The Adventures of Silvie
And her Magic Oak Leaf
By Julie E. Lee
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The following story is for children. It's about two friends,
a fairy and a
magic oak leaf, who embark (no pun intended) on a journey under the sea.
They are accompanied by two children. Other characters include a FL Brown
Pelican, dolphins, sea horses, manta rays and a Great White Shark, as well
as a variety of unusual fish and plants that inhabit the sea. Fabled
Mermaids and Mermen are also included. Although a fantasy, information
pertaining to the sea life is mostly factual. At the conclusion of the
story the main characters attend the annual ball at King Neptune's castle.
I think an illustrator could make this a better story. As
I'd appreciate any suggestions, even if it's "hang it up." Thank you.
It was a bright, sunny day in a very old forest when Silvie decided it was time for Oakie and her to take "one of their trips." Oakie would be so happy when she told him thought Silvie. It had been a long time since their last trip together and a vacation was long overdue. Silvie, a woodland fairy, had been working very hard at the Toadstool Furniture Farm. She was in charge of the farm and liked to do the best job she could. Forest people purchased their toadstool tables and chairs from the farm. But now the work was finished. The last toadstool was gone and it would be sometime before Silvie and the other fairies started a new crop. Ah, yes, plenty of time for one of our trips, she thought. "I must find dear Oakie and let him know." In another part of the Enchanted Forest, Oakie the oak leaf was thinking about a vacation too. "Oh, how I wish Silvie would finish her work so we could go on one of our trips." The growing season for toadstools must be nearly over he thought. He felt almost dry with boredom. And magic oak leaves become very bored when they just float around the forest all day. Sometimes he would help Silvie at the toadstool farm. But the only jobs he could find were for some of the elves. The elves were especially fond of toadstool umbrellas, the smallest of the toadstools. They would put their new toadstool umbrellas on Oakie's back and he would fly them to the elves' homes. However, these jobs were few and far between and left Oakie with little more to do than float about and dream of what their next adventure might be like. Oakie lay back on the moss and looked up at a beautiful oak tree. It was not a magic oak tree. Its oak leaves never got bored. It was quite a nice life for these leaves popping out in the Spring, meeting new families of birds and watching the youngsters learn how to fly. In the summer the leaves grew big and green swinging to and fro on their branches, watching all the summer doings. Then in autumn they would dress in their brightest colors and look very beautiful until it was time for them to float gently down to the ground for a long winter's sleep. Oh, a good life indeed. But a magic oak leaf is not attached to a branch. After a magic oak tree produces its new young leaves, these youngsters fly away and are free to roam wherever they wish. When Oakie had been a new, light-green leaf, just off the magic oak tree, he had met Silvie. At that time Silvie was very new herself. Oakie remembered how he had met her. She had been trying out her baby wings for the first time and had managed to fly up to the first branch of a cherry tree. Oakie saw her while stopping to admire one of the blossoms. There, to his surprise, was a tiny, young fairy sitting right on one of the pink, cherry blossom petals. She was crying, for although she had reached the high branch of the tree she was now afraid to fly back down. Oakie kindly offered Silvie a ride down on his back, and ever since that day they had been the best of friends.
Oakie had just finished thinking about all of this when he saw Silvie come skipping over the moss. "Oakie," she called in her high, musical voice, "it's time for one of our trips." "Yippie, Hurray, Wowie!" Shouted Oakie, and he soared up high in the air and down again landing beside his small friend. "Then you must be finished with the toadstool crop!" he exclaimed. "That's right, Oakie, and it will be a long time before we start a new one, long enough for us to have an adventure," she said smiling. "Tell you what," said Silvie, "let's go over to my house. We'll have a nice little supper and decide where we should go on our trip." "Great idea," said Oakie. "Hop on my back and we'll glide on over." So off they flew to make plans for their next adventure.
Silvie and Oakie soon arrived at Silvie's house. It was under the branches of a graceful evergreen tree. The house was cool in the summertime and the branches sheltered her home from the cold winds and snow during the wintertime. The air was sweetly scented from the pine needles and smelled like Christmas all winter. Silvie alighted from Oakie's back and stepped under the lowest branch. Oakie followed, hopping on his stem. Once inside, Silvie went about the task of preparing a watercress salad while Oakie flitted back and forth setting the large toadstool table with Silvie's lily pad dishes. When the watercress salad was ready and Silvie had poured fresh mint tea into flower petal cups, they sat down on the toadstool chairs and began discussing their past adventures. This helped them to decide which place they would like to visit again. They had been to many faraway lands and had made many friends in all of them, so it was difficult to decide which place they should return to for a new adventure. After their tasty supper, Silvie and Oakie tidied up and then, seating themselves comfortably on an emerald colored moss couch, they began their plans. They could go to the mysterious Orient again or they could visit Europe. Switzerland was one of their favorite countries. They had even met Heidi and her children up high in the Alps. Then there were the wild jungles of Africa where they had made friends with kingly lions, magnificent elephants and all of the other jungle animals from the tallest giraffe down to the smallest jewel-colored bird. They also had many good friends among the native children. Of course they could find any number of exciting adventures in their own beautiful country, even right in the Enchanted Forest. But there was one place they had been to that was the most exciting and unusual of all, and that was under the sea. At the thought of this wondrous land, Silvie leaned back against the velvet moss and sang in her bell-like voice. "Oh let's return to the bottom of the sea, A world of beauty, a place to feel free. We'll live in a castle made of shells And ride the sea horses over the swells. ` King Neptune will ask us to come to the ball ` To dance in rooms with coral walls. And when we have tired, away we will flee To sleep in our castle at the bottom of the sea." When Silvie finished singing, Oakie soared up into the air and promptly bumped himself on an evergreen branch of the ceiling to Silvie's house. "Ouch !" exclaimed Oakie. "Oh it will be wonderful to see our old friends again, Oakie," said Silvie. "Swiftie and Grace Dolphin, and Coral and Smiley Sea Horse." "And what about King Neptune," Said Oakie. "Remember the ball he threw at the castle and all the fishes, mermaids and mermen attended?" "Oh yes, " said Silvie, "how could I forget. It was a glorious time." Then they both said at once, "And of course the children." For of all the people, animals and creatures they had met during their travels, the children were the ones that Silvie and Oakie remembered and loved the most. On every one of their trips they would bring children to share an adventure with them. Silvie and Oakie stopped their chatter for a few minutes, thinking their own thoughts of past happy adventures, and then smiling at one another they said together' "Starlight as usual?" For they always started their trips on bright starlit nights. "Yes," said Silvie, "starlight as usual, Oakie. Let's have a good long nap and leave tonight." "Same time, same place," said Oakie. "I'll be outside your doorway at starlight sharp." Oakie hopped across the room on his stem and opened the door. Just after he stepped outside he poked his pointed head back in the door and said, "The sky looks perfect, it's going to be a beautiful starlit night to start an adventure." And with that, he soared gracefully into the air.
