It grew dark and all was still on board; only the steersman stood there at the helm. The little mermaid leaned her white arms on the railing and looked towards the east for the rosy dawn; the first sunbeam, she knew well, must kill her. Then she saw her sisters rise up from the sea, and they were as pale as she. Their long fair hair streamed no longer in the breeze; it had all been cut off.
"We have given it to the witch to secure help that you may not die tonight! She has given us this knif
e; look how sharp it is! Before the sun rises you must plunge it into the Prince's heart, and then, when his warm blood sprinkles your feet, they will again close up into a fish's tail, and you will be once more a mermaid, and may sink
through the water to us, and live your three hundred years before you become dead, salt sea-foam; Hasten then! Either he or you must die before sunrise. Our old grandmother has sorrowed so that her hair has fallen off,
as ours has fallen off beneath the witch's shears. Kill the Prince and come back to us! Hasten! Do you not see the red streaks yonder in the sky? A few more minutes and the sun will rise and you must
die." And they heaved a deep sigh and sank beneath the waves.
The little mermaid drew aside the purple curtains from the tent, and saw the beautiful bride asleep with her head on the Prince's breas
船上一切活动都安静下来了，只有舵手站在舵旁。 小美人鱼把她白晰的手臂按在船舷上，向东方凝视，等待破晓的那一刻。她知道，第一道阳光会让她灭亡。 突然她看到姊姊们从海浪中涌现出来，她们的脸色像她的那样苍白。 她们美丽的长发已经不在风中飘扬了，因为它们已经被剪掉了。
「我们已经把头发付给了那个巫婆，希望她能帮助你，让你不至于灭亡。 她交给我们一把刀子。拿去吧！你看，它是多么锐利！ 在太阳还没有出来之前，你得把它刺进王子的胸口。当他的热血流到你的脚上时，你的双脚又将会合并在一起，变成一条鱼尾巴，如此一来，你就可以变回人鱼的原形，回到我们生活的海里来。这样，在你没有变成无生命的海水泡沫以前，你仍旧可以享受你三百年的岁月。快动手！ 在太阳没有出来以前，不是他死，就是你死了！ 我们的老祖母悲恸得连白发都掉光了，就好象我们的头发在巫婆的剪刀下掉落一样。 刺死那个王子，赶快回来吧！ 快动手呀！你没有看到天空的红光吗？ 再过几分钟太阳就出来了，到时候你就会灭亡了！」 她们发出一个奇特的、深沉的叹息声，然后便沉入浪涛里去了。