« AnteriorContinuar »
tiful than her picture, and that she was as good in her mind as in her person. So he forthwith sent off his portrait to the lady, and all was settled for their marriage.
On the day the princess was expected to arrive, the tall ship was seen a great way off, making for the rock under the palace; and night came on before the ship had ended her voyage. As soon as daylight broke, many an eye was looking out anxiously, but the ship was nowhere to be seen; and the sad news came that she had struck on a rock in the night, and that the princess and all her attendants had been drowned. When the old king heard this, he spoke not a word, but overcome by his grief and old age, died in the arms of his son; and the beautiful golden hair of the prince became quite grey, and sorrow came upon all the people of the land.
One, two, three years rolled on, and the young king tried to drive away his
cares by thinking only of his subjects’ good and happiness: and this lessened his grief very much, though it could not entirely remove it. Now it happened that one day as he was walking pensively along the sands underneath his palace, a voice suddenly cried out from the waves which rolled at his
“ By my life, O king ! by my own sad life,
Would that I were thy wedded wife ! ” The young king listened, but heard no
He kept pacing along the sands till the sun dropped below the waves, and then he returned home full of thought and sorrow. On the morrow he came to the same spot, and again he heard the same sounds, but heard them only once. For six days, one after another, he came to the place and heard the same voice singing :
“By my life, O king ! by my own sad life, Would that I were thy wedded wife ! ”
So at last, on the evening of the sixth day, when he got home to his palace, he sent for the faithful old nobleman who had given him the glass, and begged him to say what should be done, for he was struck at hearing the words repeated so often. But the old man was sorry when he heard the king's story : for part of an old song flashed across his memory:
“Five fathom deep shall he be
Who shall ever wed a maid of the sea.'
And he tried hard to laugh his master out of the idea of taking any notice of the singing voice : saying it was only the song of some desolate mermaid. But the prince only shook his head, and said, “As I live, I will never comb my hair till I know the meaning of so strange a thing :” and this oath was as binding as any one could swear in the country. Then the poor old nobleman knew that it was useless to say any more; so he saddled his horse and went home sorrowfully. But as he was going along by the rock under the palace, he tripped his step, and his foot kicked against an oyster: and the oyster opened its shell, and, strangely enough, began to speak: the oyster said, “Take out the little pearl from the bottom of my shell and carry it to your master, for it will help him on the journey he is going to take.” This pleased the old man very much, and now he hoped that the young king's errand might not be altogether fruitless;