The Sea Fairies

Page 56

Finally the chief cook came forward and said, "We all have our duties to perform and so cannot spend the time to be king. But you, Sacho, who were Zog's own attendant, have now no duties at all. So it will be best for you to rule us. What say you, comrades? Shall we make Sacho king?"

"Yes, yes!" they all cried.

"But I do not wish to be king," replied Sacho. "A king is a useless sort of person who merely issues orders for others to carry out. I want to be busy and useful. Whoever is king will need a good attendant as well as an officer who will see that his commands are obeyed. I am used to such duties, having served Zog in this same way."

"Who, then, has the time to rule over us?" asked Agga-Groo, the goldsmith.

"It seems to me that Cap'n Joe is the proper person for king," replied Sacho. "His former duty was to sew buttons on Zog's garments, so now he is out of a job and has plenty of time to be king, for he can sew on his own buttons. What do you say, Cap'n Joe?"

"Oh, I don't mind," agreed Cap'n Joe. "That is, if you all want me to rule you."

"We do!" shouted the slaves, glad to find someone willing to take the job.

"But I'll want a few pointers," continued Cap'n Bill's brother. "I ain't used to this sort o' work, you know, an' if I ain't properly posted I'm liable to make mistakes."

"Sacho will tell you," said Tom Atto encouragingly. "and now I must go back to the kitchen and look after my dumplings, or you people won't have any dinner today."

"Very well," announced Sacho. "I hereby proclaim Cap'n Joe elected King of the Castle, which is the Enchanted Castle no longer. You may all return to your work."

The slaves went away well contented, and the boy and Cap'n Joe now came forward to greet their visitors. "We're on our way home," explained Cap'n Bill, "an' we don't expec' to travel this way again. But it pleases me to know, Joe, that you're the king o' such a fine castle, an' I'll rest easier now that you're well pervided for."

"Oh, I'm all right, Bill," returned Cap'n Joe. "It's an easy life here, an' a peaceful one. I wish you were as well fixed."

"If ever you need friends, Sacho, or any assistance or counsel, come to me," said the Mermaid Queen to the boy.

"Thank you, madam," he replied. "Now that Zog has gone, I am sure we shall be very safe and contented. But I shall not forget to come to you if we need you. We are not going to waste any time in anger or revenge or evil deeds, so I believe we shall prosper from now on."

"I'm sure you will," declared Trot.

They now decided that they must continue their journey, and as neither Sacho nor King Joe could ascend to the top of the dome without swimming in the human way, which was slow and tedious work for them, the goodbyes were said at the castle entrance, and the four visitors started on their return. Trot took one last view of the beautiful silver castle from the hole high up in the dome, which was now open and unguarded, and the next moment she was in the broad ocean again, swimming toward home beside her mermaid friends.



Aquareine was thoughtful for a time. Then she drew from her finger a ring, a plain gold band set with a pearl of great value, and gave it to the little girl.

"If at any period of your life the mermaids can be of service to you, my dear," she said, "you have but to come to the edge of the ocean and call 'Aquareine.' If you are wearing the ring at the time, I shall instantly hear you and come to your assistance."

"Thank you!" cried the child, slipping the ring over her own chubby finger, which it fitted perfectly. "I shall never forget that I have good and loyal friends in the ocean, you may be sure."

Away and away they swam, swiftly and in a straight line, keeping in the middle water where they were not liable to meet many sea people. They passed a few schools of fishes, where the teachers were explaining to the young ones how to swim properly, and to conduct themselves in a dignified manner, but Trot did not care to stop and watch the exercises.

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