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Far out in the ocean, where the water is as blue as the prettiest cornflower, & as clear as crystal, it is very, very deep; so deep, indeed, that no cable could fathom it: many church steeples, piled one upon another, would not reach from the ground beneath to the surface of the water above. There dwell the Sea King and his subjects.
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We must not imagine that there is nothing at the bottom of the sea but bare yellow sand. No, indeed; the most singular flowers and plants grow there; the leaves và stems of which are so pliant, that the slightest agitation of the water causes them khổng lồ stir as if they had life. Fishes, both large and small, glide between the branches, as birds fly among the trees here upon land. In the deepest spot of all, stands the castle of the Sea King. Its walls are built of coral, and the long, gothic windows are of the clearest amber. The roof is formed of shells, that xuất hiện and close as the water flows over them. Their appearance is very beautiful, for in each lies a glittering pearl, which would be fit for the diadem of a queen.
The Sea King had been a widower for many years, và his aged mother kept house for him. She was a very wise woman, và exceedingly proud of her high birth; on that trương mục she wore twelve oysters on her tail; while others, also of high rank, were only allowed khổng lồ wear six. She was, however, deserving of very great praise, especially for her care of the little sea-princesses, her grand-daughters. They were six beautiful children; but the youngest was the prettiest of them all; her skin was as clear and delicate as a rose-leaf, và her eyes as xanh as the deepest sea; but, lượt thích all the others, she had no feet, & her toàn thân ended in a fish’s tail.
All day long they played in the great halls of the castle, or among the living flowers that grew out of the walls. The large amber windows were open, and the fish swam in, just as the swallows fly into our houses when we mở cửa the windows, excepting that the fishes swam up khổng lồ the princesses, ate out of their hands, and allowed themselves to be stroked.
Outside the castle there was a beautiful garden, in which grew bright red and dark blue flowers, và blossoms lượt thích flames of fire; the fruit glittered like gold, and the leaves & stems waved to & fro continually. The earth itself was the finest sand, but xanh as the flame of burning sulphur. Over everything lay a peculiar blue radiance, as if it were surrounded by the air from above, through which the blue sky shone, instead of the dark depths of the sea. In calm weather the sun could be seen, looking lượt thích a purple flower, with the light streaming from the calyx. Each of the young princesses had a little plot of ground in the garden, where she might dig and plant as she pleased. One arranged her flower-bed into the khung of a whale; another thought it better lớn make hers like the figure of a little mermaid; but that of the youngest was round lượt thích the sun, and contained flowers as red as his rays at sunset.
She was a strange child, quiet & thoughtful; và while her sisters would be delighted with the wonderful things which they obtained from the wrecks of vessels, she cared for nothing but her pretty red flowers, like the sun, excepting a beautiful marble statue. It was the representation of a handsome boy, carved out of pure white stone, which had fallen to the bottom of the sea from a wreck. She planted by the statue a rose-colored weeping willow. It grew splendidly, and very soon hung its fresh branches over the statue, almost down to lớn the blue sands. The shadow had a violet tint, & waved to & fro lượt thích the branches; it seemed as if the crown of the tree and the root were at play, và trying to lớn kiss each other.
Nothing gave her so much pleasure as to lớn hear about the world above the sea. She made her old grandmother tell her all she knew of the ships & of the towns, the people and the animals. To her it seemed most wonderful and beautiful to hear that the flowers of the land should have fragrance, và not those below the sea; that the trees of the forest should be green; & that the fishes among the trees could sing so sweetly, that it was quite a pleasure to hear them. Her grandmother called the little birds fishes, or she would not have understood her; for she had never seen birds.
“When you have reached your fifteenth year,” said the grand-mother, “you will have permission to lớn rise up out of the sea, to lớn sit on the rocks in the moonlight, while the great ships are sailing by; & then you will see both forests và towns.”
In the following year, one of the sisters would be fifteen: but as each was a year younger than the other, the youngest would have to wait five years before her turn came khổng lồ rise up from the bottom of the ocean, và see the earth as we do. However, each promised to tell the others what she saw on her first visit, và what she thought the most beautiful; for their grandmother could not tell them enough; there were so many things on which they wanted information. None of them longed so much for her turn to come as the youngest, she who had the longest time lớn wait, và who was so quiet và thoughtful.
Many nights she stood by the open window, looking up through the dark blue water, và watching the fish as they splashed about with their fins and tails. She could see the moon and stars shining faintly; but through the water they looked larger than they bởi vì to our eyes. When something like a đen cloud passed between her and them, she knew that it was either a whale swimming over her head, or a ship full of human beings, who never imagined that a pretty little mermaid was standing beneath them, holding out her trắng hands towards the keel of their ship.
