Once there was a fisherman, a lonely man who lived on a cold and rocky coast and was never able to convince any woman to come away and live in that forbidding place with him. He loved the sea more than any person and so was never able to take a wife, for women see what is in men s hearts more clearly than men would wish.
But though he loved the freezing spray on his face and the sight of the rolling clouds on the horizon he still wished for somebody to love. One evening after a long day he pulled up his net and found a woman in it. A woman with black hair and eyes as grey as a stormy sea and a gleaming fish s tail instead of legs.
He was sorry that she was caught, and told her so, though the storm in her eyes rolled into his heart. She stopped her thrashing and crashing at his voice, though she did not understand his words. The fisherman loosed her and she dove back into the water the way a wild thing returns to a wild place, and he watched her go.
But her eyes had seen inside of him the way that women s eyes do, and his loneliness snaked into her, and she was sorry for it, for that loneliness caught her more surely than the net.
So she stayed with him, and loved him, and lived as a woman on land and a mermaid in the sea for many years. He grew old, though she did not, and after a time the people of the village began to remark on this.
And the remarks of this strange and unusual woman travelled from village to village and town to town, as they do, until they reached the ears of a man whose business was in the selling of the strange and unusual.
His name was P.T. Barnum, and he d been looking for a mermaid.
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