The Arabian Nights Entertainments
The Story of the Fisherman
Sire, there was once upon a time a fisherman so old and so poor that he could
scarcely manage to support his wife and three children. He went every day to fish
very early, and each day he made a rule not to throw his nets more than four
times. He started out one morning by moonlight and came to the sea-shore. He
undressed and threw his nets, and as he was drawing them towards the bank he
felt a great weight. He though he had caught a large fish, and he felt very
pleased. But a moment afterwards, seeing that instead of a fish he only had in
his nets the carcase of an ass, he was much disappointed.
Vexed with having such a bad haul, when he had mended his nets, which the
carcase of the ass had broken in several places, he threw them a second time. In
drawing them in he again felt a great weight, so that he thought they were full of
fish. But he only found a large basket full of rubbish. He was much annoyed.
"O Fortune," he cried, "do not trifle thus with me, a poor fisherman, who can
hardly support his family!"
So saying, he threw away the rubbish, and after having washed his nets clean of
the dirt, he threw them for the third time. But he only drew in stones, shells, and
mud. He was almost in despair.
Then he threw his nets for the fourth time. When he thought he had a fish he
drew them in with a great deal of trouble. There was no fish however, but he
found a yellow pot, which by its weight seemed full of something, and he noticed
that it was fastened and sealed with lead, with the impression of a seal. He was
delighted. "I will sell it to the founder," he said; "with the money I shall get for it I
shall buy a measure of wheat."
He examined the jar on all sides; he shook it to see if it would rattle. But he heard
nothing, and so, judging from the impression of the seal and the lid, he thought
there must be something precious inside. To find out, he took his knife, and with
a little trouble he opened it. He turned it upside down, but nothing came out,
which surprised him very much. He set it in front of him, and whilst he was