The Sea Fairies

Page 45

Even as it is, we are all made uncomfortable by breathing the heated air."

"What shall we do, ma'am?" the sailor man asked with a groan. "I expected to get into hot water afore we've done with this foolishness, but I don't like the feel o' bein' parboiled, jes' the same."

The queen was waving her fairy wand and paid no attention to Cap'n Bill's moans. Already the water felt cooler, and they began to breathe more easily. In a few moments more, the heat had passed from the surrounding water altogether, and all danger from this source was over.

"This is better," said Trot gratefully.

"Do you care to sleep again?" asked the Queen.

"No, I'm wide awake now," answered the child.

"I'm afraid if I goes to sleep ag'in, I'll wake up a pot roast," said Cap'n Bill.

"Let us consider ways to escape," suggested Clia. "It seems useless for us to remain here quietly until Zog discovers a way to destroy us."

"But we must not blunder," added Aquareine cautiously. "To fail in our attempt would be to acknowledge Zog's superior power, so we must think well upon our plan before we begin to carry it out. What do you advise, sir?" she asked, turning to Cap'n Bill.

"My opinion, ma'am, is that the only way for us to escape is to get out o' here," was the sailor's vague answer. "How to do it is your business, seein' as I ain't no fairy myself, either in looks or in eddication."

The queen smiled and said to Trot, "What is your opinion, my dear?"

"I think we might swim out the same way we came in," answered the child. "If we could get Sacho to lead us back through the maze, we would follow that long tunnel to the open ocean, and--"

"And there would be the sea devils waitin' for us," added Cap'n Bill with a shake of his bald head. "They'd drive us back inter the tunnel like they did the first time, Trot. It won't do, mate, it won't do."

"Have you a suggestion, Clia?" inquired the Queen.

"I have thought of an undertaking," replied the pretty princess, "but it is a bold plan, your Majesty, and you may not care to risk it."

"Let us hear it, anyway," said Aquareine encouragingly.

"It is to destroy Zog himself and put him out of the world forever. Then we would be free to go home whenever we pleased."

"Can you suggest a way to destroy Zog?" asked Aquareine.

"No, your Majesty," Clia answered. "I must leave the way for you to determine."

"In the old days," said the Queen thoughtfully, "the mighty King Anko could not destroy this monster. He succeeded in defeating Zog and drove him into this great cavern, but even Anko could not destroy him."

"I have heard the sea serpent explain that it was because he could not reach the magician," returned Clia. "If King Anko could have seized Zog in his coils, he would have made an end of the wicked monster quickly. Zog knows this, and that is why he does not venture forth from his retreat. Anko is the enemy he constantly dreads. But with you, my queen, the case is different. You may easily reach Zog, and the only question is whether your power is sufficient to destroy him."

For a while Aquareine remained silent. "I am not sure of my power over him," she said at last, "and for that reason I hesitate to attack him personally. His slaves and his allies, the sea devils, I can easily conquer, so I prefer to find a way to overcome the guards at the entrances rather than to encounter their terrible master. But even the guards have been given strength and power by the magician, as we have already discovered, so I must procure a weapon with which to fight them."

"A weapon, ma'am?" said Cap'n Bill, and then he took a jackknife from his coat pocket and opened the big blade, afterward handing it to the queen. "That ain't a bad weapon," he announced.

"But it is useless in this case," she replied, smiling at the old sailor's earnestness. "For my purpose I must have a golden sword."

"Well, there's plenty of gold around this castle," said Trot, looking around her. "Even in this room there's enough to make a hundred golden swords."

"But we can't melt or forge gold under water, mate," the Cap'n said.

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