This section is from the book "Stories From The Thousand And One Nights", by Edward William Lane and Stanley Lanepoole. Also available from Amazon: Stories From Thousand And One Nights: The Arabian Nights' Entertainments.
The 'Efrit laughed, and walking on before him, said, O fisherman, follow me. The fisherman did so, not believing in his escape, until they had quitted the neighbourhood of the city, and ascended a mountain, and descended into a wide desert tract, in the midst of which was a lake of water. Here the 'Efrit stopped, and ordered the fisherman to cast his net and take some fish; and the fisherman, looking into the lake, saw in it fish of different colours, white and red and blue and yellow; at which he was astonished; and he cast his net, and drew it in, and found in it four fish, each fish of a different colour from the others, at the sight of which he rejoiced. The 'Efrit then said to him, Take them to the Sultan, and present them to him, and he will give thee what will enrich thee; and for the sake of God accept my excuse, for, at present, I know no other way of rewarding thee, having been in the sea a thousand and eight hundred years, and not seen the surface of the earth until now; but take not fish from the lake more than once each day: and now I commend thee to the care of God.-Having thus said, he struck the earth with his feet, and it clove asunder, and swallowed him.
The fisherman then went back to the city, wondering at all that had befallen him with the 'Efrit, and carried the fish to his house; and he took an earthen bowl, and, having filled it with water, put the fish into it; and they struggled in the water: and when he had done this, he placed the bowl upon his head, and repaired to the King's palace, as the 'Efrit had commanded him, and, going up unto the King, presented to him the fish; and the King was excessively astonished at them, for he had never seen any like them in the course of his life; and he said, Give these fish to the slave cook-maid. This maid had been sent as a present to him by the King of the Greeks, three days before; and he had not yet tried her skill. The Wezir, therefore, ordered her to fry the fish, and said to her, O maid, the King saith unto thee, I have not reserved my tear but for the time of my difficulty:-to-day, then, gratify us by a specimen of thy excellent cookery, for a person hath brought these fish as a present to the Sultan. After having thus charged her, the Wezir returned, and the King ordered him to give the fisherman four hundred pieces of gold: so the Wezir gave them to him; and he took them in his lap, and returned to his home and his wife, joyful and happy, and bought What was needful for his family.
Such were the events that befell the fisherman: now we must relate what happened to the maid.-She took the fish, and cleaned them, and arranged them in the frying-pan, and left them until one side was cooked, when she turned them upon the other side; and lo, the wall of the kitchen clove asunder, and there came forth from it a damsel of tall stature, smooth-cheeked, of perfect form, with eyes adorned with kohl, beautiful in countenance, and with heavy, swelling hips; wearing a kufiyeh interwoven with blue silk; with rings in her ears, and bracelets on her wrists, and rings set with precious jewels on her fingers; and in her hand was a rod of Indian cane: and she dipped the end of the rod in the frying-pan, and said, O fish, are ye remaining faithful to your covenant? At the sight of this, the cook-maid fainted. The damsel then repeated the same words a second and a third time; after which the fish raised their heads from the frying-pan, and answered, Yes, yes. They then repeated the following verse:
If thou return, we return; and if thou come, we come; and if thou forsake, we verily do the same.
And upon this the damsel overturned the frying-pan, and departed by the way she had entered, and the wall of the kitchen closed up again. The cook-maid then arose, and beheld the four fish burnt like charcoal; and she exclaimed, In his first encounter his staff broke!-and as she sat reproaching herself, she beheld the Wezir standing at her head; and he said to her, Bring the fish to the Sultan:- and she wept, and informed him of what had happened.
The Wezir was astonished at her words, and exclaimed, This is indeed a wonderful event;-and he sent for the fisherman, and when he was brought, he said to him, 0 fisherman, thou must bring to us four fish like those which thou broughtest before. The fisherman accordingly went forth to the lake, and threw his net, and when he had drawn it in he found in it four fish as before; and he took them to the Wezir, who went with them to the maid, and said to her, Rise, and fry them in my presence, that I may witness this occurrence. The maid, therefore, prepared the fish, and put them in the frying-pan, and they had remained but a little while, when the wall clove asunder, and the damsel appeared, clad as before, and holding the rod; and she dipped the end of the rod in the frying-pan, and said, O fish, O fish, are ye remaining faithful to your old covenant ? Upon which they raised their heads, and answered as before; and the damsel overturned the frying-pan with the rod, and returned by the way she had entered, and the wall closed up again.
The Wezir then said, This is an event which cannot be concealed from the King:-so he went to him, and informed him of what had happened in his presence; and the King said, I must see this with my own eyes. He sent, therefore, to the fisherman, and commanded him to bring four fish like the former, granting him a delay of three days. And the fisherman repaired to the lake, and brought the fish thence to the King, who ordered again that four hundred pieces of gold should be given to him; and then, turning to the Wezir, said to him, Cook the fish thyself here before me. The Wezir answered, I hear and obey. He brought the frying-pan, and after he had cleaned the fish, threw them into it; and as soon as he had turned them, the wall clove asunder, and there came forth from it a negro, in size like a bull, or like one of the tribe of 'Ad,7 having in his hand a branch of a green tree; and he said, with a clear but terrifying voice, O fish, O fish, are ye remaining faithful to your old covenant? Upon which they raised their heads, and answered as before, Yes, yes: