72 THE LITTLE SEA MAID
was so brightly lit up that every separate rope could be seen, and the people therefore appeared the more plainly. Oh, how handsome the young prince was ! And he pressed the people's hands and smiled, while the music rang out in the glorious night.
It became late ; but the little sea maid could not turn her eyes from the ship and from the beautiful prince. The coloured lanterns were extinguished, rockets ceased to fly into the air, and no more cannons were fired ; but there was a murmuring and a buzzing deep down in the sea ; and she sat on the water, swaying up and down, so that she could look into the cabin. But as the ship got more way, one sail after another was spread. And now the waves rose higher, great clouds came up, and in the distance there was lightning. Oh ! it was going to be fearful weather, therefore the sailors furled the sails. The great ship flew in swift career over the wild sea : the waters rose up like great black mountains, which wanted to roll over the masts ; but like a swan the ship dived into the valleys between these high waves, and then let itself be lifted on high again. To the little sea maid this seemed merry sport, but to the sailors it appeared very differently. The ship groaned and creaked ; the thick planks were bent by the heavy blows ; the sea broke into the ship ; the mainmast snapped in two like a thin reed ; and the ship lay over on her side, while the water rushed into the hold. Now the little sea maid saw that the people were in peril; she herself was obliged to take care to avoid the beams and fragments of the ship which were floating about on the waters. One moment it was so pitch dark that not a single object could be descried, but when it lightened it became so bright that she could distinguish every one on board. Every one was doing the best he could for himself. She looked particularly for the young prince, and when the ship parted she saw him sink into the sea. At first she was very glad, for now he would come down to her. But then she remembered that people could not live in the water, and that when he got down to her father's palace he would certainly be dead. No, he must not die : so she swam about among the beams and planks that strewed the surface, quite forgetting that one of them might have