As soon as the eldest was fifteen, she was allowed to rise to lớn the surface of the ocean. When she came back, she had hundreds of things to talk about; but the most beautiful, she said, was lớn lie in the moonlight, on a sandbank, in the quiet sea, near the coast, & to gaze on a large town nearby, where the lights were twinkling lượt thích hundreds of stars; to listen to lớn the sounds of the music, the noise of carriages, và the voices of human beings, và then lớn hear the merry bells peal out from the church steeples; và because she could not go near khổng lồ all those wonderful things, she longed for them more than ever. Oh, did not the youngest sister listen eagerly to lớn all these descriptions? và afterwards, when she stood at the xuất hiện window looking up through the dark blue water, she thought of the great city, with all its bustle and noise, và even fancied she could hear the sound of the church bells, down in the depths of the sea.
In another year the second sister received permission lớn rise lớn the surface of the water, and to swim about where she pleased. She rose just as the sun was setting, and this, she said, was the most beautiful sight of all. The whole sky looked like gold, while violet & rose-colored clouds, which she could not describe, floated over her; and, still more rapidly than the clouds, flew a large flock of wild swans towards the setting sun, looking lượt thích a long trắng veil across the sea. She also swam towards the sun; but it sunk into the waves, & the rosy tints faded from the clouds and from the sea.
The third sister’s turn followed; she was the boldest of them all, và she swam up a broad river that emptied itself into the sea. On the banks she saw green hills covered with beautiful vines; palaces và castles peeped out from amid the proud trees of the forest; she heard the birds singing, and the rays of the sun were so powerful that she was obliged often lớn dive down under the water to lớn cool her burning face. In a narrow creek she found a whole troop of little human children, quite naked, and sporting about in the water; she wanted khổng lồ play with them, but they fled in a great fright; & then a little black animal came to the water; it was a dog, but she did not know that, for she had never before seen one. This animal barked at her so terribly that she became frightened, & rushed back lớn the open sea. But she said she should never forget the beautiful forest, the green hills, và the pretty little children who could swim in the water, although they had not fish’s tails.
The fourth sister was more timid; she remained in the midst of the sea, but she said it was quite as beautiful there as nearer the land. She could see for so many miles around her, and the sky above looked like a bell of glass. She had seen the ships, but at such a great distance that they looked lượt thích sea-gulls. The dolphins sported in the waves, & the great whales spouted water from their nostrils till it seemed as if a hundred fountains were playing in every direction.
The fifth sister’s birthday occurred in the winter; so when her turn came, she saw what the others had not seen the first time they went up. The sea looked quite green, & large icebergs were floating about, each like a pearl, she said, but larger & loftier than the churches built by men. They were of the most singular shapes, và glittered like diamonds. She had seated herself upon one of the largest, và let the wind play with her long hair, và she remarked that all the ships sailed by rapidly, & steered as far away as they could from the iceberg, as if they were afraid of it. Towards evening, as the sun went down, dark clouds covered the sky, the thunder rolled & the lightning flashed, & the red light glowed on the icebergs as they rocked & tossed on the heaving sea. On all the ships the sails were reefed with fear and trembling, while she sat calmly on the floating iceberg, watching the blue lightning, as it darted its forked flashes into the sea.
When first the sisters had permission to lớn rise khổng lồ the surface, they were each delighted with the new & beautiful sights they saw; but now, as grown-up girls, they could go when they pleased, & they had become indifferent about it. They wished themselves back again in the water, and after a month had passed they said it was much more beautiful down below, và pleasanter khổng lồ be at home. Yet often, in the evening hours, the five sisters would twine their arms round each other, and rise to the surface, in a row. They had more beautiful voices than any human being could have; and before the approach of a storm, and when they expected a ship would be lost, they swam before the vessel, và sang sweetly of the delights to be found in the depths of the sea, và begging the sailors not to fear if they sank to the bottom. But the sailors could not understand the song, they took it for the howling of the storm. And these things were never to be beautiful for them; for if the ship sank, the men were drowned, and their dead bodies alone reached the palace of the Sea King.
When the sisters rose, arm-in-arm, through the water in this way, their youngest sister would stand quite alone, looking after them, ready lớn cry, only that the mermaids have no tears, và therefore they suffer more.
“Oh, were I but fifteen years old,” said she: “I know that I shall love the world up there, & all the people who live in it.”
At last she reached her fifteenth year.
“Well, now, you are grown up,” said the old dowager, her grandmother; “so you must let me adorn you lượt thích your other sisters;” & she placed a wreath of trắng lilies in her hair, và every flower leaf was half a pearl. Then the old lady ordered eight great oysters khổng lồ attach themselves to lớn the tail of the princess to show her high rank.
“But they hurt me so,” said the little mermaid.
“Pride must suffer pain,” replied the old lady. Oh, how gladly she would have shaken off all this grandeur, and laid aside the heavy wreath! The red flowers in her own garden would have suited her much better, but she could not help herself: so she said, “Farewell,” and rose as lightly as a bubble to lớn the surface of the water.
