HOW SAMMY WENT TO CORAL-LAND
HOW SAMMY WENT TO CORAL-LAND
EMILY PARET ATWATER
I. HOW SAMMY WENT OUT TO SEE THE WORLD
II. HOW SAMMY ESCAPED FROM THE SHARK AND MADE THE ACQUAINTANCE OF THE
III. THE STAR-FISH THE UNSOCIABLE OYSTERS AND THE PILOT
IV. ON TO CORAL-LAND
V. IN CORAL-LAND
List of Illustrations
HERMIT-CRAB IN SHELL
Meteor proved very friendly indeed
A Terribly Fierce Monster is the Hammerheaded Shark
The Enemy the Pilot-Fish Dreaded Most of All
The Remora Has a Wonderful Flat Apparatus on its Head
One of the Pilot-Fish's Favorite Yarns was about the Torpedo-Fish
The Treacherous Sea-Devil and an Unwary Fish
One of the School of Flying-Fish which Sammy Met
A Curious Inhabitant of Coral-Land
Another Curious Inhabitant of Coral-Land
A COLONY OF SEA-ANEMONES
A SCENE IN CORAL-LAND SHOWING STAR-SHAPED FLOWERS OF CORAL AND
COCKLE SHOWING FOOT
HOW SAMMY WENT TO CORAL-LAND
"Well children" said grandma "which shall it be fairy stories
stories about giants or 'really truly' stories?"
They had been spending a month at the seashore grandma Bob and
Eleanor. Little Bob had been very ill in the spring and when hot
weather came the doctor ordered sea air and sea bathing to bring back
color to the pale cheeks and strength to the thin little body.
But Bob's father was a poor country parson and there seemed no way to
fill the doctor's prescription. At this juncture grandma like the
charming fairy godmother that she was appeared on the scene. She knew
a quiet spot (one of the few still in existence) where there were no
big hotels no board-walks and no merry-go-rounds. It was the very
place where she wanted to go to get rid of her rheumatism; Bob and
Eleanor should go with her and their father and mother could follow
later when the parson's vacation came.
It took but a short time to carry out this delightful plan and at the
opening of my story the children had already been a week at the
seashore. Such fun as they had been having bathing digging in the
sand gathering shells and seaweed or sitting quietly with grandma
under the big umbrella watching the waves break and roll up on the
shore! And after supper there was always that pleasant half hour on
the little balcony overlooking the ocean when grandma told her
They were all sitting there on this particular evening grandma in her
big rocking-chair and Bob and Eleanor on their favorite cushions at
her feet. The little folks had been begging for their usual treat for
grandma's stories were delightful and her fund of knowledge (to the
children) quite limitless.
"I'm getting too old for fairy stories" said Eleanor who was eleven
and had advanced ideas. "Only real _little_ children believe in
goblins and giants and I'm in the third reader now."
"I like 'em" said dreamy nine-year old Bob "fairies and giants can
always do things that just ordinary people can't. Please do tell us
some fairy stories grandma."
"No true stories" insisted Eleanor.
"How would it do to make a compromise?" suggested grandma. "You were
asking me some questions yesterday about the shells seaweed and all
the fascinating things found on the shore. Suppose I tell you a story
about all the wonderful creatures that live in the ocean? The part of
it that tells how they live and grow and get their food will be all
true and I think Eleanor will find it more marvelous than the
make-believe part which will tell about the adventures and the
conversations that our hero had with the strange creatures that he met
with in his wanderings."
This proposition was agreeable; the children settled themselves
comfortably to listen and grandma with her eyes on a passing sail
HOW SAMMY WENT OUT TO SEE THE WORLD
Once upon a time there lived in the depths of a deep tranquil pool a
young salmon whom we will call "Sammy" for short. He was a very
handsome fish and decidedly vain of his good looks. His flesh was a
beautiful pink and the scales that form the armor or coat-of-mail of
most fishes were particularly handsome on Sammy and glittered with
many colors in the sunlight. He had a very graceful shape besides and
his fins were the envy of all the young fish of his acquaintance.
Almost all fishes have a great many fins and although they differ
sometimes in position and number according to the fish the most
important ones are the Dorsal fin which stands straight up from the
back the Caudal fin which is in the end of the tail and the
Pectoral fins which are at the sides and take the place of feet in
These fins all help to make the fish the splendid swimmers that they
are and are large and strong or small and weak according to which
part of the water the fish inhabits. If he prefers the surface of the
ocean or a large body of water his fins must be large enough and
strong enough to battle against fierce waves and strong tides while
the fish who lives far below where the water is more calm finds his
weaker fins ample for his needs. The long oval body which most fishes
possess is another great help in gliding rapidly through the water.
Like others of his kind Sammy had a very strong spine in which was an
air-bladder. By pressing the air out of this he could swim easily at a
great depth and by inflating it to let the air in like a balloon he
could rise and swim along the surface.
Sammy's eyes were large and round and he could see splendidly
especially when the water was clear. His hearing as well as his sense
of smell was also good and he breathed through the gills on each side
of his throat. When taken out of the water the fish really dies of
suffocation for the water that enters its throat and flows out
through the gills is the air that keeps it alive.
