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The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen; part 4.

One night her sisters came up arm in arm, singing mournfully as they swam on the water, and she beckoned to them, and they recognized her, and told her how sad she had made them all.

After that they visited her every night; and one night she saw far out in the sea, the old grandmother, who had not been to the top of the water for many a year; and the Sea King, with his crown on his head.

They stretched their arms towards her, but they dared not trust themselves so near the land as the sisters.

Day by day she grew dearer to the Prince; he loved her as one might love a dear good child, but he never had a thought of making her his Queen; and his wife she must be, or else she could never win an immortal soul, but on his wedding morning she would turn into foam on the sea.

"Are not you fonder of me than of all the rest?" the little mermaid's eyes seemed to say when he took her in his arms and kissed her fair brow.

"Yes, you are dearest of all to me," said the Prince, "for you have the best heart of them all.

You are dearest to me, and you are like a young maiden whom I saw once and certainly shall never meet again.

I was on a ship that was wrecked, and the waves drove me to land near a holy temple where a number of young maidens ministered.

The youngest of them found me on the bank and saved my life.

I saw her only twice.

She was the only one I could love in all the world, but you are like her, you almost stamp her likeness on my soul.

She belongs to that holy temple, and therefore my good fortune has sent you to me, and we never will part."

"Ah, he doesn't know that I saved his life," thought the little mermaid.

"I bore him over the sea, away to the grove where the temple stands; I sat behind him in the foam and watched to see if anyone would come, and saw the pretty maiden whom he loves more than me"; and the mermaid heaved a deep sigh.

Weep she could not: "'The maiden belongs to the holy temple,' he said; she will never come out into the world: they will never meet again.

I am with him, I see him every day.

I will tend him and love him and give up my life to him."

But now the Prince was to be married, people said, and to take the beautiful daughter of the neighbouring king; and it was for that that he was fitting out such a splendid ship.

"They say, of course, that the Prince is going to travel to see the country of the king next door, but it really is to see his daughter.

He's to have a great suite with him."

But the little mermaid shook her head and laughed: she knew the Prince's mind better than anyone else.

"I must travel," he had said to her, "I must see the pretty Princess; my father and mother require that, but they will not force me to bring her home as my bride.

I cannot love her.

She is not like the fair maiden of the temple, as you are.

If ever I chose a bride it would be you first, my dumb foundling with the speaking eyes."

And he kissed her red lips and played with her long hair and laid his head on her heart, so that it dreamed of man's destiny and an undying soul.

"You're not afraid of the sea, are you, my dumb child?" said he as they stood on the splendid ship that was to bear them to the country of the neighbouring King.

And he told her of storms and calm, of strange fishes in the deep, and of what divers had seen down there, and she smiled at his description, for, of course, she knew more than anybody else about the bottom of the sea.

In the moonlit night, when all but the steersman were asleep, she sat on the gunwale of the ship and gazed down through the clear water and fancied she saw her father's palace.

On the summit of it stood the old grandmother, with a crown of silver on her head, gazing up through the swift current at the ship's keel.

Then her sisters came up upon the water, and looked mournfully at her and wrung their white hands.

She beckoned to them and smiled, and wanted to tell them that all was going well and happily with her; but then the ship's boy came towards her, and the sisters dived down, so he thought the white arms he had seen were foam on the sea.

Next morning the ship sailed into the harbour of the neighbouring King's fine city.

All the church bells rang out, and from the tall towers there came blaring of trumpets, while the soldiers paraded with waving flags and glittering bayonets.

Every day there was a fete, balls and parties followed on one another; but as yet the Princess was not there.

She was being brought up far away in a sacred temple, they said, and there was learning all royal accomplishments.

At last she arrived.

The little mermaid waited, eager to see her beauty, and she had to confess that a more graceful form she had never seen.

The skin was so delicate and pure, and behind the long dark eyelashes a pair of dark-blue beautiful eyes smiled out.