The sun had just mix as she raised her head above the waves; but the clouds were tinted with crimson and gold, và through the glimmering twilight beamed the evening star in all its beauty. The sea was calm, và the air mild & fresh. A large ship, with three masts, lay becalmed on the water, with only one sail set; for not a breeze stiffed, and the sailors sat idle on deck or amongst the rigging. There was music and song on board; and, as darkness came on, a hundred colored lanterns were lighted, as if the flags of all nations waved in the air. The little mermaid swam close khổng lồ the cabin windows; & now & then, as the waves lifted her up, she could look in through clear glass window-panes, và see a number of well-dressed people within.
Among them was a young prince, the most beautiful of all, with large đen eyes; he was sixteen years of age, and his birthday was being kept with much rejoicing. The sailors were khiêu vũ on deck, but when the prince came out of the cabin, more than a hundred rockets rose in the air, making it as bright as day. The little mermaid was so startled that she dived under water; and when she again stretched out her head, it appeared as if all the stars of heaven were falling around her, she had never seen such fireworks before. Great suns spurted fire about, splendid fireflies flew into the xanh air, & everything was reflected in the clear, calm sea beneath. The ship itself was so brightly illuminated that all the people, & even the smallest rope, could be distinctly và plainly seen. And how handsome the young prince looked, as he pressed the hands of all present và smiled at them, while the music resounded through the clear night air.
It was very late; yet the little mermaid could not take her eyes from the ship, or from the beautiful prince. The colored lanterns had been extinguished, no more rockets rose in the air, và the cannon had ceased firing; but the sea became restless, and a moaning, grumbling sound could be heard beneath the waves: still the little mermaid remained by the cabin window, rocking up và down on the water, which enabled her khổng lồ look in.
After a while, the sails were quickly unfurled, và the noble ship continued her passage; but soon the waves rose higher, heavy clouds darkened the sky, and lightning appeared in the distance. A dreadful storm was approaching; once more the sails were reefed, and the great ship pursued her flying course over the raging sea. The waves rose mountains high, as if they would have overtopped the mast; but the ship dived lượt thích a swan between them, & then rose again on their lofty, foaming crests. Khổng lồ the little mermaid this appeared pleasant sport; not so to lớn the sailors. At length the ship groaned and creaked; the thick planks gave way under the lashing of the sea as it broke over the deck; the mainmast snapped asunder lượt thích a reed; the ship lay over on her side; và the water rushed in.
The little mermaid now perceived that the crew were in danger; even she herself was obliged khổng lồ be careful to avoid the beams and planks of the wreck which lay scattered on the water. At one moment it was so pitch dark that she could not see a single object, but a flash of lightning revealed the whole scene; she could see every one who had been on board excepting the prince; when the ship parted, she had seen him sink into the deep waves, & she was glad, for she thought he would now be with her; và then she remembered that human beings could not live in the water, so that when he got down to her father’s palace he would be quite dead. But he must not die. So she swam about among the beams và planks which strewed the surface of the sea, forgetting that they could crush her lớn pieces. Then she dived deeply under the dark waters, rising and falling with the waves, till at length she managed to lớn reach the young prince, who was fast losing the power of swimming in that stormy sea. His limbs were failing him, his beautiful eyes were closed, và he would have died had not the little mermaid come to his assistance. She held his head above the water, and let the waves drift them where they would.
In the morning the storm had ceased; but of the ship not a single fragment could be seen. The sun rose up red and glowing from the water, và its beams brought back the hue of health khổng lồ the prince’s cheeks; but his eyes remained closed. The mermaid kissed his high, smooth forehead, and stroked back his wet hair; he seemed khổng lồ her lượt thích the marble statue in her little garden, and she kissed him again, và wished that he might live.
Presently they came in sight of land; she saw lofty xanh mountains, on which the white snow rested as if a flock of swans were lying upon them. Near the coast were beautiful green forests, & close by stood a large building, whether a church or a convent she could not tell. Orange & citron trees grew in the garden, and before the door stood lofty palms. The sea here formed a little bay, in which the water was quite still, but very deep; so she swam with the handsome prince lớn the beach, which was covered with fine, trắng sand, và there she laid him in the warm sunshine, taking care to lớn raise his head higher than his body. Then bells sounded in the large trắng building, và a number of young girls came into the garden. The little mermaid swam out farther from the shore and placed herself between some high rocks that rose out of the water; then she covered her head & neck with the foam of the sea so that her little face might not be seen, và watched to see what would become of the poor prince.
She did not wait long before she saw a young girl approach the spot where he lay. She seemed frightened at first, but only for a moment; then she fetched a number of people, và the mermaid saw that the prince came khổng lồ life again, và smiled upon those who stood round him. But to lớn her he sent no smile; he knew not that she had saved him. This made her very unhappy, và when he was led away into the great building, she dived down sorrowfully into the water, và returned to her father’s castle.
She had always been silent & thoughtful, và now she was more so than ever. Her sisters asked her what she had seen during her first visit lớn the surface of the water; but she would tell them nothing. Many an evening & morning did she rise lớn the place where she had left the prince. She saw the fruits in the garden ripen till they were gathered, the snow on the tops of the mountains melt away; but she never saw the prince, and therefore she returned home, always more sorrowful than before. It was her only comfort lớn sit in her own little garden, & fling her arm round the beautiful marble statue which was lượt thích the prince; but she gave up tending her flowers, and they grew in wild confusion over the paths, twining their long leaves and stems round the branches of the trees, so that the whole place became dark & gloomy.
