ARIEL GOES TO AMERICA
It was a beautiful morning in the ocean, and Ariel wanted to start out early on her exploring. Right after breakfast, she went to get Flounder, then dropped by her father's throne room to ask permission to leave. Ariel's happy grin disappeared upon seeing the King; his face was drawn with worry.
"Daddy! What's wrong?", she asked, as she swam up and put her hand on his shoulder.
Triton came out of his deep thoughts and put on a smile for his daughter. "Oh,...nothing for you to be concerned with, dear. Why don't you and Flounder go along and play."
The girl looked at her father, then reluctantly nodded. She turned to her little fish friend. "Come on, Flounder. Daddy wants to be alone."
As soon as they were out of the throne room, Ariel swam behind a coral column.
"But,...I thought we were going exploring,...", started the fish.
Ariel motioned for him to shush. "Something's wrong", whispered the worried girl. "I'm gonna find out what it is; maybe I can help."
Quietly, the two friends swam closer to the throne. Ariel saw that one of Triton's soldiers was now talking with the King.
"This is the second ship that I've seen, your Majesty. The first had only two masts on it; this one had three."
"But it was the same message?", asked Triton.
"Yes, your Majeasty. Repeated every half hour."
Triton nodded. "Thank you Turbot. Tell the watch to continue tracking the ships. Advise me of any new messages."
"Yes, Sire", returned the soldier.
"One more thing, Captain. Tell Sebastian that I wish to speak with him."
Turbot bowed and swam off.
Ariel looked at Flounder, with puzzlement. "They were talking about ships,...Humans," she whispered .
"That's trouble!", groaned the little fish. Ariel edged closer to her father.
After a short while, Sebastian swam into the room, and bowed before the King.
Triton stroked his beard, nervously, as he looked at the crab. "Sebastian; what do you know about,...the United States of America?"
The crab shrugged. "It's just a kingdom of Humans, your Majesty. A big island north-west of here. Dey haven't been around a long time; about twenty years ago, they fought a war with their mother country."
"A war, huh? Another bunch of savages", growled the King.
"They're Humans. Dat should be expected, your Majesty", agreed the crab.
Triton sighed. "We've got a big problem on our hands, Sebastian."
"From dese Humans?"
Triton nodded. "Two of their ships have been circling above Atlantica all morning."
Ariel gasped, from her hiding place. What did the Humans want?
"They know about our kingdom", continued the King. "They've been calling for my surrender."
Sebastian bristled. "Surrender?! But we aren't at war with dem! What sort of nonsense is dat?!"
"I don't know how they could have found out about us. Merfolk don't visit the surface when Humans are around. Atlanticans have always been careful", sighed the King.
Ariel blushed and hung her head. Could she have been the cause of all of this?
"What are we going to do, you Majesty?", asked the worried crab.
"I have no choice. They say that they'll drop,...destructive devices onto the kingdom if I don't surrender myself. I will go."
"But you can fight them, your Majesty!", urged Sebastian. "Use your trident to blast their ships!"
The King shook his head. "They are Humans, Sebastian. A violent race which excels in destruction. If I should start a war, every Atlantican would be in danger. Perhaps, I will be enough for the savages. The trident and the crown will go to Aquata."
Ariel listened, with horror. "Oh, Flounder! What are we going to do?!"
The little fish shook his head, hopelessly.
"It's,..it's all my fault", whispered the girl. "Humans must have seen me when I visited the surface. They found out about us because of me." Ariel hid her face in her hands. "Daddy always warned me, but I didn't listen." The girl darted out of the throne room, in tears.
Flounder tried to follow, but she was too fast. "Ariel! Ariel, wait!" The little fish trembled, nervously. In this state, the girl might do anything! "Oh; what am I gonna do?", moaned Flounder. "Tell the King. Yeah! That's it!" Frantically, the fish swam back towards the palace. When he got there, Sebastian and the King were gone. "Oh, no! Where could they be?!", cried Flounder. Off he swam; looking for Triton.
He caught Dudley; waddling through the palace, and stopped him. "Have you seen the King?! It's very important!"
"Why,...yes,...I,...saw him,...just,...this,....morning", drawled the turtle.
"Where was he?!", urged the fish.
Flounder moaned. That was hours ago! "Thanks, Dudley!", shouted the fish; he was already swimming frantically away.
Flounder raced to the palace's front entrance. He turned to the guard at the door. "Did you see the King pass by just a little while ago?!"
The guard pointed towards some towers. "Yeah. He went that way."
Flounder shuddered, with apprehension. Every second was important and the King might be anywhere. The little fish was just about to dart out of the palace, when he heard Sebastian call behind him.
"Flounder! You haven't seen Ariel, have you? Her father wants to speak to her and the other Princesses."
Flounder shuddered tensely, and swam up to the crab. Sebastian immediately saw that something was wrong.
"Ariel overheard everything!", gasped the fish.
Sebastian started. "What?! You don't mean,..."
"Yes! And she kept saying it was her fault! I'm afraid she's gonna do something terrible!", moaned Flounder. Sebastian took a deep breath. "Okay. First place we go is her bedroom!" The crab grabbed onto Flounder's tail, as he turned to the guard. "When de King returns, tell him dat Ariel knows everyting. Got dat?"
