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 Second Encounter



Chapter  IV  


  "What is it, Derry?" Morgan asked, slightly alarmed. Derry didn't answer right away. He held the shell out to Morgan.

"You try it," he said. "Tell me what you hear." Morgan took the offered shell and held it to his own ear. He listened for a moment, then gave Derry a puzzled look.

"It sounds like the ocean. Just like the shells the children pick up from the beach. Though I have to admit, this one is bigger and prettier than any we've found." He handed the shell back to Derry. "What did you hear?" Derry shook his head and put the shell down on the table. He picked up the bag again.

"There's something else in here." Folding back the top of the bag, Derry pulled out a bundle wrapped in the same silvery fabric. He unwrapped it to reveal a pearl, marble-sized and a perfect creamy white color. Morgan whistled.

"I've never seen a pearl that lovely- or that large. That's quite a gift, Derry. Whoever this Syrene is, she must have a small fortune to spend!" Derry wrapped the pearl back into the fabric. He dropped it carefully into the bag.

"I should take this back. It's far too expensive a gift. I wonder if she is still in the bay?" Morgan started at the question.

"In the bay?" Derry closed his eyes for a moment. When he looked at Morgan, the Duke was regarding him with two raised eyebrows. "I'm sure I probably don't really want to know, but exactly who is this girl?' Derry sighed.

"I'm sure you don't, either, but I suppose you should. It was on your beach that I met her, after all." Derry told Morgan about his encounter with the mermaid, Syrene. When he finished, Morgan looked a bit skeptical.

"A mermaid? Derry, of all people, I would be the last to question you or something that involves magic, but a mermaid?"

"Sea nymph, actually, according to her," Derry said. "And I don't blame you for questioning my sanity, but it did happen. I would swear to it." Morgan held up a hand.

"I know, Derry. It's not that I don't believe you. I've had too much experience with things outside the ordinary not to. And I know you well enough to know that if you say it happened, then it did. It's just. a bit unusual." Morgan grinned at his aide. Derry grinned back.

"It was an unusual morning, I'll give you that," he said. "Hmmm, I wonder if Selk could help find her?"

"Only one way to find out," Morgan said. "And, if you don't mind, I think I'll come along. I'm in the mood for some 'unusual' right now!" He clapped a hand on Derry's shoulder and followed him out of the room.

They found Selk still in the kitchen, finishing a plate of fish left over from the evening meal. Cook was watching the boy with fascination.

"I see you found some fish for the boy," Morgan said as they came into the kitchen. Cook looked up and nodded.

"Aye, Your Grace. I was just about to start cuttin' it up to set outside for the cats," he said. "Glad I hadn't. By the way the boy ate, I'd guess he hasn't had a decent meal in days!" Selk pushed the plate back and sighed happily.

"Oh, I've eaten some," he said. "But the fish are hard to catch. As good a swimmer as I am, too many still get away!" Morgan looked at Derry, who just shrugged. Selk stood up then and moved toward the door.

"I'll need to be going, then, sir," he said. "I can't stay too long away from the ocean. It's. hard on us, you know. I thank you for the fish, sir, it was quite good." He turned to Derry. "I'll tell Syrene you were pleased with your gifts, sir?"

"They're quite impressive. But, tell me, Selk, is Syrene still in the bay?" Selk nodded with a smile.

"Want to thank her yourself, do you? Well, it's not unusual. As for where she is now, that I can't tell you for sure. But if you go to the first spot you saw her and hold the shell underwater, she will come to you. And now, if you don't mind, I have to go." Morgan nodded and the boy darted out the kitchen door.



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