At length she could bear it no longer, và told one of her sisters all about it. Then the others heard the secret, and very soon it became known lớn two mermaids whose intimate friend happened khổng lồ know who the prince was. She had also seen the festival on board ship, and she told them where the prince came from, and where his palace stood.
“Come, little sister,” said the other princesses; then they entwined their arms & rose up in a long row to the surface of the water, close by the spot where they knew the prince’s palace stood.
It was built of bright yellow shining stone, with long flights of marble steps, one of which reached quite down khổng lồ the sea. Splendid gilded cupolas rose over the roof, and between the pillars that surrounded the whole building stood life-like statues of marble. Through the clear crystal of the lofty windows could be seen noble rooms, with costly silk curtains và hangings of tapestry; while the walls were covered with beautiful paintings which were a pleasure lớn look at. In the centre of the largest saloon a fountain threw its sparkling jets high up into the glass cupola of the ceiling, through which the sun shone down upon the water và upon the beautiful plants growing round the basin of the fountain.
Now that she knew where he lived, she spent many an evening and many a night on the water near the palace. She would swim much nearer the shore than any of the others ventured khổng lồ do; indeed once she went quite up the narrow channel under the marble balcony, which threw a broad shadow on the water. Here she would sit & watch the young prince, who thought himself quite alone in the bright moonlight. She saw him many times of an evening sailing in a pleasant boat, with music playing & flags waving. She peeped out from among the green rushes, & if the wind caught her long silvery-white veil, those who saw it believed it khổng lồ be a swan, spreading out its wings. On many a night, too, when the fishermen, with their torches, were out at sea, she heard them relate so many good things about the doings of the young prince, that she was glad she had saved his life when he had been tossed about half-dead on the waves. & she remembered that his head had rested on her bosom, and how heartily she had kissed him; but he knew nothing of all this, và could not even dream of her. She grew more & more fond of human beings, và wished more and more to be able to lớn wander about with those whose world seemed lớn be so much larger than her own. They could fly over the sea in ships, and mount the high hills which were far above the clouds; & the lands they possessed, their woods và their fields, stretched far away beyond the reach of her sight. There was so much that she wished lớn know, và her sisters were unable khổng lồ answer all her questions. Then she applied khổng lồ her old grandmother, who knew all about the upper world, which she very rightly called the lands above the sea.
“If human beings are not drowned,” asked the little mermaid, “can they live forever? bởi they never die as we vì here in the sea?”
“Yes,” replied the old lady, “they must also die, & their term of life is even shorter than ours. We sometimes live khổng lồ three hundred years, but when we cease to lớn exist here we only become the foam on the surface of the water, and we have not even a grave down here of those we love. We have not immortal souls, we shall never live again; but, like the green sea-weed, when once it has been cut off, we can never flourish more. Human beings, on the contrary, have a soul which lives forever, lives after the toàn thân has been turned to lớn dust. It rises up through the clear, pure air beyond the glittering stars. As we rise out of the water, and behold all the land of the earth, so vị they rise khổng lồ unknown & glorious regions which we shall never see.”
“Why have not we an immortal soul?” asked the little mermaid mournfully; “I would give gladly all the hundreds of years that I have lớn live, to lớn be a human being only for one day, and to have the hope of knowing the happiness of that glorious world above the stars.”
“You must not think of that,” said the old woman; “we feel ourselves to lớn be much happier và much better off than human beings.”
“So I shall die,” said the little mermaid, “and as the foam of the sea I shall be driven about never again to lớn hear the music of the waves, or to lớn see the pretty flowers nor the red sun. Is there anything I can vì to win an immortal soul?”
“No,” said the old woman, “unless a man were to lớn love you so much that you were more lớn him than his father or mother; & if all his thoughts và all his love were fixed upon you, và the priest placed his right hand in yours, và he promised to be true to you here and hereafter, then his soul would glide into your body and you would obtain a cốt truyện in the future happiness of mankind. He would give a soul khổng lồ you and retain his own as well; but this can never happen. Your fish’s tail, which amongst us is considered so beautiful, is thought on earth to lớn be quite ugly; they vì not know any better, và they think it necessary to have two stout props, which they điện thoại tư vấn legs, in order to be handsome.”
Then the little mermaid sighed, và looked sorrowfully at her fish’s tail. “Let us be happy,” said the old lady, “and dart & spring about during the three hundred years that we have lớn live, which is really quite long enough; after that we can rest ourselves all the better. This evening we are going to have a court ball.”
