The Sea Fairies

Page 37

Then Princess Clia parted the curtains that her queen and companions might enter the Rose Chamber.



The rooms Zog had given his prisoners were as handsome as all other parts of this strange enchanted castle. Gold was used plentifully in the decorations, and in the Rose Chamber occupied by the mermaids and Trot golden roses formed a border around the entire room. The sea maidens had evidently been expected, for the magician had provided couches for them to recline upon similar to the ones used in the mermaid palaces. The frames were of mother of pearl and the cushions of soft, white sponges. In the room were toilet tables, mirrors, ornaments and many articles used by earth people, which they afterward learned had been plundered by Zog from sunken ships and brought to his castle by his allies, the sea devils.

While the mermaids were examining and admiring their room, Cap'n Bill went to the Peony Room to see what it was like and found his quarters were very cozy and interesting. There were pictures on the wall, portraits of grave-looking porpoises, bashful seals, and smug and smiling walruses. Some of the wall panels were formed of mirrors and reflected clearly the interior of the room. Around the ceiling was a frieze of imitation peonies in silver, and the furniture was peony-shaped, the broad leaves being bent to form seats and couches. Beside a pretty dressing table hung a bell cord with a tassel at the end. Cap'n Bill did not know it was a bell cord, so he pulled it to see what would happen and was puzzled to find that nothing seemed to happen at all, the bell being too far away for him to hear it. Then he began looking at the treasures contained in this royal apartment, and was much pleased with a golden statue of a mermaid that resembled Princess Clia in feature. A silver flower vase upon a stand contained a bouquet of gorgeous peonies, "as nat'ral as life," said Cap'n Bill, although he saw plainly that they must be made of metal.

Trot came in just then to see how her dear friend was located. She entered from the doorway that connected the two rooms and said, "Isn't it pretty, Cap'n? And who'd ever think that awful creature Zog owned such a splendid castle and kept his prisoners in such lovely rooms?"

"I once heard tell," said the sailor, "of a foreign people that sacrificed humans to please their pagan gods, an' before they killed 'em outright they stuffed the victims full of good things to eat an' dressed 'em in pretty clothes an' treated 'em like princes. That's why I don't take much comfort in our fine surroundin's, Trot. This Zog is a pagan, if ever there was one, an' he don't mean us any good, you may depend on 't."

"No," replied Trot soberly, "I'm sure he does not expect us to be happy here. But I'm going to fool him and have just as good a time as I can." As she spoke they both turned around--an easy thing to do with a single flop of their flexible tails--and Cap'n Bill uttered a cry of surprise. Just across the room stood a perfect duplicate of himself. The round head, with its bald top and scraggly whiskers, the sailor cap and shirt, the wide pantaloons, even the wooden leg, each and every one were exact copies of those owned by Cap'n Bill. Even the expression in the light-blue eyes was the same, and it is no wonder the old sailor stared at his "double" in amazement. But the next minute he laughed and said, "Why, Trot, it's ME reflected in a mirror. But at first I thought it was someone else."

Trot was staring, too. "Look, Cap'n!" she whispered. "Look at the wooden leg."

"Well, it's MY wooden leg, ain't it?" he inquired.

"If it is, it can't be a reflection in a mirror," she argued, "for YOU haven't got a wooden leg. You've got a fish's tail."

The old sailor was so startled by this truth that he gave a great flop with his tail that upset his balance and made him keel a somersault in the water before he got right side up again. Then he found the other sailor man laughing at him and was horrified to find the "reflection" advancing toward them by stumping along on its wooden leg.

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