THE SEA FAIRIES
THE SEA FAIRIES
L. FRANK BAUM
AUTHOR OF THE EMERALD CITY OF OZ DOROTHY AND THE
WIZARD IN OZ OZMA OF OZ THE ROAD TO OZ
THE LAND OF OZ ETC.
JOHN R. NEILL
THE oceans are big and broad. I believe two-thirds of the
earth's surface is covered with water. What people inhabit
this water has always been a subject of curiosity to the
inhabitants of the land. Strange creatures come from the seas
at times and perhaps in the ocean depths are many more strange
than mortal eye has ever gazed upon.
This story is fanciful. In it the sea people talk and act
much as we do and the mermaids especially are not unlike the
fairies with whom we have learned to be familiar. Yet they
are real sea people for all that and with the exception of Zog
the Magician they are all supposed to exist in the ocean's depths.
I am told that some very learned people deny that mermaids
or sea-serpents have ever inhabited the oceans but it would be
very difficult for them to prove such an assertion unless they had
lived under the water as Trot and Cap'n Bill did in this story.
I hope my readers who have so long followed Dorothy's
adventures in the Land of Oz will be interested in Trot's equally
strange experiences. The ocean has always appealed to me as
a veritable wonderland and this story has been suggested to me
many times by my young correspondents in their letters. Indeed
a good many childred have implored me to "write something
about the mermaids" and I have willingly granted the request.
L. FRANK BAUM.
TROT AND CAP'N BILL
"Nobody" said Cap'n Bill solemnly "ever sawr a mermaid an' lived
to tell the tale."
"Why not?" asked Trot looking earnestly up into the old sailor's
They were seated on a bench built around a giant acacia tree that
grew just at the edge of the bluff. Below them rolled the blue waves
of the great Pacific. A little way behind them was the house a neat
frame cottage painted white and surrounded by huge eucalyptus and
pepper trees. Still farther behind that--a quarter of a mile distant
but built upon a bend of the coast--was the village overlooking a
Cap'n Bill and Trot came often to this tree to sit and watch the
ocean below them. The sailor man had one "meat leg" and one "hickory
leg" and he often said the wooden one was the best of the two. Once
Cap'n Bill had commanded and owned the "Anemone" a trading schooner
that plied along the coast; and in those days Charlie Griffiths who
was Trot's father had been the Captain's mate. But ever since Cap'n
Bill's accident when he lost his leg Charlie Griffiths had been
the captain of the little schooner while his old master lived
peacefully ashore with the Griffiths family.
This was about the time Trot was born and the old sailor became
very fond of the baby girl. Her real name was Mayre but when she
grew big enough to walk she took so many busy little steps every
day that both her mother and Cap'n Bill nicknamed her "Trot" and so
she was thereafter mostly called.
It was the old sailor who taught the child to love the sea to love
it almost as much as he and her father did and these two who
represented the "beginning and the end of life" became firm friends
and constant companions.
"Why hasn't anybody seen a mermaid and lived?" asked Trot again.
"'Cause mermaids is fairies an' ain't meant to be seen by us mortal
folk" replied Cap'n Bill.
"But if anyone happens to see 'em what then Cap'n?"
"Then" he answered slowly wagging his head "the mermaids give 'em
a smile an' a wink an' they dive into the water an' gets drownded."
"S'pose they knew how to swim Cap'n Bill?"
"That don't make any diff'rence Trot. The mermaids live deep down
an' the poor mortals never come up again."
The little girl was thoughtful for a moment. "But why do folks dive
in the water when the mermaids smile an' wink?" she asked.
"Mermaids" he said gravely "is the most beautiful creatures in the
world--or the water either. You know what they're like Trot
they's got a lovely lady's form down to the waist an' then the
other half of 'em's a fish with green an' purple an' pink scales
all down it."
"Have they got arms Cap'n Bill?"
"'Course Trot; arms like any other lady. An' pretty faces that
smile an' look mighty sweet an' fetchin'. Their hair is long an'
soft an' silky an' floats all around 'em in the water. When they
comes up atop the waves they wring the water out'n their hair and
sing songs that go right to your heart. If anybody is unlucky enough
to be 'round jes' then the beauty o' them mermaids an' their sweet
songs charm 'em like magic; so's they plunge into the waves to get
to the mermaids. But the mermaids haven't any hearts Trot no
more'n a fish has; so they laughs when the poor people drown an'
don't care a fig. That's why I says an' I says it true that nobody
never sawr a mermaid an' lived to tell the tale."
"Nobody?" asked Trot.