At one time time there lived in the city of Keris a poor fisherman and his wife. They had only the one child, a boy they called Mathey, and when he was a baby they doted on him exceedingly. His father built him a cradle and carved it all over with fish and sea-birds and all manner of sea-creatures; his mother sang him to sleep every night with old songs of love and loss and distant lands. And Mathey, rocked safely in his cradle, was as sweet and good as a baby may be.
Only, as he grew older, he would not work as other boys worked, nor could he be relied upon to do any task. Sent to buy bread, he would wander the streets for hours. Set to mend nets, he would stare up at the sky unmoving. Even in church on Sundays he would not remain quiet but would pester his parents with foolish questions. At last his parents despaired of him and his father threatened to turn him out on the street to beg.
“Why should we keep you,” his father asked “when you do nothing but sit in alleyways with the stray dogs as though you were a beggar already? At least a beggar may get a few copper coins in charity; what have you to show at all for your time?”
Mathey sighed and bowed his head. “Dear father, I am sorry if I have disappointed you, but I have not been idle, and I have something to show for my time: I have been observing the dogs of the city and already I understand their language as well as our own. Time spent in study is never wasted.”
“What does it profit a fisherman’s son to talk to dogs?” asked his father. “Put your mind to some proper work or leave with a father’s curse.”
But Mathey did not improve. True, he no longer roamed the city streets, but instead he took to wandering the beaches and cliff paths, watching the flight of the birds: the kitty-wakes and curlews, the shear-waters and terns, the gannets and fulmars and shags. Even at times he would spot an elusive boobrie in the heather just off the path, or a water-leaper skimming over the waves far out to sea. But try as he might, he could not follow the language of the birds.
The speech of the dogs he had learnt unaided, by natural talent, but now, at a loss, he turned and sought everywhere for some instruction that might aid him: high and low he searched, within the city and without, by day and by night, but to no avail. Whether in the pleasant, broad streets of the rich merchants or in the cramped and dirty lanes of the poor, whether along the deserted cliffs or in the busy fishing harbour, there was nothing to find. At last he cast his eyes still further away, away from the city and the land and the harbour and out across the sea itself: out there, on the rocky shoals where only the most desperate fishermen now ventured, was the wreck of some great merchant ship, come from a far-off land, through uncounted storms and dangers, only to beach itself at last by lonely Keris.
Surely, he thought, I might find there what I am seeking, for certainly I have searched everywhere else already. So he took the smallest and most battered currach of the fishing fleet, that the loss might be least if it and he were dashed against the rocks, and set out for the battered wreck. Little remained of it save its wooden spars, like ribs of some great whale, lashed by the salt waves, and here and there among the rocks pieces of broken pottery, little mirror shards, and lengths of fine silk, now rotting in the brine: the poor remnants of its once rich cargo. The rocks were slippery beneath his feet and the wind was rising, driving the waves ever higher, but Mathey would not give up his search, collecting up the pottery and the shards and the silk, now as slimy and tattered as seaweed, but at last the weather grew so poor he knew he must leave if he ever wished to set foot again upon shore: then, and only then, he saw a small bell caught on a splintering wooden beam almost beyond his reach.
The Founding of the City, from The Annals of the City of Keris
And it came to pass in that time that there was a man named Torlow, whose wife had died, leaving him with three sons. When the period of mourning was over he took to his hearth the bonniest young woman ever seen in those parts, and he cherished her in his heart. Hardly had he been new married the passage of a single moon when he and his bride went walking along the shore; stopping to tie up his shoe, he neither saw nor heard the stealthy approach of danger, nor realized the peril until too late. Only at her sudden cry did he behold his wife seized by a fierce and griesly figure come out of the sea. Out of his reach and into the sea the monster dragged the woman, and out of his sight beneath the waves she went, nor was she ever again seen by human eyes.
At this Torlow was filled with wrath, and swore by his own head, and by the lives of his three sons, and by every generation that would come after them, that he would have vengeance on the monster and all its people. Laying by the farming that had been his livelihood, he studied by day and by night how his enemies might be destroyed: chiefly he sought the true name of the finfolk, for by uttering that name aloud on land they might all be robbed of life and sent as a gift to death; but the true name of the merpeople was known only to them and could not be found. Therefore, it is said, he contented himself with some lesser revenge, and offering himself as pupil to a witch who lived in the hills he learnt from her a charm to render the creatures of the sea harmless so long as they were in his sight, or the sight of his three sons.
