The Sea Fairies
7. The Aristocratic Codfish
The three swam slowly along, quite enjoying the cool depths of the water. Every little
while they met with some strange creature--or one that seemed strange to the earth
people--for although Trot and Cap'n Bill had seen many kinds of fish, after they had been
caught and pulled from the water, that was very different from meeting them in their own
element, "face to face," as Trot expressed it. Now that the various fishes were swimming
around free and unafraid in their deep-sea home, they were quite different from the
gasping, excited creatures struggling at the end of a fishline or flopping from a net.
Before long they came upon a group of large fishes lying lazily near the bottom of the
sea. They were a dark color upon their backs and silver underneath, but not especially
pretty to look at. The fishes made no effort to get out of Merla's way and remained
motionless except for the gentle motion of their fins and gills.
"Here," said the mermaid, pausing, "is the most aristocratic family of fish in all the sea."
"What are they?" asked the girl.
"Codfish," was the reply. "Their only fault is that they are too haughty and foolishly
proud of their pedigree."
Overhearing this speech, one codfish said to another in a very dignified tone of voice,
"Isn't it?" replied the other. "There ought to be a law to prevent these common mermaids
from discussing their superiors."
"My sakes!" said Trot, astonished. "How stuck up they are, aren't they?"
For a moment the group of fishes stared at her solemnly. Then one of the remarked in a
disdainful manner, "Come, my dear, let us leave these vulgar creatures."
"I'm not as vulgar as you are!" exclaimed Trot, much offended by this speech. "Where I
come from, we only eat codfish when there's nothing else in the house to eat."
"How absurd!" observed one of the creatures arrogantly.
"Eat codfish indeed!" said another in a lofty manner.
"Yes, and you're pretty salty, too, I can tell you. At home you're nothing but a pick-up!"
"Dear me!" exclaimed the first fish who had spoken. "Must we stand this insulting
language--and from a person to whom we have never been introduced?"