On the day that the handsome merboy joined Pearl's class, the mermaid was determined to go out with him. When the first school-break came around, Pearl put on her most charming smile and swayed over to him.
"I suppose you've been eager to meet me", started the girl, with a flutter of her lashes.
The boy didn't seem to hear her. "Red hair,..."he sighed.
Pearl's smile soured. "I beg your pardon?"
The boy seemed lost in a daze. "She has the prettiest red hair,..."
"My hair is blond," corrected Pearl.
"Oh,...I'm sorry!", answered the boy as he came out of his trance. "Do you know the name of that girl over there?"
Pearl's eyes narrowed, as she followed his stare. It was Ariel! Plain, awkward little Ariel! That princess wasn't about to steal this prize away!
After school, Ariel swam eagerly for home; she and Flounder had found a bag of round, colored stones in an old shipwreck and she wanted to ask Sebastian what the Humans used them for. Before she could see the crab, however, the girl had to pick up some things in the marketplace. While at her first stop, Ariel felt someone tap her on the shoulder. It was Pearl.
"Hi, Pearl!", started the girl.
Pearl cleared her throat. "Dear little Ariel", she interrupted. "I'm here because I just can't bear another day of school watching your predicament."
"My,...predicament?", asked Ariel, in confusion.
Pearl sighed. "You need not cover it up. After-all, you're not to blame for your looks; you were born like that."
Ariel stared; angrily. "What's wrong with my looks?"
Pearl gave a short laugh. "Don't get huffy with me! I'm just trying to help you out."
"I don't see that I look any worse than any other mermaid", declared Ariel.
"Do you have any boyfriends?", challenged Pearl.
The girl shrank back and blushed. "Well,...no,..but I,...haven't really thought about it."
Pearl smirked and fluttered her lashes in disbelief. "Really, Ariel! Of course you've thought about it. You aren't noticed. And I can tell you why".
Ariel looked up, in alarm. "Why!?"
"It's your hair."
"My,...hair?", stammered Ariel.
Pearl nodded. "Boys don't like red hair. To be brutally-honest, they hate red hair.
Ariel pulled her red locks with her fingers and looked fearfully at it. "They don't like my red hair? I,...I never knew."
Pearl smiled. "Now you know. And despite your snapping at me before, I'm going to help you out and get you some boyfriends." Pearl pulled out a small bottle of dark liquid. "Shampoo with this tonight."
Ariel hesitantly took the bottle. "What will it do?"
"Your hair will take on the most beautiful colors of the rainbow. Boys will flock to you like minnows."
"What's a rainbow?"
Pearl sighed. "Oh,...it's something from the world above."
Ariel grinned with delight. "Colors from above! I,...don't know what to say! Thank you Pearl!"
"Don't mention it", laughed Pearl.
"I'll use it tonight! As soon as I get home!"
"You do that. Come tomorrow, your only problem will be choosing which boy to go out with first".
Ariel grinned and hugged the bottle to her.
When Ariel got back to the palace, Flounder was there to meet her. "Ready to go see Sebastian?", he asked eagerly.
The mergirl smiled. "I've gotta do something else first,...shampoo my hair!"
Flounder looked puzzled. "Shampoo your hair?"
Ariel brought out the bottle and showed it to him. "Yeah! With this! It's gonna make my hair pretty!"
"But,...I think your hair is pretty already", declared the little fish.
Ariel sighed and shook her head. "Boys don't think so. Boys hate red hair".
"I've never heard that before", puzzled her friend.
"Well; it's true", continued the girl, "and this stuff is gonna get rid of it."
Flounder shook his head. "Maybe you should think about this first, Ariel. I mean,...that's a big decision,..."
"Ariel!", called a deep voice. It was her father.
"Coming Daddy!", answered the girl.
She swam for the throne room, with Flounder trailing behind. Ariel's sisters were already there, and Triton spoke, after Ariel swam up. "We will be having some guests, tomorrow night, so I want all of you to be on your best behavior."
"Yes, Daddy", answered the girls.
Ariel swam to the Princesses' bathing room, then looked back at Flounder. "You can't come in here, silly! Wait and I'll be out in a minute."
The little fish blushed. "Oh,...sorry!", he gasped, and hot-finned it out.
Ariel bent over one of the large bath tubs and turned on the hot-spring faucet above it. The girl pulled at one of her long red locks. It glistened under the light.
"I've always,...liked my hair," she whispered. A tear welled into her eyes. "Why don't boys like my hair?"
Ariel opened the bottle and poured some of the shampoo into her hand. She stared at it for a long time, as tears trickled down her cheeks. Her long red hair rippled down her arms and she couldn't help but stare at it.
With a sniffle, the girl returned the shampoo to the bottle. "I like my hair." Ariel washed off her hands and wiped away her tears.
