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The Sea Fairies

2. The Mermaids
The next morning, as soon as Trot had helped wipe the breakfast dishes and put them
away in the cupboard, the little girl and Cap'n Bill started out toward the bluff. The air
was soft and warm and the sun turned the edges of the waves into sparkling diamonds.
Across the bay the last of the fisherboats was speeding away out to sea, for well the
fishermen knew this was an ideal day to catch rockbass, barracuda and yellowtail.
The old man and the young girl stood on the bluff and watched all this with interest. Here
was their world. "It isn't a bit rough this morning. Let's have a boat ride, Cap'n Bill," said
the child.
"Suits me to a T," declared the sailor. So they found the winding path that led down the
face of the cliff to the narrow beach below and cautiously began the descent. Trot never
minded the steep path or the loose rocks at all, but Cap'n Bill's wooden leg was not so
useful on a downgrade as on a level, and he had to be careful not to slip and take a
tumble.
But by and by they reached the sands and walked to a spot just beneath the big acacia tree
that grew on the bluff. Halfway to the top of the cliff hung suspended a little shed-like
structure that sheltered Trot's rowboat, for it was necessary to pull the boat out of reach of
the waves which beat in fury against the rocks at high tide. About as high up as Cap'n Bill
could reach was an iron ring securely fastened to the cliff, and to this ring was tied a rope.
The old sailor unfastened the knot and began paying out the rope, and the rowboat came
out of its shed and glided slowly downward to the beach. It hung on a pair of davits and
was lowered just as a boat is lowered from a ship's side. When it reached the sands, the
sailor unhooked the ropes and pushed the boat to the water's edge. It was a pretty little
craft, light and strong, and Cap'n Bill knew how to sail it or row it, as Trot might desire.
Today they decided to row, so the girl climbed into the bow and her companion stuck his
wooden leg into the water's edge "so he wouldn't get his foot wet" and pushed off the
little boat as he climbed aboard. Then he seized the oars and began gently paddling.
"Whither away, Commodore Trot?" he asked gaily.
"I don't care, Cap'n. It's just fun enough to be on the water," she answered, trailing one
hand overboard. So he rowed around by the North Promontory, where the great caves
were, and much as they were enjoying the ride, they soon began to feel the heat of the
sun.
"That's Dead Man's Cave, 'cause a skellington was found there," observed the child as
they passed a dark, yawning mouth in the cliff. "And that's Bumble Cave, 'cause the
bumblebees make nests in the top of it. And here's Smuggler's Cave, 'cause the smugglers
used to hide things in it."
 
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