Copyright © 1990. All Rights Reserved.

Once, in times gone by, there lived a boy with his father by the sea. Because they lived by the sea, the boy and his father made their living as fishermen. But because the boy's father was lazy and drank often, it was the boy who did all the fishing.

One day, during the heat of summer, when the father had spent all the money on his vices and there was no food left in the cupboards, the boy was told to go out onto the sea to fish for their dinner. The boy, who was an excellent sailor, was happy to obey his father's demand. Fishing, to the boy was a time that he could be alone and away form his father. It was place where he could enjoy the water's movements and the salty breeze of the sea.

It was a fine day to be at sea and the boy heartily took to the task. Once he was far enough out from the shore the boy cast his lines and then sat back to enjoy the day. After a long while, the boy felt a strong tug on one of his lines. He pulled and pulled at the line but it was hard work to bring the fish up.

"This must be the grandfather of all fishes," he thought to himself. "He surely will bring all kinds of treasure and food to our home."

Just then he caught a glimpse of the fish as it neared the surface. Then he thought further, "it would be a shame to kill such strong and beautiful fish, but we need the food and the money for father's drink."

At this point the fish came up to the surface of the sea near the boat and began to speak to the boy. "Man-child," he said, "I have heard your thoughts and I am the Grand-father of all the fish. You have caught me fair and square, but I ask a boon of you."

Surprised that the fish could speak, the boy found himself speaking. "Oh, Grand-father fish," he said, "what is it that you want of me?"

Then the fish spoke again; "if you will set me free I will repay your kindness with a gift. But, if you do not let me go all the fish in the sea will be angry and leave so there would be no more fish for fishermen to catch and they will all go hungry."

The boy thought about this and replied, "Oh, Grand-father fish I will do as you ask." The boy cut the line and set the fish free. "Thank-you for the kindness and now I grant you this gift," said grand-father fish. He spit out a shiny bottle from his stomach, which fell into the boy's lap. "With this bottle," the fish continued, "may you never thirst. It is a magic bottle that never empties and carries drink as strong as you wish it to be." After the boy thanked Grand-father fish, he turned to go back to shore as it now was becoming dark. But, he heard the fish say one other thing: "if you ever have need of me, you must only make the bottle whistle."

When the boy reached the shore, he ran to his home. There he found his father, who was out of sorts, with a flask in his hand. "Boy," the drunken father grumbled, "where is the catch? Did you bring me a big fish for supper?"

When the boy told him of his adventure, his father became very angry and grabbed the boy by the collar. "You fool!" he hollered. "How could you let my supper go? If I must go hungry, then I will do so alone."

Then the father took the boy and the magic bottle and threw them both out. "And don't you come back any more," he shouted as the boy picked himself up off of the sand.

In tears, the boy went back to his boat and once more set sail. Feeling miserable, the boy didn't notice that a sudden storm sprang up. The storm tossed his little boat about and about until dawn. When the storm cleared, the boy noticed that he was lost far out at sea. By and by, as the day grew older and hotter, the boy became thirsty. He thought to himself, "I don't have any food, but the magic bottle that Grand-father fish gave me will keep me wet." The boy thought about how nice it would be to drink some cold spring water. He opened the bottle and took a big mouthful of what was probably the sweetest, coldest spring water he had ever had.

After three days at sea the boy saw an island in the distance. "Perhaps," he thought to himself, "on that island I will be able to find some food or even a new home away from the evils of the world."

The boy began to paddle his boat towards the island and before long he was on the shore. After tying his boat to a tree, he set out to explore the island.

While searching for food to eat, the boy came across a strange meadow high upon a hill. In this meadow he saw the ruins of a great castle and many statues of many people who looked life-like. The statues were so life-like that the boy thought that they must have been people turned to stone as they went about their business. As he explored the meadow further, he came to a small garden full of fruits and vegetables. He began to eat with a hunger that was three days old. As he ate, there came a shrill voice from behind him. "Who are you and why do you steal from my little garden?"

The boy wheeled quickly around and to his amazement he saw and old hag. Fearfully he said: "forgive me old woman, but I am lost at sea and very hungry."

After telling the old woman the rest of his tale, being careful not to tell her about his magic bottle, the woman made the both of them a large meal. She told him that this was her home and that once it was a grand place to be, but one day a dragon had come and stolen a great treasure and the city had become what it is now. When she discovered the boy had a boat, she grew excited and asked him to take her away from the island. To this the boy readily agreed and the next morning they set sail.

That morning the boy and the old woman set sail for the mainland which was far away. In the afternoon, long after they had lost sight of the island, they saw sails upon the horizon. Hopefully, they steered their tiny craft in the direction that the ships were headed. But soon they noticed that the ships belonged to pirates. The boy and the old woman tried desperately to run from the pirates but no matter which way they turned the ships followed them.

In fear of her person, the old lady hid herself under the seats. She told the boy that when the pirates lay anchor for the night and went to sleep he must steal back into his boat and then they may escape.

Within an hour the pirates came alongside the little boat and took the boy off the boat and towed it along. As it was late in the day, the pirates soon anchored their ships not too far from a strange island.

After being beaten for awhile, the boy was untied and told to serve food and drink to the crew. As the boy did as he was told, he learned of the secret of the island in the distance. It was said to be the home of a great dragon who had great treasures. The boy was sure that this was the same dragon that had robbed the old woman's home. He wanted desperately to tell the old woman this but he knew that he couldn't escape while the pirates were awake.

Then the boy remembered the gift from Grand-father Fish. Recalling his words, "With this bottle may you never thirst. It is a magic bottle that never empties and carries drink as strong as you wish it to be," the boy came up with a plan.

