So she got to love mankind more and more, and to long more and more to be among them. Their world seemed so much grander than her own; why, they could fly across the sea in ships, ascend the lofty mountains high above the clouds, and the lands they called their own extended with their woods and meadows farther than her eye could r
There was much she would have liked to know, but her sisters were not able to answer her questions. She therefore asked her old grandmother, who knew all about the upper world, which she very
correctly called the lands above the sea.
"If men do not get drowned," asked the little mermaid, "can they live forever? Don't they die as we do down here in the sea?"
"Yes," said the old dame, "they also must die; and indeed their life is shorter than ours. We can live and be three hundred years old, but when at last we cease to be, we become mere foam upon the water, and are not even buried am
ong our dear ones. We have not immortal souls; we never enter upon a new life; We are like the green rushes, if once they be cut down, they cannot grow again. Men, on the other hand, have souls which always live even
after the body has been buried in the earth; they rise up through the clear air, to the shining stars. Just as we rise out of the sea up to the lands of men, so their souls mount to beautiful unknown regions of which we shall never catc
h a glimpse."
"Why have we not an immortal soul?" asked the little mermaid sorrowfully.
「是的，」老太太说：「他们也会死去，而且他们的生命甚至比我们的还要短暂呢！ 我们可以活到三百岁，不过当我们的生命结束时，会变成海上的泡沫，甚至连一座坟墓也不会留给我们心爱的人。 因为我们没有一个不灭的灵魂，所以始终无法获得死后的永生。我们就像那绿色的海草一样，只要断了，就再也绿不起来了！ 相反的，人类有一个灵魂，它永远地活着，即使身体化作尘土，它还是活着的。它升向晴朗的天空，直到升向那闪烁的星星！ 就好象我们浮到海面，看到人类的世界一样，他们升向那些神秘的、美丽的以及我们永远看不见的地方。」