THE LITTLE SEA MAID 81
no dancer will be able to move so- lightly as you ; but every step you take will be as if you^trod upon sharp knives, and as if your blood must flow. If you will bear all this, I can help you.'
' Yes !' said the little sea maid, with a trembling voice ; and she thought of the prince and the immortal soul.
' But, remember,' said the witch, ' when you have once received a human form, you can never be a sea maid again ; you can never return through the water to your sisters or to your father's palace ; and if you do not win the prince's love, so that he forgets father and mother for your sake, is attached to you heart and soul, and tells the priest to join your hands, you will not receive an immortal soul. On the first morning after he has married another, your heart will break-a»d you~wiUj2fiŁOjne foam on the waterr*—
Twill do it,' said the little sea maid ; but she became as pale as death.
1 But you must pay me, too,' said the witch ; ' and it is not a trifle that I ask. You have the finest voice of all here at the bottom of the water ; with that you think to enchant him ; but this voice you must give to me. The best thing you possess I will have for my costly draught! I must give you my own blood in it, so that the draught may be sharp as a two-edged sword.'
1 But if you take away my voice,' said the little sea maid, ' what will remain to me ? '
1 Your beautiful form,' replied the witch, ' your graceful walk, and your eloquent eyes : with those you can take captive a human heart. Well, have you lost your courage? Put out your little tongue, and then I will cut it off for my payment, and then you shall have the strong draught.'
f Let it be so,' said the little sea maid.
And the witch put on her pot to brew the draught.
* Cleanliness is a good thing,' said she ; and she cleaned out the pot with the snakes, which she tied up in a big knot; then she scratched herself, and let her black blood drop into it. The steam rose up in the strangest forms, enough to frighten the beholder. Every moment the witch threw something else into the pot; and when it boiled thoroughly, there was a sound like the weeping of a crocodile.