Take care my grandchildren and listen well, for I am about to tell you of the dangers of becoming greedy. Our story begins when I was living in a little dirty old hut, and my husband had come back from fishing.
“Did you catch anything today husband?” I asked rather grumpily.
My husband shook his head. Then he brightened up a bit. “But I did catch a flounder who said he was an enchanted prince, so I let him swim away.” He beamed.
I raised my eyebrow. “Did you wish for anything?” I demanded.
My husband’s face fell, and he looked to the ground a bit ashamed. “Well, uh…no.” He sighed. “But should I have wished for?”
I laughed. “What should you have should you have wished for! Look at this place! It’s a mess! It’s small! You should have asked him for a cottage.” Then a brilliant idea popped into my mind.
I smiled, then said very sweetly. “Husband, would you please go and ask him for a cottage?”
“What? You want me to back there again? No, no, that’s not a good idea. He’s probably gone by now.” My husband protested.
I lost my short temper. “You caught and released him! He will come back and give you what you ask! Now go!” So my husband went.
I waited and I waited, then suddenly my hut was transformed in a beautiful cottage. I was amazed. I looked around in my new cottage. I had a little hall, a beautiful sitting room, a wonderful dining room furnished with a mahogany table draped with a white tablecloth, I had a china cabinet filled with china dishes, and silver silverware. I ran out to the back yard, I had chickens, ducks, and garden with vegetable and fruit trees. It was perfect.
I sat in the front of the house on a bench. Soon my husband came back. I took him by the hand and showed him the cottage. “Isn’t this so much better than that disgusting hut?” I asked.
“It is very nice.” My husband said. “this is where we shall live very happily.”
“Perhaps.” Was all I said. I made a delicious apple cobbler, and omelets for dinner. That night we were satisfied.
But that night I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t help but keep think how tiny this cottage was. It was so dinky, sure it was a step up from our old hut, but it wasn’t enough. Then I thought to myself. Tomorrow I’ll tell my husband to go to the fish again and get me…a castle.
The next morning we got up and finished the apple cobbler and I broke the news to my husband. My husband stood abruptly. “You want what?” He exclaimed.
“I want to live in a castle.” I said. “This place is much too small.”
“But Ilsebel, this is a wonderful home, besides if I go back he might be offended.” My husband insisted.
I would not budge. “I will not be happy until we have a castle to live in. Now go! And tell him I want a castle.” My husband sighed and he took his hat and left.
I sat down waiting for my castle. Again I waited and I waited. Then suddenly the cottage grew enormously, and became stone. Out of nowhere servants came to wait on every whim of mine. The castle had a large hall with a marble floor, the walls were covered with beautiful tapestries, and in the apartments were gilded chairs and tables, and crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling in the dining room. All the rooms were carpeted with a red carpet. There were horse stables filled with horses and cow stables full of cows and carriage house where a carriage was kept. There was a beautiful garden with the most beautiful flowers and fruit, and in a park several miles long were deer and hares.
It was beautiful. I couldn’t wait till my husband saw this wonderful castle. I ran to the front of the castle and waited for my husband to come home. As soon as I had come to the front of the castle my husband came back. He stood there for a moment and gaped. “Isn’t it amazing?” I cried.
“Yes it is, now wife let us be content. This is a wonderful place.” My husband said gently.
But I waved him off. “Posh, we’ll think about it.” Then I took him to the dining room and we ate till we were full. Oh the delights we had, turkey,mashed potatoes, we had mead and ale, we had fish, and so many different pies, made of heavenly delights, oh the delights we had.
That night we went to sleep in the softest bed ever imagined. We slept in gowns made of silk. I was content, for now.
The next morning I awoke at daybreak. I came and looked out over the country-side. And I thought to myself. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to rule this land? I have a castle, I could be king. Yes I must be king! I must!
Then I went and I awoke my husband. “Husband! Husband! Quick! Look! Look at the wonderful land! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could rule this land?” I exclaimed.
It took a little bit for my husband to understand, then he exclaimed. “What! Ilsebel! Why should we be king? I don’t want to be king!”
I got upset with him. “Well,” I said, “If you don’t want to be king that’s fine with me. But I want to be king. Go to the flounder and tell him him I want to be king!”
“But!” My husband protested.
“I will be king!” I shouted.
“But! But! I can’t! I can’t ask him to do that! Look what he has already given us! He has given us a cottage! He has given us a castle! Why can’t you be content woman!” My husband shouted back.
“Go right now! Or so help me!” I cried. Then my husband backed away.
“Alright, alright, I will go down to the flounder.” He said. He left to go to the flounder.
I waited for my kingship. I waited and waited. Suddenly I heard a loud horn and kettledrums. I looked out the window and saw that my castle had gotten bigger, and I had more servants, soldiers, my castle was made of marble and gold. I wore a crown of gold, I held a scepter of gold and precious stones.