When she swam out of the bathing room, Flounder gasped, "Your hair! It's,...still red!"
The girl smiled at her friend. "Yeah,...if I ever do get a boyfriend, he'll have to like me the way I am; red hair and all."
Flounder hugged the girl. "You did right. And I like your hair just the way it is!"
Ariel hugged her friend back. "Thanks, Flounder."
That evening, Pearl came to the palace; in pretense to see Alana. Actually, she wanted to hear about the results of Ariel's shampoo. "So,...how is your little sister doing?", asked the girl, as she tried to supress a grin.
Alana shrugged. "Fine, I guess. You saw her today at school, didn't you?"
"Well,...I heard her say something about trying a new look", hinted Pearl.
Alana shook her head. "I haven't noticed anything. She did say something about her hair, during dinner.
"Yes?", asked Pearl, with a smile.
"She said that she thought her hair was pretty. Kind-of odd statement from Ariel; she usually doesn't pay much attention to her appearence."
Pearl's grin sunk into a frown. She fumed, silently, to herself. That little wall-flower hadn't even used it!. Suddenly, she got an idea. "I'll be back in a minute; got to visit the powder room."
"Oh; sure Pearl!, returned Alana. "You know the way; right?"
It didn't take Pearl long to find the Princesses' bathing room. The mermaid chuckled, slyly, when she found the bottle of shampoo that she had given to Ariel, beside one of the tubs. She quickly spied Ariel's regular shampoo nearby. Carefully, Pearl poured some of her shampoo into Ariel's bottle. "All's fair in love and war", snickered the girl, as she swam out.
The next morning, Ariel got ready for school, as usual. Her sisters were the first ones to notice her hair, as she got out of her bath; they gaped at her with silent shock. The little mermaid knew instantly that something was terribly wrong, and felt her stomach knot with fear. Rushing to her mirror, Ariel let out a cry of horror. her hair was green!
"I,...I,...", stammered the girl; looking from the mirror to her wide-eyed sisters.
The girls showed up for breakfast very late, so the King turned a frown upon them as they took their seats around the table Then he saw Ariel.
"Ariel, dear. Why are you wearing that towel?", asked Triton.
"My hair,...I,..uh,...slept on it, last night. It's a mess", stammered the girl.
Triton returned to his breakfast. "Well; make sure that you "unmess" it before going to school".
"Yes, Daddy", gulped the girl.
When Ariel swam into her classroom, all eyes turned to her. All except Pearl; she was trying not to burst out laughing. Ariel had wound a purple scarf of kelp all around her hair; creating an enourmous turban. She looked and felt ridiculous.
Sebastian entered the room and tapped his stick. "Good morning, class. Today, we're going,...Ariel!! What is dat ting on your head?!"
The girl blushed and tried to smile. "It's,...a hat."
The crab frowned. "And just how do you suppose Jack is going to see over dat ting?"
"I'll,...trade places with him!", offered the little mermaid.
"Dere will be no "hats" in my classroom. Remove it, please."
Ariel shrank into her chair. "Can I,...talk to you, Sebastian?"
The crab sighed, then swam over to the girl, who whispered in his ear.
"You got what?!", exclaimed the crab. The whole class was giggling and whispering by this time.
Sebastian shook his head and returned to his desk. "Jack, just try to look around Ariel; okay? Now; let's get on with the lesson,..."
This wasn't going as Pearl had hoped, so she pointed at Ariel and shrieked in feigned horror, "Ariel's got green hair!!"
Everyone started, and gasped at the poor girl. Ariel threw her hands to her scarf; so upset and trembling that she dislodged the wrap and it unwound, exposing her shocking green hair.
The whole class gasped,...then started laughing. Ariel fled the room, in tears.
Pearl looked over, with satisfaction, at the new boy; he was laughing his head off. So much for Ariel stealing him away now!
Ariel snuck back into the palace and hid in her room the whole day. When evening came, Flounder came by to see her and found the girl hiding her hair under her bed-sheet.
"Uh,...Ariel? What's wrong?", he stammered.
The girl revealed her green hair and the little fish gasped.
"It was an accident!", cried Ariel. "This morning, I must have used the wrong shampoo by mistake!"
"Does your father know?", asked Flounder, nervously.
"No. Not yet. But I've got to be at that dinner tonight! What am I gonna do?!"
Sebastian swam into the room; he had come straight to the palace as soon as he could.
"You got your tail in a mess of trouble now, girl!", scolded the crab.
"It wasn't her fault!", defended Flounder.
Sebastian sighed. "Well,...if you're gonna be at dat dinner tonight, we gotta tink up something quick." The crab put a claw to his chin, in thought.
"What about a hat?", offered Flounder.
"She already tried dat at school. It didn't work", answered the crab. "No; we need something to,...color her hair."
"Like what?", asked the fish.
