How the fishies lost their eyelids

From: Bernuetz, Oliver: WPG (
Date: Tue 03 Feb 1998 - 00:56:34 EET

This is a tale the Balazarings tell their children. (It traces its origin
to a story my
three year old daughter wanted me to tell her at bedtime. Strange and
wondrous things go on in three year old minds).

I hope you enjoy it.

How the Fishies Lost their Eyelids

In the days when the grass was greener, the hills were less steep
and berries were on every bush the fishies had eyelids. This made
it easy for them to sleep at night. The only problem with this was
that while the fishies slept they were easy prey for a Monster that
lived in a Cave by their Stream. As they slept peacefully this
Monster would creep up on them in the stream snatching them up
and eating them whole. The fishies tried to post guards but they too
fell asleep. After this had been going on for quite a while the fishies
decided that they should ask the Creator to do something. They all
met and decided that the oldest among them would go before the
Creator and petition her to do something.

The fishies traveled for a long time and a great distance in order to
reach the place where the Creator lived. The Creator rested on a
mountaintop before them with his chin resting on his fist gazing
off into the distance. The oldest fishies made their petition. It
looked to them as though she was very intent on what they
were saying. Truth be told the Creator was lost in thought about
some truly weighty matters only he could solve and was actually
only listening with half an ear. "Please, Creator," they burbled,
"You must do something about the Monster in the Cave before it
eats us all!" The Creator shook herself and looked down
at the fishies. "Monster? Certainly, certainly," muttered the
Creator waving her hand in the fishies direction. "Something
should be done." The foolish fishies, taking this as a guarantee
swam home to the Stream. Great was the rejoicing in the Stream
when the news was spread. All the fish decided to sleep that
night safe in the guarantee of the Creator doing something about
the Monster in the Cave. Great was the gorging that night as the
Monster in the Cave fed well on the sleeping fishies. The next day,
despair! More fishies than ever were gone.

The fishies swam about in circles, hither and thither crying out in
their grief. "Oh, woe is us. The Creator promised he would do
something but nothing was done! What are we to do?" All this
wailing and gnashing of fishy teeth was heard by Squirrel the
Trickster who came to investigate. "What's wrong friend fishies?",
asked Squirrel. "Oh, alas and alack, Friend Squirrel," said the
fishies, "The Monster in the Cave comes at night while we sleep and
eats us! The Creator said she would do something but she hasn't."
"Oh, that's not true", lied Squirrel, "The Creator sent me to help
you." "Will you get rid of the Monster in the Cave?" asked
the excited fishies? "Oh nothing like that", said Squirrel
shuddering inside at the thought of bearding the Monster in the
Cave in its Cave. "No I have a better idea," said Squirrel.
"Unfortunately you all know that the Creator demands that we
get rewarded for our ideas don't you?" The fishies had not
heard this before but they believed every word that Squirrel told
them. "What can we reward you with?" asked the fishies. "Well,
it's nothing much but I'd like all the little yellow pebbles there
are at the bottom of your Stream". The fishies did not value these
at all so they quickly gathered them all and piled them up before
Squirrel. Squirrel's eyes widened in greed at all the gold and amber
before saying, "The problem, as I see it is that while you are
sleeping with your eyes closed Monster sneaks up on you, catches
you and eats you." "AS I see it what you need to do is to learn to
sleep with your eyes open." Squirrel quickly showed them
how this feat was to be accomplished. All they had to do he
said was to keep their eyelids open.

This idea excited the fishies who loudly announced that they
would do this starting that very night. Profusely thanking Squirrel for
his help they settled down to sleep with their eyes open. Well, they had
no end of trouble trying to sleep with their eyes open. Try as they might
not one of them could keep their eyes open all night. Sooner or later
their eyelids would begin to droop and before they knew it they were
asleep. Not one of them managed to stay asleep all night with its eyes
open. Fortunately the Monster who lives in the Cave had eaten so many
of their number the previous night that it wasn't hungry so none of
them were eaten that night. Because they had all survived the night
they assumed that Squirrel's advice had saved them. They were so
excited by their apparent success that they loudly proclaimed to all
and sundry how great their friend Squirrel was. Their joy ended
the following morning when they realized taht the Monster who lives
in the Cave had once again eaten his fill of them.

"Why oh great, wise Squirrel did your plan not work?", wailed the
fishies the next morning. "Why should we suffer like this?", they
pleaded. Squirrel, looking down at them from a branch over-hanging
the Stream replied, "It seems to me that you are just too dumb to sleep
with your eyes open." "What are we to do then?", they begged. "I
have another plan for letting you sleep with your eyes open but you
must trust me." "Oh we trust you, we trust you, friend Squirrel what
are we to do?" "What I am going to do is going to hurt a bit but in the
long run I know there will be benefits." "But we have no manner in
which to pay you for your idea friend Squirrel. No more of the yellow
pebbles" "Don't worry about payment friend fishies, " Squirrel
replied. "Sometimes a good deed is its own reward. You fishies must
line up over there along the bank and I will help you to sleep with your
eyes open. As I mentioned before it will hurt a little but in the long
run it will be worth it."

So the fishies did as Squirrel asked them and lined up along the Stream
bank. As Squirrel walked along the bank passing from one fishy to
another he cut their eyelids off with a sharp rock, gathering the eyelids
in a skin bag at his side. The fishies wailed and complained when they
realized what Squirrel had done. "What have you done to us you
monster!", they complained. "Ingrates," replied Squirrel, "Now you
will be able to sleep with your eyes open all night long without
having to worry about them closing." The fishies grumbled and
spat curses at Squirrel but were forced to flee underwater because
the sun hurt their unprotected eyes terribly. Sure enough though,
that night the fishies saw the Monster who lives in the Cave before
he had reached the Stream, even though they were all asleep at the
time! This gave them the warning they needed to swim away from
the Monster and all of them survived the night. This made the
fishies so happy that they immediately swam to where Squirrel sunned
himself on a branch over the Stream. "Squirrel, how can we ever
thank you for your help?", they shouted. "Oh, no need to thank me,"
Squirrel replied, resting on his shiny new rain cape made from fishy
eyelids counting his yellow pebbles, "A good deed is its own reward."

Oliver D. Bernuetz

P.S. Ignoring my own suggestion I've made some changes to my
web page without notifying the digest. I've added a different Balazaring
tale, The Story of Echo,made some cosmetic changes and added to
my reference links collection.


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