鱼类王国一直就没有秩序可言，鱼儿们对此早就很不满意了。 它们谁都不为别人让路，左游右游，想怎样就怎样，它们或是在那些聚在一起的鱼中间横冲直闯，或是任意挡他人的道。 大的总是用它们的尾巴摔打弱小的鱼，把它们赶得远远的，或者不由分说地吃掉它们。 它们说："要是我们中间有个国王，他既能实施法律，又能主持正义，那该多好啊！"于是大伙儿商议，谁能在浪潮中游得最快，又能帮助弱小者，就选它为王。
它们在海边列队排好。 狗鱼用它的尾巴发出信号，于是大伙儿一块儿往前赶。 狗鱼像箭一样地向前冲出了很远，紧跟其后的有青鱼、白杨鱼、鲈鱼、鲤鱼，还有其它所有的鱼。
甚至连鲽鱼也加入了它们的行列，并希望取胜。 这时突然传来一声喊声，"青鱼最先！青鱼最先！""谁最先？"那个爱猜忌的鲽鱼，已远远地落在了后面，口里却愤怒地叫道，"谁最先？""青鱼！青鱼！"有鱼答道。 这家伙更是妒火中烧，口里直嚷嚷，"那个身子光溜溜的青鱼？那个身子光溜溜的青鱼？"从此以后，鲽鱼受了罚，嘴歪长了。
The fishes had for a long time been discontented because no order prevailed in their kingdom. None of them turned aside for the others, but all swam to the right or the left as they fancied, or darted between those who wanted to stay together, or got into their way; and a strong one gave a weak one a blow with its tail, which drove it away, or else swallowed it up without more ado. "How delightful it would be," said they, "if we had a king who enforced law and justice among us!" and they met together to choose for their ruler, the one who could cleave through the water most quickly, and give help to the weak ones.
They placed themselves in rank and file by the shore, and the pike gave the signal with his tail, on which they all started. Like an arrow, the pike darted away, and with him the herring, the gudgeon, the perch, the carp, and all the rest of them. Even the sole swam with them, and hoped to reach the winning-place. All at once, the cry was heard, "The herring is first!" - "Who is first?" screamed angrily the flat envious sole, who had been left far behind, "who is first?" - "The herring! The herring," was the answer. "The naked herring?" cried the jealous creature, "the naked herring?" Since that time the sole's mouth has been at one side for a punishment.