By Dan Saltzman with the Idea from his
Little Mer-mate Janet
Copyright 2011 all rights reserved
Far out in the Pacific Ocean where the water is warm and clear, there is a small island of coral. Around this island live the mer-people, a race of people half-human and half fish. They live a happy carefree life ruled be a kind king named Neptune.
One day as Neptune’s daughters Peril and Alora were playing hide and seek near the island a big storm came out the West. It was so violent that all the merpeople had to retreat to deeper water. After the storm passed the girls returned to finish their game. Alora trying to hide from Peril among the rocks and shoals of the island came upon a ship that had been wrecked by the storm.
At first, the frightened children thought to swim from the sight of the human ship. But when they realized that it was abandoned they decided to explore the curious sight. The two mermaids entered the smashed hull with caution through a large hole at the water line. Their fears were soon replace with excitement by all the strange things they found there in.
The two adventurers were about to return to the sea when they were startled by a sound that they did not expect to hear. "Oooh!" It came from within the bowels of the ship.
"What was that?" Asked Peril.
"I don't know!" replied Alora.
"Let's get out of here!" worried Peril.
"You can leave if you want but I have to see what made that noise."
The two girls cautiously followed the sound, to an overturned barrel of tangled rope. Alora, the bolder of the two, slowly pulled the bundle apart. "It's a boy!" she said excitedly.
"Yes, but what's wrong with him?" asked Peril.
"What do you mean?"
"Just look at it, what's wrong with it's bottom half?"
"Well, I don't know. Let's take him to father, he will know."
Alora and Peril dragged the boy as the two mermaids wiggled their way back to the hole in the hull to swim to their under sea kingdom.
They had not gone more then 10 feet before the boy started to squirm. Alora looked at him, she could see that he was turning blue. "He can't breath in the water, quick take him back to the surface!"
The two mermaids pulled the boy and themselves onto the sandy beach of the island. The boy coughed up some water and started to breathe. "What now?" asked Peril.
"I don't know! . . . You go get father and I'll stay with the boy." suggested Alora.
"OK, but don't let him get you." And the mermaid swam off.
When the boy started to wake, Alora got frightened and moved to the other side of a rock that was next to where the two were. The boy sat up and looked around, seeing the girl peering over the bolder, he asked. "Where am I? Who are you?"
Alora replied, "My name is Alora and you were the only survivor on the ship. What is you name?"
The boy sat on the sand and looked puzzled, "I don't remember anything, except getting hit on the head during the storm."
The boy stood and started to stagger towards the girl. His move toward her, frightened her so, she made for the sea. When he saw she was a mermaid, he said. "You're a mermaid!" and stopped and sat back down. "Wait!" he added. "Don't leave me, I don't know where I am or who I am. I need your help."
"OK, I'll try to help you, boy. But what can I do?"
"First, don't call me boy, call me . . ." " I'll call you Terrene." Interrupted the mermaid with a giggle.
"Terrene? Why that name." Asked the boy.
"Terrene is for the one from the land."
When Peril returned with King Neptune, Alora and Terrene were talking and close to one another. Her fear of the boy completely gone. "Alora, get away from him!" shrieked Peril.
"Yes Alora, Peril is right. Come back to the sea and keep back from the human boy." said the King.
"It's OK, he is only a boy."
"Then come back to the sea, leave him to his own kind." Ordered the King.
"He is lost and alone. He needs our help." Said Alora.
"That's no concern of ours." Replied Neptune.
"He will die with out our help. If you won't help then I will take care of him." Said the determined Alora.
"I will help too, father." Said Peril.
"OK, if you two want the responability of taking care of this boy, so be it. But if his own kind come, you will have to let him go."
The years passed and Alora continued to bring Terrene food from the sea long after Peril lost interest. At first the fish and clams were hard for Terrene to eat but in time he learned to like them. During that time Alora grew into beautiful mermaid, her beauty was unrivaled in all the mer-kingdom. Her long auburn hair was as soft as silk and a face like a pixie with sea green eyes. All this atop a buxom body with a silver blue tail with fins long and feathery.
Terrene grew into a handsome man. He had a face with chiseled features and black curly hair. His body was hard with broad shoulders and because of a lack of cloths he wore a loin cloth made from the rages he had found it the ship wreak before it was wash back out to sea in another storm.
Terrene grew to love the mermaid because she was the only woman he knew. She loved him too, because he was different from the mermen she knew. They would play games together every day among the rocks and sea. Then would lay on the sand holding each other in tight embrace and kiss one another most tenderly. Their love went unfulfilled because of their tender age and a lack of experience or older humans to teach him.
Six years after Terrene was marooned on the island and during one of the more passionate moments, Peril appeared and said, "A ship is coming, you better get to the safety of the sea." The two mermaids swam off to the safety the waves provide leaving Terrene to hide in a shack he had built from palm trees and wood from the ship he had came to this island in.