"It is you!" said the Prince, "you, who saved me when I lay like a corpse on the shore!" and he clasped his blushing bride in his arms.

"Oh, I am more than happy!" he said to the little mermaid; "my dearest wish, the thing I never dared hope for, has been granted me.

You will rejoice in my happiness, for you are fonder of me than all the rest"; and the little mermaid kissed his hand, and thought she felt her heart breaking.

His wedding morning would bring death to her, and would change her into foam upon the sea.

All the church bells were ringing; the heralds rode about and proclaimed the betrothal.

On every altar fragrant oil was burning in precious silver lamps; the priests swung their censers, and the bride and bridegroom joined hands and received the blessing of the Bishop.

The little mermaid, clad in silk and gold, stood holding the bride's train; but her ears heard not the festal music, her eyes saw not the holy rite; she thought, on the eve of her death, of all that she had lost in the world.

That very evening the bride and the bridegroom embarked on the ship, and the cannons were fired and the flags waved, and amid-ship was raised a royal tent of gold and purple with the loveliest of curtains, and there the married pair were to sleep in that calm cool night.

The sails bellied in the wind, and the ship glided easily and with little motion, away over the bright sea.

When it grew dark, variegated lamps were lit and the crew danced merry dances on the deck.

The little mermaid could not but think of the first time she rose up out of the sea and saw that same splendour and merriment; and she too whirled about in the dance, swerving as the swallow swerves when it is chased; and everyone was in ecstasies of wonder at her: never before had she danced so wonderfully.

Sharp knives seemed to be cutting her delicate feet, but she hardly felt it: the wounds in her heart were sharper.

She knew that was the last night she would see him for whom she had forsaken her race and her home, and given up her lovely voice, and daily had suffered unending pain unknown to him.

This was the last night that she would breathe the same air as he, or see the deep ocean and the starlit heavens.

An eternal night without thought, without dream, awaited her who neither had a soul nor could win one.

But all was joy and merriment aboard the ship till long past midnight.

She laughed and danced with the thought of death in her heart.
unit 12
I saw her only twice.
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The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen; part 4.

One night her sisters came up arm in arm, singing mournfully as they swam on the water, and she beckoned to them, and they recognized her, and told her how sad she had made them all.

After that they visited her every night; and one night she saw far out in the sea, the old grandmother, who had not been to the top of the water for many a year; and the Sea King, with his crown on his head.

They stretched their arms towards her, but they dared not trust themselves so near the land as the sisters.

Day by day she grew dearer to the Prince; he loved her as one might love a dear good child, but he never had a thought of making her his Queen; and his wife she must be, or else she could never win an immortal soul, but on his wedding morning she would turn into foam on the sea.

"Are not you fonder of me than of all the rest?" the little mermaid's eyes seemed to say when he took her in his arms and kissed her fair brow.

"Yes, you are dearest of all to me," said the Prince, "for you have the best heart of them all.

You are dearest to me, and you are like a young maiden whom I saw once and certainly shall never meet again.

I was on a ship that was wrecked, and the waves drove me to land near a holy temple where a number of young maidens ministered.

The youngest of them found me on the bank and saved my life.

I saw her only twice.

She was the only one I could love in all the world, but you are like her, you almost stamp her likeness on my soul.

She belongs to that holy temple, and therefore my good fortune has sent you to me, and we never will part."

"Ah, he doesn't know that I saved his life," thought the little mermaid.

"I bore him over the sea, away to the grove where the temple stands; I sat behind him in the foam and watched to see if anyone would come, and saw the pretty maiden whom he loves more than me"; and the mermaid heaved a deep sigh.

Weep she could not: "'The maiden belongs to the holy temple,' he said; she will never come out into the world: they will never meet again.

I am with him, I see him every day.

I will tend him and love him and give up my life to him."

But now the Prince was to be married, people said, and to take the beautiful daughter of the neighbouring king; and it was for that that he was fitting out such a splendid ship.

"They say, of course, that the Prince is going to travel to see the country of the king next door, but it really is to see his daughter.