It is one of those splendid sights which we can never see on earth. The walls & the ceiling of the large ball-room were of thick, but transparent crystal. May hundreds of colossal shells, some of a deep red, others of a grass green, stood on each side in rows, with xanh fire in them, which lighted up the whole saloon, & shone through the walls, so that the sea was also illuminated. Innumerable fishes, great and small, swam past the crystal walls; on some of them the scales glowed with a purple brilliancy, và on others they shone like silver và gold. Through the halls flowed a broad stream, and in it danced the mermen and the mermaids khổng lồ the music of their own sweet singing. No one on earth has such a lovely voice as theirs. The little mermaid thanh lịch more sweetly than them all. The whole court applauded her with hands & tails; and for a moment her heart felt quite gay, for she knew she had the loveliest voice of any on earth or in the sea. But she soon thought again of the world above her, for she could not forget the charming prince, nor her sorrow that she had not an immortal soul lượt thích his; therefore she crept away silently out of her father’s palace, and while everything within was gladness & song, she sat in her own little garden sorrowful & alone. Then she heard the bugle sounding through the water, and thought: “He is certainly sailing above, he on whom my wishes depend, và in whose hands I should like to place the happiness of my life. I will venture all for him, and to win an immortal soul, while my sisters are nhảy in my father’s palace, I will go khổng lồ the sea witch, of whom I have always been so much afraid, but she can give me counsel & help.”
And then the little mermaid went out from her garden, and took the road lớn the foaming whirlpools, behind which the sorceress lived. She had never been that way before: neither flowers nor grass grew there; nothing but bare, gray, sandy ground stretched out khổng lồ the whirlpool, where the water, like foaming mill-wheels, whirled round everything that it seized, và cast it into the fathomless deep. Through the midst of these crushing whirlpools the little mermaid was obliged khổng lồ pass, to lớn reach the dominions of the sea witch; và also for a long distance the only road lay right across a quantity of warm, bubbling mire, called by the witch her turfmoor. Beyond this stood her house, in the centre of a strange forest, in which all the trees and flowers were polypi, half animals và half plants; they looked like serpents with a hundred heads growing out of the ground. The branches were long slimy arms, with fingers like flexible worms, moving limb after limb from the root to lớn the top. All that could be reached in the sea they seized upon, và held fast, so that it never escaped from their clutches.
The little mermaid was so alarmed at what she saw, that she stood still, & her heart beat with fear, and she was very nearly turning back; but she thought of the prince, & of the human soul for which she longed, và her courage returned. She fastened her long flowing hair round her head, so that the polypi might not seize hold of it. She laid her hands together across her bosom, and then she darted forward as a fish shoots through the water, between the supple arms & fingers of the ugly polypi, which were stretched out on each side of her. She saw that each held in its grasp something it had seized with its numerous little arms, as if they were iron bands. The white skeletons of human beings who had perished at sea, và had sunk down into the deep waters, skeletons of land animals, oars, rudders, & chests of ships were lying tightly grasped by their clinging arms; even a little mermaid, whom they had caught & strangled; và this seemed the most shocking of all to the little princess.
She now came lớn a space of marshy ground in the wood, where large, fat water-snakes were rolling in the mire, và showing their ugly, drab-colored bodies. In the midst of this spot stood a house, built with the bones of shipwrecked human beings. There sat the sea witch, allowing a toad to lớn eat from her mouth, just as people sometimes feed a canary with a piece of sugar. She called the ugly water-snakes her little chickens, & allowed them to lớn crawl all over her bosom.
“I know what you want,” said the sea witch; “it is very stupid of you, but you shall have your way, & it will bring you to lớn sorrow, my pretty princess. You want to lớn get rid of your fish’s tail, và to have two supports instead of it, like human beings on earth, so that the young prince may fall in love with you, và that you may have an immortal soul.” & then the witch laughed so loud & disgustingly, that the toad và the snakes fell lớn the ground, and lay there wriggling about. “You are but just in time,” said the witch; “for after sunrise to-morrow I should not be able to help you till the kết thúc of another year. I will prepare a draught for you, with which you must swim khổng lồ land tomorrow before sunrise, and sit down on the shore and drink it. Your tail will then disappear, và shrink up into what mankind calls legs, & you will feel great pain, as if a sword were passing through you. But all who see you will say that you are the prettiest little human being they ever saw. You will still have the same floating gracefulness of movement, & no dancer will ever tread so lightly; but at every step you take it will feel as if you were treading upon sharp knives, and that the blood must flow. If you will bear all this, I will help you.”
“Yes, I will,” said the little princess in a trembling voice, as she thought of the prince và the immortal soul.
“But think again,” said the witch; “for when once your shape has become lượt thích a human being, you can no more be a mermaid. You will never return through the water to lớn your sisters, or to lớn your father’s palace again; & if you vì chưng not win the love of the prince, so that he is willing to forget his father & mother for your sake, and to love you with his whole soul, and allow the priest lớn join your hands that you may be man & wife, then you will never have an immortal soul. The first morning after he marries another your heart will break, & you will become foam on the crest of the waves.”
“I will vị it,” said the little mermaid, & she became pale as death.