The tropical sun made the work on board the Southern Cross harder then normal. If it weren't for the breeze that pushed the ship through the South Pacific on her voyage from Sidney to Tahiti. It would be impossible to keep the crew from getting hyperthermia. As it was they were consuming more water in a week then the remaining casks held. They had lost most of the water barrels in a typhoon that hit the ship a week ago.
Captain Brown studied the less then adequate charts. He knew he had to put into an island to get the water supply replenished before it was depleted. He knew that not all the islands on the charts had water. He also knew that the charts did not show all the islands that were in this part of the Pacific. Checking the ship's position on the chart showed no land for many days of sailing. So he was surprised when he heard the call from the lookout. "Land ho!"
The officer on watch was First Mate Mr. Fetch, he shouted to the sailor in the crow's nest. "Where away?"
He replied, "Five points to starboard."
Mr. Fetch turned to go tell the Captain the news when the door to the cabin flew open and Captain Brown emerged. "Sir, we found land!" said the First Mate.
"Aye!" He replied. "But does it have water? We shell see. Change course to 80 degrees and look for a safe harbor, Mr. Fetch." As he held his spyglass to his eye.
"Aye Captain . . . Helm, come to 80 degrees. Hands to the braces."
"80, aye." Replied helmsman Roberts as the bosons whistle blew out the commands.
When the Southern Cross was at anchor in a lagoon on the North side of the island, Mr. Fetch took 5 men in the launch to search for water. They pulled the small boat onto a sandy beach and the 5 sailors fanned out to cover as much of the island as possible, leaving the First Mate on the beach.
Just a few minuets passed when Mr. Fetch heard one of the men call, "Over here, I found water!" That was what he wanted to hear. He pulled a pistol out of his sash and fired a shot into the air. The roar sent all the birds on the island into flight it also set the crew on the Southern Cross to work sending the longboat with Seven men and ten water barrels ashore.
Mr. Fetch watched as the men worked to fill the barrels in a stream that ran through a thickly wooded flat that gently slopes down to a rocky lagoon. As one of the men tried to roll a barrel back to the beach where the boats had been left, he lost control and the bulky cask and it slip down the grass and brush the opposite way.
"Fetch that barrel back, you clumsy oft." Ordered Mr. Fetch.
"Mr. Fetch!" Called one of the men that went after the way word water.
The mate worked his way to where the men were standing around the cask. "Come on, get that water back to the boats, the day is too short for you to be sight see'n."
"But sir!" replied a sailor, as he pointed.
The barrel had come to rest against a small shelter made of tree limbs, palm fauns and old timbers. The heavy barrel had crushed it. "Clear away and get the cask to the boats." Ordered Mr. Fetch.
As the men worked to clear the derbies, one jumped and said, "Good lord, there is someone in here." All the men worked to free the stranger from the smashed shanty.
Terrene awoke to the touch of a cold wet cloth on his forehead. The rag was in the hand of the Captain's daughter. As his eyes fell on her face, he thought he must be dead because an angel was looking over him. She was a pretty girl of 16 with blond hair, blue eyes, red lips and fair skin.
"How are you feel'n, boy?" asked a grough voice that made Terrene know he was still among the living. He rolled his head to see the source of the question. He focused his eyes on a man with a beard and a body like a barrel.
"Where am I?" He asked.
"You are on board my father's ship the Southern Cross!" Replied the soft voice of the girl Terrene had thought was an angel. "His name is Henry Brown, mine is Nancy. What is your name?" she added.
"I think I'm fine, sir. My name is Terrene . . . no that's not it."
"Well is it Terrene or not, surely you know you own name."
"Yes sir, it's Terrene. But before that I was William Boyd."
"Before? Before what?" Asked Nancy.
"Before the ship I was on was wreaked on the island."
"What was the name of the ship, boy?" Asked Captain Brown.
"Ah . . . it was . . .ah . . ."
"What's the matter, don't you know the name of the ship you were on?" Interrupted Brown.
"Easy father, he has been through a lot. Let him rest a little, then he can answer your questions."
"Humph!" Captain Brown huffed at his daughter.
"Don't give him any mind, he is a kind man at heart he has been a sailors too long to be civil around normal folk." Said Nancy, then added in a sweeter voice. "How long have you been on that island?"
"I don't know, I had no way of knowing or counting the days. It was a long time, years at least. Besides I did not know who I was. I had no memory of anything before the wreck. Oh! It was the Rose Marie, sir."
"The Rose Marie? That ship was reported lost 6 years ago. The same company that owns this ship owned her. How did you survive for so long?" Asked the impatient Captain.
"Alora helped me! Sir."
"And who is Alora?" smirked Nancy.
