The Sea Fairies

Page 42

The next moment these curtains were violently pushed aside, and a dreadful sea creature swam into the hall. It had a body much like that of a crab, only more round and of a jet-black color. Its eyes were bright yellow balls set on the ends of two horns that stuck out of its head. They were cruel-looking eyes, too, and seemed able to see every person in the room at the same time. The legs of the Yell-Maker, however, were the most curious part of the creature. There were six of them, slender and black as coal, and each extended twelve to fifteen feet from its body when stretched out in a straight line. They were hinged in several places so they could be folded up or extended at will. At the ends of these thin legs were immense claws shaped like those of a lobster, and they were real "nippers" of a most dangerous sort.

The prisoners knew, as soon as they saw the awful claws, why the thing was called the "Yell-Maker," and Trot gave a little shiver and crept closer to Cap'n Bill. Zog looked with approval upon the creature he had summoned and said to it, "I give you four victims, the four people with fish's tails. Let me hear how loud they can yell."

The Yell-Maker uttered a grunt of pleasure and in a flash stretched out one of its long legs toward the queen's nose, where its powerful claws came together with a loud noise. Aquareine did not stir; she only smiled. Both Zog and the creature that had attacked her seemed much surprised to find she was unhurt. "Again!" cried Zog, and again the Yell-Maker's claw shot out and tried to pinch the queen's pretty ear. But the magic of the fairy mermaid was proof against this sea-rascal's strength and swiftness, nor could he touch any part of Aquareine, although he tried again and again, roaring with anger like a mad bull.

Trot began to enjoy this performance, and as her merry, childish laughter rang out, the Yell-Maker turned furiously upon the little girl, two of the dreadful claws trying to nip her at the same time. She had no chance to cry out or jump backward, yet she remained unharmed. For the Fairy Circle of Queen Aquareine kept her safe. Now Cap'n Bill was attacked, and Princess Clia as well. The half-dozen slender legs darted in every direction like sword thrusts to reach their victims, and the cruel claws snapped so rapidly that the sound was like the rattling of castanets. But the four prisoners regarded their enemy with smiling composure, and no yell greeted the Yell-Maker's efforts.

"Enough!" said Zog, softly and sweetly. "You may retire, my poor Yell-Maker, for with these people you are powerless."

The creature paused and rolled its yellow eyes. "May I nip just one of the slaves, oh Zog?" it asked pleadingly. "I hate to leave without pleasing your ears with a single yell."

"Let my slaves alone," was Zog's answer. "They are here to serve me and must not be injured. Go, feeble one."

"Not so!" cried the Queen. "It is a shame, Zog, that such an evil thing should exist in our fair sea." With this, she drew her fairy wand from a fold of her gown and waved it toward the creature. At once the Yell-Maker sank down unconscious upon the floor; its legs fell apart in many pieces, the claws tumbling in a heap beside the body. Then all grew withered and lost shape, becoming a pulpy mass, like gelatin. A few moments later the creature had melted away to nothing at all, forever disappearing from the ocean where it had caused so much horror and pain.

Zog watched this destruction with surprising patience. When it was all over, he nodded his head and smiled, and Trot noticed that whenever Zog smiled, his slaves lost their jolly looks and began to tremble. "That is very pretty magic, Aquareine," said the monster. "I myself learned the trick several thousand years ago, so it does not astonish me. Have you fairies nothing that is new to show me?"

"We desire only to protect ourselves," replied the Queen with dignity.

"Then I will give you a chance to do so," said Zog. As he spoke, the great marble blocks in the ceiling of the room directly over the heads of the captives gave way and came crashing down upon them. Many tons of weight were in these marble blocks, and the magician had planned to crush his victims where they stood.

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