Jennings & Ponder: World Tales & Celtic Music
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ESL Folktales
folktales 4U

folktales from ESL students



Once there was a boy naned Emilya, who lived with his mother way out in the country. He was very lazy, he didn't like to do anything but lie on the stove, where it was always warm.

One day, his mother asked him to go out and get some water from the river.

He said, "I don't want to do that. It's too cold out. It's better in here. I want to stay here, where it's warm."

"But I need the water to cook dinner; if I don't have the water, I can't make your food."

That seemed like a pretty good reason to him, so he took the buckets, put the pole over his shoulders, and went outside.

It was winter: the river was frozen. And he came onto the river, and dropped a bucket down through a hole in the ice, where people had been fishing. He pulled the bucket up full of water, and put it down on the ice, then he dropped the other bucket into the water, and this one, when it came up, it had a fish in it. A big fish. A pike.

And the pike spoke to him, it said, "Put me back in the water. I have little babies at home, and I have to feed them and take care of them."

The boy was suprised, he'd never heard a fish talk, but he said, "Why should I put you back? My mother has to feed me, and take care of me. No, I'll take you home, and she'll cook you up for my dinner."

The fish said, "If you put me back, I'll teach you how to get things without working."

Emilya said, "Sounds pretty good, but I don't know."

The fish said, "When you need something done, all you have to do is say, 'By the word of the fish, by my wish, be like this.' And the thing will do itself."

Emilya said, "Can I try it first?"

The Pike said, "Yes. Of course."

Emilya said: "I want the buckets of water to carry themselves back home. By the word of the fish, by my wish, be like this." And the two buckets on the yoke started to walk themselves home, floop floop floop, only splashing a little over the sides.

So Emilya thanked the fish, and put it back into the water.

When he got home, his mother said, "Thank you for bringing the water. Now I need you to go get me some wood for the stove."

Emilya said. "No, I can't go. It's too cold. I don't want to. It's better to lie here, on the stove, where it's warm.:

But she told him, "The stove has gone out. There's no more wood in it. If you don't go, it'll just get colder and colder."

So he went outside, to where the sleigh was. He didn't hitch up any horses. He said, "By the word of the fish, by my wish, let it be done!" and the sleigh took off over the snow into the wood. When he got to the place where his family gathered firewood, he said again, "By the word of the fish, by my wish, be like this!" and the wood broke itself off, and stacked itself neatly in the back of his sleigh. Then he came home. Everybody stared and pointed at the horseless sleigh with the lazy boy in the driver's seat.

Now the King of that country had a daughter. And she was young and beautiful. But she was very sick, and cried all the time. The King was so tired of hearing her cry, he said, "If somebody can make her happy, he will marry her!" All of the men of the kingdom came to the King's house, but nobody could make his daughter happy. And the king said, "This isn't everybody! There must be somebody else! Go out and check all houses in the country, and if there's a man who will not come, he must be killed."

So the soldiers of the King finally got to Emilya's house, and they asked his mother, "Do you have any men in your house?"

She said, "Yes. I have a lazy son. He's sleeping on the stove."

So they woke Emilya up. He said, "What's going on? It's so loud, I can't sleep."

The soldiers said to him: "Emilya, wake up! You have to go with us to the Kng's house. You have to make his daughter happy!"

Emilya said, "No. It's too cold out. I can't go with you. I have to stay here on my stove, where it's nice and warm."

The soldiers said, "If you won't come with us, we'll have to kill you, because you're breaking the King's law!"

Emilya, said to them, "How can I be breaking the law by just wanting to sleep?"

But they said, "It's what the King said. You have to go with us."

Emilya said, "OK, OK, I'll come. You go first."

The soldiers went outside and Emilya said, "By the word of the fish, by my wish, let it be done!" And the stove walked out the door, with him on it. The soldiers were startled and afraid. All the people were afraid-- it was so strange to see the stove, smoking and clanking along with the boy on it.

When they got to the King's house, Emilya made fun of the King.

[Note-- I am not sure that the following is correct-- my source was reluctant to say anything specific about just exactly how Emilya made fun of the King, and language difficulties made things even more difficult. I THINK this is right; anyway, it's the best I could get]

He said, "You know, King, somebody has been pooting in your face."

The king said, "NEVER! Nobody can even show his back to the King, let alone his backside, let alone what his backside makes!

But Emilya said, "Did you go anywhere in our carriage today?"

The King said, "Yes I did, so what?"

"You know when you are going somewhere in the carriage, the man who's driving the horses, he sits high up there in front. And you sit lower down, behind them. And if he has been eating cabbage...."

And all the people were laughing, and his daughter was laughing too. The King said, "You can't make fun of me. Nobody makes fun of the King. We're going to cut off your head." But when the soldiers took Emilya under arrest, and got ready to kill him, the King's daughter was crying again-- too loud!!!

The King said to his daughter, "Why are you crying so loud?"

The daughter said, "Because this guy is so funny! He makes me laugh, and you want to kill him!"

Then Emilya said, "By the word of the fish, by my wish, let it be done!" and suddenly everybody began to dance-- the King, and his ministers, and the nobles, all fat with their big bellies bobbing up and down.

The King said, "What's going on? I can't stop dancing." All the court people cried out, "Stop us. We're tired! Help! Let us stop dancing!" But Emilya let them go on.

Finally the King said, "If you can stop me from dancing, yhou can marry my daughter.

So Emilya let him stop, and the King let them marry. And Emilya spent the rest of his life, lazy as a prince.

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Jennings & Ponder: World Tales & Celtic Music
PO Box 522 Montpelier VT 05601

home page:


ESL Folktales
folktales 4U