"Alora!" shouted the man. "Is there someone else on the island? We have to go back to get her." He turned to leave the cabin. "We have already lost two days, now we will be a week late getting to Tahiti." he groufed.
"Sir!" the boy called to the hurried man. "You don't have to go back to rescue her, she won't be there. But you can take me back please."
"What do you mean, she won't be there? Why won't she be there?" Asked Nancy.
"Take you back? Are you daffed?" Roared Captain Brown.
"She will have gone home! Yes if you please."
"Do you mean to tell us a girl had a boat to come and go from the island, and did not rescue you?" Asked the puzzled Captain.
"No sir, you don't understand. Alora is a mermaid." Informed the boy.
Nancy looked at the boy with a puzzled look and Captain Brown started to laugh. "Now I know the boy took a knock on the head. He has lost his mind."
The girl turned to her father and said. "Father, you should not talk like that. You will hurt his feelings. It's obvious he is delirious if he wants to go back."
"No!" Replied Terrene. "I am telling you the truth. Mermaids do exist. How else could I have survived on that island for so long?"
"I can't say, maybe someone did help you but one thing I know for sure is there are no such things as mermaids. What I think is you have been in the hot sun too long."
"Daddy!" Scolded Nancy.
Buy the time the Southern Cross reached Tahiti three weeks had passed. Everyone on board had heard of Terrene's story and thought he was light in the head. Even Nancy did not believe him.
Terrene's desire to return to his island was not diminished even by a growing interest in Nancy. She too a beauty in her own right with a shapely body and the full skirts she wore made her waist look even thinner then it already was.
During the time of the passage everyone was calling him Billy or in Nancy's case she called him William. But still he wanted to return to see Alora. Every time he stated his desire to return, Nancy's face would smirk because she was falling in love with him.
Nancy would try everything to show the boy how she felt. She would set next to him at breakfast, lunch and dinner. She would fall into him with the roll of the ship when they passed in the passageways. She would look over her shoulder and flutter her eyes at him. All her attempts did get a smile from him but he still talked about Alora.
Billy, being under age was turned over to the authorities of Tahiti for placement in a government institution. But when he started to ask for someone to take him back to the island and his mermaid, the institution was for the insane.
No matter how hard Terrene tried to convince people that mermaids do exist. All he received was eye rolls or in his face laughter. Nancy didn't care what people though she loved him and wanted to help him. So when she learned her father's next consignment was to take them back to Australia she formed a plan.
The night was clear but had a warm tropical breeze of the ocean was making Nancy's skirts rustle as she approached the gates of the institution where Billy was held. She had a basket of food with her and had spent the day before getting permission to bring him a home cooked meal.
She had to let the guards taste her goodies in the basket, no problem it was part of her plan. Within minutes they were all asleep from the drugs in the biscuits she had baked. Next she pulled the key from her bodice she had bribed from a day shift guard with a promise to meet him latter.
Billy was awaken but the clank of his door's lock, as he sat up he was shocked to see Nancy face peer in. "William?" she asked.
"Yes!" he replied.
"Come on, hurry, we don't have much time. They will be checking soon and my father's ship sails with in the hour."
They ran to the harbor as fast as they could holding hands all the way. Nancy's other hand held up her skirt so she could keep up with Billy.
They boarded the ship by Nancy walking up the gangplank while ordering the man carrying her trunk over his shoulder. "Be easy with that trunk boy or my father will have you hid if any of my perfume bottles are broken!"
The man would grunt back. "Yes missy!"
Once they were in Nancy's cabin she helped Billy put down the empty trunk. "Get inside and don't say a word till we are well out to sea." Billy crammed himself into the large but a bit too small trunk. "Don't make a sound till I come and get you."
It took hours for the Southern Cross to make full sail in the trade winds that would take her to Australia. Billy waited for Nancy to come and get him out of the stuffy trunk. He did not know how much more he could take. His lags and back were cramping and the hot humid trunk was sapping his strength. Thirst was starting to make the confinement of the institution look better too.
By the time Nancy returned with food and water, Billy was so weak he needed her help unfolding his way out of the trunk. She told him. "You will have to hide here for several day till it is too costly for my father to return to Tahiti. Then we will reveal that you are here.
"OK, then I can ask him to stop at the island where he found me."
"William! Is that all you want?"
"I have to see Alora again."
"Well, after all I did for you!" Nancy huffed and walked out of the cabin leaving Billy bewildered.
The winds had been favorable for the Southern Cross and her men. By the time Nancy and Billy confronted Captain Brown they were close to the island and two days ahead of schedule. So when Billy asked. "Captain Brown, sir. Can we stop at the island where you found me?"
His reply was. "If it will end this mermaid obsession of yours once and for all. I never want to hear of it again."
