There are things I tell people, and there are things I don’t tell. I tell people I got lost in a fog at sea. I don’t tell people that I spent those three days with a mermaid, and that she’s responsible for the fortune that keeps washing up on my shore.
The other day, I met the son I had by the mermaid. He came into the smithy and said, “Good-day, father; my mother the mermaid sends her greetings, and says that she has had me for six years now, and you can keep me for as long.’
He was a handsome lad who looked as if he were eighteen, not six. I asked him if he’d like a bite of bread, and he ate everything we had in the house.
“I’ll have to find a better place than this because I’ll never get my fill here,” he said.
I offered to make him an iron staff, but he could twist an ordinary staff around his finger. None of the ones I made were strong enough to support him. Finally, I collected all the iron in the forge and made him a staff that was heavier than an anvil.
“Many thanks, father,” he said. “Now I have got my inheritance.”
He set off, and I’ll admit I was pleased to see him go.