it must be there: stables for eight

bullocks and the bullocks in them, with two men to tend them; stalls for

eight horses and the horses in them, and two grooms to tend them; six

stacks in the yard, and twelve threshers in the barn." She was greatly

delighted when she saw her order completed, and thanked God that He had

given her what He had promised. "I shall now go," said she, "and wake my

husband." When she came to him he was still asleep. "Get up, my love,"

said she, "look after the threshers, the grooms, the oxen, and see that

all do their work, and that all the work be done, and give your orders

to the labourers; and now, my love, let us go into the house and see

that all is right. You give your orders to the men-servants, and I will

give mine to the maids. We have now enough to live on;" and Joe thanked

God for His blessings. He then told his wife that he would invite the

lord of the manor to dine with him on Whit Sunday. "Don't leave me,"

replied his wife; "for if he catch sight of me you will lose me. I will

see that the table is laid and all is ready; but a maid shall wait on

you. I will retire into an inner room lest he should see me."

Joe ordered the carriage and six, seated himself in it, the coachman sat

on the box, and away they went to the lord's house; they arrived at the

gate, Joe got out, went through the gate, and saw three stonemasons at

work in the yard; he greeted them and they returned the greeting. "Just

look," remarked one of them, "what Joe has become and how miserable he

used to be!" He entered the castle, and went into the lord's room. "Good

day, my lord." "God bless you, Joe, what news?" "I have come to ask your

lordship to dine with me on Whit Sunday, and we shall be very pleased to

see you." "I will come, Joe;" they then said good-bye and parted. After

Joe had gone the lord came into the courtyard, and the three masons

asked him "What did Joe want?" "He has invited me to dine with him," was

the reply, "and I am going." "Of course; you must go," said one of

them, "that you may see what sort of a house he keeps."

The lord set out in his carriage and four, with the coachman in front,

and arrived at the palace. Joe ran out to meet him, they saluted each

other, and entered arm in arm. They dined, and all went well till the

lord asked, "Well, Joe, and where is your wife?" "She is busy," said

Joe. "But I should like to see her," explained the baron. "She is rather

shy when in men's society," said Joe. They enjoyed themselves, lighted

their pipes and went for a walk over the palace. Then said the baron to

his servant, "Order the carriage at once;" it arrived, and Joe and he

said "Farewell." As the baron went through the gate he looked back and

saw Joe's wife standing at one of the windows, and at once fell so

deeply in love with her that he became dangerously ill; when he arrived

at home the footmen were obliged to carry him from his carriage and lay

him in his bed.

At daybreak the three masons arrived and began to work. They waited for

their master. As he did not appear, "I will go and see what's the matter

with him," said one of them, "for he always came out at 8 a.m." So the

mason went in and saluted the baron, but got no reply. "You are ill, my

lord," said he. "I am," said the baron, "for Joe has such a pretty wife,

and if I can't get her I shall die." The mason went out and the three

consulted together as to what was best to be done. One of them proposed

a task for Joe, i.e. that a large stone column which stood before one

of the windows should be pulled down, the plot planted with vines, the

grapes to ripen over night, and the next morning a goblet of wine should

be made from their juice and be placed on the master's table; if this

was not done Joe was to lose his wife. So one of them went in to the

baron and told him of their plan, remarking that Joe could not do that,

and so he would lose his wife. A groom was sent on horseback for Joe,

who came at once, and asked what his lordship desired. The baron then

told him the task he had to propose and the penalty. Poor Joe was so

downcast that he left without even saying "good-bye," threw himself into

his carriage, and went home. "Well, my love," asked his wife, "what does

he want?" "Want," replied her husband, "he ordered me to pull down the

stone column in front of his window. Since my father was not a

working-man, how could I do any work? Nor is that all. I am to plant the

place with vines, the grapes have to ripen, and I am to make a goblet of

wine, to be placed on his table at daybreak; and if I fail I am to lose


"Your smallest trouble ought to be greater than that," said his wife.

"Eat and drink, go to bed and have a good rest, and all will be well."

When night came she went out into the farmyard, uncoiled her whip, gave

a crack, which was heard over seven times seven countries, and

immediately all the dragons appeared. "What are your Majesty's

commands?" She then told them what her husband required, and in the

morning Joe had the goblet of wine, which he took on horseback lest he

should be late; he opened the baron's window, and, as nobody was there,

he placed the goblet on the table, closed the window, and returned home.

At daybreak the baron turned in his bed. The bright light reflected by

the goblet met his eyes, and had such an effect on him that he fell back

in his bed, and got worse and worse.

The three masons arrived and wondered why their master did not appear.