All things being made ready, he set out at full moon in a little fishing boat with his three sons, and a meal-chest of salt for himself, and three baskets of salt for them, and all the salt had been blessed in church. As he sailed out the moon grew dark and the seas grew high; the wind rose and howled about him: only the charm of the witch of the hills kept him safe from harm, and ever before him the sea lay calm and still beneath his gaze, and ever about him and behind the sea and the wind fell still at a glance from his sons.
In this manner they sailed an unknown time, until the came right over Finfolkaheem, the land of the merpeople. This place they recognised from the unhallowed blue glow of the sea, where the halls and caverns below were kept ever-lit with phosphorescence. Crying out in a great voice, Torlow commanded that the water part and the land rise and Finfolkaheem be revealed. This coming to pass, he and his sons set foot where no human before them had trod, and laid eyes on the unseen land beneath the waves.
All about them came clustering the people of the sea: the fair finwives with their white shoulders and sweet-voiced songs: the tall, well-muscled finmen with their sharp teeth and grasping claws; the little children of the sea in their mothers’ arms. Yet the witch’s spell held strong and no slashing claw could tear or rip their human flesh, no music pierce their mortal ears, no pity touch their hearts. Well prepared the men had come, safe from harm and well supplied with weapons: all about them they threw the hallowed salt and all about the merfolk screamed and burned; all about the land grew hard and dry and dead. Everything unearthly the salt consumed, clinging and sticking to all unseely till it was burned away. With cries of lamentation the finfolk fled, their flesh branded deep by the sticky salt, and the land that had been theirs was scoured clean away of their presence and their arts.
Since that day the salted land has stood above the sea, and Torlow and his sons took it for themselves and upon it they founded the city they called Ker-Ys, which is in the old tongue City of Ys, and they and their descendants ruled there for many generations.
The little bell Mathey had found was small and plain, with no carving or decoration to show its worth, but every time he rang it it chimed with a different sound, never quite repeating itself, and as he sat listening to its ever-changing melody, straining to hear the subtle differences in its tone from ring to ring, gradually his understanding and his perception grew more acute, and the senseless twittering and crying of the birds, that had once seemed mere noise, took sense and shape and formed the words of a language as clear and well-understood as his native tongue.
But all did not go well with Mathey, for his parents could find no further hope in their hearts for such a hopeless son and his mother threatened to turn him from their door to wander as a tramp.
“Why should we keep you,” his mother asked “when you do nothing but wander through the fields and along the cliffs? At least a tramp may get a bed in some outhouse for the sake of charity; what have you to show at all for your time?”
Mathey let fall a tear and knelt at his mother’s hand. “Dear mother, I am sorry if I have disappointed you, but I have not been idle, and I have something to show for my time: I have sought out the language of the birds and already I understand it as well as our own. Time spent in study is never wasted.”
“What does it profit a fisherman’s son to talk to the birds?” asked his mother. “Put your mind to some proper work or I shall cast you out with a mother’s curse.”
But Mathey still did not improve. True, he no longer wandered along the cliffs nor did he stare constantly at the sky, but he would sit by the shore all day and watch the waves, doing no profitable work. He remembered the carvings on his boyhood cradle, and he remembered the silver fish his father caught, and in his heart he longed to learn the language of the fishes of the sea. But who was there who could teach him such a thing, when all knew that fish were mute?
Mathey asked the dogs in the street, and the birds in the sky, but neither on land nor in the air could an answer be found. At length he decided to tax the spirits of the dead and on the night of no moon he set out to the place of the Offering to the Sea, considering she was the ghost most likely to have the knowledge he sought.
The Marriage Treaty, from The Annals of the City of Keris
Keris was still in those days a poor city, for little would grow on such salty land, and the sea was treacherous to both fishermen and traders. It happened one day that the great-grandson of Torlow, who at that time ruled Keris as had his father, and grandfather, and great-grandfather, back to the time of Torlow, walked beside the sea and debated with himself what best to do for his people, since there seemed to be no gain for them anywhere. There on the beach he met a man, tall and strong and fair to look upon, though his teeth were sharp and his fingers clawed.
“Greetings, stranger,” said the heir of Torlow, “how come you here and what do you seek?”
“I come from a neighbouring land, out over the waves” said the stranger, “and I am seeking a bride befitting my station: for her I will pay a fitting price.”