Sammy's maiden aunt an old fish who lived in the same stream with
him used to tell strange tales of fish that can live several days out
of water by reason of the different formation of their gills.
One of these is a tropical fish called the Anabas. It has very strong
Pectoral fins which it uses like feet when on land and it will even
climb trees to catch the insects which it eats.
Another fish of this sort is the Frog-Fish a hideous creature which
is caught near Asia. It can crawl about a room if shut up in one and
looks exactly like an ugly frog.
But the most wonderful of all is a South American fish called the
Hassar. It usually lives in pools of water inland and if the pool
where it is happens to dry up it will travel a whole night over land
in search of a new home. It is an experienced traveler and is said to
supply itself with water for its journey. If the Hassar finds all the
pools and streams dried up it will bury itself in the sand and fall
into a kind of stupor until the rainy season comes around and brings
it back to life.
"Aunt Sheen" so called from the beauty of her skin used to tell
Sammy another story about this famous fish. It seems that the Hassar
builds a nest just like a bird only hers is under water along the
reeds and rushes of some shore. The nest is made of vegetable fibres
and is shaped like a hollow ball flat at the top. From a hole in this
ball the mother can pass in and out and she watches over her nest
with the most tender care until the young ones leave it.
Fishermen catch the Hassar by holding a basket in front of the nest
and beating it with sticks. When the poor mother comes out to defend
her family she falls into the basket and is captured.
"And serves her right too" Aunt Sheen always concluded. "Building a
nest and watching over it is a silly thing for a sensible fish to do.
No one ever thinks of such behavior except some miserable little fish
called Sticklebacks and a few other inferior kinds. Why couldn't she
leave her spawn in a quiet place somewhere near the shore and then
let them hatch out and look after themselves? That's the way I was
Now this speech may sound very unkind and even heartless but leaving
the young to look after themselves is the customary thing among
fishes. And when you consider that one mother fish often has many
hundreds of children it is not to be wondered at that she finds it
impossible to take care of such a very large family.
The deep sea fishes come to the shore in the breeding season deposit
their eggs or spawn in some convenient spot sometimes in the
seaweed or in vegetable matter sometimes in the sand on rocks or
in little secluded pools and then they bother themselves no more
about their offspring.
The salmon and some other kinds of sea fish go up the rivers and
streams inland to deposit their young. Salmon are very strong and
they can make tremendous leaps and shoot up rapids with great
swiftness. Indeed the salmon is one of the most rapid swimmers in the
fish family and it is said that one salmon could make a tour of the
world in a few weeks.
Sammy was very proud of his family as well he might be for his
maiden aunt was always telling stories of their relations and
Aunt Sheen was a big fish the oldest and largest not only in her own
pool but in all the salmon stream. In her youth she had been a great
traveler and seen many wonderful sights and was regarded with awe and
admiration by the younger fish. But she had grown fat and lazy with
age and was now content to spend the remainder of her days in this
quiet stream which hid itself among the northern pines a good many
miles from the sea.
It was a pleasant place with deep still pools here and there in the
shade nice slippery mossy rocks to hide under and sunlit shallows
where the water rippled over the white pebbles or leaped musically
down a tiny waterfall.
Such merry times as Sammy and his companions had chasing each other up
and down the stream leaping the waterfall jumping over the rocks
and playing hide-and-seek in the shallows. Then there was always the
excitement of watching for the flies and different insects that
hovered near and which made delicious meals when caught. The young
salmon used to boast of the flies they had captured just as boys and
men do of their luck in fishing.
But our hero soon grew tired of this quiet life. It seemed very stupid
and humdrum when compared with Aunt Sheen's marvelous tales of the
great ocean and the strange sights and thrilling adventures that
there awaited the voyager. He was larger than his brothers and
sisters his sea-going instinct was strong within him he longed for
the wonders of the great unknown world and grew tired of Aunt
Sheen's repeated warnings.
This old fish always professed to be entirely uninterested in the
doings of her youthful relatives. It was a matter of creed with her.
But in spite of this fact she was very fussy over the young fish and
gave them a great deal of what Sammy considered tiresome advice.
"There is safety in numbers" was her favorite saying. "When you want
to go on a journey wait until your companions are ready and go in a
school. Dreadful things always happen to young fish if they start out
by themselves they get eaten by sharks or caught by those awful
two-legged monsters on land and the devil-fish is always on the
lookout for them."
"But" Sammy would protest "you have always said that some of the
most terrible experiences you ever had came when you were with a lot
of others. That time you were nearly speared going up the rapids you
were in a school and when you were caught in the net and it broke--"
"It wouldn't have broken if there hadn't been a school of fish in it"
interrupted his aunt tartly. "That just proves what I say; the weight
of so many made the hole and so I escaped.
"The only time when I came near getting caught was once when I was
alone and got a hook in my gills. My! it was terrible! I ought to have
known better but I was very hungry that morning and when I saw that
beautiful fly hanging over the water--"
But Sammy had heard this story many times before and was tired of the
"I don't want to wait any longer for these lazy brothers and sisters
of mine to get ready" he said crossly. "Besides if I did go in a
school _I_ might get speared or caught so that the rest could
get away and that would not suit me a bit. I'd rather risk the
"You are an impertinent young fish" said Aunt Sheen and she retired
under her favorite rock in a rage.