At starlight Silvie stepped out of her doorway to see Oakie lying on his back gazing at the stars. "Ready, Oakie," she asked. Oakie hopped onto his stem and said, "You bet I am! But first, where will we pick up the children?" "How about some children from Florida," said Silvie. "We've never brought any children from Florida before. In fact," Silvie continued," our very good friend Paul Brown the pelican lives near a pretty little town in Florida." The brown pelican is a familiar sight in Florida, a very large bird that fishes by diving headlong into the water and coming to the surface with fish in its big leathery pouch. "We could take along some children from there and Paul could fly us out to meet Swiftie and Grace Dolphin. Swiftie and Grace could bring us to Coral and Smiley Sea Horses' house. Then we could all go to King Neptune's castle together." "It sounds like a very good idea to me, Silvie," said Oakie. "Well, then," said Silvie, "Shall we get started?" "Let's go!" shouted Oakie, and getting into his flying position he motioned with a curl of his stem for Silvie to hop aboard, and she did. They were off for one of their trips. Oakie flew high above the highest treetops, higher than the tallest skyscrapers, so high that Silvie felt she could reach out and touch the glittering stars. She lay on her back hearing the soft hissing of the wind in her ears as she and Oakie flew through the darkness. Silvie could have used her wings to fly, of course, but she and Oakie found it more friendly to fly in this manner. While lying on Oakie's back, she thought of all the children they had taken on their trips. She wondered what the new child or children would be like. Silvie had her own special way of finding children that would go with Oakie and her on their adventures. She would get a tingling feeling at the tips of her wings just when they were flying over a certain house. Then she would know that there they would find the children who would go with them on an adventure. Florida was a long way from the Enchanted Forest, but since Oakie was magical and could fly as fast as he wanted it was not long before he and Silvie were there. Spotting a graceful palm tree, Oakie flew down and settled on top of its wavy green fronds. "Oh, this is delightful," said Silvie. "I can smell the sea from here." "So can I," said Oakie. "How much further do we go to pick up the children?" "We are almost there," replied Silvie. "Just fly a straight course, and I'll tell you when my wings start to tingle." "We're off then!" shouted Oakie. And they soared off the palm tree and flew a straight course. It was not long before Silvie said, "My wings are tingling, Oakie. We're here." She and Oakie looked down and spotted the house. It was a small two-story house with a wide front porch set back from the road and surrounded by a very low stone wall. It was the kind of wall that was low enough to sit upon and high enough for a child to jump from. Oakie drifted down and settled himself on the wall. Silvie flitted to Oakie's side and sat quietly next to him, her tiny legs crossed in front of her. There was a great big oak tree on one side of the yard. "My favorite kind of tree," said Oakie. Spanish moss was draped like a shawl over its branches. Under the tree was a bench and sitting in the corner was a rather worn but happy-looking Raggedy Ann doll. On the other side of the yard were two small palm trees. Long graceful fronds billowed from their tops and slung between their trunks was a hammock. Not far from the hammock stood a lawnmower. "Left for finishing the job tomorrow," said Silvie smiling. "Let's go over to the porch." They flew to the porch and sat on an old porch swing. In one corner of the porch were a variety of different sized sand pails, some filled with shells, others held bits of driftwood and stones with painted shapes and faces on them. Many plants hung from the top of the porch as well as wind chimes all made from seashells. Silvie and Oakie noticed all of these things along with something else - the sound of the sea not very far away. "This looks like such a happy, busy, comfortable house," said Silvie. "Let's take a look around back." When they flew around to the back of the house, Silvie and Oakie thought there might be two children living in the house. Standing on a very small back porch was a small bicycle and a large tricycle. A kite poked out of one of the baskets. After noticing this, they flew past a flourishing vegetable garden, past a tall pine tree where a swing hung from a low branch and settled themselves on the top of the garage. Silvie and Oakie noticed the car was parked outside of it, because at a glance one could see there wasn't any room for it. "This is not a family that throws much away," laughed Silvie. "Well now that we've had a good look around," said Silvie, "let's go meet the children. We'll start at the upstairs windows, that's where the bedrooms usually are." And up they flew to find their new friends.
The first window they peeked through didn't have its shade pulled. They quickly saw the reason why. There were no people in it. "It's the extra room," whispered Silvie. "See," she continued, "there's one of those pull-out couches against the wall over there. That's probably where overnight guests sleep." There was also a desk in one corner of the room, a sewing machine in the other and a very large box in the middle of the room. There were two windows drawn on the box in crayon and at the bottom of the box a piece had been cut out to use as a doorway. "It' looks like a good hideout for someone," said Oakie. "Yes," said Silvie, it sure does. An extra room is good for lots of reasons." They flew to the next window. This room had more windows and the shades were pulled down a couple inches from the window-sills. Since Silvie was only two inches high, she could see into the room quite easily. And all Oakie had to do was bend his pointed head down to meet his stem and also get a good view to inside the room. They saw a large airy room, and in the middle of the room were two beds. One was an old brass bed that looked like bright gold in the moonlight. On this bed slept a little girl that looked to be about seven years old. On each side of her face a long blond braid flopped its way across the pillow. She had a pointed little chin, a straight little mouth, a short nose and her closed eyes were framed by very long dark eyelashes. Two straight eyebrows completed the portrait. Clutched under one arm was a very worn-looking stuffed toy dog. The only fur left on it was on the ears and tail. It had no nose, and no mouth for that matter, but it did have two sad appealing eyes. The other bed was a small four-poster. The headboard was white, and each post was painted a different color. In this bed lay a smaller girl around four years old. She lay on her back sideways across the bed. Yellow hair was tangled about her face. It was a small little face with a round little dimple set in a round little chin. Above the chin was a round little mouth, over the mouth was such a small nose you almost missed it, and on either side above the nose were two round bright blue eyes. "Look," whispered Silvie, "she's awake." "And she's saying something," Oakie whispered back. The little girl was talking softly, suddenly her voice became louder and Silvie and Oakie heard her say, "Melissa, you have to wake yourself up, cause Raggedy Ann is gone. Melissa, wake up!" she shouted and rolled off the bed landing with a THUMP! " OOOCH," cried the child. Just then the other girl, who must have been Melissa, sat straight up and said, "What's going on here? How can I get any sleep with all this noise? Jenny Lou, what are you doing on the floor?" Jenny Lou got to her feet and answered, " I fell down here and Raggedy Ann has gone, I can't find her." "Oh Jenny Lou," said Melissa, "she's not gone. You left her on the bench in the yard. I would never forget Valentine," she said giving her stuffed dog a little hug. "Now would you go back to sleep, Jenny Lou. Just pretend Raggedy Ann is on a camping trip." "All right, Melissa," said Jenny Lou, and she crawled back into her bed. "We better get their attention before they fall back asleep," said Silvie. "Give them the ole screen scratch, Oakie." Oakie ran his stem back and forth across the window screen. It was really very noisy. Jenny Lou sat up. " Melissa, it's Raggedy Ann. She's at the window, wanting to come in." "Oh Jenny Lou," laughed Melissa," you are so funny. It can't be Raggedy Ann, but I wonder what it is?" She swung her legs over the side of the bed, walked over to the window and pulled up the shade. "Is it Raggedy Ann?" asked Jenny Lou from her bed. "I don't see anything," answered Melissa. Right then Silvie said, "Oakie, fly me to eye-level with her." "What was that?" asked Melissa. "What's what?" asked Jenny Lou, coming over to the window and looking out. "I heard something," said Melissa. At that point Oakie lifted himself and Silvie about level with Melissa's eyes. "Hey, Jenny Lou, there's a leaf stopped in mid air. That's funny." Melissa peered at it very closely. Fairie Dearie stood up straight and looked back at Melissa's serious brown eyes. "There's something on it," said Melissa. It was then that Silvie and Oakie hollered at the top of their lungs, "Glad to meet you, Melissa and Jenny Lou!" "Yikes!" screeched Melissa. "Melissa!" shrieked Jenny Lou, "Raggedy Ann can talk!" "Will you quit talking about Raggedy Ann," whispered Melissa loudly. "The voices are coming from the leaf." "Leaves don't talk, Melissa!" Jenny Lou said in a loud voice. "Shhhh," said Melissa, "you'll wake up Mummy and Daddy. We must be dreaming," said Melissa. "That's the only explanation." She looked closely at the leaf again. Fairie Dearie and Oakie hollered again in their loudest voices. "You're not dreaming, please open the screen and let us in." "Oh Wow!" exclaimed Melissa. "The voices are asking us to let them in." "Let's have the little voices come in," said Jenny Lou. " I don't believe this anyway so why not," said Melissa, and she pushed up the screen. Immediately Oakie and Silvie flew in and landed right on Melissa's shoulder. "Yikes!" screamed Melissa again. "It's on me!" "Shhhh, Melissa, said Silvie right into her ear. I'm a fairy and that's Oakie the magic leaf on your shoulder. If you make too much noise, you'll wake up your parents and then you won't be able to come on one of our trips with us." "What's that little thing on your ear saying, Melissa?" asked Jenny Lou. "It's a fairy!" exclaimed Melissa; her eyes opening wide. "She wants us to come on a trip." "A fairy!" gasped Jenny Lou. Silvie spoke into Melissa's ear again. "Hold out your hand, Melissa, I'll fly onto it." Melissa held out her hand and Silvie flew down to it and stood on her palm. "Jenny Lou, turn on the light," said Melissa. Jenny Lou flicked on the light and now the children could see quite well what they hadn't been able to in the moonlight. "Oh, look Jenny Lou, it really is a tiny fairy. I didn't know there were any real fairies like this," said Melissa. Jenny Lou looked too. "It's a real, real fairy, Melissa. Oh let me hold it!" She exclaimed. Right then Oakie flew down onto Jenny Lou's hand. He stood up tall on his stem and in his loudest voice said "Children, Silvie isn't to play with. She's a very tiny person and quite delicate. Silvie can make you as small as she is and then we can all have a nice chat and get to know one another. It's hard on our voices hollering like this." "Oh, goody," said Jenny Lou. "We can get to be tiny too." "Now just wait a minute," spoke up Melissa, "I don't want to be tiny. Mummy and Daddy won't be able to find us, and we couldn't ride our bikes. Why, we couldn't do anything in our world," she finished. "Ah, I can see you're a good thinker, Melissa, " piped up Silvie. Melissa and Jenny Lou bent down to hear her better. "But of course I wouldn't make you my size forever. The magic only lasts until dawn and then you're back to the very size you are now." Jenny Lou jumped up and down and clapped her hands. "Let's be tiny until we meet Dawn, Melissa. Oh magic, magic," she sang. "I wonder who Dawn is?" she asked curiously. Melissa looked at Jenny Lou and explained, "dawn isn't somebody, Jenny Lou, dawn is another word for early morning. What I want to know," she continued, "is what's all this about a trip?" Oakie shouted, "We'll tell you all after Silvie sprinkles her magic crystals over you. Hard on our voices shouting like this." "You are beginning to sound hoarse," said Melissa. "He doesn't sound like a horse, Melissa," laughed Jenny Lou. "Oh bother, Jenny Lou, I'll explain another time. Right now let's see what it is like to be tiny." "And have an adventure," said Silvie speaking into Melissa's ear. "And have an adventure," said Melissa smiling. Her serious brown eyes began to sparkle. Now that she knew the magic wouldn't last forever, she was beginning to get very excited.