The heir of Torlow considered the poverty of his country, and the fine dress of the man, and his handsome mien (saving only his teeth) and said politely “I am sure there will be many fathers here who will consider your offer favourably.”
“Indeed it is so,” said the stranger, “but there is one man only to whom it shall be made, and that is yourself, for I will have no other bride but your beautiful daughter.”
At this the great-grandson of Torlow was taken aback, for his daughter was new-born and it seemed to him over-soon to be considering a husband for her. The stranger, however, was not to be put off, and said he would be content to wait until she reached the age of eighteen, had he only her father’s solemn vow that she would be given to him then. Moreover he promised for the bride-price that the seas should calm at times for the fishermen, and that foreign trade might sail to Keris safe from storms, and that the rocky reefs should be parted to make a way for ships.
At this the father gave consent, and vowed his daughter to the stranger on the day of her eighteenth birthday; for his part, in earnest of his future intentions, the stranger called up from the sea a golden crown, a silver staff wrought round in curves like to a narwhal tusk, and red silk robes embroidered over with pearls as tiny and numerous as the stars above, which things he gave over immediately, and afterwards they were part of the treasures of the Dukes of Keris.
The Offering to the Sea, from The Annals of the City of Keris
The daughter betrothed to the stranger from the sea grew up, growing each day in beauty and charm and wit, and she was well loved by all the people, and by her parents especially. As the day of her eighteenth birthday approached, the finest weavers wove cloth and the finest seamstresses sowed up her bridal gown, and a small boat was made ready for her, embellished beautifully and trimly built, and the people all rejoiced that soon their poverty would be at an end, praising her as their saviour from the storms and the cruel sea.
Her father called her to his side and spoke of her duty to the people of Keris, and the prosperity her marriage would bring. Her mother called her to her side and spoke of the wealth and looks of the stranger, and how she would reign in the sea at his side. All spoke with joy of the coming marriage, everyone she knew and those she only passed in the street, saving only her nurse and her priest, for the nurse was full of old tales of monsters who would tear her flesh to shreds, devouring her alive, and the priest had tales of devils who would destroy her soul - and he was keen to tell them, for she was to be sent off to be married in the stranger’s land, where he feared she would find no church. The girl considered all these things, and made her own preparations.
On the day of her wedding, her parents were loath to let her go, not knowing when they might see her again, and only at evening was she escorted down to the shore, and set afloat for the stranger to find. The little boat floated here and floated there until at last it settled in the small bay where her father had first betrothed her, and there the stranger appeared again from the sea to claim her hand. His face and form were all unchanged, untouched by the passage of years. He was still as tall and strong and fair to look upon, and all things the girl could have desired in her husband, excepting only his sharp teeth, which were as sharp as razors, as sharp as sharks’ teeth, and his clawed fingers, made to grasp and rend. His smile was kind withal, and his eyes were gentle and mild, but the girl thought on her nurse and the priest, though chiefly on the nurse, and she was full of terror, thinking she was to be torn to pieces, ripped open and half-devoured while she yet lived, and she could conceive of no worse fate.
Therefore she addressed the stranger, saying that she was hereby given to him, to do with as he pleased, and asking whether he accepted her and would pay the bride-price; he confirming this and approaching her, she then took up a little dagger that she had hidden within her robes and stabbed herself, that she might die whole and unharmed, without knowing further fear or any pain.
Thereafter the seas were sometimes calm for the fishermen, and foreign ships sailed always into harbour free from storm or gale, and the rocky shoals that hedged the harbour mouth sank quite away, but the enmity between the people of Keris and the people of the sea waxed ever greater. Also, in that one small bay alone, the seaweed grew forever red, having been stained by her blood.
The place where the girl had died by her own hand was now a bare and rocky cove, washed clean long since of any trace of her except the red seaweed twisting gently in the little waves that lapped the shore. But even in the dark the little curved seashells that littered the beach seemed to glow with a golden colour, and when Mathey put one to his ear, he could hear the soft sussuration of the sea on a calm summer’s day, and the roar of the winter gale, and beyond and behind that, the inhuman murmuring song of the little fishes that dance through the water, now silver, now gone, and the great isonades in the dark depths, and the endless shoals of herring on which the fishermen depend.
