The Enchanted Island

: The Sea Fairies

All at once it grew dark around them. Neither Cap'n Bill nor Trot

liked this gloom, for it made them nervous not to be able to see

their enemies.

"We must be near a sea cavern, if not within one," whispered

Princess Clia, and even as she spoke the network of scarlet arms

parted before them, leaving an avenue for them to swim out of the

cage. There was brighter water ahead, too, so the queen said without

"Come along, dear friends; but let us clasp hands and keep close


They obeyed her commands and swam swiftly out of their prison and

into the clear water before them, glad to put a distance between

themselves and the loathesome sea devils. The monsters made no

attempt to follow them, but they burst into a chorus of harsh

laughter which warned our friends that they had not yet accomplished

their escape.

The four now found themselves in a broad, rocky passage, which was

dimly lighted from some unknown source. The walls overhead, below

them and at the sides all glistened as if made of silver, and in

places were set small statues of birds, beasts and fishes, occupying

niches in the walls and seemingly made from the same glistening


The queen swam more slowly now that the sea devils had been left

behind, and she looked exceedingly grave and thoughtful.

"Have you ever been here before?" asked Trot.

"No, dear," said the Queen with a sigh.

"And do you know where we are?" continued the girl.

"I can guess," replied Aquareine. "There is only one place in all

the sea where such a passage as that we are in could exist without

my knowledge, and that is in the hidden dominions of Zog. If we are

indeed in the power of that fearful magician, we must summon all our

courage to resist him, or we are lost!"

"Is Zog more powerful than the mermaids?" asked Trot anxiously.

"I do not know, for we have never before met to measure our

strength," answered Aquareine. "But if King Anko could defeat the

magician, as he surely did, then I think I shall be able to do so."

"I wish I was sure of it," muttered Cap'n Bill.

Absolute silence reigned in the silver passage. No fish were there;

not even a sea flower grew to relieve the stern grandeur of this

vast corridor. Trot began to be impressed with the fact that she was

a good way from her home and mother, and she wondered if she would

ever get back again to the white cottage on the cliff. Here she was,

at the bottom of the great ocean, swimming through a big tunnel that

had an enchanted castle at the end, and a group of horrible sea

devils at the other! In spite of this thought, she was not very much

afraid. Although two fairy mermaids were her companions, she relied,

strange to say, more upon her tried and true friend, Cap'n Bill,

than upon her newer acquaintances to see her safely out of her

present trouble.

Cap'n Bill himself did not feel very confident.

"I don't care two cents what becomes o' me," he told Princess Clia

in a low voice, "but I'm drea'ful worried over our Trot. She's too

sweet an' young to be made an end of in this 'ere fashion."

Clia smiled at this speech. "I'm sure you will find the little

girl's end a good way off," she replied. "Trust to our powerful

queen, and be sure she will find some means for us all to escape


The light grew brighter as they advanced, until finally they

perceived a magnificent archway just ahead of them. Aquareine

hesitated a moment whether to go on or turn back, but there was no

escaping the sea devils behind them, and she decided the best way

out of their difficulties was to bravely face the unknown Zog and

rely upon her fairy powers to prevent his doing any mischief to

herself or her friends. So she led the way, and together they

approached the archway and passed through it.

They now found themselves in a vast cavern, so great in extent that

the dome overhead looked like the sky when seen from earth. In the

center of this immense sea cavern rose the towers of a splendid

castle, all built of coral inlaid with silver and having windows of

clear glass.

Surrounding the castle were beds of beautiful sea flowers, many

being in full bloom, and these were laid out with great care in

artistic designs. Goldfish and silverfish darted here and there

among the foliage, and the whole scene was so pretty and peaceful

that Trot began to doubt there was any danger lurking in such a

lovely place.

As they approached to look around them, a brilliantly colored

gregfish approached and gazed at them curiously with his big,

saucer-like eyes. "So Zog has got you at last!" he said in a pitying

tone. "How foolish you were to swim into that part of the sea where

he is powerful."

"The sea devils made us," explained Clia.

"Well, I'm sorry for you, I'm sure," remarked the Greg, and with a

flash of his tail, he disappeared among the sea foliage.

"Let us go to the castle," said the Queen in a determined voice. "We

may as well boldly defy our fate as to wait until Zog seeks us out."

So they swam to the entrance of the castle. The doors stood wide

open, and the interior seemed as well lighted as the cavern itself,

although none of them could discover from whence the light came.

At each side of the entrance lay a fish such as they had never seen

before. It was flat as a doormat and seemed to cling fast to the

coral floor. Upon its back were quills like those of a porcupine,

all pointed and sharp. From the center of the fish arose a head

shaped like a round ball, with a circle of piercing, bead-like eyes

set in it. These strange guardians of the entrance might be able to

tell what their numerous eyes saw, yet they remained silent and

watchful. Even Aquareine gazed upon them curiously, and she gave a

little shudder as she did so.

Inside the entrance was a domed hall with a flight of stairs leading

to an upper balcony. Around the hall were several doorways hung with

curtains made of woven seaweeds. Chairs and benches stood against

the wall, and these astonished the visitors because neither stairs

nor chairs seemed useful in a kingdom where every living thing was

supposed to swim and have a fish's tail. In Queen Aquareine's

palaces benches for reclining were used, and stairs were wholly

unnecessary, but in the Palace of Zog the furniture and fittings

were much like those of a house upon earth, and except that every

space here was filled with water instead of air, Trot and Cap'n Bill

might have imagined themselves in a handsome earthly castle.

