This is the true story of The Little Mermaid. Unlike the Disney version where she gets the prince, the mermaid dies of a broken heart when the Prince whose life she saved marries another. The tragedy of the ending is what made the original version so touching. A beautiful mermaid gives up her voice, her family, her life in the sea in order to be with the one she loves. The promise is the love and the soul of sacrifice. It was a love dependant on another, being the Prince, and the risks she took were considerable. When the Prince falls for the woman he thought rescued him at sea it is the end of the Little Mermaid's quest for eternity. But since she doesn't kill him and his new bride she gets what she wanted all along ... a soul ... and no longer needs the Prince to live as a spiritual being in eternity. Not only is the little mermaid free from the curse of the Sea Witch but she earns her soul on her own volition. The Prince was merely a conduit to her wish. It is more poignant this way since the little mermaid no longer needs to earn love from anyone except herself.
"Among the daughters of the air," answered one of them. "A mermaid has not an immortal soul, nor can she obtain one unless she wins the love of a human being. On the power of another hangs her eternal destiny. But the daughters of the air, although they do not possess an immortal soul, can, by their good deeds, procure one for themselves. We fly to warm countries, and cool the sultry air that destroys mankind with the pestilence. We carry the perfume of the flowers to spread health and restoration. After we have striven for three hundred years to all the good in our power, we receive an immortal soul and take part in the happiness of mankind. You, poor little mermaid, have tried with your whole heart to do as we are doing; you have suffered and endured and raised yourself to the spirit-world by your good deeds; and now, by striving for three hundred years in the same way, you may obtain an immortal soul."
The little mermaid lifted her glorified eyes towards the sun, and felt them, for the first time, filling with tears. On the ship, in which she had left the prince, there were life and noise; she saw him and his beautiful bride searching for her; sorrowfully they gazed at the pearly foam, as if they knew she had thrown herself into the waves. Unseen she kissed the forehead of her bride, and fanned the prince, and then mounted with the other children of the air to a rosy cloud that floated through the aether.
"After three hundred years, thus shall we float into the kingdom of heaven," said she. "And we may even get there sooner," whispered one of her companions. "Unseen we can enter the houses of men, where there are children, and for every day on which we find a good child, who is the joy of his parents and deserves their love, our time of probation is shortened. The child does not know, when we fly through the room, that we smile with joy at his good conduct, for we can count one year less of our three hundred years. But when we see a naughty or a wicked child, we shed tears of sorrow, and for every tear a day is added to our time of trial!"