THE LITTLE SEA MAID 67
and dark blue flowers : the fruit glowed like gold, and the flowers like flames of fire ; and they continually kept moving their stalks and leaves. The ear£h itself was the finest sand, but blue as the flame of brimstone. A peculiar blue radiance lay upon everything down there : one would have thought oneself high in the air, with the canopy of heaven above and around, rather than at the bottom of the deep sea. During a calm the sun could be seen ; it appeared like a purple flower, from which all light streamed out.
Each of the little princesses had her own little place in the garden, where she might dig and plant at her good pleasure. One gave her flower-bed the form of a whale ; another thought it better to make hers like a little mermaid ; but the youngest made hers quite round, like the sun, and had only flowers which gleamed red as the sun itself. She was a strange child, quiet and thoughtful; and when the other sisters made a display of the beautiful things they had received out of wrecked ships, she would have nothing beyond the red flowers which resembled the sun, except a pretty marble statue. This was a figure of a charming boy, hewn out of white clear stone, which had sunk down to the bottom of the sea from a wreck. She planted a pink weeping willow beside this statue ; the tree grew famously, and hung its fresh branches over the statue towards the blue sandy ground, where the shadow showed violet, and moved like the branches themselves ; it seemed as if the ends of the branches and the roots were playing together and wished to kiss each other.
There was no greater pleasure for her than to hear of the world of men above them. The old grandmother had to tell all she knew of ships and towns, of men and animals. It seemed particularly beautiful to her that up on the earth the flowers shed fragrance, for they had none down at the bottom of the sea, and that the trees were green, and that the fishes which one saw there among the trees could sing so loud and clear that it was a pleasure to hear them. What the grandmother called fishes were the little birds; otherwise they could not have understood her, for they had never seen a bird.
* When you have completed your fifteenth year,' said