`Finish your grub and listen well,’
Quoth the old man to the boy.
`For a sea-tale I shall tell thee!
This old rhyme-scheme I’ll employ.’
A thousand years ago and more
An industry took hold,
And many a man sailed out to sea
For a future laced with gold.
The young and old did sign aboard
Three solemn ships at port.
They signed their very lives away,
A fatalistic sort.
They sought not whales, nor fish nor seal.
But hunted all the same,
For mythical things existed then.
The Mermaid was their game.
`Don’t fear the mystic Mermaid!’
Quoth the Captain to his crew.
`We’ll fill our nets and stock our hold
With Neptune’s revenue!’
Within each Mermaid hides a pearl,
That grows along the spine.
It glows as green as emerald.
Its shell is crystalline.
And we’ll pry a glaucous fortune,
From the backsides of our prey.
And the sea will flow with Mermaid blood,
And then we’ll sail away.
What the Captain didn’t tell them,
What the crew they did not know
Was that Mermaids are nocturnal.
And have no blood to flow.
So as the men lay slumbering
The Mermaids squirmed aboard.
And slit the sailors throats with glee
Yet the Captain was ignored.
And come the morning when he waked,
And found his butchered crew
He lost his mind and lost his soul
To Satan’s retinue.
And now this tale is done, my Son.
So off to bed with ye.
And dream of mermaids, ships and pearls,
Or their facsimile.