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Artemis and a Dead Fish

Artemis and a Dead Fish

Written by Karen Mak (G4, ISF)

“Father? Can you tell me a story? I cannot sleep. I am so nervous about tomorrow’s exam,” Little Benjamin pled.

“Okay, sweetheart. Do you remember the last time when we went to Ghalastalas, we found a statue of a messenger riding on a horse with Artemis’ name carved on it?”

“Yes, I do remember. What’s so special about it?”

Then, his father gently cleared his throat and began his story.

Ghalastalas was a small kingdom that lay on a small island in the South China Sea. In the kingdom, there was a kind-hearted messenger, Artemis, who always made prompt deliveries to the King. There was this one time where she had to deliver a rare saltwater fish - the Golden Bass (only to be found in the South China Sea) to the King.

“Artemis, I have a special guest coming for dinner tonight. He is my dear old friend who once saved my life against the fierce pirates in the sea. Please go to the harbor and fetch my scrumptious dinner. Don’t be late, otherwise the food will turn bad!” ordered the King.

“Yes, my lord,” Artemis replied. She hurried to the stable to get a cart and a horse. Artemis struggled to pull the insolent horse out of the stable.

“Why, you insolent boy!” she mumbled under her breath.

After a few tries, she finally succeeded. She immediately clipped the horse’s saddle to the cart. Artemis climbed up the cart with a sense of victory, slapped the reins of the horse, and they trotted proudly to the harbor. She reached the harbor and spotted a panicky sailor who was frantically waving his hands at her.

“The guest tonight is very special to the lord. You’d better hurry before your lord throws a fit! The fish will be no good by nighttime.”

“Don’t worry. We have plenty of time,” Artemis replied, showing no signs of fright or alarm.

After carefully loading the luxurious fish into the cart, Artemis started the trip back to the castle. The horse seemed parched, so she decided to make a quick stop by the river to rest. Right when she was about to get back onto the cart, she heard a low yelp.

“Help! Please, oh, save me! Is anyone there?”

Artemis thought for a while. Should she help him, or continue back to the castle? She decided to attempt to save the person, because that was obviously the right thing to do. She followed the voice and ended up at a cliff. At first, she saw nothing. Then she spotted a pair of hands holding onto the edge of the cliff!

“Help! Help!” the weak and trembling voice shouted again. She immediately tried to pull the old man up. Artemis struggled as she was saving him. It was harder than she imagined and took a while to pull him up. As he was resting on the ground, she noticed that he was a very old priest.

“Thank goodness you saved me. Without you, I may not be able to hold on any longer. I have been hanging here for hours. I know God has sent you to answer my prayer.”

Artemis finally noticed the streaks of pink and purple sky, left behind by the falling sun. “I hope you’re ok.” Artemis mumbled.

The priest added, “Don’t worry about me. I should be fine. You look you’re in a hurry. Just continue your journey. May God be with you and have a good evening.”

Artemis rushed back to the cart and she got back to the castle in record time.

“Artemis! The food has gone stale and lost its unique favor! You stupid girl! You should have got it back before sunset! What were you doing?” the King cried in anger, face getting redder every moment.

Artemis stared solemnly at the ground, shivering in fear. “I am in no position to defend myself against the majesty. It is better to be silent when I can’t show any concrete proof to explain myself…No, no, no, it is all because I had to save the priest and it is the right thing to do! I should just tell the King the truth, I hope he will understand,” she argued with herself.

“Please forgive me, my lord! There was an accident before on my way back to the castle…” Artemis begged.

“You’re full of excuses!” the King interrupted and accused of her. “Guards, give her forty lashes!” Just as the guards rushed over to Artemis, the door opened and a priest walked in.

“Oh! Hello, young lady!” greeted the old priest.

“Father, you know this lazy messenger?” the confused King asked.

“Of course I do! She just saved my life this afternoon! If it weren’t for her, I’d be in heaven by now!”

After the priest explained what had happened that late afternoon, the King realized he had made a terrible mistake. “Sorry, Artemis! I thought you were fooling around! The priest is indeed my special guest tonight. He has been my friend and my mentor since I was young. He means so much to me. Thanks for saving him!”

He commanded the guards to release her. “Now, Artemis, I think that you made a really good choice. Saving a person’s life is more important than delivering my dinner on time. If you hadn’t saved his life, I would have been in sorrow for the rest of my life. And there wouldn’t be anyone to share this dinner with me. For that, you deserve to eat with us tonight. Even though we don’t have the fish now, we have you among us to enjoy the rest of the food.”

Artemis got promoted to become the King’s personal assistant and lived happily ever after in the castle. In remembrance of Artemis’ selflessness and bravery, the King ordered to build a statue of her at the cliff where she saved the priest. The End.

“Is the story real?” Benjamin asked.

“This story has been passed on by my ancestors for thousands of years. The Kingdom is gone, my dear, but the island is still here. I hope you can learn to do the right things and do good deeds. In the future, you can also pass on this story to your sons and grandchildren,” Father explained.

“Great story, I think I can sleep now,” Benjamin whispered, rubbing his eyes tiredly. His dad slowly crept to the door of Benjamin’s room and turned off the lights.