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The Legend

The Mermaid

Marine mud and grapefruit soap


According to local Rivière-Éternité legend, some summer evenings, mermaid song can be heard in Saguenay Fjord. As they swim in its cold waters, their voices are said to rise above the fog in unison and echo off the cliffs, in what sailors take to be a lover’s lament. During the winter months, they hide on the banks among the seal colonies, covering themselves in marine clay for both camouflage and its property as a mineral-rich beauty treatment.

One day, a sailor who regularly plied the waters from Mexico through the Great Lakes to the arid lands of Hudson Bay followed their entrancing song. It led him to the mermaid queen. Dazzled by this supernatural being, to please her, he offered her what he had at hand, fresh grapefruit. She accepted them and smoothed her long hair braided with gold thread with the acidic, fragrant fruit.

Completely hypnotized by her beauty, an irresistible urge to touch her overcame him. To thank him for the grapefruit nectar, the queen of the mermaids agreed to give him a kiss. When their lips touched, he lost all reason. He had an uncontrollable desire to have a lock of her hair, as proof of his conquest. Immediately sensing his malicious intent, the mermaid queen exploded in a rage that shook the entire fjord. The waves are said to have been taller than the cliffs. The sailor’s boat was unable to resist and sank.

Many years later, the sailor’s skeleton was found by divers. He was still clutching the scissors.

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