She was an unusual child, silent and thoughtful, and while her sisters delighted to adorn their garden
s with all the strangest things they could get from wrecked vessels, all that she would have, besides the rosy-red flowers which resembled the sun, was a pretty statue of a handsome boy, hewn out of pure white marble, which had sunk to the bottom of the
sea during a shipwreck. She planted by this statue a rosy-red weepingwillow; it grew splendidly and its fresh branches hung over the statue, nearly down to the sandy bottom where the shadows took a violet hue and moved to and fro like t
he branches. It seemed as if the top of the tree were at play with its roots, each trying to snatch kisses.
Her greatest joy was to hear about the world of mankind above. She made her
old grandmother tell her all she knew about ships and towns, people and animals. What struck her as specially wonderful was that the flowers which grew upon the earth should give forth fragrance, which they did not do at the bottom of t
he sea; and that the woods were green and that the fishes among the branches could sing so loudly and beautifully that it was a joy to listen to them. It was the little birds that her grandmother called fishes; her listeners would not ot
herwise have understood her, for they had never seen birds.
"When you have reached your fifteenth year," said the grandmother, "you shall have leave to rise up out of the sea and sit in the moonshine on the rocks and
see the big ships sail by; woods and cities you shall also see."
她是一个奇怪的孩子，沉默寡言，总是静静地沉思着什么；当其它的姊姊们从遇难船里获得稀奇古怪的东西来缀饰她们的小园地时，她除了栽种像太阳一样火红的花儿以外，却只想拥有一个美丽的大理石像，而这尊石像代表一个英俊的男子。它是用一块洁白的石头雕塑出来的，随一艘遇难的船只一同沉到海底去。 她在这座石像旁边，种了一棵像玫瑰花那样红的柳树，这棵树长得非常茂盛，它新绿的柳条拂向这座石像，一直垂到海底，它的倒影中带有一种紫蓝色的色调。树影一直摇曳着如同是它的枝条一样。 而树根和树梢看起来好象趁机做亲吻的游戏。
她最愉快的事情是听有关于陆地上人类世界的故事。 老祖母把她所知道的有关船只、城市、人类和动物的知识一一说给她听。 特别使她感到兴奋的一件事情是──地上的花儿可散发出馨香，而海底的花儿却不能；地上的森林是绿色的，而且人们听到在枝丫间「游来游去的鱼儿」唱得那么宛转悦耳就感到快乐。 老祖母所说的「鱼儿」其实就是小鸟。但是她若不这样说，小公主就听不懂她的故事了，因为她从没见过任何一只小鸟。