"Okay," said Silvie, "are you ready for the magic crystals?" "All set," answered Melissa.. "Will it hurt?" asked Jenny Lou in a small worried voice. "Not a bit," replied Silvie. "Just a little tickle." "Ready," said Jenny Lou bravely. Then Silvie flew over Melissa and began to spin around like a top. She spun so fast that all one could see was a flashing light and silver and gold sparkles that flew all about Melissa's head and shoulders. POOF! Melissa was as tiny as Silvie. "Melissa, where are you?" called Jenny Lou. Before the little girl could exclaim again, POOF! Jenny Lou was tiny too. "Everything in our room looks so big," whispered Melissa. "That's cause we're so little, Melissa," said Jenny Lou. "We sure are little," answered Melissa. "Wow, if Daddy and Mummy could see us now!" "Excuse me," said Silvie. "But they probably wouldn't see you. Grown-ups don't believe too much in magic. And when you don't believe, you don't see. That's the way it usually works anyway," she finished. "It's just as well," said Melissa. "They would probably get pretty upset." "Yes, I imagine so," said Oakie. Suddenly Melissa and Jenny Lou realized they were talking to a real fairy and of all things a talking leaf. Melissa and Jenny Lou saw that Silvie had bright red hair, green eyes and a few freckles scattered across a turned up nose. She wore a short lacy dress. Oakie stood taller than all of them and was a very nice shade of green. He had a pleasant face under a pointy head, and when he talked to them he bent over at the middle. He stood on a strong sturdy stem. Melissa, feeling rather shy in this strange situation, tried to make conversation. "That's a very pretty dress, Silvie," she said. "Why thank you," said Silvie. "Spinner does excellent work." "Who's Spinner?" asked Jenny Lou. "Spinner is a spider in our neighborhood. She spins some lovely gossamer designs." Jenny Lou turned to Melissa and exclaimed, "A spider!" "Yes, I heard," replied Melissa. Oakie had begun to hop around on his stem. "What's the matter, Oakie?" asked Silvie. "I just can't wait to go on our adventure," he replied. "Silvie," asked Melissa, "what kind of adventure are we going on?" "Oh, you'll have a great time," interrupted Oakie, "dolphins are so much fun." "Dolphins!" exclaimed Melissa. "But dolphins live in the sea." "Of course they do," said Oakie. "Then are we going out to sea on a boat?" Melissa asked. "No need for a boat," said Oakie, "when we'll be swimming under the sea." "Swimming under the sea," replied Melissa, "we can't swim under the sea. Jenny Lou and I can't hold our breath long enough for that. You'll just have to change us back to our own size again," said Melissa, most upset. Jenny Lou said, "Oh dear," and began to cry. "My goodness, gracious," said Silvie. "Hold on everyone. It's all right, children. Let me explain about fairy crystals. And Oakie," she admonished, "no interruptions." "You see, Melissa and Jenny Lou, fairy crystals are not just magic for making you tiny like me. The magic stays with you. You can go under the sea without holding your breath, because my magic will make us breathe like the sea creatures the second we are beneath the water. And wait until you see this different world. It is most beautiful! And that is where we are going on our trip." "Well then," said Melissa, "if it's safe then I guess it's okay. But it sounds kind of scary." "Not scary," said Silvie, "adventurous is the word!" "Well then," laughed Melissa, "adventure it is." "Adventure it is!" repeated Jenny Lou with a shout. "SHHHHH," everyone said. "With all this talk of adventure," piped in Oakie, "let's get started on one." "How about it girls, ready to head for the sea?" asked Silvie. "We're ready," the children answered. "Then hop aboard," said Oakie. "You girls get on Oakie's back," said Silvie, "and I'll fly along beside you." Oakie lay flat on the floor and Jenny Lou and Melissa climbed on his back. "I hope," said Jenny Lou, "this won't be a bumpy ride. I don't want to fall off." "Don't worry," said Silvie, "Oakie gives such a smooth ride you"ll hardly feel you're flying." With those words they all flew out the window.
After the little group was airborne, Oakie gave the children a ride around their house to get them used to flying. They soon discovered Silvie was correct when she said Oakie gave a smooth ride. It was so comfortable they braved looking down at the scenery below them. "Look," exclaimed Jenny Lou, "there's Raggedy Ann!" "See, I told you she was outside," said Melissa. "Excuse me," said Oakie, "but would you children kindly direct me to the beach." "I will, I will!" clamored Jenny Lou. "It's that way," she said pointing her finger. "Take a left after the gate," said Melissa, "and it's straight down two blocks." "Thanks," said Oakie. "Let's go!" said Silvie. "Good-by Raggedy Ann," called Jenny Lou. Raggedy Ann's shoe button eyes looked blank but she seemed to be smiling even more than usual as the happy foursome headed for the beach. Soon the little group was at the beach. They were hardly there a minute when a giant bird lumbered over the sand toward them. "Melissa!" screamed Jenny Lou. "Let's get away from here!" yelled Melissa. "Children, children," said Silvie, "this is our friend Paul Brown the pelican. Remember, he only looks so large because we're so small. Try to remember that. You'll get used to it." "I don't think I'll ever get used to it," gasped Melissa. "He's as big as an elephant," said Jenny Lou, "but much prettier." Paul Brown the pelican, who had waited until the children were calm said, "Thank you, little girl. I'm a pretty big bird to begin with so I can understand why I would frighten one so small. My name is Paul. What's your name?" "Jenny Lou," she replied, "and this is my sister, Melissa." "Hello," said Paul to Melissa. "Hi," said Melissa, forgetting her nervousness. "Well now everyone has been introduced," said Silvie. "It's sure good to see you again, Paul." "It sure is," echoed Oakie, "and you got here almost as soon as we did." "A little bird must have told him," laughed Silvie. "Lots of little birds did," said Paul. "Word sure travels fast when it's brought by birds, and faster when it's about one of your's and Oakie's trips! You're just in time for King Neptune's annual ball." "Ball!" shouted Oakie. "Yes, it's to be held at King Neptune's sea castle tonight," said Paul. "What wonderful luck," said Silvie. "You children are really in for a treat tonight," she said. Melissa and Jenny Lou jumped up and down with excitement. "Wow, a ball in a sea castle," said Melissa. Jenny Lou continued jumping up and down smiling, too excited for words. "Now then," said Paul, "why doesn't everyone get on my back and we'll go out to sea to meet Swiftie and Grace Dolphin. They are expecting us." "Imagine, meeting real dolphins," said Melissa. Jenny Lou inquired, "Like the dolphins we saw at the aquarium, Melissa?" "That's right, Jenny Lou," answered Melissa. "Remember what we learned about them?" "They are very smart," said Jenny Lou. "Yes, Jenny Lou. They have brains much like ours, but kinder hearts," answered Melissa. "Kinder hearts!" exclaimed Jenny Lou. "Yes," said Melissa, "the person at the sea aquarium said humans would be better off if they cooperated as well with each other as the dolphins do with one another." "That's very true, Melissa," said Silvie. "Well then," said Oakie, "speaking of cooperation, let's all cooperate onto Paul Brown and go meet our dolphin friends." "Okay," laughed Silvie, "we'll cooperate. Let's go, friends." She flew up and sat right on top of Paul Brown's golden head. Then Oakie sang out, "Hop aboard, children." The children climbed on Oakie's back and were whooshed up and settled among the pelican's brown feathers. "Everyone ready?" asked Paul. "Ready!" they chorused. In a moment they were flying over the deep blue sea on their way to meet some more new friends, Swiftie and Grace Dolphin.
