Thursday, 29 October 2015

Oona's Law

Oona, a water nymph longed to travel. It was not as her father thought because she had fallen in love with a man. She wanted to see peoples and lands different to her own watery home, but her father was reluctant to let her go for in order she do so she had to possess a human soul and to do that she had to take a husband. Once pledged to a mortal she could never return, and if her spouse was unfaithful she would die; treated badly otherwise she would survive and remain bound. Those were the terms.
How was he to find a man whom his daughter didn't wish to love, yet would care enough to treat her well and stay faithful? He couldn't think of such a man, a human man, and his daughter, although dutiful and kind, was no angel. She had firm opinions of her own and was apt to release these at inopportune times, particularly if she was goaded. She was a tricky one and that troubled him for if a man's needs are not met he'll look elsewhere but knew his daughter would not be prepared to give an inch. She said she would do her best to be a wife in every regard except that one; human love was stifling. He could only comply and hope she did succumb to that someone; grow to love whom he found.
In this her father was nothing but methodical, he made a list according to what he knew of man and what might be a man's employment:
  • Missionary - posted around the world helping others in the name of Christ; usually desire children and a supportive wife.
  • Government Official - confined to a jurisdiction; promotion likely; tend to be corrupt and easily bribed; prefer a stay-at-home wife.
  • Doctor - work long hours; movement within district; prefer home-makers.
  • Farm Labourer - a hard and unrewarding life; restricted to humble living on a patch of land.
  • Sailor - see the world; have a woman of every age, shape and size in every port.
  • Lieutenant - stationed all over; being caught up in war is never pleasant whichever side fought for.
  • Pirate - do they still exist? greedy; can have foul tempers; not to be trusted with loot, alcohol or women.
  • Young Boy – not yet developed into a man and not yet interested in girls.
Of these, the last was a clutching of straws and yet seemed the easiest to bring about and the one that would cause the least trouble. A young boy could be trained, he supposed, to serve and be faithful, but how long before that natural urge would not be crushed? None of those he'd listed were a guarantee and each would no doubt want something else in return once they realised what was at stake.
Was his daughter to die so soon having sacrificed her immortal life for a human soul?
If her motivation was due to love he would understand it better. But distant lands and people who spoke in foreign tongues, no that he could not understand.
Could he forestall this finding of a mate? If he tried, Oona would only take matters into her own hands and 1) that wasn't customary, and 2) she'd likely marry the first man she set her eyes on so desperate was she to see the world.
Would any mortal man be agreeable to marriage and take a vow of celibacy?
The whole impossible situation was a conundrum. 
But it so happened that as he was still trying to find a solution, a man who was a poor swimmer was lost at sea, and so indebted was he to the water spirits that saved him that upon hearing about the father's dilemma regarding Oona he unconditionally offered half his soul. And since there were no clauses that did not state that this was not allowed, the contracts were drawn up and signed: Oona became half-mortal and half-water. This proved so successful it eventually passed into common law and made other girls like Oona free to roam whenever they chose to go without having to sacrifice their life or their natural home.
Picture Credit: Undine by Arthur Rackham