The Sea Fairies

Page 52

He was even cross and disrespectful, just as I had expected him to be, so I allowed myself to become angry and killed him, thinking he was much better dead than alive. But after the sea devil was destroyed, what was my surprise to find that all these years he had been lying over a round hole in the rock and covering it with his scarlet body!

"A light shone through this hole, so I thrust my head in and found a great domed cave underneath with a splendid silver castle built at the bottom. You, my friends, were at that moment swimming toward me as fast as you could come, and the monster Zog, my enemy for centuries past, was close behind you. Well, the rest of the story you know. I would be angry with all of you for so carelessly getting captured, had the incident not led to the destruction of the one evil genius in all my ocean. I shall rest easier and be much happier now that Zog is dead. He has defied me for hundreds of years."

"But about that third pain," said Trot. "If you don't tell us now, I'm afraid that I'll forget to ask you."

"If you should happen to forget, just remind me of it," said Anko, "and I'll be sure to tell you."

While Trot was thinking this over, the swimmers drew near to a great, circular palace made all of solid alabaster polished as smooth as ivory. Its roof was a vast dome, for domes seemed to be fashionable in the ocean houses. There were no doors or windows, but instead of these, several round holes appeared in different parts of the dome, some being high up and some low down and some in between. Out of one of these holes, which it just fitted, stretched the long, brown body of the sea serpent. Trot, being astonished at this sight, asked, "Didn't you take all of you when you went to the cavern, Anko?"

"Nearly all, my dear," was the reply, accompanied by a cheerful smile, for Anko was proud of his great length. "But not quite all. Some of me remained, as usual, to keep house while my head was away. But I've been coiling up ever since we started back, and you will soon be able to see every inch of me all together."

Even as he spoke, his head slid into the round hole, and at a signal from Aquareine they all paused outside and waited. Presently there came to them four beautiful winged fishes with faces like doll babies. Their long hair and eyelashes were of a purple color, and their cheeks had rosy spots that looked as if they had been painted upon them. "His Majesty bids you welcome," said one of the doll fishes in a sweet voice. "Be kind enough to enter the royal palace, and our ocean monarch will graciously receive you."

"Seems to me," said Trot to the queen, "these things are putting on airs. Perhaps they don't know we're friends of Anko."

"The king insists on certain formalities when anyone visits him," was Aquareine's reply. "It is right that his dignity should be maintained."

They followed their winged conductors to one of the upper openings, and as they entered it Aquareine said in a clear voice, "May the glory and power of the ocean king continue forever!" Then she touched the palm of her hand to her forehead in token of allegiance, and Clia did the same, so Cap'n Bill and Trot followed suit. The brief ceremony being ended, the child looked curiously around to see what the palace of the mighty Anko was like.

An extensive hall lined with alabaster was before them. In the floor were five of the round holes. Upon the walls were engraved many interesting scenes of ocean life, all chiseled very artistically by the tusks of walruses who, Trot was afterward informed, are greatly skilled in such work. A few handsome rugs of woven sea grasses were spread upon the floor, but otherwise the vast hall was bare of furniture. The doll-faced fishes escorted them to an upper room where a table was set, and here the revelers were invited to refresh themselves. As all four were exceedingly hungry, they welcomed the repast, which was served by an army of lobsters in royal purple aprons and caps.

The meal being finished, they again descended to the hall, which seemed to occupy all the middle of the building.

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