Melissa and Jenny Lou lay on their tummies tucked under Paul's fathers. Paul's wings were very wide, and they felt like the children felt like they were riding on top of an airplane. They could look over the pelican's wings and down to the sea. It shimmered and sparkled under the moonlight. "It's a very calm sea tonight," said Oakie. "It sure is pretty," said Melissa. "This is fun," piped in Jenny Lou. "I could ride like this forever." "Well it's not going to be much longer," said Oakie. "We should be meeting our friends Swiftie and Grace Dolphin very soon." Suddenly Silvie spoke from high on top of Paul's head. "There's Swiftie and Grace signaling us from below." "Hold on to my feathers, gang," said Paul, "we're coming in for a landing." Paul dove toward the sea, landing right on top of the water. "Whoa!" everyone shouted as they came to a stop, right in front of the dolphins. Swiftie and Grace were standing straight up out of the water. Since dolphins are nearly ten feet long, while standing they looked enormous to the children. Swiftie and Grace bent their sleek shapes down toward the children and smiled at them under pointed snouts. In squeaky voices they said, "Hi ya, kids," then zoomed backwards on their tails, leaped into the air and dove under the sea. "They're always full of fun," said Silvie. "Oops, here they are again," she giggled. Swiftie and Grace popped their heads out of the sea and were looking at their friends from very bright eyes. Pretty soon everyone was talking at once, and the children began to feel like Swiftie and Grace were old friends. After some time, Paul Brown the pelican said he'd have to get home. "I'll be back to pick you up later." Everyone thanked Paul for the wonderful ride. Then Paul beat his wings and soared slowly into the air. He circled once, dipped a wing and flew off toward land.
"Children, I would be happy to have you ride on me," said Grace Dolphin in her high voice. "Thanks," said the children, "we'd like that, but uh, where would we sit?" Dolphins have streamlined forms and there didn't look like much to hang on to. "Oh, that can be taken care of," said Grace. "Swiftie, how about some seaweed to tie the children on me." "Right," replied Swiftie, and he dove out of sight. Swiftie was back in a moment with a long rope of seaweed. He swam around Grace, encircling her with the seaweed. When it was secure, Oakie dropped the children on Grace's back and tucked them in amongst the seaweed. Then Oakie flattened his leafy shape of Swiftie and Silvie held on to his pointed head. When everyone was ready the dolphins filled their lungs with air and dove down under the sea. The children felt as though they were flying in air with a deep blue sky all around them. Looking up they saw moonbeams and starlight dancing on top of the water giving their surroundings a luminous glow. There were also strange sounds coming from all directions. Sounds of whistles, clicks and grunts, the language of the fishes and other sea life. The deeper they swam the darker it became. After awhile, however, the children's eyes adjusted to the darkening water. What fantastic sights met their eyes. They swam alongside cliffs and looked down into trenches. The dolphins told them that further out in the ocean there were mountains taller than most mountains on earth and trenches deep enough to hold a half-dozen Grand Canyons. The dolphins had learned much about the earth's geography from talking to the birds. They glided over a wide sandy plain. Brightly colored fish darted about them. A jellyfish floated by looking like a parachute with trailing ribbons, scallops skipped by blinking all of their 32 brilliant blue eyes, looking like electric blue lights. The children felt like they were flying through an enchanted garden of flying colored fish instead of birds. There were waving plants and brilliantly colored coral, pink and purple vase-shaped sponges and blooming sea flowers. "Oh," squealed Jenny Lou, "let's stop so I can pick the pretty flowers." She had spotted some pink-hearted hydroids and other lovely looking sea plants. "Oh no," said Swiftie, "that would be a dangerous thing to do." "Dangerous!" exclaimed Jenny Lou. "Why dangerous?" asked Melissa. "Because those pretty flowers will eat you if you get too close," answered Swiftie. "Eat me!" screeched Jenny Lou, scaring a school of small fish. "Oh yes," Swiftie said. "These are plant-like animals. That's a sea anenome over there. It looks like a harmless flower but it has thousands of needles covering each tentacle. The tentacles are the things that look like flowers. Those needles will paralyze a fish or any other tasty morsel," said Swiftie, casting a meaningful glance toward Jenny Lou, "and then it will swallow that tasty morsel whole." "Yuck, yuck," shuddered the children. "That's terrible," said Melissa. "It's the way of the sea," said Grace. "All sea life must take nourishment to survive. And what you see is not always what you think it is."
