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Kunama 1956


The People from the Sea


Fragments of cloud swept across the darkening sky; they seemed torn and shredded, as were the sails of the ship which struggled on the sea below. Now it wallowed in a deep green trough; now it shudderingly climbed the high green mountain which rose in front of it, till one fancied one could hear the creak and groan of the straining timbers above the wail of the wind and the boom of the waves.

Behind the clouds thunder rumbled and the whole sky echoed with the sound. Lightning rent the sky, its metallic blue flash reflecting a scene of turmoil on the raging waters. The wind snarled and screamed, tearing at the sails of the doomed ship with vicious fingers. There was no escape from the wrath of the storm, and with a jarring crash the ship struck a cruel spur of jagged rock. The water foamed greedily over the wreck. and a gurgling whirlpool dragged the ship to the bottom.

Unconscious, the mortals sank down, down, to the ocean bed. Forests of seaweed swayed gently in the cool green light which filtered down from above. Everything was still and undisturbed by the elements which were warring on the surface.

Softly the seaweeds parted and on every side strange figures floated towards the drowned people. Their eyes were a deep sea-green, their hair long and brown, there was a star-like radiance in their pale faces, and as they swam their tails glimmered in green and blue. Gently they leant over those on the sand, and gently their long white fingers rippled over the unconscious brows, while they whispered charms into mortal ears. Slowly the drowned people rose, but now their eyes were green, and their hair brown, and they had become like the merfolk.

That night, when the sea was calm and beautiful, and the cold stars were reflected on unbroken water, the merfolk rose to the surface to comb their long hair and sing their joys and sorrows to the night. And those who had come from earth sang among them, for now. like the mermaids, they cared only for the beauty of moonlit nights, silver sands and forests of seaweed. They had forgotten their mortal loves and hates, hopes and fears: they had entered another life.

JAN CAMPBELL, 3A


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