The Sea Fairies

Page 47

"No," was the answer. "I hate Zog."

"Then won't you make the sword to please me and to show your skill?" pleaded the pretty mermaid.

"I'm afraid of my master. He might not like it," the man replied.

"But he will never know," said Princess Clia.

"You cannot say what Zog knows or what he doesn't know," growled the man. "I can't take chances of offending Zog, for I must live with him always as a slave." With this he turned away and resumed his work, hammering the leaf of a golden ship.

Cap'n Bill had listened carefully to this conversation, and being a wise old sailor in his way, he thought he understood the nature of old Agga-Groo better than the mermaids did. So he went close to the goldsmith, and feeling in the pockets of his coat drew out a silver compass shaped like a watch. "I'll give you this if you'll make the queen the golden sword," he said.

Agga-Groo looked at the compass with interest and tested its power of pointing north. Then he shook his head and handed it back to Cap'n Bill. The sailor dived into his pocket again and pulled out a pair of scissors, which he placed beside the compass on the palm of his big hand. "You may have them both," he said.

Agga-Groo hesitated, for he wanted the scissors badly, but finally he shook his head again. Cap'n Bill added a piece of cord, an iron thimble, some fishhooks, four buttons and a safety pin, but still the goldsmith would not be tempted. So with a sigh the sailor brought out his fine, big jackknife, and at sight of this Agga-Groo's eyes began to sparkle. Steel was not to be had at the bottom of the sea, although gold was so plentiful. "All right, friend," he said. "Give me that lot of trinkets and I'll make you a pretty gold sword. But it won't be any good except to look at, for our gold is so pure that it is very soft."

"Never mind that," replied Cap'n Bill. "All we want is the sword."

The goldsmith set to work at once, and so skillful was he that in a few minutes he had forged a fine sword of yellow gold with an ornamental handle. The shape was graceful and the blade keen and slender. It was evident to them all that the golden sword would not stand hard use, for the edge of the blade would nick and curl like lead, but the queen was delighted with the prize and took it eagerly in her hand.

Just then Sacho returned to say that they must go back to their rooms, and after thanking the goldsmith, who was so busy examining his newly acquired treasure that he made no response, they joyfully followed the boy back to the Rose Chamber. Sacho told them that he had just come from Zog, who was still wasting time in plotting vengeance. "You must be careful," he advised them, "for my cruel master intends to stop you from living, and he may succeed. Don't be unhappy, but be careful. Zog is angry because you escaped his Yell-Maker and the falling stones and the hot water. While he is angry he is wasting time, but that will not help you. Take care not to waste any time yourselves."

"Do you know what Zog intends to do to us next?" asked Princess Clia.

"No," said Sacho, "but it is reasonable to guess that, being evil, he intends evil. He never intends to do good, I assure you." Then the boy went away.

"I am no longer afraid," declared the Mermaid Queen when they were alone. "When I have bestowed certain fairy powers upon this golden sword, it will fight its way against any who dare oppose us, and even Zog himself will not care to face so powerful a weapon. I am now able to promise you that we shall make our escape."

"Good!" cried Trot joyfully. "Shall we start now?"

"Not yet, my dear. It will take me a little while to charm this golden blade so that it will obey my commands and do my work. There is no need of undue haste, so I propose we all sleep for a time and obtain what rest we can. We must be fresh and ready for our great adventure."

As their former nap had been interrupted, they readily agreed to Aquareine's proposal and at once went to their couches and composed themselves to slumber.

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