The group continued on while Melissa and Jenny Lou admired all the new and exciting sights until Swiftie exclaimed, "Here we are!" He had stopped before the waving fronds of some tall sturdy seaweed. "This is where Coral and Smiley Sea Horse live," said Silvie. "Oh Coral, Smiley," she called. "It's Silvie." The fronds parted and a tiny sea horse appeared. Although it was a fish, its head and neck resembled that of a miniature horse. The bottom half of its body narrowed into a curled tail. We heard you were coming," said Coral. "It's so good to see you and Oakie again. Hi Swiftie, Hi Grace," she called up to the dolphins. Then she turned to gaze at the children. The little fish had a very sweet expression on her face and the children liked her from the start. She swam in an upright position and was only a few inches long, not much bigger than the children. "These are some new friends of our's, Coral," said Silvie. "Please meet Melissa and Jenny Lou." "I'm pleased to meet you both," said Coral. "Please come on in to our house." "Well, Coral," said Swiftie, "thanks for the invitation but I don't think Grace and I would fit." "No, I guess not," laughed Coral. "Anyway," said Grace, "it's time Swiftie and I went up for air. Let's all get together at the castle tonight." "Yes," chuckled Swiftie, "I hear it's going to be a real ball." "A real ball all right," smiled Coral, "it's to be the most spectacular ball King Neptune has thrown." "Great!" said Swiftie. "We'll see you all there," said Grace. Then Oakie drifted off Swiftie's back, and using his stem for a rudder, propelled himself through the water to Grace's side. Melissa and Jenny Lou slid from their seaweed ropes onto Oakie's back to join Silvie. With this accomplished, everyone said good-bye to Swiftie and Grace and then followed Coral into her home behind a thick curtain of seaweed. Inside, the house was surrounded by walls of sturdy seaweed. The sea horses' home was a hideaway and offered them protection from the eyes of their enemies. Silvie and her friends would have had a hard time seeing inside those thick walls of seaweed had the house not been lighted with what appeared to be candlelight. Of course, no one could light a candle underwater. Coral explained that their flickering lights came from very tiny plant animals - so tiny, you couldn't see them unless you had a powerful microscope. All you could see were the lights they gave off every time the water rippled. Smiley Sea Horse had the same pleasant expression as Coral and was just as friendly. He invited everyone to sit down. The sea horses accomplished this by hooking their tails around a bit of seaweed. Oakie hooked his stem in the floating greenery and Silvie and the children relaxed on Oakie's back. Silvie, Oakie and the sea horses had a lot of news to catch up on. They talked happily about all that had been going on since the last time they had seen one another. Some news that Melissa and Jenny Lou found interesting , and unusual, was that Coral and Smiley had become parents. That was of course interesting, but the unusual part was that Coral didn't lay her eggs and leave them to hatch like most mother fishes do. She put them in a pouch that Smiley had on his body and he carried them until they hatched. Then the baby sea horses swam away, capable of taking care of themselves. "Kangaroos carry their babies in a pouch too," said Jenny Lou. "That's right," said Melissa, "except with the sea horses, it's the fathers that do it. You're a real good babysitter, Smiley," said Melissa. "Oh, I take very good care of them until they can be on their own," he answered. "But don't you miss your babies?" asked Jenny Lou sadly. "Oh, we see one another around," replied Coral. "Our children will be at King Neptune's ball. We'll introduce you to them. Sea horses grow very quickly and are quite independent. They'll soon be ready to have their own families, then what a group we will make." "Well, it's about time to get ready for the party," said Coral. "Please excuse us," she said to her guests. "Come on, Smiley, I'm so excited!" "So am I," replied Smiley. "Let's get our duds on." The sea horses swam into the next room of seaweed. "Duds," laughed Jenny Lou, "what a funny word." "Duds are fancy clothes, Jenny Lou," said Melissa. "Fancy clothes," squealed Jenny Lou, "that's even funnier. Sea horses wearing clothes," she said, throwing her head back and laughing loudly. "Well, you do have to admit it is kind of funny," said Melissa, giggling. "After awhile you'll find nothing surprising about the sea world," said Silvie. "Talk about surprises, wait until we get to the ball," said Oakie. "Oh, I can't wait, I can't wait!" said Jenny Lou excitedly. "Neither can I!" exclaimed Melissa. "Nor I!" shouted Oakie. "We won't have to wait long, here's Coral and Smiley," said Silvie. Coral and Smiley's duds turned out to be decorative jewelry made from shells rather than clothes. Coral had some lovely strands of pink and white shells around her neck and tiny colored shells twisted round her small curled tail. Smiley sported a wide shiny green seaweed tie held together by a scallop shell. "You both look very grand," said Silvie. "Why thank you," replied the sea horses. "I thought you and the children would also like to wear a necklace," said Coral. "Just unhook them from Smiley's tail." Silvie and the children glanced down and saw three pretty necklaces of different colored shells hanging from Smiley's curly tail. "Oh, thank you very much," said the girls. Silvie, Melissa and Jenny Lou put on their necklaces. "We don't want Oakie to go without party duds," said Smiley, and using his mouth clasped a large orange scallop shell on the end of Oakie's stem. "Thank you," said Oakie. It pinched a bit, but Oakie was a polite leaf and decided he could get used to it. Anyway with all the excitement of the ball, who could think of anything else. Now that everyone was decorated, it was time to go. Oakie parted the heavy curtain of seaweed with his pointed head and the rest of the group followed him out the door of the little house. "I'll get the sleigh," said Smiley. "You have a sleigh?" asked Melissa. "That's right," said Coral. "Smiley and I are going to pull you and Jenny Lou in it." "Here we are," said Smiley, pulling a large clam shell behind him. "Pop right in kids." Melissa and Jenny Lou laughing gleefully, climbed into the shell and settled themselves comfortably. Then Silvie and Oakie pulled ropes of seaweed through a hole in the clam shell and tied them around the sea horses' necks. "Okay," said Silvie, "you're all hitched." "Then let's go," said the sea horses. Silvie hopped on Oakie and they began their trip to the castle.
Melissa and Jenny Lou were enjoying the underwater sights from their unusual sleigh when Smiley spoke from up front. "I must warn all of you of some unpleasant news I heard of yesterday." The serious tone of Smiley's voice made everyone give him their immediate attention. "The Great White Shark, Horrors, has been seen in these waters recently. He wouldn't seek us out for food because we're no more than a crumb to him. But we must take care not to get in his path or we'll end up getting chomped along with the larger fish." "Chomped!" shrieked Melissa. "I'm not going any further." "Me neither!" said Jenny Lou in a frightened voice. "Oh it's all right, children," said Smiley. "You see," he continued, "a shark's eyes are located on the sides of his head. They are not out in front where he can see. We'll see him before he sees us. However, he has a nickname called 'swimming nose'. Horrors has a very keen sense of smell and can smell his prey without having to see it." "This is getting worse than ever," said Melissa. Coral interrupted, "You're scaring them, Smiley. As Smiley said in the beginning , we would only be crumbs to Horrors. Too small to see, or SMELL," she added. "He won't come after us." "Sure," said Smiley, "if we see him all we have to do is get out of his way, into some seaweed or under a shell, as long as we're not in his pathway. I'm sorry I scared you. Chances are we won't see him at all, but I wanted to warn you all so you'd be prepared in case we did." "Everything will be fine, children," said Silvie. "I would never take you on an adventure where you'd get hurt." Looking into Silvie's wise green eyes made all Melissa's and Jenny Lou's fears disappear, and Oakie's too, for that matter. Continuing once again on their journey, Melissa asked, "What does a sea castle look like?" "Quite wonderful," answered Silvie. "The castle is inside a cave on the side of a coral cliff. The walls are of rose colored coral and decorated with thousands of glittering shells. The ceiling and floor of the castle is made of abalone shells. Abalone has the lustre of pearls and is a rainbow of colors." "And when you dance," added Oakie, "you can see your reflection it it." "Oh, it sounds beautiful," said Melissa. "It sure does," said Jenny Lou. "But what I'd like to know is what's this King Nep-in-tune like?" "Well," laughed Silvie, "his name is King Neptune and he is king of the sea. He's a very old and wise merman and all of the merpeople, mammals and fishes have called him their king for as long as anyone can remember." Silvie had just finished telling the children about King Neptune when they noticed a strange looking sight laying beneath them on the sand. It was an enormous octopus. Before the children could express their fright, the sea horses calmed them saying, "That's Otto Octopus. He's not a handsome creature, but he won't harm us. He'd much rather eat crabs." "Gee, I'm glad to hear that," said Oakie. "So are we," breathed the children with sighs of relief. "Hey, Look!" exclaimed Jenny Lou, "he's changing color." The octopus was indeed changing color, a color much like the coral he was next to. Smiley looked alarmed and said, "He's frightened of something. He's trying to blend in with the colors around him so he won't be seen." "What's he afraid of?" asked Melissa. "I don't know," answered Smiley, "but I've a feeling we better hide too." Just then the tranquil sea became terrible agitated. Fish darted in every direction. The sea churned and boiled around them. And then they saw the cause of all this fury, it was Horrors. A huge, ugly and cruel looking shark. A dangerous shark, for he was of the Great White Shark family. "Hide!" shrieked Coral. And they did in a moment's time. Melissa and Jenny Lou were pushed under a shell, the house of a very frightened hermit crab. Silvie and Oakie slipped under another shell and the sea horses swam into a thick bunch of sea fronds nearby. The shell Melissa and Jenny Lou were under housed a hermit crab. He was surprised by his unexpected guests, however, no one bothered making introductions with Horrors lurking just outside. As they huddled together Jenny Lou noticed a little hole in the shell and peeped through it. She turned round terrified eyes on Melissa, opening her mouth to speak. Melissa quickly put her hand over Jenny Lou's mouth and made frantic motions with her eyes and other hand to keep still. The hermit crab folded his legs over his popping eyes so as not to see what would happen next. Jenny Lou silently pointed to the peephole. Not wanting to look but drawn to the view outside, Melissa peered outside the shell with Jenny Lou. The hole was just big enough to share the view. But the view wasn't a nice one, because there was Horrors. They saw his nasty underslung mouth with rows of needle-sharp teeth. He had a long pointed front end, and one round beady cold eye looked out from