The Mermaid in the Ocean
off the Magdalenes
There is a mermaid in the ocean near the Magdelenes, a small group of barren islands. Inhabited only by birds and a few brave men they have no soil, trees or grass, nothing but sand and great rocks. Commercial fishermen frequently stop here because the sea around them is full of fish and lobster.
For the Indians who inhabited that region the lobster was a magical creature. He was like Coyote was for the Indians of the American southwest. He was a powerful trickster and very unpredictable.
There are also stories of a mermaid in the ocean, seen once a year on the first of May. She appears on the shore combing her long hair and singing sadly. She seeks to lure the local people, who stay hidden in their homes. At one time the mermaid was as human as they.
Many years ago the sardine became the most popular fish in the world. Huge orders for cans of sardines sent fishermen scurrying to the seas about the Magdalenes in search of this luscious fish.
This put pressure on the sardine population, which began to shrink alarmingly. The sardines called a meeting with all the fish of the sea and asked for their protection against the marauding men. Everyone agreed, even the merfolk and the lobster.
One day, perhaps inevitably, a ship sank and it's cargo of canned sardines washed up on one of the Magdalenes. A young girl found the wreckage and anxiously tried to open one of the cans.
She tried to force it open with her fingers, and wood from the wreak. When that didn't work she banged it violently against a rock. Little did she know that the lobster lived under that rock and the knocking attracted his attention.
Crawling out, he saw the girl and heard her complaining to herself. He saw the cans of dead sardines and remembered their plight. Angrily, he grabbed the girl by the wrist and dragged her into the ocean.
No one knows what the lobster did with her. Some say he gave her to the merman to be his bride. That each year she lives beneath the sea she comes to look more and more like a fish. Once a year, she seeks unsuccessfully to restore her link to the race of men. Some day she will become forever a mermaid in the ocean.
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