Falling in Love eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 331 pages of information about Falling in Love.
of its spines flattened out into long thin streaming filaments, utterly indistinguishable in hue and shape from the fucus round which the creature clings for support with its prehensile tail.  Only a rude and shapeless rough draught of a head, vaguely horse-like in contour, and inconspicuously provided with an unobtrusive snout and a pair of very unnoticeable eyes, at all suggests to the most microscopic observer its animal nature.  Taken as a whole, nobody could at first sight distinguish it in any way from the waving weed among which it vegetates.

Clearly, this curious Australian cousin of the Mediterranean sea-horses has acquired so marvellous a resemblance to a bit of fucus in order to deceive the eyes of its ever-watchful enemies, and to become indistinguishable from the uneatable weed whose colour and form it so surprisingly imitates.  Protective resemblances of the sort are extremely common among the pipe-fish family, and the reason why they should be so is no doubt sufficiently obvious at first sight to any reflecting mind—­such, for example, as the intelligent reader’s.  Pipe-fish, as everybody knows, are far from giddy.  They do not swim in the vortex of piscine dissipation.  Being mostly small and defenceless creatures, lurking among the marine vegetation of the shoals and reefs, they are usually accustomed to cling for support by their snake-like tails to the stalks or leaves of those submerged forests.  The omniscient schoolboy must often have watched in aquariums the habits and manners of the common sea-horses, twisted together by their long thin bodies into one inextricable mass of living matwork, or anchored firmly with a treble serpentine coil to some projecting branch of coralline or of quivering sea-wrack.  Bad swimmers by nature, utterly unarmed, and wholly undefended by protective mail, the pipe-fish generally can neither fight nor run away:  and therefore they depend entirely for their lives upon their peculiar skulking and lurking habits.  Their one mode of defence is not to show themselves; discretion is the better part of their valour; they hide as much as possible among the thickest seaweed, and trust to Providence to escape observation.

Now, with any animals thus constituted, cowards by hereditary predilection, it must necessarily happen that the more brightly coloured or obtrusive individuals will most readily be spotted and most unceremoniously devoured by their sharp-sighted foes, the predatory fishes.  On the other hand, just in proportion as any particular pipe-fish happens to display any chance resemblance in colour or appearance to the special seaweed in whose folds it lurks, to that extent will it be likely to escape detection, and to hand on its peculiarities to its future descendants.  A long-continued course of the simple process thus roughly described must of necessity result at last in the elimination of all the most conspicuous pipe-fish, and the survival of all those unobtrusive and retiring

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Falling in Love from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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