THE ORANGE FAIRY BOOK - online childrens book

A Collection of Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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THE GIRL-FISH
227
and they pressed round her, begging her to tell them her story.
'I am not a fish at all,' said the new-comer, swallow­ing a great deal of salt water as she spoke; for you cannot learn how to be a proper fish all in a moment. 'I am not a fish at all, but a girl; at least I was a
girl a few minutes ago, only------' And she ducked her
head under the waves so that they should not see her crying.
'Only you did not believe that the fish you caught had power to carry out its threat,' said an old tunny. 'Well, never mind, that has happened to all of us, and it really is not a bad life. Cheer up and come with us and see our queen, who lives in a palace that is much more beautiful than any your queens can boast of.'
The new fish felt a little afraid of taking such a journey; but as she was still more afraid of being left alone, she waved her tail in token of consent, and off they all set, hundreds of them together. The people on the rocks and in the ships that saw them pass said to each other:
'Look what a splendid shoal!' and had no idea that they were hastening to the queen's palace; but, then, dwellers on land have so little notion of what goes on in the bottom of the sea! Certainly the little new fish had none. She had watched jelly-fish and nautilus swim­ming a little way below the surface, and beautiful col­oured sea-weeds floating about; but that was all. Now, when she plunged deeper her eyes fell upon strange things.
Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl, inestimable stones, unvalued jewels — all scattered in the bottom of the sea! Dead men's bones were there also, and long white creatures who had never seen the light, for they mostly dwelt in the clefts of rocks where the sun's rays could not come. At first our little fish felt as if she were blind also, but by-and-by she began to make
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