A mermaid's tale
Written by John Millen
'Good morning, Lutey!'
'Good morning, Mrs Oakes. And what a beautiful morning it is!'
'You've got a good catch this morning, Lutey. That will bring you a pretty penny at the market.'
'I hope so, Mrs Oakes. Good day to you.'
Lutey lifted the basket of fish on to his shoulders and walked along the quayside to where the village fishermen and their wives were selling the morning's catch. He put his basket down on the ground, and was soon surrounded by customers. In less than 20 minutes, his basket was empty and his pockets full of coins.
It was a bright summer morning, and Lutey decided to take a walk to the cove on the other side of the headland.
He was clambering over some rocks when he suddenly saw a girl with golden hair lying in a pool. As Lutey walked over to investigate, the girl darted behind a rock. To his utter shock, he saw that the girl was a mermaid. She was holding her hands over her face, and was obviously crying.
'I will not harm you,' Lutey said. 'What are you doing here on the shore?'
The mermaid tried to hide herself deeper in the sea, but the water was too shallow to cover her body. She was stranded, and had no other place to hide. She glanced quickly at Lutey with large green eyes, then covered her face again and began to sob.
'I will help you if I can,' Lutey said. His voice was gentle and kind, and after a few moments, the mermaid began to whisper. Lutey could just hear her voice over the lapping of the sea in the distance.
'I have done a very foolish thing,' the mermaid sighed.
'I was swimming with my father near the coast when we saw a cave in the cliffs. The sea was warm, and we swam into the coolness of the cave. My father fell asleep, and I swam back out into the sea. I could smell sweet lavender on the breeze. I drifted lazily on the waves, breathing in the perfume. I did not notice that the tide was falling, and before I knew what was happening, I was cut off on these rocks.'
The mermaid looked out towards the sea on the horizon. 'I must get back to the cave before my father misses me. If he wakes and sees I am not there, he will raise a storm in anger. My father is a vengeful man. He will think I have come to some harm, and he will call up a storm in his fury. What can I do? I must get back before the tide turns.'
Lutey thought for a few moments. 'I will carry you to the sea. You will be able to swim to the cave in no time at all once you are back in the water.'
The mermaid's face lit up with a beaming smile. 'You are a kind man. Merfolk have magic powers, you know, and I will give you three wishes when I get back to the sea. Think about what you want as you carry me.
Lutey knelt down on the rock and the mermaid clasped her arms around his neck. He stood up and walked slowly out to the sea. As he gently laid the mermaid in the water, she asked him what his three wishes were going to be.
'I don't want riches for myself. I want the power to cure disease, to trace stolen property and to destroy evil spells. Just for the hard-working and honest people of my village.'
The mermaid took the silver comb from her hair and gave it to Lutey.
'Hold this tightly when you want to use your powers.' There was a sudden flash of sunlight, and the mermaid was gone.
Lutey waited a moment looking out to the sea and then began to walk home, clutching the comb tightly in his hand.
1 Does this tale take place inland or on the coast?
2 What is Lutey's job?
3 How does he come across a mermaid?
4 What has happened to her?
5 How does Lutey help the mermaid?
6 How does she reward him?
1 On the coast.
2 He is a fisherman.
3 He is taking a walk on the shore and he sees her in a rock pool.
4 She had got stranded when the tide went out.
5 Lutey carries her back into the sea.
6 She gives him the power to do good for the people of his village.