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134 A Story about a Toothsome Pike 81. On the eve of St. John’s Day [June 23–JVH], pike was born in the Sheksna , and so large-toothed was this fish! God preserve us! The bream, the perch, the sticklebacks all gathered to take a look at pike and were amazed at such a marvel. At that time the waters of the Sheksna were roiled. A steamboat was crossing the river and nearly sank, and the beautiful maidens cavorting on the shores were scattered every which way. Such a large-toothed pike had been born. And it began growing not by the day, but by the hour. Every day it grew by a couple of inches. And that pike began parading about in the Sheksna, catching the bream and perch. It would see a bream from afar and grab it with its teeth—and the bream no longer existed, just some bones to crunch in the teeth of the large-toothed pike. And such an event took place in the Sheksna! What should the bream and perch do? It was sickening: The pike would devour, would root them all out.All the minor fishes gathered and began to take counsel as to how to bring down this toothsome pike, this most amiable pike. Now Ruff the Stickleback came to this council and immediately began shouting: “Enough of this deliberating, of this barnstorming, enough of this brainsearching ! Listen to what I have to say. It’s sickening for all of here in the Sheksna. This toothsome pike gives us no passage, he takes every fish into his teeth! There’s no life for us in the Sheksna, so let’s move off to the little rivers to live—to the Sizma, Konoma, and Slavenka. There no one will touch us, and we shall live in clover, raising our children.” And all the ruff sticklebacks, the bream, and the perch in the Sheksna moved off to the Sizma, Konoma, and Slavenka. Along the way, as they were going, a sly fisherman caught many of their brethren on a hook and cooked up a fantastic fish soup, with which, it appears, he began the fast. Since then, there are absolutely few little fish in the Sheksna. The fisherman may cast out his hook into the water, but he’ll bring in nothing. Occasionally there’ll be a sterlet, but usually that’s his limit! And that’s the whole of this story about the toothsome pike that was so amiable! That rascal caused a great rumpus in the Sheksna, but afterward it came on hard times.As there were no more small fish, it started to hunt worms A Story about a Toothsome Pike h 135 and got hooked itself. The fisherman made a soup, tasted it, and praised it.What a rich soup that was! I was there,sipped soup with him.It flowed over my moustaches, but none got into my mouth. ...


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