Golden-eyed and lovely, he stretches in a shallow pool near the rocky shore. Damp, dark ringlets fall across his brow. This warmth has made him lazy. Softly, he sings a sailing chanty. He has known sailors. No bird-woman or fishtail to bewitch with songs, his notes do not hang in the air. But he is not without allure. He has known sailors. Many have done worse than run their ships aground for want of him. He is waiting.

Clouds cover the moon. In this sudden darkness the boy approaches, wide-eyed and barefoot. Dreams have led him here. Half-remembered glimpses of the sunken palace have brought him to the rocky shore and the Sea-King. The boy (he has lived nearly thirty years, but all men are boys to the sea-king) stumbles blindly. The sea-king opens his hand. A single moon-pearl glows with its precious light. There is a gasp at golden eyes, shimmering skin and unruly dark hair.

"I've had dreams of water..." the boy begins.

The Sea-King shakes his head.

"And you," the boy continues.

Again, the Sea-King shakes his head, and this time the visions come. The boy is aware of all that is being offered; the sunken palace and the melancholy gardens, honor as a sea-prince, centuries long life. But he hangs his head and simply says, "I cannot."

The boy's lips are coral-pink and tender and the Sea-King longs to kiss them, but monarchs do not beg. The boy turns and walks away from the shore. He does not look back.

The Sea-King shakes his head again. This was not the one. The Sea-King is patient. He can wait.

Clouds break. The moon hangs low and luminous, shining an argent path over the black waves, towards home.