the side of his head. The children were about to draw back from the dreadful eye when suddenly they couldn't see a thing. Otto the octopus had sent out an inky fluid from his body that made a kind of smoke screen for him to hide behind, another protective device to hide from his enemies. While this was happening he was able to slip away. Of course, the children didn't know any of this. All they saw was what appeared to be a lot of smoke. But before they could wonder about it the smoke cleared and what appeared next was really horrifying. They saw their new friends Swiftie and Grace Dolphin appear, and they also saw that Horrors was still there. Melissa cried out, "Watch out for the shark!" But even if her tiny voice had been heard it was to no avail, because Horrors in a flash attacked Grace. She was taken by surprise and cried out in alarm and pain. Before Horrors could make his next attack. Swiftie hurtled through the water aiming his pointed snout toward the underside of Horrors, knowing this was the most vulnerable part of the shark's body to do any damage. But Horrors moved just a second before Swiftie could make contact and now lunged at Swiftie, his mouth open, his teeth like daggers. Swiftie quickly twisted his sleek body out of the way of Horror's cruel jaws and dove beneath the shark's belly. And then with lightening speed he once more aimed his snout at Horror's belly. He knew this would be his last chance. He made a direct hit ramming his snout hard into the shark. He then leaped up and over Horrors to fend off any attack from him. But there was no need for him to worry. Horrors was dead. A dolphin is the shark's enemy and about the only one strong enough to kill a shark. Since sharks must continually move to stay up in the ocean, when they die they sink like stones. That's exactly what Horrors did. He sank right down to the bottom of the sea. Meanwhile, Silvie, Oakie and the sea horses had also seen the terrifying scene from their hiding places. They now came out and joined Melissa and Jenny Lou, who had left their shell and its nervous occupant, the hermit crab who was still inside covering his eyes. "We're safe, Horrors is dead and Swiftie is our hero!" someone shouted from the crowd of onlookers that had gathered. Not all was well, however, for there was the wounded Grace. Swiftie had gone to her side and was already lifting her still form. She had been wounded by Horrors and had lost blood. The most serious problem was that she had lost consciousness and was on the verge of drowning. Swiftie quickly lifted Grace, pushing her with his body up and out of the rippling waves to give her air. Silvie, Oakie and the sea horses sadly watched the dolphins' shimmering tails above their heads. One was moving. One lay still. Melissa and Jenny Lou began to cry. "Look," Silvie gasped, "Grace's tail moved." The tiny group peered up through their tears, and then they all saw. Grace's tail was twitching. Its movement became stronger, and all the way down to where this small and anxious group waited they heard the unmistakable squeaky language of the dolphins. Everyone blinked away their salty tears into the saltier sea and hugged each other in relief. Then a loud cheer came from the various sea life around them. The cheering was a strange mixture of grunts, whistles and clicks but still recognizable as cheering. The crowd of sea life then began to swim away and the small group saw Swiftie swimming toward them. "Gracie's going to be all right," he said, "she's resting on the surface of the sea now. The wound has stopped bleeding and she's feeling pretty weak, but with rest she'll be fine." Everyone was so happy to hear the good news they all began to talk at once. Then Silvie said, "We'll do anything we can to help." Oakie added, "We'll tell King Neptune why Grace couldn't attend the ball." "Oh, now just a minute," said Swiftie. "You know Gracie, she won't want to miss King Neptune's annual ball. Our dolphin friends will help carry her to the castle. There she can rest on a smooth abalone couch and when she needs air, I will lift her to the surface. She says listening to the music and watching the dancers will make her get better all the faster." "Oh how wonderful," said Silvie. "We were so worried, and now everything has turned out well." "Three cheers for our dolphin friends," shouted Oakie. Melissa and Jenny Lou clapped their hands happily and cheered with their friends. Everyone was relieved that a near tragedy had been abated. "Well, let's be on our way again," said Silvie. "Yes," said Swiftie, "you must get traveling to be there in time. And I must go up and see about transportation for Gracie. She's probably becoming impatient up there." Silvie said, "Be sure and tell her we'll be waiting for her arrival." "That goes for the rest of us," said the Oakie and the sea horses. "We'll be waiting too," said Melissa and Jenny Lou. "I'll give her all your messages," answered Swiftie. "See you at the ball!" and off he swam to be with Grace. Silvie took her place on Oakie. Melissa and Jenny Lou climbed into their sleigh behind the sea horses. They were ready to continue their journey to King Neptune's castle in the cliff.
As the group started off, Jenny Lou looked over her shoulder at Horrors once more. "Sharks are awfully giant, aren't they, Silvie," she said. "Not all of them are that big," answered Silvie. "In fact, not all of them are dangerous." "They aren't?" asked Melissa. "No," said Silvie. "There are many different sizes and shapes of sharks with many different names." "How many different sharks are there?" Melissa asked. "As many as three hundred," replied Silvie. "Yikes, that's too many sharks," exclaimed Jenny Lou. "But out of all those three hundred sharks, under thirty sharks are known to be dangerous." "That's still too many for me," said Oakie. "Too many for us too," chimed in Melissa and Jenny Lou. "Well, everyone, no need to worry about it," said Smiley Sea Horse. "Horrors is dead and there are no other sharks in this territory." "Yes," said Coral, "that means everyone will feel a lot safer at the ball tonight than we did before." Everyone stopped their talking when giant shadows loomed over the surface of the water, making it almost pitch black below. Before the children could express their terror at this weird sight they heard a joyful screech from Silvie. "Oh how marvelous," she sang. "It's the leaping devilfish." "Leaping devilfish. Devilfish!" exclaimed Jenny Lou. "Silvie," said Melissa shakily, "you say devilfish and leaping and so huge above us we can't see and you're happy?" Silvie's eyes sparkled and she laughed. Then Oakie and the sea horses began to laugh. Before they knew it, the children began to laugh too. "Wait just a minute," said Melissa. "This is no laughing matter." "Then why are we laughing?" asked Jenny Lou. "That's what I'd like to know," said Melissa. "Oh children, let me explain," said Silvie. "The devilfish, more commonly known as the manta ray, is really a gentle creature that flaps through the water eating nothing larger than a shrimp." "But we're nothing larger than a shrimp," squeaked Melissa. "Melissa," said Silvie, "they really are very gentle and we don't look like shrimp." "From what I've studied," Silvie continued, "manta rays grow twenty feet across, weigh over a ton and a half and can leap fifteen feet out of the water. No one knows why they do it. Probably just for fun," she giggled. "Last time Oakie and I visited I didn't see them. Come on, they're quite a sight to see." Silvie and Oakie rose up to the surface of the sea. Coral and Smiley Sea Horses followed, pulling their confused and not very willing riders behind them. Once the tiny crew poked their heads above the surface of the sea, the sight that greeted them was breathtaking. Giant kite-shaped fish with long narrow tails leaped high up into the air. When they came down they landed loudly on their bellies. It was a very unusual and exciting sight but still rather frightening for the children. They were relieved when Coral spoke up and said they better get going if they were to make the ball on time. Everyone agreed and so they dove back under the sea. It seemed to the children that the sea was becoming more and more crowded but brighter. The brighter it got the more sea life they saw. Schools of brilliantly colored fish swam alongside them. Lovely flower-like sea anemones glided slowly along on their slippery discs. Gossamer jellyfish trailed behind them. And so many crabs, all different colors, scuttled along sideways staring from their popping eyes. It had become very bright by now and quite crowded. Everyone was headed in the same direction. Suddenly Jenny Lou gave one of her wild giggles and said, "Everyone's going to the party and they put on all the lights." "That's right, Jenny Lou," said Silvie, "and there is the castle." Straight ahead of them rose a pale pink cliff. The castle was inside an enormous cave on the side of the cliff. Many brightly colored sea anemones grew on the walls of the cliff. In front of the castle's entrance, tall blue and green sea fronds waved to and fro in the currents. Aside from the many strange sea life waiting to enter the castle, there was a much stranger sight. Around the cliff and above the sea fronds was what appeared to be a fireworks display. On a closer inspection, the group saw many odd dark-colored fish giving off quick, bright flashes of light. Jenny Lou and Melissa laughed aloud at the sight. "How do they do that?" asked Melissa, staring at the blinking fish. "The same way as fireflies do on land," said Silvie. "These fish come from the deeper part of the sea where it's quite black. And since they don't get any light down there, they have to make their own." "So that was where all the light was coming from," said Melissa. "Yes," said Oakie, "like Jenny Lou said, they've turned on the lights, and these crowds we've been seeing are all going to the party." And quite a crowd there was, all waiting for the ball to begin. They didn't have to wait long for all at once two merpeople appeared from behind the sea fronds, the curtained doorway to the castle. One was a merman, the other a mermaid. They were small, about the size of a child. "They're as tall as me," said Melissa. Silvie looked at her with a grin. "Well," said Melissa, "when I'm my regular size that is." The merpeople gathered the sea fronds and pulled them back to show the entrance to the castle. Melissa and Jenny Lou couldn't help staring at the merpeople. For although their upper bodies were human, the lower part of their bodies were of glittering scales ending in the tail of a fish. Then another merperson appeared in the entryway. With a flourish he produced a conch shell, aptly named the trumpet shell. Putting it to his mouth he blew a series of loud musical notes to herald the approach of King Neptune. Everyone watched as King Neptune appeared driving two sleek silver dolphins from a huge clam shell. He was wearing a crown of oyster pearls and had a long red beard. King Neptune smiled, waved his hand and shouted, "Let the festivities begin!" The dolphins swam through the parted curtain of fronds, pulling King Neptune behind them and disappeared. At once an orderly procession of sea life began to file into the castle. "Let's go," shouted Oakie. "Yea!" hollered the children. Silvie's eyes twinkled merrily. "I'm all ready," she said. "Well, so are we," said the sea horses, bobbing their heads. And so the little group joined the fishes, sidestepping crabs and other forms of sea life to enter the castle.
