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Ripple, The Water Sprite
by [?]

Down in the deep sea lived Ripple, a happy little water sprite. She lived in a palace of red coral, with gardens of sea-flowers all round it, the waves like a blue sky above it, and white sand full of jewels for its floor. Ripple and her mates had gay times playing with the sea-urchins, chasing flying-fish, rocking in the shells, and weaving many-colored sea-weed into delicate clothes to wear.

But the pastime Ripple loved best was to rise to the light and air, and float on the waves that rocked her softly in the sunshine, while the gulls stooped to tell her news of the great world they saw in their long flights. She liked to watch little children playing on the shore, and when they ran into the sea she caught them in her arms and held them up and kissed them, though they saw and felt only the cool water and the white foam.

Ripple had one sorrow; for when tempests came and the waves rolled overhead like black clouds, ships were often wrecked, and those whom the angry sea drowned came floating down, pale and cold, to the home of the water sprites, who mourned over them, and laid them in graves of white sea-sand, where jewels shone like flowers.

One day a little child sank down from the storm above to the quiet that was never broken, far below. Its pretty eyes were closed as if asleep, its long hair hung about the pale face like wet weeds, and the little hands still held the shells they had been gathering when the cruel waves swept it away. The tender-hearted sprites cried salt tears over it, and wrapped it in their softest sheets, finding it so lovely and so sad they could not bury it out of sight. While they sung their lullabies Ripple heard through the roar of wind and water a bitter cry that seemed to call her. Floating up through foam and spray she saw a woman standing on the beach with her arms outstretched, imploring the cruel sea to give her back her little child.

Ripple longed so much to comfort the poor mother that power was given her to show herself, and to make her soft language understood. A slender creature, in a robe as white as foam, with eyes as blue as the sea, and a murmuring voice that made music like falling drops of water, bent over the weeping woman and told her that the child was cared for far below all storms, and promised to keep the little grave beautiful with sea-flowers, and safe from any harm. But the mother could not be comforted, and still cried bitterly,–

“Give him back to me alive and laughing, or I cannot live. Dear sprite, have you no charm to make the little darling breathe again? Oh, find one, find one, or let me lie beside him in the hungry sea.”

“I will look far and wide and see if I can help you. Watch by the shore, and I will come again with the little child if there is any power in land or sea to make him live,” cried Ripple, so eager to do this happy thing that she sprang into the ocean and vanished like a bubble.

She hurried to the Queen in her palace of pearls and told her all the sad story.

“Dear Ripple, you cannot keep your promise, for there is no power in my kingdom to work this spell. The only thing that could do it would be a flame from the sun to warm the little body into life, and you could never reach the fire spirits’ home far, far away.”

“But I will !” cried Ripple, bravely. “If you had seen the poor mother’s tears and heard her cries you would feel as I do, and never let her watch in vain. Tell me where I must go; and I will not be afraid of anything if I can only make the little child live again.”