Imágenes de páginas

many fish swam after the place. Indeed the wages offered were so good that several Pikes left the fresh water and came into the sea to offer their services.

Next came a Crab; but although he was very handy with his claws, his way of walking was so awkward, the Whale said he was ashamed to see him. However, Salmon told him to come, but to remain in the backwater, where he would not be so much observed. Then hurried up two Eels, with slim genteel figures, and nicely oiled hair. They were very active, almost too much so, in fact; for Mrs. Lobster, the fat red cook, caught one helping himself to sea-weed on the sly. Still they looked so well in their livery, that Salmon engaged them.

At last the great day arrived. The Star-fish were all rubbed bright, and shone beautifully. Lobster got very hot with getting the Jelly-fish into their moulds. The Talking-fish stood ready to announce the visitors' names, and the Crab waited to take off the ladies' cloaks with his claws. First appeared the head and shoulders of General Cod, attended by the Master Smelts. The Smelts were rather grand fish, and very angry at their low relations, the Sprats, who rushed in after them, trying to look as if they belonged to the same party. Between ourselves, I do not think that they had been invited at all, but managed to slip by Salmon when he was not looking

Next tripped up the Miss Whitings, nicely bread-crumbed, and with their tails held neatly in their mouths. Then two Yarmouth Bloaters strolled in-rather dry fellows, but highly respect

able. Then the real Turtle, and after him a mock one, who was, of course, turned away as an impostor.

Now the king loved to see children happy; so an orphan school of very small fish, Shrimps, were marched in two and two, headed by a stout Prawn, their master. These little creatures sat in a gallery where they could see all that went on, and behaved in a very nice and orderly manner. I forgot to say that they were really sandy-brown fish: but getting into warm water, they gave one kick, when the Prawn gave the word, and put on their pink dress, without which they could not have appeared at table.

The only thing that went wrong was that not even Turbot, the beadle, could keep the sea clear of Cockles and Winkles, who kept on staring in a very rude way at the great people, and were spiteful enough to throw .sand at the little Shrimps as they marched past.

Old Miss Oyster, who was nervous and timid, was so alarmed by the conduct of the Cockles that she closed her carriage door so tightly that at first it could not be opened; and when it was, she had fainted, and a great deal of vinegar had to be given her before she at all recovered.

At last the dance began. Fish dance very slowly, and very often stop to take a little sea-weed. Here again the Cockles and Winkles were most troublesome, climbing up the windows and staring in. Then the queen, thinking that the dance had lasted long enough, told the company that they should see a show.

There is no Punch and Judy under the sea, but a couple of Flying-fish had been hired, who went head over heels until the Sprats cheered and yelled, and even the Smelts forgot their grandeur, and clapped their little fins.

In about an hour supper was announced.

It was a beautiful sight! The table was covered with sea-weed and Jelly-fish ; the Star-fish shone more than gas, which of course cannot be used in the sea, as it would go out. (There has been a talk in fish newspapers lately of burning cod-liver oil, but the smell is an objection.)

Minnows and Tadpoles stood waiting behind each chair. After supper the Talking-fish made all the speeches; and then a band of Prawns, conducted by a Gold-fish, stood up, and all the company joined in singing “The whale, the whale, we now will sing;

The ocean's pride, and the fishes' king!” and, with all good wishes to the Prince of the Whales, the happy company swam away.




CHAPTER I. Charles. Oh papa ! how I wish I was as tall as

[ocr errors]

Mr. Williams. Why do you want that, my boy ? Charles. Because no one could order me about

then, and I should be able to do whatever came into my head.

Mr. Williams. I fancy some very wonderful things would happen if that were so.

Charles. That there would !

Mr. Williams. Julia, should you like to be able to do exactly what you pleased ?

Julia. Of course I should, papa.
Charles. Oh, if Julia and I were our own masters !

Mr. Williams. Well, dear children, I can give you that pleasure. To-morrow, you shall do precisely as you please all day long.

Charles. You are making game of us, papa!

Mr. Williams. No, I am quite in earnest. Tomorrow, neither your mother nor I, nor indeed any one in the house, will interfere with you in any way.

Charles. What fun to feel the bridle on our necks!

Mr. Williams. That's not all. I will give you this indulgence not to-morrow only, you shall have it until you yourselves ask me to resume my authority.

Charles. If you wait for that, we shall always be our own masters.

Mr. Williams. I shall be delighted to see you so. So prepare yourselves for being very great people to-morrow.

The next morning arrived. The two children, instead of getting up at seven o'clock as they generally did, remained in bed until nine. Too long a night makes folks stupid and heavy, and Charles and Julia were no exceptions to this rule. They at last woke of their own accord, and got up in very bad humour. However, they got a little more cheerful when they remembered that they were to do exactly as they pleased all day long.

“ Come, what shall we begin with ?” said Charles to his sister, as soon as they had dressed and had had their breakfast.

Julia. Oh, we will play!
Charles. Yes, but what at?
Julia. Let's build card-houses.
Charles. I won't do anything so dull.
Julia. Will you play at blindman's buff ?

Charles. A nice game that would be, with only two players.

Julia. At chess ? at dominoes ?
Charles. You know I hate all sitting-down games.
Julia. Well, you choose then.

Charles. Oh! then we'll play at horses; you can be the horse and I'll be the coachman.

Julia. I dare say! and then you'll keep on slashing me with a whip, as you did the other day. I have not forgotten it.

Charles. I could not help it, you never will canter.

Julia. But it tires me. No, I won't play at horses.

Charles. Well then, hare and hounds ? I will be the huntsman and you must be the hare. Now then, look out! I shall catch you.

Julia. I hate hare and hounds; you are always kicking my heels and tripping me up.

Charles. Well, if you won't play at any of my games, I won't play with you at all; do you hear?

« AnteriorContinuar »