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The Sea Fairies

15. The Magic Of The Mermaids
When Trot and Cap'n Bill entered the Rose Chamber they found the two mermaids
reclining before an air fountain that was sending thousands of tiny bubbles up through the
water.
"These fountains of air are excellent things," remarked Queen Aquareine, "for they keep
the water fresh and sweet, and that is the more necessary when it is confined by walls, as
it is in this castle. But now, let us counsel together and decide what to do in the
emergency that confronts us."
"How can we tell what to do without knowing what's going to happen?" asked Trot.
"Somethin's sure to happen," said Cap'n Bill.
As if to prove his words, a gong suddenly sounded at their door and in walked a fat little
man clothed all in white, including a white apron and white cap. His face was round and
jolly, and he had a big mustache that curled up at the ends.
"Well, well!" said the little man, spreading out his legs and putting his hands on his hips
as he stood looking at them. "Of all the queer things in the sea, you're the queerest!
Mermaids, eh?"
"Don't bunch us that way!" protested Cap'n Bill.
"You are quite wrong," said Trot. "I'm a--a girl."
"With a fish's tail?" he asked, laughing at her.
"That's only just for a while," she said, "while I'm in the water, you know. When I'm at
home on the land I walk just as you do, an' so does Cap'n Bill."
"But we haven't any gills," remarked the Cap'n, looking closely at the little man's throat,
"so I take it we're not as fishy as some others."
"If you mean me, I must admit you are right," said the little man, twisting his mustache.
"I'm as near a fish as a man can be. But you see, Cap'n, without the gills that make me a
fish, I could not live under water."
"When it comes to that, you've no business to live under water," asserted the sailor. "But I
s'pose you're a slave and can't help it."
"I'm chief cook for that old horror Zog. And that reminds me, good mermaids, or good
people, or good girls and sailors, or whatever you are, that I'm sent here to ask what you'd
like to eat."
 
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