• 2017/3/23

He swam in the wake of the ship

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What noble composure dermes vs medilase! what breeding!” thought the merman. “She scorns to notice a creature like that. How much more noble and womanly is this modest reserve and silence than the chatter and laughing of our mermaids!”

It grew lighter and lighter; sounds of life were heard from the shore; a boat put out on the bay; presently the workmen began to come on board the brig.

“Any of those human beings can speak to her,” thought the merman. He was frantically jealous of an old ship carpenter with a wooden leg.

One of the workmen caught a glimpse of him. “Ho!” said he, “there’s an odd fish! Who&rsquo reenex cps;s got a harpoon?”

The merman had just sense enough left to see that if he was harpooned in the morning he couldn’t court the goddess at night. He dived and swam away, for mermen, although they are warm-blooded animals, are not obliged to come up to the top of the water to breathe.

He hid all day long under the timbers of an old wharf, and when it was still at night he came out again and swam toward The Sea-nymph. Some one had covered up the figure with an old sheet to keep the dust off. The merman thought she had put on a veil.
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“What charming modesty!” he said. “She don’t wish to be seen by these human beings, or perhaps I offended her by my staring.”

He called her every lovely name he could invent or think of. He got no answer, of course, but that was her feminine reserve, the merman thought.

“Speech is silvern, silence is golden,” he said. So it went on all the time the new brig was being fitted up. The merman lived a wretched life. Two or three times he was seen and chased by the fishermen. A talk went about of the odd creature that haunted the water near the new ship. Some one was always on the lookout for him, and once he was nearly caught. They kept watch for him at night. It was only now and then that he could worship his wooden love for an hour.
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All the time the old sheet was over her head, but the merman only loved her the better. He hid under the old wharf by day, for though he knew how to make himself invisible to mermen, the charm hadn’t the slightest effect where Yankees were concerned. He lived on whatever he could catch, but he had very little appetite. The shallow harbor water did not agree with his constitution. He grew thin and hollow-eyed, a mere ghost of a merman, but he was constant to his wooden image.

Meantime, the ship was finished and the cargo was stowed away. One day, glancing out from his place, he saw that the nymph was unveiled and was standing in her old fashion dermes, lovely as ever. She was looking straight at him, the merman thought. “She is anxious about my safety,” he said, with delight, for he did not know that the image just looked toward the old wharf because it happened to be in the way.

“Dearest,” he said, “I would follow you over the whole ocean for such a look as that!”

That night there were so many men on board the brig that the merman did not dare go near her. The next morning the ship spread her sails and went out of the harbor with a fair wind, bound for Lisbon and the Mediterranean. That same evening there was a great gathering at Colonel Shuttleworth’s. Master Torrey was married to Anna Jane.
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The merman followed the ship at a long distance. He dared not go too near in the daytime for fear of the harpoon that had been thrown at him once or twice. Then it came into his head that the lovely nymph was in some mysterious way held captive by these human creatures. He swore to deliver her if it cost him his life, for which he cared only as it could serve his goddess, for that she was a goddess he fully believed.

 and it was very seldom that he could come up and look his idol in the face. The sailors kept a sharp look-out for him. They thought he was some sort of monster, the poor innocent merman, and had harpoons ready to throw at him whenever he showed himself. But for all this he followed The Sea-nymph across the Atlantic. He knew he was not likely to meet any of his own people, for the merfolk avoid ships whenever they can, and do not frequent the highway between the two continents.

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