When they entered the castle a mermaid and merman greeted them. The mermaid had long golden hair that streamed all about her. Her eyes were sea green. The merman had long, dark hair and a longer dark beard. His eyes were a deep ocean blue. They smiled and greeted all coming through saying, "Welcome, welcome!" Silvie , Oakie, the children and sea horses passed through a lighted hall. The lights came once again from fishes. These fish were also from the deep, dark parts of the ocean and they were appropriately named lantern fish. They were small fish with rows of lights along their sides. Of course, Melissa and Jenny Lou thought this pretty wonderful but they were too crowded by the other party goers to tarry long. They made their way to the end of the hall where they entered a gigantic room in the castle. It was the ballroom. The walls indeed were of rose coral and the rainbow pearly-colored floor reflected all the beautiful colors in the room. Ringed round the room were chairs made from shells and shining abalone benches. Mermaids and mermen sat upon these seats speaking to friends, petting small fishes and laughing with the dolphins. Through the brightly-colored fishes the little group could see King Neptune sitting on a throne that was encrusted with shells and pearls. He was calling out to old friends.
"Let's go see King Neptune," said Silvie to Oakie, "and introduce him to Melissa and Jenny Lou." Melissa and Jenny Lou grabbed each other's hand. "Okay Silvie, we're ready," they said. Smiley and Coral Sea Horse had just spotted their children and wanted to go visit them. They told the rest of the group they'd meet later for some dancing. Melissa and Jenny Lou climbed on Oakie with Silvie and they swam over to meet King Neptune. King Neptune noticed Silvie and Oakie right away. He stood up smiling widely. "Why, if it isn't my good friends, Silvie and Oakie. It's been a long time since I've seen the two of you. Who are your young friends?" he asked. Silvie introduced the children and in a moment they had been gathered up by the smiling king and placed on the arm of his throne. >From this position they could chat easily with the king and also get a good view of the festivities going on in the ballroom. Silvie, with help from the others, told King Neptune about their m eeting with Horrors. "Thank goodness Grace was not killed," said King Neptune, "and thank goodness we need no longer fear Horrors. Swiftie deserves a medal." "Knowing Swiftie, he won't want one," said Oakie. "Of course he won't ," said King Neptune, "but nevertheless I intend to honor him. And this evening presents the perfect opportunity to do so." The little group smiled at this kingly attitude. "Now," continued King Neptune, "let's have some music." He called out to a group of mermen and mermaids. "How about some music, my friends." "Let's begin," they answered and glided gracefully up to a stage. The stage was well lit by flashing lantern fish. Large sea sponges that resembled vases in beautiful colors were filled with sea flowers and rimmed the stage. The mermaids had entwined pearls through their long hair and wore lovely shell jewelry. The mermen had pearls woven through their beards and wore vests of lacy seaweed. They carried instruments with them. Once on stage the mermaids formed a group in front and the mermen gathered about them. One of the mermen stepped forward and began to play the trumpet shell. Then the other musicians joined in, playing a variety of weird looking instruments. There was a sharks' teeth guitar from which a strumming sound was made when a merman ran a hard shell over it. Silvie explained that sharks have rows of teeth and when a row falls out the next row pushes forward to take its place. So sharks' teeth were easy to find and made good instruments for the merpeople. Jenny Lou thought it would be terrific if people could do the same thing. Another merman was clicking what appeared to be castanets. "Those look like clams," said Melissa. "They are," said Silvie. "Then they must be called clamets," laughed Melissa. In the middle of the stage came a drumming sound from a small group of fish aptly named drumfish. Next the mermaids began to sing. Their voices were the most beautiful voices the children had ever heard. And all around the stage were footlights of an peculiar kind. The footlights were provided by little scallops that skipped around the stage blinking all of their 32 brilliant blue eyes to the sound of the music. The music now filled the ballroom and everyone was dancing. Mermen and Mermaids danced together, fishes twirled around the castle, sea anemones and jellyfish swayed. Melissa and Jenny Lou spotted Coral and Smiley Sea Horse dancing with their grown children. "Let's join in," Silvie said. The children, Silvie and Oakie formed a circle and danced too. Suddenly they became aware of some sort of commotion at the entry to the ballroom. The little group looked and saw Swiftie come in, followed by a group of smiling dolphins carrying Grace across their backs. Since word travels fast, all had heard of Swiftie's act of courage and Horror's timely end. "Hurray, Hurray!" everyone shouted, with squeaks, clicks, and grunts, the language of the sea. The mermaids and mermen joined in with their beautiful voices as well as Silvie, Oakie and the children. Grace was transported to a smooth abalone couch where she lay looking a little pale but happy. There was a loud blast from the trumpet. Everyone looked up at the stage where King Neptune stood amongst the entertainers. "Swiftie, may I please see you up here." Swiftie swam gracefully to the king and stood very tall beside him. "Swiftie," said King Neptune, "I and all our friends would like to honor you for ridding us of Horrors." Swiftie was going to say he didn't deserve it, he was only doing what anyone else would do for a loved one, but thought better of it. King Neptune and all their friends wanted only to show their appreciation toward him. So he bowed his graceful head very low and King Neptune hung a beautiful blue starfish around his neck. "Speech, speech!" someone shouted. Swiftie raised his head and gave his speech. "I can only say thank you, friends." "And to my new friends, Melissa and Jenny Lou, I would like to say please help your people to respect the sea. We can be of help to them if they will only help us to survive by not polluting our oceans. We must all work together above the sea and below the sea so that our lands will continue to survive and be healthy. You children and all other children are our hope for a better future, because your minds are open to learning and you are brave little people." Melissa and Jenny Lou stood as tall as they could and said, "We'll do all we can to help everyone, Swiftie." "That's the spirit!" sang out everyone, and one of the young dolphins swooped the children up on his snout and swam joyously around the castle with them. Everyone began to dance again. The mermen played their music and the mermaids sang in their lovely voices. Some little merchildren invited Melissa and Jenny Lou to play their sea games with them. They played jumpweed instead of jumprope and hopscotch with seashells. But they mostly danced, and danced, and danced over the rainbow-colored floor. It was a glorious time for all.
