AN IMPOSSIBLE ENCHANTMENT 27
arbours and shrubs, where many birds sang amongst the branches.
The fairies escorted Graziella and her governess, Bonnetta, to the tower, and then mounted a dolphin which wras waiting for them. At a little distance from the tower the queen waved her wand and summoned two thousand great fierce sharks, whom she ordered to keep close guard, and not to let a soul enter the tower.
The good governess took such pains with Graziella's education that when she was nearly grown up she was not only most accomplished, but a very sweet, good girl.
One day, as the princess wras standing on a balcony, she saw the most extraordinary figure rise out of the sea. She quickly called Bonnetta to ask her what it could be. It looked like some kind of man, with a bluish face and long sea-green hair. He was swimming towards the tower, but the sharks took no notice of him.
' It must be a merman,' said Bonnetta.
'A man, do you say?' cried Graziella; 'let us hurry down to the door and see him nearer.'
When they stood in the doorway the merman stopped to look at the princess and made many signs of admiration. His voice was very hoarse and husky, but when he found that he was not understood he took to signs. He carried a little basket made of osiers and filled with rare shells, which he presented to the princess.
She took it with signs of thanks; but as it was getting dusk she retired, and the merman plunged back into the sea.
When they were alone, Graziella said to her governess: ' What a dreadful-looking creature that was ! Why do those odious sharks let him come near the tower? I suppose all men are not like him?'
' No, indeed,' replied Bonnetta. ' I suppose the sharks look on him as a sort of relation, and so did not attack him.'
A few days later the two ladies heard a strange sort