But all did not go well with Mathey, for his parents’ patience was finally at an end, and although they could not bring themselves to curse him, when he returned home he found the door barred against him and no welcome there ever again. But still he would not mend his ways, and instead of working he turned his heart to learning music: to sing or play so sweetly as to soften any heart, to show such skill as to arouse any passion or to recreate the most piercing of griefs. Everywhere he sought the secret of such song, among the dogs and the birds and the fish, and among all the people of the city, and everywhere he asked he had the same response, that there was no finer music than the music of the merpeople.
He sought out the most holy priest and begged to know how he might call up some merman or mermaid, and with what offering he could convince it to teach him, but the priest told him commerce with the merpeople was accursed and forbad him to think of such things. He sought out the richest of the merchants, who must surely have heard much in the market place and from traders, but the merchant said he had no interest in that which did not profit him, and he ordered Mathey to bother him no more. He sought out the most respected of teachers, but the teacher said he studied only that which it was proper to know, and would not help him. At last he sought within himself, and remembering an old scrap of legend, he went down to the seashore and, pricking himself with a needle, let fall into the water three drops of his blood.
The Youth of Tel, Duke of Keris, from The Annals of the City of Keris
At that time the duke who ruled the city, who was of the line of Torlow, had only one legitimate son, whose name was Tel, upon whom fell all his father’s hopes. The young man loved to wander the cliff-edge or walk along the beaches, and although he was often warned to have nothing to do with the sea he would not listen.
One day as he was out walking he saw a beautiful young woman, the most beautiful he had ever seen, swimming naked in the sea. She called to him to come and swim with her that day, but he had spied her silver tail and would not come down to the waterside.
“Young man,” she called, “surely you must be the duke’s own son, you are dressed so braw. Only come and swim with me, and I will give you for your own a chariot beyond the dreams of men: all gold it is, gold as the sun, and drawn by the horses of the sea, that will go as well on land as through the waves.”
But Tel turned away from the salt-sea strand and spurned the creature of the sea.
The next day he walked out again, and saw a beautiful woman, as beautiful as could ever be seen, swimming naked in the sea. She called out to him to come and sport with her that day, but he had spied her silver tail and would not come down to the waterside.
“Young man,” she called, “surely you must be the duke’s own son, you stand so tall and fair. Only come and sport with me, and I will give you for your own the very best of the horses of the sea: all white it is, as white as the moon, and fair as moonlight, and it will go as well on the land as through the sea.”
But Tel turned away from the salt-sea strand and spurned again the creature of the sea.
The third day he delayed and doubted what to do, but at last come evening he gathered his courage and walked out again. Again he saw a beautiful woman, more beautiful than which could not be found, swimming naked in the sea. She called out to him to come and sleep with her that night, but he had spied her silver tail and would not come down to the waterside.
“Young man,” she called, “surely you must be the duke’s own son, that you think yourself too good for me. Only come and spend this night with me, and I will give you for your own riches from out the sea: gold and silver and pearls I have, as uncounted as the stars that fill the sky, and this will all be yours.”
But Tel turned away from the salt-sea strand and spurned at last the creature of the sea.
“Young man,” she cried after him, “be you the son of the duke or the son of a farmer; be you strong, and fair, and finely dressed; be you handsome as the waves that lap the land: if you turn your back to me madness and death shall be your lot.”
But Tel remembered well the stories he had heard in church, and at his mother’s knee, and from the learned tutors chosen by his father, and he thought upon her fishy tail, and he thought upon the dark and treacherous sea, and he would not go with her to swim or sport or play. And it is said that from that day forth his wits began to stray until they deserted him quite, and he was utterly mad until the day he died.
The Fisherman’s Daughter, from The Annals of the City of Keris
There was a fisherman who went out upon the sea in every weather, for he had a wife and children to support. He was a young man, fair of face and strong from hauling the nets, and many young women had looked at him with longing. One day when he was far out to sea a storm arose, and his little boat was destroyed utterly, casting him forth to drown, and it would have gone badly with him, if he had not caught the attention of a mermaid, who fain would have him for her own. So she came to him, there in the storm, and stripped from him his sodden clothes, and took him down to live with her in the depth of the sea.
For several years they lived together as man and wife, loving and good to one another, and she bore him children, and the children began to grow up. It came to pass that one day she was absent on some matter of her own, and the children with playing together under the watchful eye of the fisherman, when one of them chanced to find a scrap of clothing, carried hence by the current. It was much torn, and rotted half away, but the fisherman recognised it at once as his own. Eagerly he seized it and began to swim away, back to the shore, the means to break the mermaid’s spell in his hands, but then he doubted, and turned back, and gazed upon his children, unsure of what to do. At last he caught up the youngest, dear to his heart, and together they returned to the land.
