CHAPTER I. THE STAR-FISH TAKES A SUMMER JOURNEY.





Once there was a little star-fish, and he had five fingers and five

eyes, one at the end of each finger,--so that he might be said to have

at least one power at his fingers' ends. And he had I can't tell you how

many little feet; but being without legs, you see, he couldn't be

expected to walk very fast The feet couldn't move one before the other

as yours do. they could only cling like little suckers, by which he

pulled himself slowly along from place to place. Nevertheless, he was

very proud of this accomplishment; and sometimes this pride led him to

an unjust contempt for his neighbors, as you will see by and by. He was

very particular about his eating; and besides his mouth, which lay in

the centre of his body, he had a little scarlet-colored sieve through

which he strained the water he drank. For he couldn't think of taking in

common seawater with every thing that might be floating in it,--that

would do for crabs and lobsters and other common people; but anybody who

wears such a lovely purple coat, and has brothers and sisters dressed in

crimson, feels a little above such living.



Now, one day this star-fish set out on a summer journey,--not to the

seaside where you and I went last year: of course not, for he was there

already. No; he thought he would go to the mountains. He could not go to

the Rocky Mountains, nor to the Catskill Mountains, nor the White

Mountains; for, with all his accomplishments, he had not yet learned to

live in any drier place than a pool among the rocks, or the very wettest

sand at low tide: so, if he travelled to the mountains, it must be to

the mountains of the sea.



Perhaps you didn't know that there are mountains in the sea. I have seen

them, however, and I think you have, too,--at least their tops, if

nothing more. What is that little rocky ledge, where the lighthouse

stands, but the stony top of a hill rising from the bottom of the sea?

And what are the pretty green islands, with their clusters of trees and

grassy slopes, but the summits of hills lifted out of the water?



In many parts of the sea, where the water is deep, are hills and even

high mountains, whose tops do not reach the surface; and we should not

know where they are, were it not that the sailors, in measuring the

depth of the sea, sometimes sail right over these mountain-tops, and

touch them with their sounding-lines.



The star fish set out one day, about five hundred years ago, to visit

some of these mountains of the sea. If he had depended upon his own feet

for getting there, it would have taken him till this day, I verily

believe; but he no more thought of walking, than you or I should think

of walking to China. You shall see how he travelled. A great train was

coming, down from the Northern seas; not a railroad train, but a water

train, sweeping on like a river in the sea. Its track lay along near the

bottom of the ocean; and above you could see no sign of it, any more

than you can see the cars while they go through the tunnel under the

street. The principal passengers by this train were icebergs, who were

in the habit of coming down on it every year, in order to reduce their

weight by a little exercise; for they grow so very large and heavy up

there in the North every winter, that some sort of treatment is really

necessary to them when summer comes. I only call the icebergs the

principal passengers, because they take up so much room; for thousands

and millions of other travellers come with them,--from the white bears

asleep on the bergs, and brought away quite against their will, to the

tiniest little creatures rocking in the cradles of the ripples, or

clinging to the delicate branches of the sea-mosses. I said you could

see no sign of the great water train from above: that was not quite

true, for many of the icebergs are tall enough to lift their heads far

up into the air, and shine with a cold, glittering splendor in the

sunlight; and you can tell, by the course in which they sail, which way

the train is going deep down in the sea.



The star-fish took passage on this train. He didn't start at the

beginning of the road, but got in at one of the way-stations somewhere

off Cape Cod, fell in with some friends going South, and had altogether

a pleasant trip of it. No wearisome stopping-places to feed either

engine or passengers; for this train moves by a power that needs no

feeding on the way, and the passengers are much in the habit of eating

their fellow-travellers by way of frequent luncheons.



In the course of a few weeks, our five-fingered traveller is safely

dropped in the Caribbean Sea; and, if you do not know where that sea is,

I wish you would take your map of North America and find it, and then

you can see the course of the journey, and understand the story better.

This Caribbean Sea is as full of mountains as New Hampshire and Vermont

are; but none of them have caps of snow like that which Mount Washington

sometimes wears, and some of them are built up in a very odd way, as you

will presently see.



Now the star-fish is floating in the warm, soft water among the

mountains, turning up first one eye and then another to see the wonders

about him, or looking all around, before and behind and both sides at

once,--as you can't do, if you try ever so hard,--while his fifth eye is

on the lookout for sharks, besides; and he meets with a soft little

body, much smaller than himself, and not half so handsomely dressed, who

invites him to visit her relatives, who live by millions in this

mountain region. "And come quickly, if you please," she says, "for I

begin to feel as if I must fix myself somewhere; and I should like, if

possible, to settle down near my brothers and sisters on the Roncador

Bank."





CAN IT BE TRUE? CHAPTER II. CORALTOWN ON RONCADOR BANK. facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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