“But I must be paid also,” said the witch, “and it is not a trifle that I ask. You have the sweetest voice of any who dwell here in the depths of the sea, and you believe that you will be able to lớn charm the prince with it also, but this voice you must give to me; the best thing you possess will I have for the price of my draught. My own blood must be mixed with it, that it may be as sharp as a two-edged sword.”
“But if you take away my voice,” said the little mermaid, “what is left for me?”
“Your beautiful form, your graceful walk, và your expressive eyes; surely with these you can enchain a man’s heart. Well, have you lost your courage? Put out your little tongue that I may cut it off as my payment; then you shall have the powerful draught.”
“It shall be,” said the little mermaid.
Then the witch placed her cauldron on the fire, lớn prepare the magic draught.
“Cleanliness is a good thing,” said she, scouring the vessel with snakes, which she had tied together in a large knot; then she pricked herself in the breast, & let the đen blood drop into it. The steam that rose formed itself into such horrible shapes that no one could look at them without fear. Every moment the witch threw something else into the vessel, và when it began to boil, the sound was like the weeping of a crocodile. When at last the magic draught was ready, it looked like the clearest water.
“There it is for you,” said the witch. Then she cut off the mermaid’s tongue, so that she became dumb, & would never again speak or sing. “If the polypi should seize hold of you as you return through the wood,” said the witch, “throw over them a few drops of the potion, and their fingers will be torn into a thousand pieces.” But the little mermaid had no occasion to do this, for the polypi sprang back in terror when they caught sight of the glittering draught, which shone in her hand like a twinkling star.
So she passed quickly through the wood and the marsh, và between the rushing whirlpools. She saw that in her father’s palace the torches in the ballroom were extinguished, và all within asleep; but she did not venture to lớn go in khổng lồ them, for now she was dumb and going lớn leave them forever, she felt as if her heart would break. She stole into the garden, took a flower from the flower-beds of each of her sisters, kissed her hand a thousand times towards the palace, và then rose up through the dark xanh waters.
The sun had not risen when she came in sight of the prince’s palace, and approached the beautiful marble steps, but the moon shone clear và bright. Then the little mermaid drank the magic draught, and it seemed as if a two-edged sword went through her delicate body: she fell into a swoon, & lay like one dead.
When the sun arose & shone over the sea, she recovered, và felt a sharp pain; but just before her stood the handsome young prince. He fixed his coal-black eyes upon her so earnestly that she cast down her own, và then became aware that her fish’s tail was gone, và that she had as pretty a pair of white legs and tiny feet as any little maiden could have; but she had no clothes, so she wrapped herself in her long, thick hair. The prince asked her who she was, & where she came from, and she looked at him mildly and sorrowfully with her deep xanh eyes; but she could not speak. Every step she took was as the witch had said it would be, she felt as if treading upon the points of needles or sharp knives; but she bore it willingly, & stepped as lightly by the prince’s side as a soap-bubble, so that he & all who saw her wondered at her graceful-swaying movements. She was very soon arrayed in costly robes of silk & muslin, and was the most beautiful creature in the palace; but she was dumb, and could neither speak nor sing.
Beautiful female slaves, dressed in silk & gold, stepped forward và sang before the prince and his royal parents: one sang trọng better than all the others, and the prince clapped his hands & smiled at her. This was great sorrow to lớn the little mermaid; she knew how much more sweetly she herself could sing once, và she thought, “Oh if he could only know that! I have given away my voice forever, to lớn be with him.”
The slaves next performed some pretty fairy-like dances, to the sound of beautiful music. Then the little mermaid raised her lovely trắng arms, stood on the tips of her toes, and glided over the floor, & danced as no one yet had been able to dance. At each moment her beauty became more revealed, & her expressive eyes appealed more directly to the heart than the songs of the slaves. Every one was enchanted, especially the prince, who called her his little foundling; và she danced again quite readily, khổng lồ please him, though each time her foot touched the floor it seemed as if she trod on sharp knives.
The prince said she should remain with him always, and she received permission lớn sleep at his door, on a velvet cushion. He had a page’s dress made for her, that she might accompany him on horseback. They rode together through the sweet-scented woods, where the green boughs touched their shoulders, & the little birds sang trọng among the fresh leaves. She climbed with the prince to lớn the tops of high mountains; and although her tender feet bled so that even her steps were marked, she only laughed, & followed him till they could see the clouds beneath them looking lượt thích a flock of birds travelling to distant lands. While at the prince’s palace, & when all the household were asleep, she would go and sit on the broad marble steps; for it eased her burning feet to bathe them in the cold sea-water; and then she thought of all those below in the deep.
Once during the night her sisters came up arm-in-arm, singing sorrowfully, as they floated on the water. She beckoned lớn them, & then they recognized her, & told her how she had grieved them. After that, they came to lớn the same place every night; và once she saw in the distance her old grandmother, who had not been khổng lồ the surface of the sea for many years, & the old Sea King, her father, with his crown on his head. They stretched out their hands towards her, but they did not venture so near the land as her sisters did.
