Ripple, The Water-Spirit
DOWN in the deep blue sea lived Ripple, a happy little Water-Spirit; all day long she
danced beneath the coral arches, made garlands of bright ocean flowers, or floated on the
great waves that sparkled in the sunlight; but the pastime that she loved best was lying in
the many-colored shells upon the shore, listening to the low, murmuring music the waves
had taught them long ago; and here for hours the little Spirit lay watching the sea and sky,
while singing gayly to herself.
But when tempests rose, she hastened down below the stormy billows, to where all was
calm and still, and with her sister Spirits waited till it should be fair again, listening sadly,
meanwhile, to the cries of those whom the wild waves wrecked and cast into the angry
sea, and who soon came floating down, pale and cold, to the Spirits' pleasant home; then
they wept pitying tears above the lifeless forms, and laid them in quiet graves, where
flowers bloomed, and jewels sparkled in the sand.
This was Ripple's only grief, and she often thought of those who sorrowed for the friends
they loved, who now slept far down in the dim and silent coral caves, and gladly would
she have saved the lives of those who lay around her; but the great ocean was far mightier
than all the tender-hearted Spirits dwelling in its bosom. Thus she could only weep for
them, and lay them down to sleep where no cruel waves could harm them more.
One day, when a fearful storm raged far and wide, and the Spirits saw great billows
rolling like heavy clouds above their heads, and heard the wild winds sounding far away,
down through the foaming waves a little child came floating to their home; its eyes were
closed as if in sleep, the long hair fell like sea-weed round its pale, cold face, and the
little hands still clasped the shells they had been gathering on the beach, when the great
waves swept it into the troubled sea.
With tender tears the Spirits laid the little form to rest upon its bed of flowers, and,
singing mournful songs, as if to make its sleep more calm and deep, watched long and
lovingly above it, till the storm had died away, and all was still again.
While Ripple sang above the little child, through the distant roar of winds and waves she
heard a wild, sorrowing voice, that seemed to call for help. Long she listened, thinking it
was but the echo of their own plaintive song, but high above the music still sounded the
sad, wailing cry. Then, stealing silently away, she glided up through foam and spray, till,
through the parting clouds, the sunlight shone upon her from the tranquil sky; and, guided
by the mournful sound, she floated on, till, close before her on the beach, she saw a
woman stretching forth her arms, and with a sad, imploring voice praying the restless sea
to give her back the little child it had so cruelly borne away. But the waves dashed
foaming up among the bare rocks at her feet, mingling their cold spray with her tears, and
gave no answer to her prayer.