Hans Christian Andersen
lifeless on the beach?' and he clasped his blushing bride to his heart. 'Oh! I am too happy!' he exclaimed to the little mermaid.
'A greater joy than I had dared to hope for has come to pass. You will rejoice at my joy, for you love me better than any one.' Then the little mermaid kissed his hand, and felt as if her heart were bro- ken already.
His wedding morn would bring death to her and change her to foam.
All the church bells pealed and heralds rode through the town proclaiming the nuptials. Upon every altar throughout the land fra- grant oil was burnt in costly silver lamps. Amidst the swinging of censers by the priests the bride and bridegroom joined hands and received the bishop's blessing. The little mermaid dressed in silk and gold stood holding the bride's train, but her ears were deaf to the festal strains, her eyes saw nothing of the sacred ceremony; she was thinking of her coming death and of all that she had lost in this world.
That same evening the bride and bridegroom embarked, amidst the roar of cannon and the waving of banners. A royal tent of purple and gold softly cushioned was raised amidships where the bridal pair were to repose during the calm cool night.
The sails swelled in the wind and the ship skimmed lightly and almost without motion over the transparent sea.
At dusk lanterns of many colours were lighted and the sailors danced merrily on deck. The little mermaid could not help think- ing of the first time she came up from the sea and saw the same splendour and gaiety; and she now threw herself among the danc- ers, whirling, as a swallow skims through the air when pursued. The onlookers cheered her in amazement, never had she danced so di- vinely; her delicate feet pained her as if they were cut with knives, but she did not feel it, for the pain at her heart was much sharper. She knew that it was the last night that she would breathe the same air as he, and would look upon the mighty deep, and the blue starry heavens; an endless night without thought and without dreams awaited her, who neither had a soul, nor could win one. The joy and revelry on board lasted till long past midnight; she went on laughing and dancing with the thought of death all the time in her