As the days passed, she loved the prince more fondly, và he loved her as he would love a little child, but it never came into his head khổng lồ make her his wife; yet, unless he married her, she could not receive an immortal soul; and, on the morning after his marriage with another, she would dissolve into the foam of the sea.
“Do you not love me the best of them all?” the eyes of the little mermaid seemed to lớn say, when he took her in his arms, and kissed her fair forehead.
“Yes, you are dear khổng lồ me,” said the prince; “for you have the best heart, & you are the most devoted lớn me; you are lượt thích a young maiden whom I once saw, but whom I shall never meet again. I was in a ship that was wrecked, and the waves cast me ashore near a holy temple, where several young maidens performed the service. The youngest of them found me on the shore, and saved my life. I saw her but twice, & she is the only one in the world whom I could love; but you are lượt thích her, & you have almost driven her image out of my mind. She belongs lớn the holy temple, and my good fortune has sent you to lớn me instead of her; và we will never part.”
“Ah, he knows not that it was I who saved his life,” thought the little mermaid. “I carried him over the sea khổng lồ the wood where the temple stands: I sat beneath the foam, and watched till the human beings came khổng lồ help him. I saw the pretty maiden that he loves better than he loves me;” và the mermaid sighed deeply, but she could not shed tears. “He says the maiden belongs lớn the holy temple, therefore she will never return to lớn the world. They will meet no more: while I am by his side, & see him every day. I will take care of him, & love him, và give up my life for his sake.”
Very soon it was said that the prince must marry, and that the beautiful daughter of a neighboring king would be his wife, for a fine ship was being fitted out. Although the prince gave out that he merely intended khổng lồ pay a visit to the king, it was generally supposed that he really went lớn see his daughter. A great company were khổng lồ go with him. The little mermaid smiled, & shook her head. She knew the prince’s thoughts better than any of the others.
“I must travel,” he had said to her; “I must see this beautiful princess; my parents desire it; but they will not oblige me khổng lồ bring her home as my bride. I cannot love her; she is not like the beautiful maiden in the temple, whom you resemble. If I were forced to lớn choose a bride, I would rather choose you, my dumb foundling, with those expressive eyes.” và then he kissed her rosy mouth, played with her long waving hair, & laid his head on her heart, while she dreamed of human happiness & an immortal soul. “You are not afraid of the sea, my dumb child,” said he, as they stood on the deck of the noble ship which was khổng lồ carry them to the country of the neighboring king. & then he told her of storm và of calm, of strange fishes in the deep beneath them, & of what the divers had seen there; & she smiled at his descriptions, for she knew better than any one what wonders were at the bottom of the sea.
In the moonlight, when all on board were asleep, excepting the man at the helm, who was steering, she sat on the deck, gazing down through the clear water. She thought she could distinguish her father’s castle, & upon it her aged grandmother, with the silver crown on her head, looking through the rushing tide at the keel of the vessel. Then her sisters came up on the waves, và gazed at her mournfully, wringing their white hands. She beckoned to them, & smiled, và wanted to lớn tell them how happy & well off she was; but the cabin-boy approached, and when her sisters dived down he thought it was only the foam of the sea which he saw.
The next morning the ship sailed into the harbor of a beautiful town belonging khổng lồ the king whom the prince was going to lớn visit. The church bells were ringing, và from the high towers sounded a flourish of trumpets; và soldiers, with flying colors and glittering bayonets, lined the rocks through which they passed. Every day was a festival; balls và entertainments followed one another.
But the princess had not yet appeared. People said that she was being brought up and educated in a religious house, where she was learning every royal virtue. At last she came. Then the little mermaid, who was very anxious lớn see whether she was really beautiful, was obliged to acknowledge that she had never seen a more perfect vision of beauty. Her skin was delicately fair, và beneath her long dark eye-lashes her laughing xanh eyes shone with truth & purity.
“It was you,” said the prince, “who saved my life when I lay dead on the beach,” and he folded his blushing bride in his arms. “Oh, I am too happy,” said he to lớn the little mermaid; “my fondest hopes are all fulfilled. You will rejoice at my happiness; for your devotion lớn me is great & sincere.”
The little mermaid kissed his hand, và felt as if her heart were already broken. His wedding morning would bring death khổng lồ her, & she would change into the foam of the sea. All the church bells rung, and the heralds rode about the town proclaiming the betrothal. Perfumed oil was burning in costly silver lamps on every altar. The priests waved the censers, while the bride và bridegroom joined their hands and received the blessing of the bishop. The little mermaid, dressed in silk và gold, held up the bride’s train; but her ears heard nothing of the festive music, và her eyes saw not the holy ceremony; she thought of the night of death which was coming to lớn her, & of all she had lost in the world.