He's to have a great suite with him."

But the little mermaid shook her head and laughed: she knew the Prince's mind better than anyone else.

"I must travel," he had said to her, "I must see the pretty Princess; my father and mother require that, but they will not force me to bring her home as my bride.

I cannot love her.

She is not like the fair maiden of the temple, as you are.

If ever I chose a bride it would be you first, my dumb foundling with the speaking eyes."

And he kissed her red lips and played with her long hair and laid his head on her heart, so that it dreamed of man's destiny and an undying soul.

"You're not afraid of the sea, are you, my dumb child?" said he as they stood on the splendid ship that was to bear them to the country of the neighbouring King.

And he told her of storms and calm, of strange fishes in the deep, and of what divers had seen down there, and she smiled at his description, for, of course, she knew more than anybody else about the bottom of the sea.

In the moonlit night, when all but the steersman were asleep, she sat on the gunwale of the ship and gazed down through the clear water and fancied she saw her father's palace.

On the summit of it stood the old grandmother, with a crown of silver on her head, gazing up through the swift current at the ship's keel.

Then her sisters came up upon the water, and looked mournfully at her and wrung their white hands.

She beckoned to them and smiled, and wanted to tell them that all was going well and happily with her; but then the ship's boy came towards her, and the sisters dived down, so he thought the white arms he had seen were foam on the sea.

Next morning the ship sailed into the harbour of the neighbouring King's fine city.

All the church bells rang out, and from the tall towers there came blaring of trumpets, while the soldiers paraded with waving flags and glittering bayonets.

Every day there was a fete, balls and parties followed on one another; but as yet the Princess was not there.

She was being brought up far away in a sacred temple, they said, and there was learning all royal accomplishments.

At last she arrived.

The little mermaid waited, eager to see her beauty, and she had to confess that a more graceful form she had never seen.

The skin was so delicate and pure, and behind the long dark eyelashes a pair of dark-blue beautiful eyes smiled out.

"It is you!" said the Prince, "you, who saved me when I lay like a corpse on the shore!" and he clasped his blushing bride in his arms.

"Oh, I am more than happy!" he said to the little mermaid; "my dearest wish, the thing I never dared hope for, has been granted me.

You will rejoice in my happiness, for you are fonder of me than all the rest"; and the little mermaid kissed his hand, and thought she felt her heart breaking.

His wedding morning would bring death to her, and would change her into foam upon the sea.

All the church bells were ringing; the heralds rode about and proclaimed the betrothal.

On every altar fragrant oil was burning in precious silver lamps; the priests swung their censers, and the bride and bridegroom joined hands and received the blessing of the Bishop.

The little mermaid, clad in silk and gold, stood holding the bride's train; but her ears heard not the festal music, her eyes saw not the holy rite; she thought, on the eve of her death, of all that she had lost in the world.

That very evening the bride and the bridegroom embarked on the ship, and the cannons were fired and the flags waved, and amid-ship was raised a royal tent of gold and purple with the loveliest of curtains, and there the married pair were to sleep in that calm cool night.

The sails bellied in the wind, and the ship glided easily and with little motion, away over the bright sea.

When it grew dark, variegated lamps were lit and the crew danced merry dances on the deck.

The little mermaid could not but think of the first time she rose up out of the sea and saw that same splendour and merriment; and she too whirled about in the dance, swerving as the swallow swerves when it is chased; and everyone was in ecstasies of wonder at her: never before had she danced so wonderfully.

Sharp knives seemed to be cutting her delicate feet, but she hardly felt it: the wounds in her heart were sharper.

She knew that was the last night she would see him for whom she had forsaken her race and her home, and given up her lovely voice, and daily had suffered unending pain unknown to him.

This was the last night that she would breathe the same air as he, or see the deep ocean and the starlit heavens.

An eternal night without thought, without dream, awaited her who neither had a soul nor could win one.

But all was joy and merriment aboard the ship till long past midnight.

She laughed and danced with the thought of death in her heart.