Author of Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz, The Wish Express, "King, King! Double King!", etc.
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 11, 1919.
Once upon a time a fisherman drawing in his nets was astonished to find a little mermaid playing fearlessly among the fishes. He hauled up the nets very carefully so as not to hurt her. She was so pretty and playful that he resolved to take her home to his wife. They had no children and it was often very lonely in the little hut beside the sea.
He was afraid to open the net for fear she would jump out and he stared down so hard that the little mermaid looked up at him. She was just about as cunning as a little four-year-old girl, only she had much longer hair and a beautiful golden tail.
He could not help smiling at her, and she clapped her little hands at him and did not seem the teeniest bit afraid, though she had cause to be, goodness knows - for while a mermaid can live a long time out of water, she cannot live very comfortably, and droops just as the flowers do when they are picked.
"I'm all caught in this funny seaweed, won't you please take me out, Mr. Fisherman?" she called. The fisherman leaned down, unfastened the net, and she threw both arms around his neck.
"You're almost as nice as a fish," she announced gravely, as he lifted her out of the water and set her on the bottom of the boat. She watched with big eyes as he emptied the fish into the bottom of the boat. Then, as they began flopping about, panting for breath she began to cry.
"Please throw them back. Please, good Mr. Fisherman, throw us all back, it's so dry out here and how shall I get about!" The fisherman looked at her slowly.
"I'll carry you," he said kindly. "And you shall have a necklace and a ring - and everything you want. Will you come back with me, little Missie?"
By this time several of the fish had died. The cunning little mermaid began to cry in earnest. Then all at once she cheered up.
"If you'll throw the fishes back I'll come!" The old man looked at the tiny bit of a sea girl, and was ashamed of himself.
"So you'll give yourself up for a lot of worthless fishes," he chuckled. "Well, overboard with them, overboard with them!" Suiting the action to the word he threw the fishes all back into the sea. As each one splashed away the little mermaid grew sadder, for she knew it was going to be very hard to keep her word - and she had a beautiful mermother down in the lovely sea-house where she lived. A mermother and father, a six little brothers and sisters!
The old fisherman chuckled to himself. He knew that he was not going to keep such a generous little creature against her will, and the fact that she made no attempt to escape pleased him tremendously.
"See that little hut, right on the edge of the sands? That's where I live," he said, and started to row in that direction. Two tears stole down the mermaid's cheeks, but she dashed them away quickly and strained her eyes in the direction that the fisherman pointed. When he was sure that she had seen, he pulled up his oars and stopped rowing. Then he picked the little mergirl up in his arms, gave her one kiss, and tossed her back into the water.
"We'll be expecting you to visit us some fine night. We're lonely folks, my wife and I," he called, as her head disappeared under water. His wife wondered mightily when he told her of his experience, but agreed that he had done right. "She could not live happily out of the sea," she told him sadly, and then because there were no fish to eat they went to bed hungry, and tried to forget how lonely they were. But what do you think? The next time the fisherman drew up his nets they were so heavy he could hardly manage them, and when at last they came to the surface of the sea, he could scarcely believe his eyes - for they were full of pearls and coral, gold from sunken ships, and all manner of strange treasure. And was it not a good thing that he threw the little mermaid back into the water? I hope if you ever catch one you will do the same and be rewarded as richly as he was.
The Forgetful Poet
Wishes you a snappy Fourth and all that sort of thing. He seems still to be interested in boats. See how many of these you can find.
ALL THE BOATS AFLOAT!
The sailboats are a motley group.
And first among them is the -----.
Oh! there are more than one can utter.
Another odd one is the -----,
And then the fisherman's stand pat boat,
The useful, little lively ----- boat.
'Mong other craft there are a lot,
We'll not forget the sporting -----.
Commuter folk are bound to hurry
If they would catch the churning -----.
The Arab man sails in his -----,
And that's about enough for now.
The boats that came to dock in last week's puzzles were junk, fishing smack, barge, ocean liner, dory and raft.
[Answers next time.]
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