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That the rude sea grew civil at her song.

And certain stars shot madly from their spheres,

To hear the sea-maid's music ..."

William Shakespeare's Love-In-Idleness

Johnny Croy and his Mermaid Bride

Long ago, Johnny Croy of Volyar was the bravest, boldest and bonniest man in all of Orkney.

Many a fair lass cast longing glances towards young Johnny, but never a one did he care for.

Now it happened that one day Johnny went to seek driftwood on the shore on the west side of Sanday.

The tide was well out, and he was threading his way through the big boulders under the crags.

Suddenly he heard the most lovely voice singing a strange sweet tune.

For a moment he stood dumbfounded with the beauty of the music. It came from the other side of a big point of the crag and when Johnny peeped around it, he saw a wonderful sight. On a weed-covered rock sat a mermaid, combing her long hair. Like brightest gold it shone and flowed down over her white shoulders like sunshine over snow. A silvery, glistening petticoat hung down from her waist, the train of it folded together so that it lay behind her like the tail of a fish.

And all the while she combed, she sang her bewitching song.

Johnny Croy was overcome with love for this beautiful creature.

She sat with her back to the sea, and he got down and crept quietly among the boulders to get between her and the water. Every glance he cast at her made his heart burn all the more.

Quietly he crept up, coming within a few feet of her.

Still she combed, and still she sang. Then Johnny sprang forward, threw his arms around her, and kissed her. She leaped to her feet - for two pretty white feet were under the silvery petticoats - and gave Johnny such a wallop that he was thrown flat on the rocks.

Gathering here shimmering train over her arm, she ran down to the sea. As Johnny scrambled to his feet, he spied the sea maid’s golden comb on the sand. She was out in the water now, staring at him with all her eyes, angry at being so rudely kissed, yet with love growing fast in her heart. She knew well that only if she could take a mortal lover could she keep her youth and beauty.

Johnny held up the golden comb and cried, "Thanks to thee, my bonny lass, for this love-token!"

The mermaid gave a bitter cry.

"Alas, alas! My golden comb! Oh, give me back my golden comb! To lose it will shame me before all my people! Oh, give me back my golden comb!"

"Oh no, my sweet!" says Johnny. "Come you and live on land with me, for never can I love another now."

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