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The Sea Fairies

6. Exploring The Ocean
The queen now requested her guests to recline upon couches that they might rest
themselves from their long swim and talk more at their ease. So the girl and the sailor
allowed themselves to float downward until they rested their bodies on two of the
couches nearest the throne, which were willingly vacated for them by the mermaids who
occupied them until then.
The visitors soon found themselves answering a great many questions about their life on
the earth, for although the queen had said she kept track of what was going on on the
land, there were many details of human life in which all the mermaids seemed greatly
interested.
During the conversation several sea-maids came swimming into the room bearing trays of
sea apples and other fruit, which they first offered to the queen, and then passed the
refreshments around to the company assembled. Trot and Cap'n Bill each took some, and
the little girl found the fruits delicious to eat, as they had a richer flavor than any that
grew upon land. Queen Aquareine was much pleased when the old sailor asked for more,
but Merla warned him dinner would soon be served and he must take care not to spoil his
appetite for that meal. "Our dinner is at noon, for we have to cook in the middle of the
day when the sun is shining," she said.
"Cook!" cried Trot. "Why, you can't build a fire in the water, can you?"
"We have no need of fires," was the reply. "The glass roof of our kitchen is so curved that
it concentrates the heat of the sun's rays, which are then hot enough to cook anything we
wish."
"But how do you get along if the day is cloudy, and the sun doesn't shine?" inquired the
little girl.
"Then we use the hot springs that bubble up in another part of the palace," Merla
answered. "But the sun is the best to cook by." So it was no surprise to Trot when, about
noon, dinner was announced and all the mermaids, headed by their queen and their
guests, swam into another spacious room where a great, long table was laid. The dishes
were of polished gold and dainty-cut glass, and the cloth and napkins of fine gossamer.
Around the table were ranged rows of couches for the mermaids to recline upon as they
ate. Only the nobility and favorites of Queen Aquareine were invited to partake of this
repast, for Clia explained that tables were set for the other mermaids in different parts of
the numerous palaces.
Trot wondered who would serve the meal, but her curiosity was soon satisfied when
several large lobsters came sliding into the room backward, bearing in their claws trays
loaded with food. Each of these lobsters had a golden band behind its neck to show it was
the slave of the mermaids.
 
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