Said the tallest to the middle one, "I taught him something yesterday;

now you must teach him something else." "Well," said the middle one, "my

idea is this, that Joe shall build a silver bridge in front of the gate

during the night, plant both ends with all kinds of trees, and that the

trees be filled with all kinds of birds singing and twittering in the

morning. I'll warrant he won't do that, and so he will lose his wife."

When the baron came out they communicated their plan; he at once sent

for Joe and told him what he required. Joe went away without even

saying good-bye, he was so sad. When he got home he told his wife what

the baron wanted this time. "Don't trouble yourself, my love," said his

wife, "eat and drink and get a good rest, all shall be well." At night

she cracked her whip and ordered the dragons to do all that was

required, and so at daybreak all was done. The birds made such a noise

that the whole of the village was awakened by them. One nightingale

loudly and clearly to the baron sang, "Whatever God has given to some

one else that you must not covet; be satisfied with what has been given

to you." The baron awoke and turned over, and, hearing the loud singing

of the birds, rose and looked out of the window. The glare of the silver

bridge opposite the gate blinded him, and he fell back in bed and got

worse and worse. When the three masons arrived they could not enter, for

the splendour of the silver bridge dazzled them, and they were obliged

to enter by another gate.

As they were working, the shortest said to the middle one, "Go and see

why his lordship does not come out; perhaps he is worse." He went in and

found the baron worse than ever. Then said the shortest, "I thought of

something, my lord, which he will never be able to do, and so you will

get his wife." "What is that, mason?" demanded the baron. "It is this,

my lord," said the mason, "that he shall ask God to dinner on Palm

Sunday, and that he can't do, and so he will lose his wife." "If you can

get Joe's wife for me you shall have all this property," said the baron.

"It's ours, then," said they, "for he can't do that." Joe was sent for,

and came at once to know what was required of him. "My orders are

these," replied the baron, "that you invite God to dinner on Palm Sunday

to my house; if you do not your wife is lost." Poor Joe went out without

saying good-bye, jumped into his carriage, and returned home dreadfully

miserable. When his wife asked him what was the matter he told her of

the baron's commands. "Go on," said his wife; "bring me that foal, the

yearling, the most wretched one of all, put upon it an old saddle and

silver harness on its head, and then get on its back." He did so, said

good-bye, and the wretched yearling darted off at once straight to

heaven. By the time it arrived there it had become quite a beautiful

horse. When Joe reached the gates of Paradise he tied his horse to a

stake, knocked at the door, which opened, and he went in and greeted the

Almighty. St. Peter received him, and asked him why he had come. "I've

come," said he, "to invite God to dinner at my lord's on Palm Sunday."

"Tell him from me," said the deity, "that I will come, and tell him that

he is to sow a plot with barley, and that it will ripen, and that I will

eat bread made of it at dinner. That a cow is to be taken to the bull

to-day, and that I will eat the flesh of the calf for my dinner."

With this Joe took leave, and the foal flew downward. As they went Joe

was like to fall head-foremost off, and called upon the deity. St. Peter

told him not to fear, it was all right; he would fall on his feet. When

Joe arrived at home the barley was waving in the breeze and the cow was

in calf. "Well, wife," said he, "I will go to the baron's and give him

the message." So he went, knocked at the door, and entered the room.

"Don't come a step further," cried the baron. "I don't intend to," said

Joe: "I've come to tell you I have executed your commands, and mind you

don't blame me for what will happen. The deity has sent you this

message: you are to sow a plot with barley, and of it make bread for His

dinner. A cow is to go to the bull, and of the calf's flesh He will

eat." The baron became thoughtful. "Don't worry yourself, my lord," said

Joe, "you have worried me enough, it is your turn now;" and so he said

"good-bye," and went off home: when he got there the barley-bread was

baking and the veal was roasting.

At this moment the deity and St. Peter arrived from heaven and were on

their way to the baron's, who the moment he saw them called out to his

servant, "Lock the gate, and do not let them in." Then said the deity,

"Let us go back to the poor man's home, and have dinner there." When

they reached the foot of the mountain St. Peter was told to look back

and say what he saw, and lo! the whole of the baron's property was a

sheet of water. "Now," said the deity to St. Peter, "let us go on, for

the mountain is high, and difficult to ascend." When they arrived at

Joe's he rushed out with outspread arms, fell to the ground, and kissed

the sole of the deity's foot. He entered and sat down to dinner, so did

Joe and his wife and also St. Peter. Then said God to Joe, "Set a table

in this world for the poor and miserable, and you shall have one laid

for you in the world to come; and now good-bye: you shall live in joy,

and in each other's love."

They are living still if they have not died since. May they be your

guests to-morrow!

Finding Of The Islands Fjallerus And Hadingushadding In The Lower World facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail