We merely know chicmermaids by hearsay. We have only seen them in a mirror.
They are for us, some kind of fifth dimension.
They are unpredictables but, in reality, disarmingly simples. They are profoundly lazies but work furiously and rapidly. Their laughter and tears collide; on a job of work they are fun, soaring from despair to heavenly delight. They are generous and mean, for there are occasions when they would rather give away half their possessions than the handkerchief in their hand-bag.
Intensely humans, they both despise and love human beings: those whom they dislike find themselves looked right through as if they were transparent.
Sorrow and loss they readily accept, but they do not know how to deal with happiness.
Their lives have been a mean to something else, an everlasting question-mark. Truly mystic, they believe in IT, but not yet found out what IT is.
They are now of concrete age, but in reality have never grown up. Believing tremendously in friendship, they expect too much of their friends: sheer disappointment in their capacity to respond have often made their enemies. Flattery and small talk bore them, and they have never understood how anybody can consider life an achievement in itself.
If they are charming they can also be the most hateful people in the world. They are aware of this but cannot help it.
People believe that they are good business women and not, perhaps, very tender in love. In fact, they are very poor business women, continually taken in, exploited, and few people have been so deeply hurt in their feelings or so cruelly wounded in their pride.
We have seen them in the mirror.
Then again there is a famous painting by Picasso. Their friends (oh yes, they have many!) say that this picture is a portrait of them.
There is a cage. Below it are some playing-cards on a green carpet. Inside the cage a poor, half-smothered white dove looks dejectedly a brilliantly polished pink apple; outside the cage an angry black bird with flapping wings challenges the sky.
They would not part with this painting for a fortune ever if they were, through their supreme indifference to material values, reduced one day, as their mothers predicted, to a crust of bread and some straw to sleep on in an empty room. The room would not be empty. The Picasso would be hanging on the wall!
But let us hope that their mother’s prediction will not come true. And if it does, they will know in spite of success, glamour, and despair, the only escape is in oneself, and nobody can take that away, it is stronger than jealousy, hardship, or oppression.