Melissa looked over at Jenny Lou and saw that her head was nodding while she sat next to a little merchild who was fast asleep. In fact, Melissa's eyes felt very heavy. She looked around the room. Most of the fishes and sea life had left. Even the frolicsome dolphins were saying good-bye and swimming slowly out of the castle. The entertainers had stopped playing and singing and were leaning on one another. Some were talking softly, others had fallen asleep on benches and chairs. Melissa had just closed her eyes when she heard Silvie say, "Time to head home, Melissa and Jenny Lou." Jenny Lou awoke with a start. "Oh no, the party isn't over already? I don't want to go yet." "What time is it?" asked Melissa sleepily. "It's time to go," smiled Silvie. "It's close to dawn and you children must be home before the magic wears off." "And before Mummy and Daddy wake up," added Melissa. "Let's go thank King Neptune for a wonderful time and say good-by," said Silvie. "Wake up, Oakie," she said. Oakie, who had fallen asleep, hopped to his stem forgetting he was not on land and then turned over to float sleepily on his back. "Come on, Oakie," laughed Silvie. "Right oh," yawned Oakie. The little group made their way over to King Neptune who sat nodding on his throne. "Thank you, King Neptune, for a most wonderful time," said Silvie. "Most wonderful!" said Oakie. "This is the best party I've ever gone to," said Melissa. "I wish it would never stop," said Jenny Lou. "All parties have to end, Jenny Lou," said King Neptune. "But there will be many other happy times for my little friends. When friends are together, it makes for a happy time." "We must get the children home now, King Neptune," said Silvie. "And I must take myself off to bed," said King Neptune. Good-bye and take care friends." "Good-by," called Silvie and Oakie. "Good-by," called the children. The tired little group swam out of the sea castle to start their trek homeward.
Outside they met Smiley and Coral Sea Horse. "We waited so we could give you all a ride and, of course, to say good-by," said the little sea horses. "Well, we never like good-byes," said Silvie. "But we do appreciate the ride." "Yes," said Oakie, "I'm afraid I've run out of swimming steam." "Climb aboard then," said Smiley, "and we'll whisk you back." Everyone climbed into the large shell that served as a sleigh and the sea horses pulled them swiftly through the water. While traveling along everyone talked about the ball, as people like to do when they've had a good time at a party. "There's something I've been wondering about," said Melissa. "What's that?" asked Silvie. "Well," said Melissa, "how come the big fish didn't try to eat the smaller fish at the ball?" "That's because when King Neptune has a ball he declares a truce," answered Silvie. "The only one we had to hide the sea castle from was Horrors." "He sure wouldn't have agreed to a truce," said Oakie. "And we don't have to worry about Horrors anymore," said Jenny Lou. "Oh," said Oakie, "speaking of Horrors reminds me of Swiftie. I forgot to tell you he said that he and Grace would be waiting at our departure place to say good-bye. He left earlier in the party so Grace could get the rest she needs." "Well," said Silvie, "I'll be happy to see them before we leave, but there are just too many good-byes." The group continued on, rather quiet and a little sad that the adventure was ending. The trip going back seemed much shorter than it was going to the ball. Everyone commented on this impression. Silvie said she thought it felt that way because when people were going somewhere exciting they anticipate all the fun they're going to have and it seems to take forever. Then again, there were no wild happenings going on their return trip such as flying devilfish and of course, Horrors. So before long they were at the place where they first met Swiftie and Grace when they entered the sea. Oakie drifted out of the clam-shell sleigh with Silvie and the children on his back. "We'll certainly miss you all," said Coral Sea Horse. "Come back and see us soon," said Smiley. "We'll miss you too," said Silvie. "But we'll come back again." "You can count on that," said Oakie. "Good-by, children, we enjoyed meeting you," said the sea horses. "We liked meeting you too," said Melissa. "Good-by, Coral and Smiley," called out Jenny Lou, and they watched the delicate little sea horses swim away to their home at the bottom of the sea. A moment after the tails of the sea horses had disappeared from sight they saw a much larger tail skim over the top of their heads. Then while this tail was still in sight what should appear not far from it but Swiftie's smiling face and bright eyes. He was standing on the surface of the water and bending his body in the shape of an upside down letter U, so that he could poke his head under the water to see them. "Come on up," he squeaked and then stuck his pointed snout under his friends and brought them up to the surface of the sea. Grace was there too, floating on her side and looking quite comfortable. "Stay here with us," said Swiftie. "Please do," said Grace. "We love you all." "Oh, we can't do that," said Silvie. "My magic only lasts until dawn for the children, and besides they would miss their families and their families would miss them." "Well, that's true, of course," said Grace. "Then how about you and Oakie coming back," said Swiftie. "Oh, Swiftie," said Fairy Dearie, "we have to return to our home and work and friends. That's where we belong. But we'll always come back to visit our wonderful friends under the sea. You know that," she added. "Yes, we know you will," said the dolphins, smiling together. "We know you all have to return to your land," said Grace. "We just don't like saying good-by to good friends." "Remember to bring the children on your next trip to see us," said Swiftie. "Well, of course we will if they'd like to come, said Silvie. "We'd like to very much," said Melissa. "Me too," said Jenny Lou. "Okay, then it's settled," said Silvie. "Look," said Oakie, "here comes Paul Brown Pelican." Indeed it was Paul Brown Pelican, who had flown them to the very spot they were at now waiting to go home. Paul dove down and landed with a splash not far away from them before swimming over to see them. His body had created small swells in the sea around Oakie and his crew, the children and Silvie. They floated up and down much to the amusement of the children. Soon Paul settled on the water right in front of them, smiling and saying hello. Melissa and Jenny Lou remembered how frightened they had been of his size. Now, after the many large fish they had seen, and mammals like their friends Swiftie and Grace, Paul wasn't scary at all. "Well," said Paul, "is everyone ready for departure?" "We're ready," said Oakie, "but I don't think I can take off from the water." I"m kind of soggy." "That's okay said Swiftie. "I'll help." And he did by once again pushing his snout under his small group of friends and hoisting them atop Paul's feathers. Then the good-byes were said with kisses and a few tears, because of all the creatures of the sea, dolphins are the hardest to say good-by. Soon they were airborne and looking down at the sparkling sea and up at the fading stars for dawn would soon be upon them. Melissa and Jenny Lou were so sleepy and so comfortable in Paul's warm feathers that they were not even aware of leaving Paul Brown the Pelican and flying the rest of the way home with Silvie on Oakie's back.
"Children, wake up," called Silvie softly, shaking them gently. "We're here already?" asked Melissa. "It wasn't very far," said Silvie, "and you fell asleep." Jenny Lou was now awake too and looking down once again into their yard. "Look," she said, "Raggedy Ann is still down there." "What did you expect," said Melissa, "she'd get up and leave." "Of course not!" answered Jenny Lou as Melissa went into a fit of giggles. "Okay," said Oakie, "everyone duck their heads so we can fly under the window." Everyone did as they were told and then they were all in the children's bedroom where the whole adventure began. It wasn't a moment too soon either, because the sky was becoming a dusty rose and it was dawn. But most important, the children were placed on their beds just in time because they were beginning to grow and Oakie would never have been able to carry them after they began to get heavy. "Oh, Silvie," cried out Jenny Lou, "you're getting smaller." "No, Jenny Lou," said Silvie, "you are getting bigger." "We're growing back to our regular size," said Melissa. And in a twinkling they were once again as they had been before, normal size children. Melissa and Jenny Lou stared across the room at each other from their beds. "Where are Silvie and Oakie?" They wouldn't leave without saying goodbye." "I see Oakie," squealed Jenny Lou, "he's up on your shoulder. And that must be Silvie on him; she looks like and inset from here." "You mean insect, not inset," said Melissa, patiently. "I'm sure Silvie doesn't like being called an insect either," she added. Silvie laughed in her ear and Oakie chuckled. Then Melissa felt a tiny kiss and heard a tiny voice say, "Stay as true and wise as you are, Melissa, and some day we'll be back to take you on another one of our trips." Then Silvie and Oakie flew over to Jenny Lou and gave her a kiss goodbye and said, ""Stay as brave and fun as you are, Jenny Lou, and some day we'll be back to take you on another one of our trips." With these parting words Silvie and Oakie flew out the window for their journey back to their home in the Enchanted Forest. As the children snuggled into their pillows they could hear this song: "Oh let's return to the bottom of the sea A world of beauty, a place to feel free. We"ll live in a castle made of shells And ride the sea horses over the swells. King Neptune will ask us to come to the ball To dance in rooms with coral walls. And when we have tired, away we will flee To sleep in our castle at the bottom of the sea."
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