That evening, Triton ushered his guests, the Finleys, to the dining room. After seating them on either side of him, the King took his own seat at the head of the table.
"I'm pleased to introduce my wonderful daughters ,..."
The Princesses swam into the room and joined their guests. Ariel sat as far away from her father as possible.
The King looked over at the girl, with puzzlement. Her hair had never looked more lustrous; almost with a wet shine,..."
"And here is my chief advisor; Sebastian, continued Triton."If he looks worn out, that's because it was his turn to be guest teacher today!"
The crab nodded, then took his place at the dinner table next to Ariel. Flounder was introduced as Ariel's friend and allowed to join her at the table, too.
"Well now! Otto has prepared a delicious dinner for us tonight," promised the King.
Mr. Finley, a rather stout merman, grinned. "Good! I've brought a big appetite!"
Triton laughed,...then glanced over at Ariel again. Something was,...different about his little girl tonight, but he couldn't put his finger on it,...
Ariel looked back at her father, with a wide grin, as she whispered out the side of her mouth to Sebastian. "This,...isn't,...going to work!"
Sebastian grinned, nervously. "Dat's not a happy thought, child! Tink positive!"
Mr. Finley laughed. "I'm so hungry, I can smell the plankton pate already!"
Arista smiled. "So can I,..."
Ariel shot her sister a glare.
"Plankton pate is my favorite", added Mrs. Finley. "Especially sea-cherry plankton pate!"
"We may be out of that", noted Arista.
"So! What did you say you did for a living?", blurted Sebastian to Mr. Finley.
"I sell plankton pate", answered the merman.
Sebastian grimaced and covered his face with his claw, as Ariel sunk into her chair.
"I sure am hungry!", gasped Flounder, desperately.
Triton smiled. "Well,...here comes Otto now!"
The octopus brought out their dinners. He paused beside Ariel and looked at her hair, curiously. "Princess; that can't be,..."
"It isn't", affirmed Sebastian.
Otto stared at them, then left the room; still puzzled.
"This kelp casserole is delicious!", mumbled Mr. Finley, between mouthfuls.
Ariel nodded in agreement, and some of her "hair-color" splattered onto Sebastian's plate.
"Thank you! We're very proud of Otto", answered the King.
Sebastian noticed the pate on his plate and took a bite. The crab smacked his lips with enjoyment.
"Where did you pick him up?", continued Mr. Finley.
Sebastian began to take nibbles off of Ariel's hair.
"He was working at an inn near the marketplace; he already had quite a reputation for his cooking. Isn't that right, Sebastian?". The King's eyebrows raised when he saw the crab munching on Ariel's hair.
"Oh,...yes! Yes, your Majesty! Quite a reputation! So, Mr. Flipper; what do you do for a living?"
"Mr FINLEY sells plankton pate", growled Triton. "He's already told us that."
"My husband buys the plankton from the farmers and I make the pate", noted Mrs. Finley.
Mr. Finley gulped down another mouthful of kelp casserole and nodded.
"I love the stuff, but I'm a mess by the end of the day! It's so sticky that I get it all over me!", laughed the merwoman.
"Ariel has that problem too, chimed Arista.
Sebastian was absentmindedly munching on Ariel's hair again; Flounder stared, horror-struck, over at him and nudged the girl. Ariel yanked her hair away from the crab, while trying to keep her composure.
"Making it all day; you'd think she'd get tired of eating it!",added Mr. Finley.
Triton began to feel like something was very odd about this dinner.
After the first course, Otto brought out the next, and passed it around. "Plankton pate for everyone!", he announced cheerfully.
The King looked over at Ariel,... and it suddenly dawned on him. Plankton,...pate.
After dinner, King Triton ushered his guests to their carriage, then returned to the dining room.
"You were all very gracious tonight", complemented the King to his daughters. "I'm proud of all of you."
"Thank you, Father", said the girls. They turned to swim to their rooms; Ariel was hot-finning it away as Triton caught up to her.
"Ariel, dear. I know I'm going to regret asking you this, but why is your hair covered with plankton pate?
Sebastian spoke up; dryly. "It looked better than green hair."
Ariel smiled, shyly, up at her father, and shrugged.
By the next day, Ariel's classmates treated her hair as old news, and Pearl was too busy cuddling with the new boy to even notice her at all. By the end of the week, the hair-color had completely washed out, and Ariel's hair was back to it's normal, beautiful red again.
The girl smiled at Flounder after her ordeal was over. "I'm sure glad to have my red hair back again!"
"Yeah! And you don't have to wear plankton pate any more!", laughed Flounder.
Suddenly, Pearl came swimming up with a desperate expression on her face. "Ariel!! Ariel!! You've got to help me!!"
"What's wrong, Pearl?", asked the girl.
"It's that new boy at school! He wants to marry me! He follows me around everywhere! I can't get rid of him! Please help me!"