“It is done. I put on the diving dress. I take a rope about my waist, I descend. There a forest I find; very beautiful thing to see. Here we see green trees, and in your north, in fall of year, bright colours, but there colours of rainbow all the year round. In one place bright yellow, branch and twig of gold purely; the next, purple of a king’s garment, colour of roses, colour of peach-blossom in the spring. Past me, as I descend, float fans of the fan-coral, lilac, spreading a vine-work, trellis, as your word is. On the one side are cliffs of mountains, with caves in their sides, and from these caves I see come out many creatures; the band-fish, a long ribbon of silver with rose shining through; the Isabelle fish, it is violet and green and gold, like a queen. Under my feet, see, Colorado! sand white like the snow of your winter, fine, shining with many bright sparks. And this is a garden; for all on every hand flowers are growing. You have seen a cactus, that some lady keeps very careful in her window, tending that it die not? Yes! Here is the white ground covered with these flowers completely, only of more size hugely, crimson, pale, the heart of a rose, the heart of a young maiden. Sea-anemones are these, Colorado, many, many kinds, all very fine to see. And here, too, on the ground are my shells, not as here, when of their brightness the half is gone for want of the life and the water, but full of gleams very glorious, telling of greatness in their making. Here above the water, my little child, I find persons many who doubt of a great God who maketh all things for good, and to grow in the end better; but to have been under the sea, that is to know that it cannot be otherwise; a true sailor learns many things that are not fully known upon the land, where one sees not so largely His mercy.”
He was silent for a moment, and then went on, the child sitting rapt, gazing at him with eyes which saw all the wonders of which he told.
“All these things I saw through the clear water, as if through purest glass I looked. I broke the branches, which now you see white and cleaned, but then all splendid with these colours whereof I tell you. Many branches I broke, putting them in pouches about my waist and shoulders. At once, I see a waving in the water, over my head; I look up to see a shark swim slowly round and round, just having seen me, and making his preparations. I have my knife ready, for often have I met this gentleman before. I slip behind the coral tree, and wait; but he is a stupid beast, the shark, and knows not what to do when I come not out. So up I quickly climb through the branches, with care not to tangle the rope; he still looking for me at the spot where first he saw me. I gain the top, and with a few pulls of my good Rento on the rope, I am in the boat, and Sir Shark is snapping his teeth alone, very hungry, but not invited to dinner.”
“Do you think he was stronger than you?” asked the little boy. “You’re very strong, aren’t you? I should think you were as strong as sharks, and ’most as strong as whales.”