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The Seal Children

There is a place on the edge of Wales where fields and moorlands meet, where heather and gorse slop down to high cliffs. Waves crash and bite at the cliffs, and the wind lifts the spray as seals sing to the rhythm of the sea.
Stone walls mark where a village once stood.
There are no people now. All you can hear are the cries of buzzards, the chipping of stonechats, the tumbling notes of the skylarks and the distant song of the people of the sea.

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Chapter one

Long ago

one of the sea people - a Selkie - came to live in the village. Shel fell in love with the fair-faced, soft-voiced Ewan who sang as he fished. The people of the sea love music.
Surprised that such a love had come to him, Ewan welcomed the woman into his heart, all the while knowing her for the wild creature she was.
As a sign of her love, she gave him her salty sealskin to keep safe.
Chapter two

Time passed

and the sea-woman bore Ewan twins with eyes as sparking and green as the waters of her home. The girl they called Ffion, the boy roll - after the sea-woman's people.
The children helped their mother and father on land and sea. Ffion fed the chickens, collected warm speckled eggs and planted seeds in the garden. Morocco fished with his father, hauling nets and crab-pots. The smell of the sea-salt was on his skin, and the heather in his sisters hair.
In the evenings their mother sang them songs of a life beneath the sea. She told them of hills and valleys and weed-waving forests, foam palaces and shining cities of gold and pearls.
How. Or low longed to see them.
 
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Chapter three

Years passed

and the sea-woman began to change. Her hair lost its shine, her eyes dimmed and she found walking difficult. It was time for her to go back.
Ewan found her sealskin. And one night, when summer moon was full and heavy, she walked into the sea and plunged beneath the waves.
The water echoed with cries as the sea people welcomed her home.
Ewan turned and made his lonely way up to his cottage.

From that day, his nets were always full.
The sea people guided shoals of sparkling fish to his boar while Ewan played tunes on his fiddle to say thank you.
Chapter four

One spring morning

a stranger came to the village.
In exchange for bread and fish and blackberry wine, he told of his travels. And he spoke of a land far away where people owned their own land - where they profited from the fruits of their labour, instead of watching the landlords cart away the lion share.
He stayed do a while, and a dream began to form in the minds on the villagers. Now, all they could think about was how to pay their passage over the sea to the land far spa way.
So they searched their houses for farthings, pennies and silver sixpence so, for family treasures to sell, until they realised they would never have enough.
 
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Chapter five

But Fion and Morlon

remembered the stories of palaces, sea people and cities of gold and pearls.
The next full moon, they climbed down the steep path to the stony beach. Everything was still and cold.
Together they sang a song to call their mother up from her home.
As the last note echoed in the dark caves a sleek, dark head broke through the water. Their mother drew herself up out of the waves, beautiful and strong.
And as she hugged her children close, they told her why they had come, asking "Is it true? Are there riches in your world? Can you help us?"
Chapter six

Come with me

said their mother. "Come and see."
Morlo stepped forward eagerly, but Ffion drew back, unsure. The Selkie mother took her son's face gently in her hands and blew the salt breath of the sea three times into his mouth and nose. The. She led him down beneath the waves.

Fear gripped Morlo as they sank into the depths. Icy water cut through him and his lungs felt that they would burst from the shock as he gasped for breath.
Together they rose to the surface. He breathed again, and dived down with his mother - for they were two seals now. Down and down they went, to the hills, valleys and forests beneath the sea.
 
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Chapter seven

The light changed

fast as streams of water stroked Morlo's face. Seaweed swayed in the strange currents and fish swam in and out of the forests, like birds through trees. All around him his mother's people swam.
The sound of the sea rang in his Warsaw, far away he heard the deep song of the great whales.
Chapter eight

On the beach

Ffion waited, fearful and shivering.
As the moon rose higher, she saw two sleek heads rise through the foam, and the moonlight glinted on a box tossed out of the waves at her feet.
It was covered in barnacles and wrapped in golden ribbons of kelp.
Relief flooded through her as Morlo came out of the water. His eyes were full of excitement, and Ffion knew he would return to the sea with his mother. They embraced and wiped salty tears from each other's eyes. Then once again the Selkie breathed the life of the sea into her son, and they slipped into the shinning water.

Ffion climbed the steep path home, carrying the box.
 
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Chapter nine

Ffion found her father

sitting by the fire. She pressed the box into his hands. As they unwrapped the ribbons, she told him of their meeting with their mother, of Morlo's journey beneath the waves and of the joy in his eyes as he returned to the water.
They opened the box. Inside lay a heap of lustrous pearls.

The news spread quickly from cottage to cottage. The pearls paid everyone's passage, and the villagers left their homes to sail to the New World.
As they made their way down to the harbour, the village stood empty behind them. Cats wandered in and out of the echoing stone cottages; soon they, too, would be leaving in search of new homes.
Chapter ten

And as the ship

carrying Ewan, Ffion and the villagers sailed out of Fishgurad, two seals raised their heads above the water and sang their goodbyes.
 
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Chapter eleven

About the story

Selkies or sea-fairies - half-human, half-seal - appear all around the British coast, and there are many stories about the . Usually they are women, but some are men. The legend goes that if you find the skin of a Selkie, you can keep her prisoner on the land and she will become a faithful wife - but should she ever find her skin, she will return to the sea.

The village stands a mile from where I live, perched above high cliffs. Called Maes y Mynydd ('Place of the Mountain'), it was inhabited until the beginning of the First World War. It is said that the people there became Quakers and wanted to go to Pennsylvania to start a new life.But they never raised enough money to go together and drifted off elsewhere. Life there was always hard, because all the cottages were tied to farms and even small children worked in the fields.

There is a cove - now inaccessible - where the villagers kept their fishing boats. Today the houses are ruined, but if you stand in the village in Autumn, especially of a foggy day, you can hear the seals signing in the caverns below.
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