I went to my throne room and my throne was made of diamonds and gold. I had twelve pages, six on each side of my throne each one smaller than the next. I sat in my throne comfortably.
The doors opened a moment later, and in came my husband. “So, you are king now, or queen-”
“King.” I interrupted, I looked at a diamond ring on my finger.
“Yes king, I apologize.”
We were there in silence for a while, my husband looking around. While he looked around I thought to myself. You know what would be better than a king…an emperor, yes ruler of a vast empire. Why no one but me would have more power.
Then my husband spoke interrupting my thoughts. “Ilsebel, now you are king, let that be enough, we have nothing more to wish for.”
I chuckled. “Oh my dear husband, my wishing powers are boundless; I cannot restrain them no longer. Go and tell the flounder I want to be emperor!”
“Emperor? My dear wife have you gone mad? The flounder will surely reject this request, you must be content.” My husband insisted. “I was happy in our little hut, sure it was dirty but-”
I was enraged. “What! You liked that dirty, smelly old hut?”
“Sort of, I enjoyed our hut and our cottage, but you are going too far!” My husband exclaimed. “I will not go.”
“You will go! And I have soldiers who can escort you to the flounder if you won’t go of your own will.” I replied with authority.
My husband gave up, and left to go to the flounder. I went outside and saw the sky was black. I had noticed the sky had been growing steadily darker with each passing day.
Then I went back inside and waited to be emperor. Suddenly the castle became entirely made out of marble. Dukes, barons, and counts were servants instead of petty little peasants. The door to the throne room was made entirely out of gold. My crown was three yards high and was set with brilliant and sparkling gems. In one hand I held an scepter and in the other the imperial globe. I went to my throne, my throne was a block made of gold.
Twenty four soldiers stood guard in front of my throne, again each smaller than the one before. Princes and dukes were standing up before me.
Then my husband came back again, quietly. He stood before me. “So now you are emperor.”
“Yes, I am indeed.” I replied. He stared at me and all around him. While he did so I began to think. Wait a minute, I almost forgot! There is someone more powerful than me. The pope! I must be pope! I must! I must! I must! I must become pope!
Again my husband begged me to be content. But I ignored him. “Husband, I want to be pope now. Go back to the flounder and tell him I want to be pope.”
“Pope? But there is only one pope in all of Christendom! The flounder cannot make you pope!”
“Husband! Go now! I must be pope! I will be pope today! Now go!” I shrieked. My husband leaped up and ran out quickly before more could be said.
I waited to become pope, and I waited and I waited, I sat there chuckling to myself. Who would’ve thought that I, Ilsebel would become pope! I thought to myself.
Then I sat in a church wearing gold and three crowns there were thirty-six church dignitaries, and on either side they were holding candles, each one smaller than the one before. All the emperors and kings were on their knees kissing my feet. The church was surrounded by palaces. The church was lighted by candles. Then my husband came in. “So you are pope now?”
“Yes, now I am pope.” He stared at me as if I was a bright sun.
“Ilsebel, please let it be enough now that you are pope.” He said. I sat as straight as a tree and did not move or bend the least bit. “Please be content, there is nothing more you can become.”
“We shall think about that.” I said. We ate a quiet dinner and went to bed. But I could not sleep, I turned from side to side. I thought and thought till I could think no longer of what I could become. Then the sun began to rise, I looked at it from my bed then thought. Aha! There is only one more power greater than pope!
I poked my husband sharply in his ribs with my elbow. “Wake up. Go the flounder and tell him I must be…a god!”
My husband screamed and fell out of bed. “What? A god? Wife that is enough! The flounder cannot do that! He has already made you a pope.”
“Silence!” My voice boomed across the room. “I will not be able to sleep, eat or have another peaceful moment until I become a god! Go now!”
My husband ran out of the room to the flounder. I sat on my throne waiting to become a god. I waited and I waited for that oh glorious moment!
Then everything started to vanish. My crowns disappeared, the kings and emperors kissing my feet, my soldiers, my subjects, my church, my palace, my castle, my cottage, everything! Gone!
And I sat in my cottage once more. I had nothing, except my dirty old hut. I wept for a while, but then I thought. You know, this place wouldn’t be so bad if I put a little elbow grease into it. So I took a mop and broom and I cleaned the hut top to bottom. I went and I picked some berries and I caught a few fish in a stream. I came back and began to cook the fish and bake the berries in a pie.
I looked around and saw how clean it was. Then the door opened and in came my husband. I looked up and he cringed back ready to be yelled at. But instead I ran toward him kissed and hugged him, and I begged for his forgiveness, I had been so greedy and selfish. He accepted my apology and we sat together eating our fish and pie. I was at last, content.
Listen well my grandchildren. For these are the dangers of greediness. Be content with what you have or else you might lose everything.