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[ Read more about author J.A.Howe
Fairy tale about how trees came to land... you'd
never guess that a mermaid caused it all.
The Merlady on the Isle
The Merlady on the Island
The sailors were nervous about having a merperson on board. Yanalle was beautiful for her kind, certainly, with her green-gray hair streaming out behind her under pearl-encrusted netting, and her gray robes fluttering around her. She was ugly to these land folk, however. They squirmed at the sight of the barnacles in her face and hands, and the shell that stuck in her cheek by a thin silver rope that dangled to her right nose. They gave her wide berth as they went about their duties, casting uneasy glances in her direction as she stood on the deck in all her finery, clutching the precious sea pod that would hopefully save their king's ailing son. The ship witch said darkly that she was a bad omen.
After many days they docked at last in the harbor. The mermaid Yanalle gazed wonderingly up at the sloping hills of the king's island. She stared at the wide rocky heaths, and the beach strewn with seaweed and shells, that her kind had dumped there. Over it all loomed the lighthouse tower of hard marble and wood, its heights encircled by screeching gulls. Beyond glimmered the castle, a bright spot in the distance.
She walked off the boat on her own; no one offered her any assistance. Here, on the gritted beach, women mended nets and cut fish and clams, as children gathered flotsam for firewood and reeds and such herbs as grew along the shore. Farther along the harbor, the men hauled in the day's catch and divided it up with the harbor masters. She saw many stares cast in her direction, heard many mothers whisking curious children away with a sharp word, as she followed the sailors up the winding path inland toward the fortress of the king. A tall bird stalked through reeds to her left and disappeared.
Yanalle had never been this far inland before and was amazed and a little frightened at all the new unfamiliar sights and sounds. She thought of the words of her teacher for strength. "Use what you know," she could hear him say, and she straightened her back. The merfolk had sent her because they trusted her competence, and because her father the king was looking fir friendship between land and sea. She must be brave.
This became easier to do, once she settled in to the task for which she had come. The prince lay pale under his coverlet as she checked him over and began the brewing and stewing of the herbs to save his life. While she worked, she tossed some of the seeds out the window, giving them to the wind instead of the water as she would have at home by custom. "What are you doing?" someone asked seeing her, and she replied that she was doing as she had been taught. By then the seeds had blown away. The attending witch glared at her.
The seeds were forgotten until a few days later when messengers came to the king. "Strange giant plants grow on our land now, Sire; we're being invaded!" they cried. The king looked out his window and saw young, tall shoots, forcing themselves up from the earth in droves. Their thickening trunks were formed by several broad leaves that twisted tightly together. At the top these leaves began to separate again, throwing out tendrils that thickened rapidly to flutter in the wind. As these dancing formations grew further in size, the trunks congealed together to form a firm, brownish green wood.
"Cut them down!" said the king. The messengers said that had been tried, but there were so many of the plants, and more kept growing. The king sent for Yanalle.
Copyright © by J.A.Howe
All rights reserved unless specified otherwise above.
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