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
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
"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
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
"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
"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