From English folklore comes this mermaid story. In England, in ancient times, the word for mermaid was merrymaid, "merry" coming from mar or mer and meaning "sea". This may also be the origin of "Merry Old England". The mermaid story here concerns Selina, who may have been a mermaid or a changeling or maybe something else.

When Selina was a child her mother took her to bathe in a small pool near the arched rocks of Perran. While she was playing in the water her mother accidentally dropped her and she disappeared from sight. After a few moments she returned to the surface but she was changed – her face was brighter and more beautiful than it had ever been before.

As Selina grew she loved to play in the ocean, diving and riding the waves like a seal. She also liked to take long walks on the shore in the evening with her father. The local gossips said that she was a changeling. However, as the years passed, Selina never displayed any of the tell-tale characteristics of a fairy or mermaid so the mermaid story was eventually forgotten.

When Selina was eighteen, the nephew of the local Squire, named Walter, became infatuated with her. To make her acquaintance, he took long walks on the shore at the same time and place as Selina and her father. After a few weeks she, her father and Walter became friends. When her father was called away by the Squire for some work repairing an old farm house, she and Walter continued their long walks and their friendship deepened into something more.

Walter, however, was what they called at the time a scoundrel. He lived for the pleasure of the moment, drinking and cavorting as he chose. After a few months he tired of Selina and left for the big city. Selina pined for him and finally died of a broken heart.

Years later, Walter returned to the village. He spent his nights drinking and dancing with his old friends in a cottage near the shore. Leaving the house one night to get some fresh air he wandered down to the water where me met an incredibly beautiful woman. With a shock he noticed that she looked a great deal like Selina. She sang to Walter a sad song of lost love and then disappeared.

Walter searched for the woman every night after that. After a couple of weeks, her heard singing and followed it to a cave at the water's edge. There he found the woman who beckoned him nearer. Walter came forward and embraced her and suddenly she kissed him. "Kisses", she said, "are as true at sea as they are false on land. You men kiss the earth-born maidens to betray them. The kiss of a sea-child is the seal of constancy. You are mine till death."

"Death!" Walter cried.

The mermaid held him tightly and continued to kiss him as the cave began to fill with water. When is was deep enough she took him out on the open ocean. There the other sea people tossed him back and forth until he died. This was the vengeance of the mermaid for the death of her adopted daughter.

As this mermaid story illustrates, mermaids can form relationships with mortals that are deep and long lasting. Many examples of this can be found on this website. I especially recommend the mermaid story "The Old Man From Cury".

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