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agin, a long stretch, towards the hassck, where the water was shallerer.
“ The merm'n was arter 'im strut, and cotched 'im up in no time, and then they clinched. That ere fight I sh'ld like to seen, may be I don't think. It was hip and thigh, and toss up
for the best, for putty much an hour 'bouts ; sometimes the merm'n bein' ahead, and sometimes gr't gr'ndf'th'r, dependen mostly on th' depth th' water; for when th' old man could keep's ground in shaller water, he could lick the merm’n to ihunder ; but the merm’n was leetle the activest in deep water. Well, it couldn't be 'xpected but what they sh'ld both get pr’tty smart and tired, and I reckon they was both willen to 'cknowledge beat. Th’ old man was jist goen to, when the merm’n sings out, “ Mister, let's stop and rest.'
“. Done,' says gr’t gr’ndf’ıh’r, glad enough ; and they stopped short, and went to th' hassck, and sot down on the sedge grass, both breathen like a porpus.
“ Arter they'd sot there a little while, and got breath, th’ old man sung out he was ready, but the merm'n said he wa’n’t, and he reck’n’d he felt putty smart and bad. So th' old man thought 'twould be a good time to go arter's skiff. You ought n't t've shoved my boat away, any how,' says he ; • how shall I get back thum t-night ?'
" "That's true,' said the merm'n, quite reason'bl'; 'if y'll promise to come right back, and finish this ere fight, I'll let ye go and swim arter it.' “ "I will,' says th’ old man, 'honor bright;' and off he
When he got off 'bout two rod, he looked back at th' merm’n, and he thought he seemed to be ʼmazen pale and sick. • Make haste back,' sings out the merm’n. 'Ay, ay,' says th’ old man, and he struck away.
The tide had drifted th’ skiff a smart ways off, and she lay
putty much down t th' beach, on a bar; and 'twas quite a spell 'fore the old man could get to the hassck. But when he arriv, there wa’nt a hair of a merm'n to b' seen, only in the place where he'd sot there was a big heap o' white jelly, like a stingen quarll. Gr't gr’ndf'th'r kicked it over w' his foot, and it made a thin squeak, like a swaller high up over-head, and he reckoned it giv' 'im a kind o' lect’ral shock. So he sot to work and picked up his stools, which was scattered putty much all over the bay, and he cleared out thum. That's the last he seen o' that merm’n.”
“Surely, surely. Walloped him into nothen, I expect;" said Venus. “I give in arter that, Dannel.”
“ Have my doubts, agen!" sung out Peter, waking up from the straw, where his universally incredulous judgment had been for some time past taking unquiet and sonorous repose. “ Have my doubts, mister, I say."
“ You're drunk, old vulture-nose;" cried Ned, authoritatively. 6 Shut
I'm satisfied that the story is true. What object could the old man have had in telling a lie? Besides, every body knows that mermaids were plenty here once. Wasn't Jerry Smith's wife a mermaid ? Didn't I see one myself, once, in Brick-house brook, when I was trouting ?"
“Likely, likely;" quoth Oliver. “ Tell us about that Eddy. When was it? I never heard thee mention it before.”
“ Yes, you have, Oliver, fifty times! but, as it is a short story, and I should like to resolve Peter's doubts, for once, I'll tell again.—Don't interrupt me, now. It was one April morning, in that year when you and I had the great flight of geese, Raynor. I went up through the woods, and struck into the brook about two miles above the turnpike, and started to wade it down to the road. You know how wild the country is there, and how wantonly the brook runs, bending, and winding, and coquetting with the wintergreen and cranberry vines, that fringe its banks ; how it is constantly changing its depth and strength, and color, sometimes dashing on, in a narrow current not more than three or four feet in width, and curling darkly and swiftly around the old stumps, that are rotting by its edges, and then, at a little distance off, spreading free, and flowing smooth, to the breadth of twenty yards; while all the way it is overarched, and in some places nearly hidden by the intertwined hazel, and alders, and scrub oaks. It is just the stream that I should think would captivate a water rymph's fancy ; it is so solitary, and quiet, and romantic. You hear no noise while you are fishing, save of your own splashing footsteps, or the brushed-by, crackling bushes, --scarcely even the rushing of the wind, so deep and thick is the envelopement of the woods ; and in wading half a mile, and basketing thirty fish, you might think you were alone in the world, if you did not now and then starile a thirsty fawn, or a brooding wood-duck. Well, I was coming down through a broad, shallow, beautifully gravelled bottom, where the water was not more than half-way up to my knees, and was just beginning to take more stealthy steps, so as to make the least possible noise, (for I was approaching a favorite hole,) when suddenly I heard what seemed to be the voice of a young girl of fifteen or sixteen burst out a singing ahead of me, just around the next bend of the brook.
"I was half frightened to death, for I thonght it must be some poor mad creature that had escaped from her confinement; and in fact I had heard that Ellen—what's her name ? I forget-had been rather flighty ever since young Jones left off paying attentions to her. However, there was no backing out for me, now ; vestigia nulla retrorsum, in the case of a woman, Cypress. I was in the scrape ; revocare gradum was out of the question. So I went ahead softly, and when I got to the bend, I put my left eye around the bushes, and looked. By all the little fishes, it was a lovely sight! She was sitting upon a hemlock log that had fallen across the brook, with her naked feet and legs hanging in the water. There she sat, paddling, and splashing, and combing her long, beautiful, floating hair, and singing. I was entranced, petrified. She would sing a little ballad, and then she'd stop and wring her hands, and cry. Then she'd laugh, and flirt about her long hair. Then again she would look sorrowful, and sigh as though her heart would break, and sing her song over again. Presently she bent down to the stream, and began to talk earnestly to somebody. I leaned forward to take a look at the stranger, and to whom do you think she was talking? It was a trout, a brook trout, an old fellow that I have no doubt would have weighed full three pounds. He was floating on the top of the water, and dimpling, and springing up about her, as though he, too, felt and acknowledged the heavenly influence of her beauty. She bent her long fingers, and tickled him upon his back, and under his side, and he absolutely jumped through her hands, backwards and forwards, as if in a delirium of frolic.-It was by her hands that I knew she was a mermaid. They were bluey and webbed, though not much more than a black-breasted plover's feet. There was nothing positively icthyal in their formation. After a while she commenced singing, again. This was a new tune, and most exquisitely sweet. I took out my pencil and wrote down the words of the song, on a blank leaf for memoranda, in my fishing book. Shall I repeat them ?"
“I'll try," said Ned, sighing. “I wish I could sing them. They ran somewhat in this way:
“ Down in the deep
Dark holes I keep,
By the hemlock log,
And the springing bog,
The angler's fly
Comes dancing by,
For the hermit trout
Is not such a lout
King of the brook,
No fisher's hook
But here I lie,
And laugh, as they try ;
But when the streams,
With moonlight beams,
Then, then look out
For the hermit trout;
While the tired angler dreams.'
“ The words are not much. But O! how exquisite was that music ; Cypress, it was like the mellow tone of a soft
“ Jewsharp,-ha-a ?” accorded long John; that's a nice