Coming back to their home, the mermaid found him gone, and hearing from her remaining children the tale of his departure, hurried after him to where he had gone ashore. Waiting there she at last laid eyes upon him again, and begged him to come back to her, but he would not do so.
“Farewell,” he said, “wife of the waves, farewell to you. I liked you well enough for you were good to me, but I love better my wife on the land.”
And so he remained on land, and found a new trade that would not take him on the sea, and his youngest daughter grew up with her half-sisters until she was a woman, and all who looked upon her agreed that no fairer woman had been seen in Keris. Only, whatsoever she wore, the hem of her robes was always wet.
The Marriage of Tel, Duke of Keris, from The Annals of the City of Keris
His father having died, Tel became duke, notwithstanding his madness, and his councillors looked about them for a bride, that he might have in turn an heir, but no bride could be found, for though he was fair to look upon, he was utterly mad. At last they thought themselves of the fisherman’s daughter, who was the most beautiful woman in Keris, but whose father was poor and who had no mother of her own. Approaching her, they begged her to agree to marry the duke and this she consented to do.
In time she bore a son to Tel, a good and pretty babe that brought pleasure to her heart, and to the councillors, who could discern no trace of Tel’s madness in the little child. Only, at times, when there was a storm at sea, or when there was a night of unnatural calm, there would come faintly on the wind the sound of singing from the sea, and this disturbed the baby and made it fret and cry for hours.
The fisherman’s daughter was much concerned, and feared that the song would steal away her baby’s wits, as those of its father had been stolen. So she set sentries every night along the coast to spy out and see from whence the singing came, and what manner of creature was the cause.
These sentries reported back to her that a mermaid would come and sit upon a large stone in the bay, combing out her long hair in the moonlight, singing softly to herself the meantime. At this, the fisherman’s daughter gave orders that sailors should go out and smash the stone in the bay until only the littlest pieces remained, that the mermaid might come no more to trouble her baby.
This being done, and the destruction discovered by the mermaid, she arose up out of the sea to her waist and cried out against the fisherman’s daughter:
“You may think on your cradle; I think on my stone.”
And with her song she cursed the child within the cradle, and the mother who rocked it, and the line from which it came, so that the babe grew sick and died, and the fisherman’s daughter became barren, and in time the fisherman’s daughter took herself down to the white sea-strand, dressed in her finest clothes, and drowned herself in the sea.
Such was the end of the line of Torlow. And it is said also that the remains of the rock turned in time into a dangerous reef, upon which many ships were lost.
As the blood dispersed into the salt sea, so the sea form began to form and thicken, and then there rose up out of the water so far as their waists three mermaids, sisters all: the eldest was Liban, meaning Beauty of Women, who was as fair as the sun on the water; the midmost was Phand, meaning Pearl of Beauty, who was as fair as the moon in the sky; and the youngest was Cliona, meaning Shapely, who was as fair as the stars by which a sailor steers for home. Liban sang of joy, and all laughter seemed to live in her voice; sweeter still sang Phand of sorrow, and her voice was soft as tears; but to Mathey Cliona sang the sweetest song of all and it was to her he made his wish.
“Fair lady,” he said “I would know you, and your people, and your ways; also I would have of you the gift of music.”
Now Mathey had grown to be a handsome young man, and Cliona was well pleased by what she saw; also she was pleased that although she could see the third wish he would have made in his eyes, he had refrained from speaking it, and not bound her to him against her will, for she must grant to any man who summoned her correctly whatever three things he should ask of her. And so she granted the third wish also, that he had not asked, and fell in love with him, there on the beach between sea and land.
So for a time things began to go well with Mathey: taking from him clothes and his shoes and his cloak, Cliona wove a song about him to let him swim with her beneath the waves and he went with her and learned to know her, and her people, and their ways. But time passed and the ocean began to grow familiar to him, its secrets revealed and its mysteries known; gradually he began to long again for home, and the land beneath his feet, and the sky overhead.