That night when everything was very still and all the world seemed
asleep alone and unobserved Sammy swam quietly down stream and
started alone on his wanderings.
It was a lovely moonlight night and only the faint sighing of the
wind in the pine-trees broke the silence.
On and on swam Sammy following the stream as it twisted and turned now
in the shadow now in the moonlight. Now it flowed along straight and
smooth with scarcely a ripple its banks sweet with dew-soaked wild
flowers and now it dashed against a huge rock which partly blocked
its path or glided swiftly over shallow rapids.
All night long Sammy kept on his way and all the time he felt that he
was gradually going down down down as the stream crept towards the
The next morning he found himself in a strange country. The little
stream down which he had been traveling had become a river. There were
houses here and there on the shores cultivated fields and
pasture-lands and in some places cattle browsed on the banks or
stood knee-deep in the water.
The strange sights and sounds filled Sammy with awe and something
like fear. He kept carefully in deep water and occasionally hid under
a rock when he saw a big strange fish approaching for he knew that
large fish often ate smaller ones.
Once in a while he stopped to ask a question of some brother salmon as
to the right way to go but the answer was always "Follow the river
and you can't go wrong" and follow the river he did.
When noon came he was fortunate enough to catch several fat flies
which made a delicious meal. Then he rested and dozed for a time in
the shade of the bank after which feeling much refreshed he started
again on his journey.
For a day or so he traveled on stopping only for a little rest and
food and getting more and more eager and excited all the time as he
neared his destination.
Once the journey came near having an untimely ending for unheeding
Aunt Sheen's caution as to strange flies he leaped eagerly at a
particularly beautiful one poised over his head. Fortunately for our
hero a strong puff of wind blew the fly aside at that moment but not
before the cruel hook which was concealed in it had grazed his tender
A good deal scared by his adventure and feeling much less
self-confident Sammy swam away resolved to avoid all suspicious
insects in the future. He had several other narrow escapes at this
stage of his journey but they are not important enough to mention
But always as he journeyed on the river grew wider and wider deeper
and deeper. Strange dark shapes passed over his head strange fish
swam past him the banks seemed very far away and the currents were
strong and hard to swim against.
For quite a while there had been a new and delightfully salt taste and
smell to the water it became stronger and stronger as he went on;
then there was a roar of breakers along the shores and the swift tide
swept Sammy away from the river's mouth and out into the vast ocean.
HOW SAMMY ESCAPED FROM THE SHARK AND MADE THE ACQUAINTANCE OF THE
Oh a wily old crab is the Hermit-Crab
And a crafty old crab is he!
His home he makes in a stolen cell
And the passing stranger he loves full well
But beware of his hospitality!
For a hungry old crab is the Hermit-Crab
And a wicked old crab is he.
"Dear me! what a very large place the sea is" said Sammy. He had gone
quite a distance before he realized that the occasion for hurry was
now over and then he rose gracefully to the surface and looked about
him. Overhead stretched the blue sky speckled with fleecy white
clouds and off in the distance a long line of white sand showed the
shore line against which the incoming tide sent its undulating
billows. Near the shore circled a flock of sea-gulls and far away
where sea and sky seemed to meet the white sails of a ship gleamed in
the sun. In every other direction as far as the eye could reach
stretched the blue waters of the ocean.
Presently a large fish sprang from the waves his silvery scales
sparkling in the sun then fell back with a gentle splash. This
recalled Sammy to himself and diving hastily below he swam slowly
about looking at his surroundings with a good deal of curiosity.
It was a strange world on which he gazed. Water was everywhere above
below and on all sides and strange weeds and vegetables grew up from
hidden rocks. A graceful jelly-fish floated past expanding and
contracting its umbrella-shaped body and waving about its long arms
or tentacles. Queer fish of all shapes and sizes swam about the
larger ones eying the stranger curiously the smaller keeping at a
But Sammy had a very friendly feeling towards them all and was just
about to speak to a near-by fish whose appearance seemed to indicate
that he might belong to the Salmon family when suddenly there was a
general hurrying out of the way on all sides. Many of the fish dived
quickly below to hide in some convenient spot and the more rapid
swimmers took to their fins with great haste.
Turning quickly to see the cause of the commotion Sammy discovered a
large and very hungry-looking shark just behind him. The creature had
a hideous mouth with several rows of sharp teeth and while not
dangerous to man this Dog-Fish or Blue Shark has a great liking for
young and tender fish.
This fact our hero instantly divined and sped away as fast as his
fins could carry him Mr. Shark in hot pursuit. Sammy had the
advantage of being some distance from his enemy when discovered but
sharks are extremely swift swimmers and for a time it seemed as if
poor Sammy's fate was sealed. No matter how hard he swam the monster
slowly gained on him. No race with his playfellows in the stream at
home was ever so exciting as this. All the famous swimming qualities