The guard shrugged and nodded.
Flounder dashed through the palace, until they reached the girl's bedroom. She wasn't there. Pictures of her father and sisters were laying on her bed.
"Dis don't look good, Mon", groaned the crab.
Flounder looked at him, with horror.
Sebastian nodded. "The surface."
Ariel swallowed, nervously, as she watched the approaching ship. It looked so huge! The girl knew that this encounter would be different from all of the others. They were looking for her. Ariel heard a shout, and saw a big metal hook fall into the water; attached by a chain. Humans were leaning over the side; staring at her with wide eyes, and shouting. Ariel was so scared, but she had no choice. It was her fault. she had to save her father and her people.
A bearded Human looked down at her and shouted, "You ain't the King!"
Ariel tried to swallow. "I'm,...I'm the King's daughter. Take me."
The man hesitated and talked with another Human, right next to him. Then he turned back to the mermaid. "You won't do! We want the King!"
Ariel felt fear for her father. "It's me or no one!", answered the girl.
The man stared down at her for a moment; as if at a loss. Then he shouted something to another sailor. Ariel saw a heavy net being lowered over the side. It hit the water, next to her. Ariel took a deep breath and looked down at her home.
"Goodbye Aquata. Goodbye Andrina. Goodbye Arista. Goodbye Attina. Goodbye Adella. Goodbye Alana. Goodbye,...Daddy." She blinked tears.
Ariel swam into the net and grabbed on. She heard a shout from above, and the net began to rise out of the water.
"Ariel! No!", cried a voice. The girl looked down; Sebastian had jumped out of the water and had grabbed onto the net! "What are you doing, girl?!" cried the crab.
Ariel leaned over to take Sebastian into her hands. "It's my fault, Sebastian. I can't let them hurt Daddy, or my sisters, or anyone."
Sebastian held his head in his claws. "Let's just tink about dis, child! Jump out of the net!"
Ariel smiled and kissed the crab. She looked down and saw Flounder looking up at them, with fear on his face. "Goodbye, Flounder." The girl gently tossed Sebastian back into the water.
"Ariel!! Ariel; No!!", cried the crab. But it was too late. They watched, as the Humans pulled the net into the ship.
Flounder gasped in horror; petrified with fear. Sebastian looked frantically around the ship. He saw the anchor chain being brought up, and he grimaced. "Flounder. Tell the King what's happened." Sebastian swam to the chain, as the little fish stared, wide-eyed, at him.
"You're gonna,...?", started Flounder.
The crab grabbed onto the chain, then looked at the fish. "You can't go on dis adventure."
When Ariel was brought on-board, a crowd of sailors immediately surrounded her; staring and laughing with each other. The girl shivered and drew her tail up to her chest in fear. The Captain, the bearded man whom she had seen from the water, shouted at them.
"To work with ya, 'fore I knock some heads together!", growled the man. The sailors rushed off to their duties; leaving only the Captain and his first-mate. The Captain looked down at the girl and sighed.
"You're an amazing sight, Miss. I never believed those tales of mermaids, but there you are; staring me in the face."
Ariel turned her eyes away and looked down at the deck.
"You understand me?", asked the man. Ariel nodded.
"Good. I want you to know that this wasn't my idea, you understand. I'm under orders. I didn't want to take anyone against their will."
Ariel looked back at the man, and saw kindness in his eyes.
"You're about the age of my own daughter. She'll be turn'in thirteen, next month. I wish I could be with her, but tha' sea-faring life is hard on a family." The man coughed. "Yeah. Well,...we've got a tub o' water in my quarters for ya. It's the best I can do." The man approached her, awkwardly, and Ariel instinctively shrank away.
"I'm not gonna hurt ya", stuttered the man. He looked at his first-mate. "Help me, Bob. Be gentle." The Captain took Ariel under the arms, while the other man lifted her tail and flukes.
"She don't weigh nothin' ", commented the first-mate. "Don't look like the monster they painted her out ta be."
The Captain sighed. "Course she don't! You believe everything they tell us? Go easy now! She's a delicate lady."
They carried Ariel inside the back of the ship, where a huge wooden tub of water was waiting. Gently, they placed her into it. Nearby was a bed and dresser.
"It's not too cold for ya; is it?", asked the Captain. He coughed again; then smiled, awkwardly. "I expected to be entertaining a male of your kind; that's the reason I put ya in my quarters. I'll find someplace else ta sleep, I guess."
Ariel said nothing. She was still frightened by this whole experiance. Why did they want her? Where was she going? Would she ever see her father and sisters again?
"I guess I'll be leavin' ya to yourself, for a bit. Don't be scared; you're safe here. I don't advise you leave that tub, though; the floor would be mighty harsh on that delicate tail. I'll be back in a little while to see how you're doin'." The man backed out and shut the door.
Once outside, the Captain turned to his first-mate. "You keep first watch, Bob. I don't want nothin' to pass this door;...not even a mouse! She's scared out of her wits, as it is. I don't want no sailors gawking at her, makin' it worse."
"Aye, aye, Captain!"
