As autumn nights drew in, and the air held a chill, the storyteller arrived.

The children of the fishing community sent word that the storyteller was in the village and soon he found a place to spend the night. It became the focus of the village.

After he had eaten the broth of hospitality, he settled down and looked at faces full of anticipation.

“This is a tale of a young man who made the impossible possible,” said the storyteller.

“But first,” he said, “we must hear about the king and his daughter.

“The king loved his daughter, so much, in fact, that when she grew up he was reluctant to marry her off, as was the custom. You see, his wife, the queen had died, so he feared being lonely if his daughter married a far away prince.

“But she desired her independence. She loved her father dearly but had grown up and now wanted to make her own way.

“So eventually the king reluctantly agreed to allow her to marry. He would not choose her husband, and she could choose, but he must agree with her choice.

“There was one condition to this agreement. He would only allow her to marry a man who could tell him something he didn’t already know.

“This seemed a simple enough challenge and so his daughter began looking for a suitable husband.

“The first prospective husband she brought had some remarkable information she felt her father would not know.

“‘Your Majesty,’ he said, ‘I have travelled from a land that is ruled by monkeys. They make their homes from giant cabbage leaves, and sing like canaries.’ “The king listened quietly, and said: ‘Oh yes, I have heard of this place already, so you cannot marry my daughter.’ “The daughter was disappointed but not despondent. Soon she arrived with another prospective husband.

“‘Your Majesty,’ he said, with a bow. ‘I come with great news. I have discovered how to make gold from simple tin. If you have not heard of this then I can tell you more.’ “The king for a moment looked curious, but then shook his head dismissively.

“‘Yes,’ he said, ‘I have heard of this already. Besides, I have all the gold I need, and my real treasure sits beside me.’ “His daughter was now despondent. She realised the trick her father was playing. Whatever he was told he would say he’d heard of it already. She would never gain her independence as he was trying to make it impossible.

“She still loved him, but now hated the way he was treating her, so one cold night she secretly left the palace.

“That is how she found herself in a fishing village, where she fell in love with a young fisherman. She wanted to marry with her father’s blessing but knew this would be impossible.

“However, the young fisherman had an idea. He told his seven brothers to make creels as large as possible and then come with him to the palace. He told the princess to hide inside his creel, which he would carry. The others were to be left empty.

“When they arrived at the palace, the young fisherman told the guards he had news of the king’s daughter, and so he and his brothers were ushered into the great hall.

“‘What is the news of my daughter?’ demanded the king.

“The fisherman’s demeanour changed and he gave the king a disdainful look.

“‘I will tell you once I have what is rightly mine,’ he said.

“The king was taken aback by the man’s impudence. But he wished to hear the news of his daughter, so he allowed him to continue.

“‘My grandfather gave your grandfather seven baskets of gold, on the promise it would be repaid upon the advent of this year,’ said the fisherman. ‘My brothers have the seven baskets in which you must fill, while I have the eighth for the interest on the loan.’ “The king’s patience had been reached, and he rose from his chair and roared at the young fisherman.

“‘What nonsense is this?’ yelled the king.

“‘Are you telling me that you deny any knowledge of this arrangement, Your Majesty,? asked the fisherman.

“‘Of course I have never heard of this, because it...’ but before he could finish his sentence the princess burst from the fisherman’s basket and cried out: ‘Father!’ “The king was startled, and overjoyed to see his daughter. But then he realised what he had said.

“His daughter clasped her hands to her breast in excitement and looked at her father. ‘You said I could marry the man who would tell you something you didn’t already know,’ she reminded him. ‘And I heard you say you had never heard of this!’ “The king was in a dilemma. Should he now change his mind and say he had heard of the arrangement, and so lose all his money to this fisherman, or agree to his daughter’s marriage?

“It was clear to him that his daughter was in love and really wanted this poor fisherman as a husband. And so he agreed.

“But because he was so poor he was invited to live with his wife in a wing on the castle.

“And so they did. The king was happy because he still had his daughter under his roof. The princess was happy because she was with the man she really loved. The fisherman was happy because he was also with the woman he loved.” One of the children listening to the tale interrupted with an observation: “And he was also happy because he wasn’t poor anymore.” The storyteller smiled and said: “I suppose so, yes, but I think the fact he was no longer poor made him comfortable rather than happy.”