Seeing that he grew sad, and ever more weary of her underwater world, but that for love he was not prepared to leave her, Cliona begged him to consider that, as he had given up all he possessed to follow her, in justice she should in turn follow him, and live on land as he had done in the sea. So she wove a new song that let her walk with him upon the land as he had swum with her in the sea, and to support her he took up at last his father’s trade and lived quietly as a fisherman with his wife, and they were both content.
But sometimes, in the darkness of the night, or when the sea was stained with sunset, or just as the golden dawn struck the waves, Cliona would hear her sisters singing far-off in the sea, and she would come down to the shore to listen and remember. Sometimes she would sit on the shore at sunset, waiting to hear as Phand sang up the moon, and sometimes she would sit on the shore at dawn, waiting to hear as Liban sang up the sun. Sometimes when she couldn’t sleep, she would curl up on the shore and remember how she once sang down the stars, until the comfort of that memory lulled her to sleep.
Yet time and tide are treacherous alike, and both bear all away before them. One night as Cliona lay upon the beach, and slept away the hours between the two songs of her sisters, the sea gathered itself up into raging storm: the gulls disturbed from their rest wheeled screaming in the air; the dogs within the city gates howled; the wind and the waves roared against the rocky coastline; but Cliona, wrapped in memories of home, slept sound. Wrapped, too, in the spell she had sung, she slept in human form, and in human form she was taken by the storm, dragged down beneath the salt waves and thrown back, drowned and dead, upon the strand.
There, in the light of morning, Mathey found her, and in his grief he would have cursed the sea, but he had no words left save the sorrow in his heart. At last his tears lessened, and he desired at least to bury her fittingly and raise to her some memorial, that she should not be forgotten utterly. But the people of Keris were afraid of the creatures of the sea, and the church condemned them, so that none would consent to her burial, though he begged them all for the sake of charity: he begged first his fellow citizens, and then the magistrates, and last of all the priests of the church, and one by one they all turned him away.
The high priest of Keris was a man known to be hard of heart, and he considered the merpeople accursed: he decreed that the body of Cliona should be thrown into a ditch outside the walls, and her name never spoken again, nor would he allow Mathey into his presence to plead in person. But Mathey spoke at last to the priest’s little lap-dog, begging it to help, and the little lap-dog barked and barked until the priest gave way, and agreed he would speak with Mathey.
Coming into the high priest’s presence, Mathey bowed his head and began to sing. He sang of joy and happiness, and of the laughter he had shared with Cliona, and the old priest’s heart was moved with memories of his own parents, and the love they had borne one another. For the sake of Mathey’s first song, he consented to bury the mermaid by the shore, and to permit her name to be remembered in church. No more than this would he permit, however, and when Mathey was not content the priest turned away his face, calling upon his servants and his guards to force Mathey from his door.
Still Mathey desired to raise her some memorial, and so he spoke to the birds of the air, and everywhere the high priest went they followed him, wheeling and diving about him, calling out in shriek and chirp and twitter, until he at last gave way and agreed to speak again with Mathey.
Coming into his presence, Mathey bowed his head and began to sing. He sang of loss and sorrow, and his grief at Cliona’s death, and the old priest’s heart with moved with memories of his parents and his brother, all long since dead. For the sake of Mathey’s second song, he consented to raise a memorial to the mermaid by the shore, and to have carved upon it her name. But no more than this would he permit, and when Mathey was not content he turned away his face, and barred his door against him.
Still Mathey desired to have the priest’s blessing on Cliona, and all her kind, and so he spoke to the fishes of the sea, and everywhere the fishermen went, they found their nets empty and barren of fish, and there was no food to be had for them until the priest, not wishing his flock to starve, gave way and agreed to speak again with Mathey.
Coming into his presence, Mathey bowed his head and began to sing, and the song that he sung passes the description of men, and its like was never heard on earth, before or since: the old priest wept and embraced Mathey, and went with him down to the shore, to bless Cliona, and the sea, and all of her people. Mathey there composed the blessing, in the language of men, and of beasts, and of birds, and of fish, and the musical language of the the merpeople themselves, and he and the old priest recited it together.
And thus was Torlow’s long revenge at last complete, and the true name of the finfolk spoken on land. But it is said that in later times the city of Ys began to sink slowly back into the sea, so that its inhabitants were put to building walls and dykes for their protection, until it chanced that the daughter of the king of Kerne unlocked the sea-gate, and drowned Ys was lost again to human sight. And some say she was led to do this by her lover, and that he was a devil, or some other unhallowed creature from out the sea.