|Undine Lost in the Danube, by Arthur Rackham|
This tale of "The Sea-Woman of Haarlem"--a curious fifteenth-century legend vaguely reminiscent of the famed "Green Children of Woolpit"--comes from Francis Henry Stauffer's "The Queer, the Quaint, the Quizzical" (1882.)
In the “History of the Netherlands” there is the following strange account of the Sea-woman of Haarlem :—
“At that time there was a great tempest at sea, with exceeding high tides, the which did drowne many villages in Friseland and Holland ; by which tempest there came a seawoman swimming in the Zuyderzee betwixt the towns of Campen and Edam, the which passing by the Purmerie, entered into the straight of a broken dyke in the Purmermer, where she remained a long time, and could not find the hole by which she entered, for that the breach had been stopped after that the tempest had ceased. Some country women and their servants who did dayly pass the Pourmery to milk their kine in the next pastures, did often see this woman swimming on the water, whereof at first they were much afraid; but in the end, being accustomed to see it very often, they viewed it neerer, and at last they resolved to take it if they could. Having discovered it, they rowed towards it, and drew it out of the Water by force, carrying it into the town of Edam.
“When she had been well washed and cleansed from the sea-moss which was grown about her, she was like unto another woman. She was appareled, and began to accustome herself to ordinary meats like unto any other, yet she sought still means to escape and to get into the water, but she was straightly guarded. They came from farre to see her. Those of Haarlem made great sute to them of Edam to have this woman, by reason of the strangenesse thereof. In the end they obtained her, where she did learn to spin, and lived many years (some say fifteen), and for the reverance which she bore unto the signe of the crosse whereunto she had been accustomed, she was buried in the church-yarde. Many persons worthy of credit have justified in their writings that they had seene her in the said towne of Haarlem."