Nancy's reaction to Billy's request brought more pain to her heart but hearing her fathers reply brought new hope because she knew he would be disappointed in what he would not find at the island.
Captain Brown, Nancy, Billy and 4 sailors went ashore early in the morning. They hid the boat per Billy's request. "Alora will not come if she sees the boat."
"Please stay here while I go get her!" Billy said. Nancy, her father and the sailors hid in the brush just off the beach.
Billy picker up two heave sticks and walked out onto the sand where a large log of drift wood lay half on the sand and half in the water. He began to pound out a rhythm on the wood. After a few minutes he sat down next to the waters edge.
"How long are we going to put up with this bilge?" Said Captain Brown.
"Shhh! Whispered Nancy. "We have to let him make his own discoveries."
It took 20 minuets before there was a splash in the surf. Every one hiding in the brush was staring with their mouth hanging open. A beautiful mermaid slowly approached Billy as he sat on the beach.
"Terrene is that you?" She asked.
"Yes, it's me."
"I did not reconized you with your body covered the way it is. I was afraid to come because there is a ship on the other side of the island. Did you come back on it?"
"Yes I did!" He replied and got up and walked out into the surf and picked up the mermaid and brought her to sit on the sand with him. "I want you to meet the nice people that helped me come back."
Alora jumped and started to wiggle her way back to the sea. But Billy held her hand and said. "It's OK, I wont let anything happen to you." He turned to the land and added. "Come on out I have someone I want you all to meet."
He had to keep holding her as the group emerged from the wooded land. "She is beautiful!" commented Nancy.
"She's naked" Blurted Andy one of the sailors.
Realizing the embarrassment of a naked mermaid among this Victorian group, Billy pulled off his shirt and wrapped it around Alora. "Alora, I would like you to meet Captain Brown, his daughter Nancy, Sid, Andy, Dex and Jack." He pointed as he said their names. Alora just sat with a terrified look on her face.
"And this is Alora!" Billy said with a look of satisfaction that turned to concern when he saw the look on Alora's face. "It will be OK, These are all my friends. No one will heart you."
Nancy sat down next to Billy and said. "I am sorry for ever doubting you William. I can see why you wanted to see her again, she is beautiful."
"Terrene, why is she calling you William?"
"That was my name before the ship wreak. Most call me Billy. But you can still call me Terrene."
"Aye, she is beautiful and worth a fortune." Said Dex, as he and Sid moved close to Alora with grins on their faces.
Billy jumped up and put himself between the men and the mermaid. "Get back!" he ordered.
"Get out of the way, boy!" Said Sid as pushing and shoving turned into fist flying.
Nancy helped Alora out of the way and Captain Brown pulled out a double-barreled pistil from his sash and fired a shot into the air, bring the mayhem to a stop. "The next one is for the mutinous dog that wants to try to give the orders.
As Captain Brown and the four sailors headed back towards the boat, Billy sat down with Alora and Nancy. "I'm sorry about that, I thought all the men were trustworthy. Are you all right?"
"Yes, I think so. Are they all leaving?" She glanced at Nancy.
"Yes we all will be leaving soon, we have a cargo to deliver in Sidney and we can't be late." Replied Billy.
Alora and Nancy looked at him in shock. All though for different reasons. "What?" The girls said in unison, again for different reasons.
Nancy's face turned to smiles as Alora's eyes tear up. Billy embraced the crying mermaid. "I am sorry Alora. I love you and always will!" explained Billy with tears in his eyes too. "But I don't belong here. I can never be a part of your world and you can't be a part of mine. We can never fulfill each other the way we want. In time you will see I am right. Can we still be friends? Can I come to visit you here at this island?"
"I love you too Terrene and no. I don't think I can see you again."
"But why not?"
Alora though. "You will be with more men that will want to capture me." She excused.
Billy hung his head. "I am so sorry, I'll miss you. I just don't belong here. I need other people like me. Our love was not enough to fill the lonely nights when you returned to the sea and there was no one else to talk to. I'll never let anyone take you away."
Billy continued to hold the sobbing mermaid and Nancy felt jealous and sorrow for the beautiful mermaid. She wondered how Billy could give up search happiness he once had with her.
Back on board the Southern Cross Nancy asked Billy. "Why did you leave her, she has beauty and a lasting love for you?"
Tears still filled his eyes. "Two reasons. One, Alora once told me that they live forever, her father King Neptune was already 1500 years old. So I would grow old and break her heart some day. Two, I love you!"
Nancy threw herself into Billy's arms and said. "Oh William, I love you too!" And she felt sorrow for the mermaid that was left behind. The Southern Cross sail off to words Australia and darkening storm clouds.
Gus, the oldest sailor aboard was telling a new Loblolly boy. "When you see a storm at sea, a mermaid's heat has been broken. Aye, it looks like we are in for a blow."