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had heard the voice from the waves. The old nobleman gave him the pearl, and the young king bade him take his place and act as king in his absence; and then the young king went straight to the sea-shore.
But when he came there the waters began to swell and roar, and the sky grew dark, and heavy rain began to fall : but the king, who cared not for storms or sea, without more ado plunged into the midst of a huge wave sweeping on towards him, and went swimming merrily out to sea.
At about half-a-mile from the shore he felt his feet strike against something hard and firm, and when he had dived down and looked to see what it was, he found himself at the top of a long flight of rugged steps, which he forthwith descended. Half
way down the steps, as he was sliding $ and slipping about, he heard the very $
same voice and the same words which had been addressed to him on each of the six mornings :
“By my life, O king! by my own sad life,
Would that I were thy wedded wife !”
Then he stretched out his hands to feel his way, for he could see nothing on either side, and sad as it seemed, the pearl, which he had kept closed in his right hand, fell suddenly to the ground. The rock at once opened beneath him, and he saw himself before a most beautiful being, half fish and half woman: and she told him her story and said, “I am no mermaid, king, but in reality your own true princess, whom you lost three years ago. An old witch of the sea, who lived hard by, spirited away the tall ship the night before its intended ar
rival, and changed me and my com$ panions into sea monsters. For the co
first time during three years the old witch let me loose, six days back, to go and gather coral, and then I sung those lines for six mornings together. I had almost begun to be afraid that you would not heed me, till I met the kind fairy, who had changed herself into an oyster, and had given the old nobleman the pearl: and this kind fairy comforted me by saying that she was the ruling fairy of the land, and that she had given you the glass at your birth to choose your queen by; and had only allowed the spiteful old witch of the sea to play off her mischief for a time, to try your constancy.” When the king heard all this, he fell down with joy, for he was convinced she was his own betrothed wife.
The princess then begged the young king to stay till the old witch came
home; as she was expecting her the $ very instant the cave was opened by
the pearl. Presently in came the old
down her throat in a huge gulp, and $there it stuck. Then, when the pearl $
27 eggen had so choked the old witch that she could not speak, the scales fell from the princess and ber companions; and the king's hair turned to its former golden colour. The rock shook, and all on it save the old witch found themselves beneath the rock whereon the young king's castle stood.
So the young king went gladly home, and married the beautiful princess that very night; and the old nobleman danced at the wedding as blithe as a boy, with the good fairy; and the old witch was left coughing and choking herself with rage and the pearl in her throat; and I dare say is doing so to this very day.