He wished hard that the bottle would serve a strong liquor that would put the pirates to sleep, as he had often seen his father fall asleep. Then he began serving the pirates the liquid and before too long all of the crew were snoring so loud that the boy feared the noise would awaken the dragon.

Returning to his little boat, he told the old woman what had happened and what he had learned about the island. The woman became excited and said, "yes, this must be the island where the treasure lies that can save my home. We must go to it and try to rescue what is mine."

As the boy set sail he heard the woman begin to chant. He did not recognize the words but he felt better and much of his fear left him.

It was almost dawn when their little boat reached the shore. They tied their boat in a dark place, so that the pirates couldn't find it, and began to look around. All they saw was some destroyed buildings and a mountain that belched smoke. Agreeing that the mountain was the most likely place for a dragon's nest, they began to climb upwards.

The sun was well up in the sky when they reached the level of the dragon's cave. The boy and the old woman rested awhile on the opposite side of the mountain. Then they began to go around the mountain. As they neared the cave's mouth they heard a loud, rough voice say, "who are the insects that scratch at the left side of my cave?"

To this the boy replied, "we are but lost travellers who would look for land from this high perch!" The dragon roared with laughter and said, "more likely you are thieves come to take what is mine," and with this he belched out a river of fire at the boy and his companion.

The boy and the woman fled around the corner barely escaping the heat. Then they decided to try the other side. As they stumbled along they heard the dragon say, "who are the insects that scratch at the right side of my cave?"

"Oh, mighty dragon," the boy said, we are but two lonely persons who would learn wisdom from you!"

"Hah!" exclaimed the dragon, "you are thieves who would learn of my treasures and take them from me!" With this the dragon let forth a mighty gush of fire towards the boy and woman.

After running back to the opposite side of the mountain they shook the sparks from themselves. The old woman spoke: "if we cannot reach the cave from the left nor the right, we must go through the mountain."

"But," the boy cried, "we cannot dig through the mountain!" "No need to," shot back the woman, "if you just look behind you you can see a tunnel." There behind the boy was a small opening that only he could fit through. The woman said to the boy, "from here you must go alone. In the dragon's lair you will find a large book with strange letters of gold. This you must bring back to me and then we can flee."

Just as the boy entered the tunnel he heard a great noise come from the sea. When he looked to see what it was, he saw that the pirates had come ashore and were on their way up the mountain.

"Hurry," exclaimed the woman, "now is our chance, the dragon will hear them and leave his cave to fight the pirates off!" The boy turned and ran down the tunnel. As he neared the exit he heard the dragon crawl away.

The boy went into the dragon's nest and looked around. It was difficult to see because of the darkness, but in a while his eyes adjusted and he saw gold and silver and jewels of all types that made up the dragon's bed.

Enchanted by the riches, the boy forgot his task. He put a crown on his head and picked up a large sword pretending to be a famous warrior. But his day-dream was shattered when he heard the woman scream. "Make haste boy," she yelled, "the dragon is beating the pirates and soon he will be on his way back to his nest!"

Shaken, the boy began searching for the book. He quickly found it and picked it up from where it lay. It was heavy and the boy knew that it would be hard to escape with it. After a long struggle he reached the end of the tunnel and handed the woman the book.

As they ran down the mountain the boy noticed the dragon lift his head from the fight with the pirates. It let out a loud roar and began to chase after the boy and the woman, forgetting the fight.

"Thieves!" the dragon screamed, "you have stolen my most precious thing!"

The boy and the woman reached their boat and after freeing it they began to paddle out to sea. The dragon, who had reached the shore, laughed. He said, "you cannot get away. Your little boat is not fast enough to escape my reach."

The boy knew that the dragon spoke the truth. He cried out, "if only Grand-father fish were here to help me now."

As the dragon stepped into the sea the boy remembered to last words of Grand-father fish when he gave the boy the bottle: "if you ever have need of me, you must only make the bottle whistle." He wondered about this and put the bottle to his lips and blew across the top. There was a piercing whistle and the bottle burst into pieces.

Nothing appeared and the dragon came closer, exhaling smoke as he readied a burst of flames. Just then Grand-father fish appeared and asked what was needed of him.

"Oh, Grand-father fish we need your help to escape this place and the dragon," the boy exclaimed.

The fish replied, "tie a rope to your little boat and throw me the other end." The boy did this and the fish took the rope in his mouth and began swimming with strong strokes. And at that moment, the dragon let go with a mighty stream of fire which barley missed the boat.

Enraged, the dragon started to chase the little boat. He too one giant step and another. On the third step he went off balance and fell into the ocean. As the boat pulled quickly away, the boy and the woman watched the dragon go under the water. Steam quickly came up and covered the island in a mist.

"Well," said the woman, "that is that. He has drowned or at the very least put out his fire. We have nothing more to worry about from that dragon."

A little time later, the fish stopped swimming and said, "you are now out of danger, peace and luck be with you both, my son and daughter." Then he swam away.

The boy saw an island in the distance and recognized it as the one where he met the woman. Quickly they sailed to the island and went back to the ruins. There the woman took the book and opened it.

A mist came out of the book and covered the area. The statues began to move and the ruins changed. And, when the mist cleared, the boy saw that the people and the castle had been restored and that the old woman was now a beautiful maiden.

The girl said to the boy. "Without your help this wounder could never have come to be and I must reward you for your bravery." In a few days the boy and the girl were married and they took their place on the throne. Here the two ruled wisely and justly in happiness ever after.

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Last updated: April 22, 1996.