The Sea Fairies HTML version

10. He Undiscovered Island
In following the fleet of argonauts, the four explorers had risen higher in the water and
soon found they had wandered to an open space that seemed to Trot like the flat top of a
high hill. The sands were covered with a growth of weeds so gorgeously colored that one
who had never peered beneath the surface of the sea would scarcely believe they were not
the product of a dye shop. Every known hue seemed represented in the delicate, fern-like
leaves that swayed softly to and fro as the current moved them. They were not set close
together, these branches of magnificent hues, but were scattered sparsely over the sandy
bottom of the sea so that while from a distance they seemed thick, a nearer view found
them spread out with ample spaces of sand between them.
In these sandy spaces lay the real attractiveness of the place, for here were many of those
wonders of the deep that have surprised and interested people in all ages.
First were the starfishes--hundreds of them, it seemed--lying sleepily on the bottom, with
their five or six points extended outward. They were of various colors, some rich and
brilliant, others of dark brown hues. A few had wound their arms around the weeds or
were creeping slowly from one place to another, in the latter case turning their points
downward and using them as legs. But most of them were lying motionless, and as Trot
looked down upon them she thought they resembled stars in the sky on a bright night,
except that the blue of the heavens was here replaced by the white sand, and the
twinkling diamond stars by the colored starfish.
"We are near an island," said the Queen, "and that is why so many starfishes are here, as
they love to keep close to shore. Also the little seahorses love these weeds, and to me
they are more interesting than the starfish."
Trot now noticed the seahorses for the first time. They were quite small--merely two or
three inches high--but had funny little heads that were shaped much like the head of a
horse, and bright, intelligent eyes. They had no legs, though, for their bodies ended in
tails which they twined around the stems of seaweeds to support themselves and keep the
currents from carrying them away.
Trot bent down close to examine one of the queer little creatures and exclaimed, "Why,
the seahorses haven't any fins or anything to swim with."
"Oh yes we have," replied the Sea Horse in a tiny but distinct voice. "These things on the
side of my head are fins."
"I thought they were ears," said the girl.
"So they are. Fins and ears at the same time," answered the little sea animal. "Also, there
are small fins on our backs. Of course, we can't swim as the mermaids do, or even as
swiftly as fishes; but we manage to get around, thank you."