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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 center 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 sea water, with everything 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 starfish set out on a summer journey, — not to the seashore 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 traveled to the mountains it must be to the mountains of the sea.
Perhaps you don'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, there are hills and even high mountains. Their 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 starfish 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 there than you or I would think of walking to China. You shall see how he traveled.
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 travelers come with them — from the white bears asleep on the icebergs, that are 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 starfish 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-travelers by way of frequent luncheons.
In the course of a few weeks, our five-fingered traveler was 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
has a cap of snow like that which Mount Washington sometimes wears.
'Now the starfish 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 ways at once, — as you can't do if you try ever so hard, — while his fifth eye is on the lookout for sharks. 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.”
THE CORAL GROVE DEEP in the wave is a coral grove, Where the purple mullet and goldfish rove; Where the sea flower spreads its leaves of blue That never are wet with falling dew,