In A Human Moment

Miscellany from the 19th century

The Three Gold-Fishes

A worthy man once had three Gold-fishes.


He kept them in a small clear pond and felt the greatest interest in them. He often sat on the brink of the pond, crumbling into the water small bits of bread, which they would come and eagerly devour. He would then say to them, “Fishlings! Fishlings! if you wish to live on as happily as you have hitherto done, beware of two things: never swim through the grating into the larger pond, hard by; and never sport on the top of the water, except I am close at hand.”

But the fishes did not enter into his admonitions. He then said, “I will try to impress my warning upon them.”

Accordingly, when one of them seemed as if it would swim through, he made such a splashing with his stick, that it was frightened, and went back. He did the same when one came to the surface, in order that it might dive downwards again. “Now,” thought he, “they may possibly understand what I mean,” and home he went.

The three fishes then met together, and were sorely puzzled as to what could be the reason of such prohibitions.

“He is above the water himself,” said one; “why should not we venture up a little higher?”

“And why should we be kept so close in this little pond?” said the second; “How can it hurt us to swim sometimes into the bigger one?”

“Certainly,” said the first again, “he is a tyrannical man, who has no love for us, and cannot bear to see us enjoying ourselves.”

“I won’t care for what he says,” added the second; “I will at once take a little trip into the large pond.”

“And I,” exclaimed the first, “will meanwhile play in the sunshine a little on the water.”

The third gold-fish alone was wise enough to think thus; “The good man must surely have his reasons for giving us such orders. That he loves us, and likes to give us pleasure, is certain, else why should he come so often, and give us crumbles of bread and be so pleased at our eating them up? No; he is surely not unkind and I will do what he wishes, although I don’t know the reason of it.”

The good little fish, therefore, kept below; the others did as they said they would: the one went through the grating, into the large pond; the other frolicked on the surface, in the sunshine; both ridiculed their brother for not enjoying himself like them. But mark the result!

The first had but just got into the great pond, when a pike darted upon him, and swallowed him up. The other, appearing above water, was marked by a bird of prey, which pounced on him and devoured him. The wise and obedient gold-fish remained alone. He lived contented and happy, and reached a good old age.                                              T.C


Kind Words for Boys & Girls (London, England), Thursday, January 25, 1866; pg. 31; Issue 4.
Gale Document Number: DX1901793173
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