28 AN IMPOSSIBLE ENCHANTMENT
of music, and looking out of the window, there was the merman, his head crowned with water plants, and blowing a great sea-shell with all his might.
They went down to the tower door, and Graziella politely accepted some coral and other marine curiosities he had brought her. After this he used to come every evening, and blow his shell, or dive and play antics under the princess's window. She contented herself with bowing to him from the balcony, but she, would not go down to the door in spite of all his signs.
Some days later he came with a person of his own kind, but of another sex. Her hair was dressed with great taste, and she had a lovely voice. This new arrival induced the ladies to go down to the door. They were surprised to find that, after trying various languages, she at last spoke to them in their own, and paid Graziella a very pretty compliment on her beauty.
The mermaid noticed that the lower floor was full of water. ' Why,' cried she, ' that is just the place for us, for we can't live quite out of water.' So saying, she and her brother swam in and took up a position in the bathroom, the princess and her governess seating themselves on the steps which ran round the room.
' No doubt, madam,' said the mermaid, ' you have given up living on land so as to escape from crowds of lovers ; but I fear that even here you cannot avoid them, for my brother is already dying of love for you, and I am sure that once you are seen in our city he will have many rivals.'
She then went on to explain how grieved her brother was not to be able to make himself understood, adding: ' I interpret for him, having been taught several languages by a fairy.'
' Oh, then, you have fairies, too?' asked Graziella, with a sigh.
' Yes, we have,' replied the mermaid ; ' but if I am not mistaken you have suffered from the fairies on earth.'