Most of the things Ergo Harper is famous for happened during the half of his life when he was not famous. That is the usual way of it, certainly. But anyway, that was when he started wearing his leather eye-patch.
He was not the only one to wear an eye-patch, for in Dainnairfan, Ergo's country, many a man and many a woman lost an eye to some disease or maybe at war. But Ergo was the only one who would constantly shift his eye-patch from one eye to the other!
Because both eyes worked fine, yet his green left eye could often see inside things, and his blue right eye could often see beyond things. This confused him sometimes and so he was wearing the eyepatch to stop one eye from confusing the other.
When he put it on his blue eye, he could see everything beyond the patch but no more beyond that, which was good except that then his green eye still saw inside everything. which kept on being confusing. So then he would switch the patch to the other eye, which got confusing in a different way. But neither way of being confusing was so confusing as not having his eyepatch on at all.
You are probably thinking of asking me: "Now why are we having this dull monologue about that man's personal problems?" But I needed to tell you all that, or else you wouldn't understand how Ergo Harper became famous for making a stupid mistake.
People sometimes do become famous for their mistakes! Can you think of any others too?
One day, Ergo was walking from one town to another and he stopped by a lake to have his lunch and wash dust off himself. When he was looking down at the water, his own reflection was the surface of it, but he could see beyond that because he had his eyepatch on the green eye that morning.
Well, beyond the reflections Ergo then saw an enormous fish down there in the water and it was looking at him!
Now you need to remember that with his right ear Ergo was able to hear whatever any man was not saying. For then he heard what that fish was not saying while it was looking at him!
It was not saying: "Maybe this bard will help me?" But that's what it was thinking.
Surprised, Ergo answered the fish. "And what would I be helping you with then, Big Fish? And why can I hear what you are not saying, since you are no man but only a fish, so that it is unnatural if you should be aware of anything at all which you would be unable to say?"
"Do you always answer a question with two more questions and those both amazingly verbose, bard?" The big fish retorted, amused.
"Do you always answer two intelligent questions with an impertinent one?" Ergo went, also amused. "And if so, then why?"
The big fish was getting impatient. "Now instead of being so damn witty, why don't you help me with my problem and then I will call you a kind man, which is ten times more honour than being called a cheeky young harper don't you think?"
"What a long-winded fish you are to be not saying such a lot!" Marvelled Ergo. "Yes, perhaps I'll help you, because I guess that you are somehow more than just a fish!"
"I was once the chief swan who lived upon the lakes hereabouts," the big fish could not tell him, so that Ergo was hearing it quite clearly, "And all the other swans obeyed me, and I had more wives than I could reasonably deal with although that's not how they like to be dealt with, luckily for me. Well, one day seven new swans with gold rings on their necks came to my lake. I told them to go away but they would not, so that it was then for me to fight their chief swan. But instead, he turned me by magic into this big fish I am now. And if a true bard should catch me and kiss me on the lips, then I will turn back into what I first was and that is the request I make to you, kind harper."
Ergo replied: "Big Fish, that's hard work for me kissing a fish. What would be my reward for doing such a thing as that?"
"Then I would tell you" the fish was thinking, "where the treasure is buried that a king hid near these lakes long ago."
"Sounds quite profitable!" Said Ergo to himself. So he grabbed up the fish and kissed it on the lips.
Then he was astonished, for the big fish turned into a big man with fine clothes on and golden jewellery. His belt carried a sword and dagger and his head had a crown on it. This man stood up to his knees in the lake's edge, laughing at Ergo Harper.
Ergo was indignant. "What's this, man?" He blustered. "You're supposed to be a swan now!"
"Ah no. for I was first a man!" Said that man. "I am the Lake King who was turned into a swan by magic, and the one who did that was the bad lady my brother married, since she wanted to make her own stupid son into the king instead of me!"
"What? And then a magic swan turned you into a fish too?" Cried Ergo, flabbergastedly. "Well aren't you an unlucky sort of a king, then?"
The Lake King laughed some more. "But I'm very lucky YOU came along!" He shouted, "Because you're a bard and also peculiar enough to hear what a man cannot say by reason of being a fish. But not clever enough to look beyond the fishy story and see into the trick I was playing on you!"
"What trick?" Went Ergo, astonished again.
"Well, I'll certainly show you where my treasurey lies hidden away," said the Lake King, "Yet since I'm no swan and no salmon but only the king who owns the treasure, then you'll have to sing for it if you want any of that!"
Ergo thought that was a fine trick and laughed so much that he staggered onto a muddy bit and fell in the water.
"But you don't know the other mistake I made!" He shouted at the King, then.
The King was puzzled. "I thought you only had to make the one mistake to be falling for my sneaky trick?" He wondered. Ergo answered: "King, that would be true unless you knew how I knew it was a fish not speaking, since otherwise I should have guessed it was a man!" But he wouldn't tell the King another word about that.
After that, Ergo used to sing in the Lake King's hall, and get very well paid for it too. But what made Ergo the bard so famous around those lakes was not the songs he sang, but instead it was that story the King told everybody - about how a big fish had tricked such a damn clever bard.
However, Ergo used to tell them that he himself was the luckiest one of the two; for all bards want to be the friend of a king, but if he had worn his eyepatch on the other eye that day it would never have all happened just as now you have heard that it did.