By Vita Forest
The whales! Those alluring, majestic glamourous creatures which Christabel La Mouse spent far too much time watching and admiring from the deck of her galleon… It was all very well to be high above them safe in the good ship Possession as it sailed on the ceiling, but Christabel had just read something very disturbing.
Her whales spent much of their time slumbering amongst the brightly-coloured corals of the Booth Seat. Or curled lazily atop a rocky outcrop called The Couch. Or occasionally sitting on The Tabletop and blinking peaceably as they quietly meditated.
What all these places had in common were that they were below the surface of the sea. Deep down in the water. So far down that they required her to use her spy glass to see more than a black or white smudge in the depths of the ocean. Which could otherwise have been mistaken for a boulder, or the shadow of a cloud, or an underwater cave.
But her book, this book she had chosen to read in order to learn more about these magnificent creatures, insisted that they were not fish at all. That they did, in fact, breathe air as she did. That they needed to come to the surface of the sea to take great gulps of it and to expel stale air out of their bodies in a violent, shooting spout through a hole located along their backs!
It was a lot for a small mouse to take in.
Imagine such a sight! Imagine the whales at the surface of the sea, where the good ship Possession floated… It made Christabel fairly quake in her boots just to think about it. Was it really possible? Could the authors be mistaken?
Her whales never rose to the upper edge of the sea where it met the air. And for this, Christabel was grateful. They instilled equal parts fascination and terror in her small mouse heart. What would she do if they came close enough to touch? Was it really possible they were known to capsize ships? It was a disturbing thought.
Christabel peered through her spyglass and trained it onto the top of their sleek sinuous bodies. Perhaps it was beyond the limit of her spyglass, perhaps it was her own weak eyes, but she could not make out a breathing hole along their spines.
This pair seemed to be a special case. Were they yet unknown to the scientists who spoke so authoritatively about spouts and breaching and plankton? She would need to read further. (And be alert for any mysterious jolts to the hull of the galleon.) Possibly (she hoped) these whales were different.
The world was indeed a mysterious place. And perhaps it was a good thing that there were still things to learn.
Especially about the sea.
Especially about whales.