When the sea serpent slowly released those awful coils, a mass of jelly-like pulp floated downward through the water with no remnant of life remaining in it, no form to show it had once been Zog, the Magician.
Then Anko shook his body that the water might cleanse it, and advanced his head toward the group of four whom he had so opportunely rescued. "It is all over, friends," said he in his gentle tones, while a mild expression once more reigned on his comical features. "You may go home at any time you please, for the way through the dome will be open as soon as I get my own body through it."
Indeed, so amazing was the length of the great sea serpent that only a part of him had descended through the hole into the dome. Without waiting for the thanks of those he had rescued, he swiftly retreated to the ocean above, and with grateful hearts they followed him, glad to leave the cavern where they had endured so much anxiety and danger.
THE HOME OF THE OCEAN MONARCH
Trot sobbed quietly with her head on Cap'n Bill's shoulder. She had been a brave little girl during the trying times they had experienced and never once had she given way to tears, however desperate their fate had seemed to be. But now that the one enemy in all the sea to be dreaded was utterly destroyed and all dangers were past, the reaction was so great that she could not help having "just one good cry," as she naively expressed it.
Cap'n Bill was a big sailor man hardened by age and many adventures, but even he felt a "Lump in his throat" that he could not swallow, try as hard as he might. Cap'n Bill was glad. He was mostly glad on Trot's account, for he loved his sweet, childish companion very dearly, and did not want any harm to befall her.
They were now in the wide, open sea, with liberty to go wherever they wished, and if Cap'n Bill could have "had his way," he would have gone straight home and carried Trot to her mother. But the mermaids must be considered. Aquareine and Clia had been true and faithful friends to their earth guests while dangers were threatening, and it would not be very gracious to leave them at once. Moreover, King Anko was now with them, his big head keeping pace with the mermaids as they swam, and this mighty preserver had a distinct claim upon Trot and Cap'n Bill. The sailor felt that it would not be polite to ask to go home so soon.
"If you people had come to visit me as I invited you to do," said the Sea Serpent, "all this bother and trouble would have been saved. I had my palace put in order to receive the earth dwellers and sat in my den waiting patiently to receive you. Yet you never came at all."
"That reminds me," said Trot, drying her eyes, "you never told us about that third pain you once had."
"Finally," continued Anko, "I sent to inquire as to what had become of you, and Merla said you had been gone from the palace a long time and she was getting anxious about you. Then I made inquiries. Everyone in the sea loves to serve me--except those sea devils and their cousins, the octopi--and it wasn't long before I heard you had been captured by Zog."
"Was the third pain as bad as the other two?" asked Trot.
"Naturally this news disturbed me and made me unhappy," said Anko, "for I well knew, my Aquareine, that the magician's evil powers were greater than your own fairy accomplishments. But I had never been able to find Zog's enchanted castle, and so I was at a loss to know how to save you from your dreadful fate. After I had wasted a good deal of time thinking it over, I decided that if the sea devils were slaves of Zog, the prince of the sea devils must know where the enchanted castle was located.
"I knew this prince and where to find him, for he always lay on a hollow rock on the bottom of the sea and never moved from that position. His people brought food to him and took his commands. So I had no trouble in finding this evil prince, and I went to him and asked the way to Zog's castle. Of course, he would not tell me.