Friday, July 17, 2015


Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Undine who lived in the sea in a little village.*  She was lively and curious and mostly delightful.  She swam around and visited her friends.  She visited the schools of fish to see what they were learning, and she visited the reefs where some of the coral looked like a gently waving forest.

One place, she was not allowed to go.  Her father told her she must not go into the seaweed patch.  A nasty old octopus named Salaman lived there.

One day, she was swimming around looking for something new to do, and she found herself near... the seaweed patch.  She saw three little flowers growing among the seaweed - a red one, a yellow one, and a blue one - and she thought how beautiful they would look in her hair.  (Little girls think things like that, but I don't know why.)  Being a normal little girl, she didn't understand why her father told her not to go there, so she thought the reasons couldn't be that good.

She swam around for a little bit, working up her courage, and thinking, "If I just swim up quickly to the edge and pick a flower, I wouldn't be in the seaweed patch."  You see, Best Beloved, what she was doing there?  She was trying to see just how much she could get away with and still be OK.

So, taking a deep breath,** she darted over to the edge of the seaweed patch and snatched the red flower and darted back away.  She put the flower in her hair and looked up at the surface of the smooth sea to see what it looked like.  (Sometimes the underside of the surface looks like a mirror - it's pretty neat!)  The flower looked even more beautiful than she expected.

Well, she didn't know it, but Salaman was deep in the darky parts of the seaweed patch, and he'd been watching her idly.  After she picked the flower, he began to watch more attentively, and he moved closer to the flowers (octopi are cagey and opportunistic that way).  He stayed deep in the shadows because the sun hurt his eyes.

Undine swam around a bit more looking at those other flowers.  Yellow sure would look good with red.  So she worked up her courage again, skittered over, and snatched the yellow flower.  She put it in her hair and looked at herself again.  Gorgeous!

She thought to herself, "I don't know what Daddy was on about with the seaweed patch.  There's nothing here.  Besides, everyone knows flower arrangements look much better with three flowers than with two."

So she sauntered back over to pick the blue flower, and.... SALAMAN'S TENTACLE SHOT OUT AND GRABBED HER WRIST!.  She struggled, but he pulled her into the seaweed patch.

Salaman chuckled and said (in his best villain voice), "Aha! I've caught you, Undine!"  And he wrapped her in six of his arms and used the others to swim deeper in.

Undine cried, "What are you going to do?!"***

Salaman said, "What I do with all naughty little girls who disobey their Daddies: I'm going to make Undine stew!"

This puzzled Undine, so she asked, "What's Undine stew?"

Salaman said, "First, I'm going to make a roux.  Then, I'm going to chop up onions, green peppers, and celery and simmer them in the roux.  Then some okra, salt, pepper, thyme, shrimp and... Undine!  I'll serve it over rice."

Undine was even more puzzled.  She said, "Salaman, that's not stew; that's gumbo."

Salaman pondered a bit and said, "Fine, then: Undine gumbo.  Tomato/tomahto."

He went to his kitchen and started gathering up the ingredients while keeping one armicle on Undine's wrist.

Now, during their conversation, a passing, friendly porpoise heard them talking.  He knew Undine wasn't supposed to be in there, so he listened and grew concerned.

When Salaman's back was turned, the porpoise shot into the seaweed patch and butted Salaman right in the ribs.

Salaman said, "Oof!"

Then the porpoise whacked Salaman in the nose with his tail.

Salaman said, "Hey!  Quid id!" and held up all his armicles to fend the porpoise off, and when he let go of her wrist, Undine swam as quickly as she could out of the seaweed patch.

The porpoise joined her and said, "Just what were you doing in there?  I know your daddy told you to stay out of there."

Undine said, in one giant breath, "Idon'tknowIjustwantedtheprettyflowerssoIswamupandhegrabbedmeandsaidhewasgoingtomakeUndinestewbutitwasreallygumboand..."

The porpoise held up a flipper to stop her and said, "Okay, okay.  Let's go see your daddy."  So, they did.

By the time they got to the village, Undine had calmed herself considerably.  Sadly, she'd lost the flowers in the struggle.

They explained to her father what had happened, and he said, "Harumph.  You knew you were to stay away, but you went anyway.  I don't forbid things just to spoil your fun.  I do it to keep you safe.  I'll always explain the reasons if you want to hear them, but from now on, do what I say, OK?"

Undine sniffled and agreed.  She cried just a little, too, even though that's really hard to do under water.

From then on, she was a good little girl, and they lived happily ever after.

* I'm pretty sure this story came to be around the time of Disney's Little Mermaid.  I don't remember that story, so I don't know what, if any, similarities exist.  Undine isn't a mermaid, though. I mean, little girls can live perfectly well under the sea, but fins and tails instead of legs?  C'mon!

** Or whatever one takes under water.

*** We love interrobangs.

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