The Palace Of Queen Aquareine

: The Sea Fairies

Trot was surprised to find it was not at all dark or gloomy as they

descended farther into the deep sea. Things were not quite so clear

to her eyes as they had been in the bright sunshine above the

ocean's surface, but every object was distinct nevertheless, as if

she saw through a pane of green-tainted glass. The water was very

clear except for this green shading, and the little girl had never

before felt so light and
buoyant as she did now. It was no effort at

all to dart through the water, which seemed to support her on all


"I don't believe I weigh anything at all," she said to Cap'n Bill.

"No more do I, Trot," said he. "But that's nat'ral, seein' as we're

under water so far. What bothers me most is how we manage to

breathe, havin' no gills like fishes have."

"Are you sure we haven't any gills?" she asked, lifting her free

hand to feel her throat.

"Sure. Ner the mermaids haven't any, either," declared Cap'n Bill.

"Then," said Trot, "we're breathing by magic."

The mermaids laughed at this shrewd remark, and the Princess said,

"You have guessed correctly, my dear. Go a little slower, now, for

the palaces are in sight."

"Where?" asked Trot eagerly.

"Just before you."

"In that grove of trees?" inquired the girl. And really, it seemed

to her that they were approaching a beautiful grove. The bottom of

the sea was covered with white sand, in which grew many varieties of

sea shrubs with branches like those of trees. Not all of them were

green, however, for the branches and leaves were of a variety of

gorgeous colors. Some were purple, shading down to a light lavender;

and there were reds all the way from a delicate rose-pink to vivid

shades of scarlet. Orange, yellow and blue shades were there, too,

mingling with the sea-greens in a most charming manner. Altogether,

Trot found the brilliant coloring somewhat bewildering.

These sea shrubs, which in size were quite as big and tall as the

trees on earth, were set so close together that their branches

entwined; but there were several avenues leading into the groves,

and at the entrance to each avenue the girl noticed several large

fishes with long spikes growing upon their noses.

"Those are swordfishes," remarked the Princess as she led the band

past one of these avenues.

"Are they dang'rous?" asked Trot.

"Not to us," was the reply. "The swordfishes are among our most

valued and faithful servants, guarding the entrances to the gardens

which surround our palaces. If any creatures try to enter uninvited,

these guards fight them and drive them away. Their swords are sharp

and strong, and they are fierce fighters, I assure you."

"I've known 'em to attack ships, an' stick their swords right

through the wood," said Cap'n Bill.

"Those belonged to the wandering tribes of swordfishes," explained

the Princess. "These, who are our servants, are too sensible and

intelligent to attack ships."

The band now headed into a broad passage through the "gardens," as

the mermaids called these gorgeous groves, and the great swordfishes

guarding the entrance made way for them to pass, afterward resuming

their posts with watchful eyes. As they slowly swam along the

avenue, Trot noticed that some of the bushes seemed to have fruits

growing upon them, but what these fruits might be neither she nor

Cap'n Bill could guess.

The way wound here and there for some distance, till finally they

came to a more open space all carpeted with sea flowers of exquisite

colorings. Although Trot did not know it, these flowers resembled

the rare orchids of earth in their fanciful shapes and marvelous

hues. The child did not examine them very closely, for across the

carpet of flowers loomed the magnificent and extensive palaces of

the mermaids.

These palaces were built of coral; white, pink and yellow being

used, and the colors arranged in graceful designs. The front of the

main palace, which now faced them, had circular ends connecting the

straight wall, not unlike the architecture we are all familiar with;

yet there seemed to be no windows to the building, although a series

of archways served as doors.

Arriving at one of the central archways, the band of sea maidens

separated. Princess Clia and Merla leading Trot and Cap'n Bill into

the palace, while the other mermaids swam swiftly away to their own


"Welcome!" said Clia in her sweet voice. "Here you are surrounded

only by friends and are in perfect safety. Please accept our

hospitality as freely as you desire, for we consider you honored

guests. I hope you will like our home," she added a little shyly.

"We are sure to, dear Princess," Trot hastened to say.

Then Clia escorted them through the archway and into a lofty hall.

It was not a mere grotto, but had smoothly built walls of pink coral

inlaid with white. Trot at first thought there was no roof, for

looking upward she could see the water all above them. But the

princess, reading her thought, said with a smile, "Yes, there is a

roof, or we would be unable to keep all the sea people out of our

palace. But the roof is made of glass to admit the light."

"Glass!" cried the astonished child. "Then it must be an awful big

pane of glass."

"It is," agreed Clia. "Our roofs are considered quite wonderful, and

we owe them to the fairy powers of our queen. Of course, you

understand there is no natural way to make glass under water."

"No indeed," said Cap'n Bill. And then he asked, "Does your queen

live here?"

"Yes. She is waiting now, in her throne room, to welcome you. Shall

we go in?"

"I'd just as soon," replied Trot rather timidly, but she boldly

followed the princess, who glided through another arch into another

small room where several mermaids were reclining upon couches of

coral. They were beautifully dressed and wore many sparkling jewels.

"Her Majesty is awaiting the strangers, Princess Clia," announced

one of these. "You are asked to enter at once."

