Once upon a time, at the island of Tinos, lived a little boy and his grandma. They were poor and hungry, and every night his grandma would tell him the story of the golden fish of the depths, to put him to sleep. One day grandma said to the boy that she would travel to a faraway land, and because she was old, perhaps she wouldn”t have enough time to return. Before leaving, she warned him not to become a fisherman, and not to go after the golden fish. Then she left and never came back. When the boy grew up, he bought a net, a boat, and went fishing for the golden fish. The first day he captured a lot of fish, but none of them was golden, and so he gave all the fish to the poor. The other fisherman ridiculed him for giving away such god fish. But the next day the rich people gathered around his boat, and they pushed aside the poor and took his fish.When the other fisherman saw what happened, they got angry, and they forbade him to fish again. That night, while he was cooking the last fish remaining, he heard a knock on the door. He opened it and saw an old woman in front of him. She resembled a lot his lost grandma, although the boy had forgotten how his grandma really looked.
“Who are you?”,said the boy.
“I am a homeless woman, shelter me”, said the woman.
The boy allowed her in. The cottage smelled of fried fish.
“I am a hungry woman, feed me”, said the old woman.
The boy took all the fried fish, and he gave it to the old woman.
“You are a good person”, said the old woman”, ask anything you want, and I will give it to you”.
“I want to catch the golden fish”, said the boy, without thinking twice.
The woman smiled.
“You will have your fish if I dye tonight, if you drop my body into the water, if you drop the nets at the same place, and if you wait until morning, “said the old woman.”But don”t touch the fish”s scales, don”t fell in love with the fish, and don”t follow it”.
After saying these last words, the old woman fell asleep. The boy grabbed a knife, slaughtered her, and he took the boat and sailed far way for the other fisherman to see him. Then he dropped the body and the nets at the same place, just like the old woman had told him. He waited until morning then pulled out the nets and saw a big fish with golden scales.
“Please, let me go, “said the fish.
“What will you give me in exchange”? said the boy.
“One of my golden scales “, said the fish.
The boy remembered that the old woman had warned him not to touch the scales, but they were gold, and he was poor. So he touched the scales, and suddenly greed conquered him, and he took the knife and removed all the scales one by one. When he finished, he splashed the fish on the boat. He collected all the scales, and now he was rich. Then he remembered about the fish, and turned around, and saw that the fish had become a beautiful naked woman. He took the net and covered the woman.
“Who are you”, said the boy?
“I am the queen of the depths”, said the woman, “My kingdom is ten thousand meters below the surface of the sea. I live there with my subjects, and we eat the bodies of the drowned humans. This night I smelled human flesh and I raised from the depths.”
“Are you going to eat me?”, said the boy.
“No “, said the queen, “because now that I lost my golden scales, I have become a human, and I can”t eat human flesh, and I can”t go back to my kingdom, because the other fish will eat me. But in three days my scales will grow again, and I will return to my kingdom. Until then, stay with me boy”, and she approached and put her arms around his neck, and kissed him.
So he stayed with her, and she was beautiful, and he fell in love with her, although the old woman had advised him not to. They lived together on the boat for three days, and the queen of the depths gave birth to a pair of twins. They looked like humans, but had fish tales.
“I will call them Mermaids”, said the queen, and threw her newborns in the water.
On the third day, the skin of the queen had been totally covered in golden scales.
“I must return to my kingdom now”, said the queen,” Goodbye my love, and please don”t follow me”, and jumped into the sea and was transformed into a fish again.
The boy, madly in love with the queen, jumped after her, but the queen bit him and cut off his legs. Now the boy couldn”t follow her, and he returned to the boat, while the queen disappeared into the depths. He never saw her again.
Some times later, words about the appearance of some weird creatures, half-human and half fish started circulating all over the island.
“I saw them, sir”, said a servant,while serving tea to his rich master,”I saw them swimming nearby me. They had fish tales, they smiled to me and then disappeared. I swear they exist.”
“I know they exist”, said the rich master, ” I am their father”, and he quickly drunk the tea and asked the servant to bring him his wooden legs.
“You never told me how you lost your legs, sir”, said the servant.
“Sit down,and I”ll tell you,”said the master.
The servant sat down, and the master told him the story that you just read.