22nd May

jack and the Fish

Jack went up the glen one afternoon, and lay down by a dark pool where he knew the trout liked to lie. He put his hand in under the bank and waited.

After a while he felt something come to rest in his upturned palm. He gently raised his hand and then pulled it out suddenly. A bonnie brown trout flopped onto the grass.

To Jack’s great surprise, the trout spoke.

‘Spare me, sir! Only put me back in the water, and I will grant you a wish.’

‘Ye’re on,’ says Jack. ‘Can I wish for anything at all?’

‘Aye, but hurry up about it,’ gasps the trout.

‘I’ll hae a poke of chips,’ says Jack, and he flips the trout into the water. And a steaming portion of chips wrapped in newspaper appears in his hand.

He’s about to start eating when he remembers something else he should have asked for. Quickly he puts his hand under the bank and finds the trout lying on the bottom recovering, and fetches her back out.

‘I’ll let ye go if ye gie me anither wish,’ he says.

‘You’re a hard man but I’ve no choice,’ says the trout. ‘What do you want?’

‘Saut and vinegar on the chips,’ says Jack, and pushes the trout into the water.

In an instant the chips are slathered in salt and vinegar. ‘Och!’ says Jack.

‘I forgot anither thing!’ So he dips his hand into the burn and lands the trout a third time.

‘What now?’ says the trout. ‘I’m finding this very stressful.’

‘A nice bit o fish in batter,’ Jack says. ‘That would be just braw, thank ye.’

‘Done,’ says the trout, and Jack lets her go. And a beautiful portion of fish in golden batter is beside the chips.

Ten minutes later Jack is wiping his mouth on the paper when he thinks, ‘Whit an eejit! If I’d only thought, I could hae had a fish supper every day for the rest o my life.’

So he lay down by the burn again, but although he waited till it was dark and he’d lost all sensation up to his shoulder, the trout never returned to his hand.

Reader: James Robertson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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