"Come, then," said Clia, and once more taking Trot's hand, she led

the girl through still another arch, while Merla followed just

behind them, escorting Cap'n Bill. They now entered an apartment so

gorgeous that the child fairly gasped with astonishment. The queen's

throne room was indeed the grandest and most beautiful chamber in

all the ocean palaces. Its coral walls were thickly inlaid with

mother-of-pearl, exquisitely shaded and made into borders and floral

decorations. In the corners were cabinets, upon the shelves of which

many curious shells were arranged, all beautifully polished. The

floor glittered with gems arranged in patterns of flowers, like a

brilliant carpet.

Near the center of the room was a raised platform of mother-of-pearl

upon which stood a couch thickly studded with diamonds, rubies,

emeralds and pearls. Here reclined Queen Aquareine, a being so

lovely that Trot gazed upon her spellbound and Cap'n Bill took off

his sailor cap and held it in his hands.

All about the room were grouped other mother-of-pearl couches, not

raised like that of the queen, and upon each of these reclined a

pretty mermaid. They could not sit down as we do, Trot readily

understood, because of their tails; but they rested very gracefully

upon the couches with their trailing gauzy robes arranged in fleecy


When Clia and Merla escorted the strangers down the length of the

great room toward the royal throne, they met with pleasant looks and

smiles on every side, for the sea maidens were too polite to indulge

in curious stares. They paused just before the throne, and the queen

raised her head upon one elbow to observe them. "Welcome, Mayre,"

she said, "and welcome, Cap'n Bill. I trust you are pleased with

your glimpse of the life beneath the surface of our sea."

"I am," answered Trot, looking admiringly at the beautiful face of

the queen.

"It's all mighty cur'ous an' strange-like," said the sailor slowly.

"I'd no idee you mermaids were like this, at all!"

"Allow me to explain that it was to correct your wrong ideas about

us that led me to invite you to visit us," replied the Queen. "We

usually pay little heed to the earth people, for we are content in

our own dominions; but, of course, we know all that goes on upon

your earth. So when Princess Clia chanced to overhear your absurd

statements concerning us, we were greatly amused and decided to let

you see with your own eyes just what we are like."

"I'm glad you did," answered Cap'n Bill, dropping his eyes in some

confusion as he remembered his former description of the mermaids.

"Now that you are here," continued the Queen in a cordial, friendly

tone, "you may as well remain with us a few days and see the

wonderful sights of our ocean."

"I'm much obliged to you, ma'am," said Trot, "and I'd like to stay

ever so much, but mother worries jus' dreadfully if we don't get

home in time."

"I'll arrange all that," said Aquareine with a smile.

"How?" asked the girl.

"I will make your mother forget the passage of time so she will not

realize how long you are away. Then she cannot worry."

"Can you do that?" inquired Trot.

"Very easily. I will send your mother into a deep sleep that will

last until you are ready to return home. Just at present she is

seated in her chair by the front window, engaged in knitting." The

queen paused to raise an arm and wave it slowly to and fro. Then she

added, "Now your good mother is asleep, little Mayre, and instead of

worries I promise her pleasant dreams."

"Won't someone rob the house while she's asleep?" asked the child


"No, dear. My charm will protect the house from any intrusion."

"That's fine!" exclaimed Trot in delight.

"It's jes' won-erful!" said Cap'n Bill. "I wish I knew it was so.

Trot's mother has a awful sharp tongue when she's worried."

"You may see for yourselves," declared the Queen, and waved her hand

again. At once they saw before them the room in the cottage, with

Mayre's mother asleep by the window. Her knitting was in her lap,

and the cat lay curled up beside her chair. It was all so natural

that Trot thought she could hear the clock over the fireplace tick.

After a moment the scene faded away, when the queen asked with

another smile, "Are you satisfied?"

"Oh yes!" cried Trot. "But how could you do it?"

"It is a form of mirage," was the reply. "We are able to bring any

earth scene before us whenever we wish. Sometimes these scenes are

reflected above the water so that mortals also observe them."

"I've seen 'em," said Cap'n Bill, nodding. "I've seen mirages, but I

never knowed what caused 'em afore now."

"Whenever you see anything you do not understand and wish to ask

questions, I will be very glad to answer them," said the Queen.

"One thing that bothers me," said Trot, "is why we don't get wet,

being in the ocean with water all around us."

"That is because no water really touches you," explained the Queen.

"Your bodies have been made just like those of the mermaids in order

that you may fully enjoy your visit to us. One of our peculiar

qualities is that water is never permitted to quite touch our

bodies, or our gowns. Always there remains a very small space,

hardly a hair's breadth, between us and the water, which is the

reason we are always warm and dry."

"I see," said Trot. "That's why you don't get soggy or withered."

"Exactly," laughed the Queen, and the other mermaids joined in her


"I s'pose that's how we can breathe without gills," remarked Cap'n

Bill thoughtfully.

"Yes. The air space is constantly replenished from the water, which

contains air, and this enables us to breathe as freely as you do

upon the earth."

"But we have fins," said Trot, looking at the fin that stood upright

on Cap'n Bill's back.

"Yes. They allow us to guide ourselves as we swim, and so are very

useful," replied the Queen.

"They make us more finished," said Cap'n Bill with a chuckle. Then,

suddenly becoming grave, he added, "How about my rheumatics, ma'am?

Ain't I likely to get stiffened up with all this dampness?"

"No indeed," Aquareine answered. "There is no such thing as

rheumatism in all our dominions. I promise no evil result shall

follow this visit to us, so please be as happy and contented as