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Once upon a time, on a small island, there stood a small tumble-down hut where one old fisherman lived with his wife. They were very poor. The old man would cast his net every day and tried to catch some fish; but all he caught was barely enough for him and his wife to survive. One morning the old man cast his net, began to haul it and spotted a big gold fish in it. But it was no ordinary catch—the fish was shining as a pure gold. Suddenly, this creature spoke to him in a human voice, "Set me free, kind old man! Let me go back to the deep blue sea and you sure will find me useful at some point later on: I'll fulfill any of your wishes." The old fisherman was surprised to hear that from the small fish and said to her in response, "I don’t need anything from you, Gold fish. Go back and swim freely in your sea."
He threw the golden fish into the sea and went back home looking forward to tell the story to his wife. The woman asked him how much fish he caught today. "Nothing but a single golden fish that I threw back into the sea," he replied. "It spoke to me in a human voice: 'Let me go,' it said, 'into the deep blue sea and I'll do whatever you ask for.' I felt sorry about the poor little fish and did not think I have anything to ask it for, so I let it swim free." "Oh, you are such an old fool!" replied his wife. "Gold fish swims into your hands, but you don’t even have enough common sense to get a hold of it." She was getting more and more angry by reminding her husband often: "You should have asked the fish for a new tub at least. Ours is broken and has a crack in it.” The old fisherman has no other option but going back to the seashore to ask the gold fish for a new bowl. Standing at the shore line he shouted in a loud voice: "Gold fish, oh gold fish, stand with your tail on the sea and your head facing me!" The Gold fish appeared swimming to the shore. "What would be your wish, old man?" it asked. "The old woman is angry and furious now. She has sent me to you to ask for a new tub," the fisherman replied. “Oh, don’t you worry! Please return home, your wife’s wish has already been fulfilled," said the Gold fish and swam away. As soon as the old man returned home, he saw his wife using a brand new tub." But before he had approached his house, his wife was shouting loud: “You are such an old fool, asked for a simple tub, but could not have enough common sense to ask for a new hut. Go back," she said, "to your gold fish, bow to it and ask for a new hut. We can't stay here anymore, its roof is about to fall on our heads." The poor man was on his way to the blue sea again, calling up the gold fish, “Gold fish, oh gold fish, stand with your tail on the sea and your head facing me." The little fish swam up to his feet and asked, "What would be your wish, old man?" “My wife goes more and more demanding. She is not comfortable in our old hut anymore and wants a new house now," he replied to the gold fish. "Cheer up, my old friend," said the fish."Does she want a new house? So be it.”
So the old man came back and could not believe his eyes. On exact same place where his old hut was placed, a brand new house made of oak with the hand carved porch was settled. And there was his old woman sitting inside, going after him even harder than before and cursing at him louder than ever: "Oh, you are such an old idiot! You could not even think of asking of something even more valuable than a new house. Go back to the gold fish and tell it my new wish: I don't want to be just a peasant, I want to be an honored fine lady, so that others bow in my presence and do whatever I command them to do". The fisherman went back to the sea and said, "Gold fish, oh gold fish, stand with your tail on the sea and your head facing me!" The little fish swam up to his feet and asked, "What would your wish be, old man?" "The old woman leaves less and less peace for my soul," he replied. "She's gone wild: she doesn’t want to be just a peasant anymore, but instead she would like to be an honored rich lady." "Don’t feel bad and cheer up. Your desire is my command," said little fish and swam away.
So the old man went home and was surprised to see a big stone house rising up three floors. The countless servants were running around in the yard and his old woman was sitting on a high chair in a rich velvet dress, giving orders to her servants. "Greetings to you, my wife," the old man said. But the old woman replied to him: “How dare you, old fool, address me, an honored noble lady, as your wife.” The old woman become more angry and ordered her servants to drag the fisherman out of her presence.
One morning old woman got tired of being a fine and honored lady, she had the old man brought to her and ordered him, "Go back to the gold fish, bow to it and tell it my new wish: I want to be the Tsarina now." So the old man went down to the sea and called once again, "Gold fish, oh gold fish, stand with your tail on the sea, and your head facing me!" The gold fish swam up right to his feet as always and asked, "What would be your next wish, my old friend?" "My wife has gone further than ever before ; she doesn't want to be a fine and honored lady anymore, she wants to be the Tsarina instead," the old man replied. "No reason to feel sad," said the little fish. "Go home in peace, everything your wife wishes for will be fulfilled." When the fisherman returned, he saw a towering palace with a roof made out of gold; guardsmen with rifles marched up and down the countless stairs. Behind the palace were elegant gardens with exotic flowers and birds. His old woman, all dressed up in red velvet and silk, appeared on the balcony with her generals and governors.
A few days later, the old woman got tired of being the Tsarina. She ordered a search for her poor husband in order to command him her new wish: "Listen, you, and memorize all of my words carefully," the woman said. "I want you to find the gold fish and tell it this: I don't want to be the Russian Tsarina anymore, I want to be the Queen of the Sea, so that gold fish itself would obey my orders." The old man did not even dare to object. The fisherman knew if he didn't go he would be ordered for an immediate execution on the spot. He went down to the sea and called again, "Gold fish, oh gold fish, stand with your tail on the sea and your head facing me." But this time no gold fish has appeared. The old man try to call again, but no luck this time either. He called it a third time and a great storm went down from the sky. Where the water has been blue and clear, there was now pitch black. The little fish swam up to his feet and asked, "What would be your wish now, old man?" "The wild woman refuses to settle for less," he said. "Tsarina is not enough for her now since she wants to be the Queen and the ultimate ruler of the Sea, so you, little gold fish would be her servant."
The gold fish said nothing in response to the old man. It just turned its tail and vanished into the depths. The old man went back and could not believe his eyes: there was his old hut instead of the marble palace. His old woman dressed in a ragged old dress was sitting inside holding her cracked old tub.