The Naiad's Kindness
A little girl sat on the edge of a river bank, her legs just out of the water's reach, where she was staring intently at a small school of fish. She was about to reach out and grab one of the fish in her small hand, when a naiad, watching her from between sheaves of water grass, allowed her head to emerge slowly from the water's surface.
'I would not do such a thing, were I you,' the naiad said.
The little girl was not frightened of the naiad, only wanting to explain herself.
'But I would like to study the fish,' she said.
The naiad smiled a menacing smile, showing rows of sharp, pointed teeth, before saying, 'A noble aim, perhaps. But if you take the fish from the water, it will die. It is the same for myself, and for any creature that lives below.'
The little girl's eyes went very big. 'I didn't know,' she said.
'See that you remember this, and do not come closer to the water's edge, for me and my sisters long to drown whoever approaches.'
The little girl's eyes went even larger, and she backed away from the water.
Thus the naiad went about her business, but the little girl had business of her own, for she had found something much bigger to observe. Hidden by the river bank's grasses, she sat and watched the naiad and her sisters swim about the water as often as she could, for though they were dangerous, they were fascinating.
One day a group of fishermen were setting about their daily catch, when the hand of the naiad who had spoken to the little girl found itself tangled in their nets. Immediately one of the fisherman said, 'Quick, let's capture this pretty mermaid and show her at fairs, for we could make quite a lovely profit by her.'
Without a second thought, the little girl who was watching from her hiding place, sprang up. She cast herself into the water and threw her arms around the neck of the naiad, regardless of the danger that she faced from those who would seek to drown her. 'You cannot capture her, you absolutely cannot. For if you do so, she will die.'
The fishermen laughed. 'What do we care? Her body would yield us a profit all the same!'
The little girl glared fiercely, put her little body between the naiad and the fisherman, and growled so as to frighten them away.
The fishermen were about to laugh again, when their voices caught in their throats. Their eyes went wide as though by magic, and then a horrible feeling came over them. Guilt dripped down from their minds and weighted itself about their very souls. So weighted, they turned away from the river bank, and from the naiad and the little girl. It was a deep magic, born by true power, and the little girl, as many children do, had it in abundance.
'You would have tried to save my life,' said the naiad to the little girl.
'Of course I would,' replied the girl, still hanging about the naiad's neck. 'I could not let you die.'
'Though it is in our nature to drown humans?'
The little girl smiled.
'Oh, but I knew you won't let harm come to me,' she said.
'How could you know such a thing?' the naiad asked, for by now, indeed, she would do nothing to harm the little girl, nor let any harm come to her.
'Because, though you are dangerous, you are kind. You saved the fish, you see. And now I have learned to be kind, too,' she said in answer.
The naiad smiled without menace, and kissed the little girl's cheek, grateful to unknowingly have taught kindness to one little human.