On the same evening the bride & bridegroom went on board ship; cannons were roaring, flags waving, & in the centre of the ship a costly tent of purple và gold had been erected. It contained elegant couches, for the reception of the bridal pair during the night. The ship, with swelling sails and a favorable wind, glided away smoothly và lightly over the calm sea. When it grew dark a number of colored lamps were lit, & the sailors danced merrily on the deck. The little mermaid could not help thinking of her first rising out of the sea, when she had seen similar festivities and joys; and she joined in the dance, poised herself in the air as a swallow when he pursues his prey, and all present cheered her with wonder. She had never danced so elegantly before. Her tender feet felt as if cut with sharp knives, but she cared not for it; a sharper pang had pierced through her heart. She knew this was the last evening she should ever see the prince, for whom she had forsaken her kindred và her home; she had given up her beautiful voice, & suffered unheard-of pain daily for him, while he knew nothing of it. This was the last evening that she would breathe the same air with him, or gaze on the starry sky and the deep sea; an eternal night, without a thought or a dream, awaited her: she had no soul & now she could never win one. All was joy and gayety on board ship till long after midnight; she laughed and danced with the rest, while the thoughts of death were in her heart. The prince kissed his beautiful bride, while she played with his raven hair, till they went arm-in-arm khổng lồ rest in the splendid tent. Then all became still on board the ship; the helmsman, alone awake, stood at the helm. The little mermaid leaned her white arms on the edge of the vessel, & looked towards the east for the first blush of morning, for that first ray of dawn that would bring her death. She saw her sisters rising out of the flood: they were as pale as herself; but their long beautiful hair waved no more in the wind, & had been cut off.
“We have given our hair lớn the witch,” said they, “to obtain help for you, that you may not die to-night. She has given us a knife: here it is, see it is very sharp. Before the sun rises you must plunge it into the heart of the prince; when the warm blood falls upon your feet they will grow together again, & form into a fish’s tail, và you will be once more a mermaid, & return lớn us to lớn live out your three hundred years before you die & change into the salt sea foam. Haste, then; he or you must die before sunrise. Our old grandmother moans so for you, that her trắng hair is falling off from sorrow, as ours fell under the witch’s scissors. Kill the prince & come back; hasten: vày you not see the first red streaks in the sky? In a few minutes the sun will rise, and you must die.” & then they sighed deeply và mournfully, và sank down beneath the waves.
The little mermaid drew back the crimson curtain of the tent, and beheld the fair bride with her head resting on the prince’s breast. She bent down & kissed his fair brow, then looked at the sky on which the rosy dawn grew brighter & brighter; then she glanced at the sharp knife, & again fixed her eyes on the prince, who whispered the name of his bride in his dreams. She was in his thoughts, và the knife trembled in the hand of the little mermaid: then she flung it far away from her into the waves; the water turned red where it fell, & the drops that spurted up looked like blood. She cast one more lingering, half-fainting glance at the prince, & then threw herself from the ship into the sea, & thought her toàn thân was dissolving into foam.
The sun rose above the waves, và his warm rays fell on the cold foam of the little mermaid, who did not feel as if she were dying. She saw the bright sun, and all around her floated hundreds of transparent beautiful beings; she could see through them the trắng sails of the ship, and the red clouds in the sky; their speech was melodious, but too ethereal khổng lồ be heard by mortal ears, as they were also unseen by mortal eyes. The little mermaid perceived that she had a body toàn thân like theirs, & that she continued to rise higher và higher out of the foam.
“Where am I?” asked she, và her voice sounded ethereal, as the voice of those who were with her; no earthly music could imitate it.
“Among the daughters of the air,” answered one of them. “A mermaid has not an immortal soul, nor can she obtain one unless she wins the love of a human being. On the power nguồn of another hangs her eternal destiny. But the daughters of the air, although they vì chưng not possess an immortal soul, can, by their good deeds, procure one for themselves. We fly to lớn warm countries, and cool the sultry air that destroys mankind with the pestilence. We carry the perfume of the flowers to spread health và restoration. After we have striven for three hundred years lớn all the good in our power, we receive an immortal soul and take part in the happiness of mankind. You, poor little mermaid, have tried with your whole heart to vày as we are doing; you have suffered & endured và raised yourself to lớn the spirit-world by your good deeds; và now, by striving for three hundred years in the same way, you may obtain an immortal soul.”
The little mermaid lifted her glorified eyes towards the sun, & felt them, for the first time, filling with tears. On the ship, in which she had left the prince, there were life và noise; she saw him và his beautiful bride searching for her; sorrowfully they gazed at the pearly foam, as if they knew she had thrown herself into the waves. Unseen she kissed the forehead of her bride, và fanned the prince, và then mounted with the other children of the air lớn a rosy cloud that floated through the aether.
“After three hundred years, thus shall we float into the kingdom of heaven,” said she.
“And we may even get there sooner,” whispered one of her companions. “Unseen we can enter the houses of men, where there are children, and for every day on which we find a good child, who is the joy of his parents & deserves their love, our time of probation is shortened. The child does not know, when we fly through the room, that we smile with joy at his good conduct, for we can count one year less of our three hundred years. But when we see a naughty or a wicked child, we shed tears of sorrow, và for every tear a day is added to lớn our time of trial!”