The Boy Musician.
The spinning-wheel fairy stopped for a moment.
‘Oh, go on, go on, please,’ said the two little girls. ‘It is so interesting, and it has been just as you said; we have seen the pictures of it all gliding before us, as
the thread passed through our fingers. Do go on, dear fairy; it must be that Emerald had caught the little girl.’
‘Yes,’ the fairy continued, ‘so it was. Small wonder that her rescuer could not find the child. She was lying safe, though as yet unconscious, in the mermaid’s arms, the golden chain thrown round Emerald’s own neck, for she had found it when she stooped to take up the baby. As yet the sea-maiden scarcely realised what she had done, in yielding to the impulse of hiding the child from her friends. And it was not till they had left the spot, in the vain hope that the little creature might have drifted farther down the coast, that Emerald dared to breathe freely, and think over what had happened. By this time her little “treasure-trove” had half opened her eyes, and murmured some baby words, for, after all, she had been but momentarily under the water. Emerald had no dif culty in soothing her, and in a minute or two the little girl sank into a sweet and natural slumber. Then, without giving herself time to think, her new nurse, drawing out a tiny phial, without which no mermaid is allowed to swim to the surface, poured out of it a few drops of a precious liquid, with which she anointed the baby’s face and lips. This liquid has the magic power of enabling a human being to live under water without injury, and of restoring to life those on whose behalf all the science of the landsmen would be exerted in vain.
‘”Now, my darling,” she whispered to herself, “you are safe, and you belong to me. I can carry you down to our beautiful home, for it must be that you are meant for me, and the jewel, which your little hands hung before you, is the gift that I was to seek for our princess.”
And so saying, though casting cautious glances on all sides, she swam rapidly away till she reached the rocky islet where she had parted from her sisters. There, being well out of sight of the shore, she rested for a time. No one as yet but herself had reached the meeting-place, which Emerald by no means regretted.
She wished to have the pride and pleasure of exhibiting her treasures down below to all the mermaids who were joining in the gift to the princess, when they assembled together to hear the result of the expedition. Possibly, too, at the very bottom of her heart there may have been hidden some little misgiving as to her right to carry away the child, and she may have dreaded her elder sisters’ opinion as to this. As regarded the golden necklet, her conscience was quite at rest, for before leaving the shore she had placed there some of the rare shells and pearls which the sea-folk knew to be so highly valued on land, that they were ample payment for anything they might carry off with them from the upper country.
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