The little group paused half fearfully in the hall, yet so far there

was surely nothing to be afraid of. They were wondering what to do

next when the curtains of an archway were pushed aside and a boy

entered. To Trot's astonishment, he had legs and walked upon them

naturally and with perfect ease. He was a delicate, frail-looking

little fellow, dressed in a black velvet suit with knee breeches.

The bows at his throat and knees were of colored seaweeds, woven

into broad ribbons. His hair was yellow and banged across his

forehead. His eyes were large and dark, with a pleasant, merry

sparkle in them. Around his neck he wore a high ruff, but in spite

of this Trot could see that below his plump cheeks were several

scarlet-edged slits that looked like the gills of fishes, for they

gently opened and closed as the boy breathed in the water by which

he was surrounded. These gills did not greatly mar the lad's

delicate beauty, and he spread out his arms and bowed low and

gracefully in greeting.

"Hello," said Trot.

"Why, I'd like to," replied the boy with a laugh, "but being a mere

slave, it isn't proper for me to hello. But it's good to see earth

people again, and I'm glad you're here."

"We're not glad," observed the girl. "We're afraid."

"You'll get over that," declared the boy smilingly. "People lose a

lot of time being afraid. Once I was myself afraid, but I found it

was no fun, so I gave it up."

"Why were we brought here?" inquired Queen Aquareine gently.

"I can't say, madam, being a mere slave," replied the boy. "But you

have reminded me of my errand. I am sent to inform you all that Zog

the Forsaken, who hates all the world and is hated by all the world,

commands your presence in his den."

"Do you hate Zog, too?" asked Trot.

"Oh no," answered the boy. "People lose a lot of time in hating

others, and there's no fun in it at all. Zog may be hateful, but I'm

not going to waste time hating him. You may do so, if you like."

"You are a queer child," remarked the Mermaid Queen, looking at him

attentively. "Will you tell us who you are?"

"Once I was Prince Sacho of Sacharhineolaland, which is a sweet

country, but hard to pronounce," he answered. "But in this domain I

have but one title and one name, and that is 'Slave.'"

"How came you to be Zog's slave?" asked Clia.

"The funniest adventure you ever heard of," asserted the boy with

eager pride. "I sailed in a ship that went to pieces in a storm. All

on board were drowned but me, and I came mighty near it, to tell the

truth. I went down deep, deep into the sea, and at the bottom was

Zog, watching the people drown. I tumbled on his head, and he

grabbed and saved me, saying I would make a useful slave. By his

magic power he made me able to live under water as the fishes live,

and he brought me to this castle and taught me to wait upon him as

his other slaves do."

"Isn't it a dreadful, lonely life?" asked Trot.

"No indeed," said Sacho. "We haven't any time to be lonely, and the

dreadful things Zog does are very exciting and amusing, I assure

you. He keeps us guessing every minute, and that makes the life here

interesting. Things were getting a bit slow an hour ago, but now

that you are here, I'm in hopes we will all be kept busy and amused

for some time."

"Are there many others in the castle besides you and Zog?" asked


"Dozens of us. Perhaps hundreds. I've never counted them," said the

boy. "But Zog is the only master; all the rest of us are in the same

class, so there is no jealousy among the slaves."

"What is Zog like?" Cap'n Bill questioned.

At this the boy laughed, and the laugh was full of mischief. "If I

could tell you what Zog is like, it would take me a year," was the

reply. "But I can't tell you. Every one has a different idea of what

he's like, and soon you will see him yourselves."

"Are you fond of him?" asked Trot.

"If I said yes, I'd get a good whipping," declared Sacho. "I am

commanded to hate Zog, and being a good servant, I try to obey. If

anyone dared to like Zog, I am sure he'd be instantly fed to the

turtles; so I advise you not to like him."

"Oh, we won't," promised Trot.

"But we're keeping the master waiting, and that is also a dangerous

thing to do," continued the boy. "If we don't hurry up, Zog will

begin to smile, and when he smiles there is trouble brewing."

The queen sighed. "Lead the way, Sacho," she said. "We will follow."

The boy bowed again, and going to an archway, held aside the

curtains for them. They first swam into a small anteroom which led

into a long corridor, at the end of which was another curtained

arch. Through this Sacho also guided them, and now they found

themselves in a cleverly constructed maze. Every few feet were

twists and turns and sharp corners, and sometimes the passage would

be wide, and again so narrow that they could just squeeze through in

single file. "Seems like we're gettin' further into the trap,"

growled Cap'n Bill. "We couldn't find our way out o' here to save

our lives."

"Oh yes we could," replied Clia, who was just behind him. "Such a

maze may indeed puzzle you, but the queen or I could lead you safely

through it again, I assure you. Zog is not so clever as he thinks


The sailor, however, found the maze very bewildering, and so did

Trot. Passages ran in every direction, crossing and recrossing, and

it seemed wonderful that the boy Sacho knew just which way to go.

But he never hesitated an instant. Trot looked carefully to see if

there were any marks to guide him, but every wall was of plain,

polished marble, and every turning looked just like all the others.

Suddenly Sacho stopped short. They were now in a broader passage,

but as they gathered around their conductor they found further

advance blocked. Solid walls faced them, and here the corridor

seemed to end.

"Enter!" said a clear voice.

"But we can't!" protested Trot.

"Swim straight ahead," whispered the boy in soft tones. "There is no

real barrier before you. Your eyes are merely deceived by magic."

"Ah, I understand," said Aquareine, nodding her pretty head. And

then she took Mayre's hand and swam boldly forward, while Cap'n Bill

followed holding the hand of Clia. And behold! the marble wall

melted away before them, and they found themselves in a chamber more

splendid than even the fairy mermaids had ever seen before.