When Sebastian climbed on-board, he was on the opposite end of the ship from Ariel.
"Ayeee!!", hollered the crab, as he scuttled out of the way of the coiling anchor chain. A sailor spied him and licked his chops. "Will ya look at that! No stew for me, tonight!" With a leap, the scrawny man grabbed for Sebastian,..but the crab pinched his finger and scrambled behind some crates.
"I'll get ya! Ya little sneak!", growled the sailor. His ship-mates laughed at him, as he moved crates around in a frenzy. "Most work he's done the whole voyage!", laughed the men.
"Oh, Mon!", whispered Sebastian, as he darted among the crates. "I had to board right before lunch-time!" The little crab crawled away from the noise of the sailors, and breathed a sigh of relief. "Now; if I can just find dat poor child! Why did she have to land smack in the middle of Humans?!"
At lunch-time, the Captain knocked loudly on his cabin door before entering; he carried Ariel a plate full of fish and kelp.
Ariel looked, with horror, at the cooked fish, and shrank away.
The Captain looked down at the plate. "Somthin' wrong, Miss? You like your fish raw?"
Ariel felt her belly churning; she closed her eyes and fought against getting sick.
The man put down the plate and scratched his head. "This sure is a puzzler. You don't,...eat fish?
Ariel swallowed and looked up at the man; while trying not to get sick. "Why would I,...eat my friends?"
The Captain nodded. "I see,... Mermaids look at fish different than Humans do. I'll get rid of tha' fish." The man hussled out. He soon returned with a plate heaped with kelp.
Ariel took the plate and began to eat.
The man hesitated; then coughed awkwardly. "Well,...you just eat all ya want. I'll bring ya a flaggard of milk. We got a goat on board, ya see. Ya do know what milk is?"
The girl nodded. "Yes." She smiled up at the man. "Thank you."
The Captain smiled. "You're welcome,... What may I be callin' you, Miss?"
"My name's Ariel", answered the girl.
"You're welcome, Ariel. My name's Melville. Melville Hawkins. I'll go get ya that milk, now."
"Melville? Why are you doing this?" Ariel looked up at him, with saddness in her blue eyes.
"It ain't me, child. I'm under orders. I was supposed to get your Daddy."
"But why? He's never hurt any Humans!", insisted the girl.
"Ariel; I don't understand it, either. I was told that your Daddy is planning to attack America. A lot of folks, high up in government, are mighty scared, right now, of your Daddy."
"But he's not going to attack you! He's never hurt Humans! Oh; he might stir up a storm every now and then,..." Ariel saw the fear and awe in the Captain's face: "But he would never hurt anyone!"
Melville nodded. "I believe you. I know your Daddy don't exactly like Humans,...but I've never heard a tale where he attacked 'em. But it's not up to me, Ariel. I've helped your Daddy, by takin' you. There's more ships out there; warships, mind-you! If I couldn't get a surrender; they were gonna sail in and do terrible things. I still don't know if the high-ups will accept you, and not your Daddy."
The girl shuddered. "What are they going to,..do to me?"
The Captain lowered his eyes. "I don't know, child."
Ariel felt suddenly cold.
"I'll,..I'll go get your milk now," stuttered Melville. The man left the girl alone, to the ominous groaning of the ship.
Ariel looked down at the kelp. Suddenly, she couldn't eat any more. Her stomach knotted with fear. She looked back at the big stern window; the ocean split into white foam, where the ship cut through the water. Every long, painful moment, Ariel was being taken further from her home. She might never see the ocean again. Tears welled in her eyes, as she stared out over the waves. At least, her family and her people were safe. The Humans had her now, but they didn't get them.
Ariel tried to find comfort in this thought, but it only made her more frightened. She got mad at herself for being so selfish, but the fear wouldn't leave. Suddenly, she heard a scratching noise on the window, and heard a faint voice.
"Oh, Mon! Dis don't look good!"
Hope swelled in the girl's heart, as she leaned over the tub and strained to see every inch of the huge window. There, in one corner, was a little red something holding on for dear life!
"Sebastian,..?", she almost choked out. "Sebastian! Is that you?!"
The little crab stopped moving. "Ariel? Child? Are you in dere?"
"Yes!! Yes! It's me!!", shouted the joyful girl.
The first-mate opened the door and looked down at her. "You all right, Miss?"
Ariel shrank back into the tub and eyed the man, fearfully. Then she thought of Melville. "Would,...would you please get Melville for me?"
Bob nodded. "Sure, Miss. I'll get him right away. Just don't try to leave; okay?"
Ariel nodded. "Please hurry."
It wasn't long before Melville rushed into the cabin; his face was red from the exertion.
Ariel even smiled; he really cared about her. "I'm sorry for worrying you, Melville. But it's my friend. Could you help him inside?"
Melville stood, puzzled. "Your friend, Ariel?"
The girl pointed to the big window. Melville saw the little crab, and stuttered' "That's,..that's your friend?"
Ariel grinned and nodded.
The Captain scratched his head and ambled to the window. Tilting a pane open, he watched as Sebastian jumped inside and landed on the floor.
The crab immediately scrambled to the tub and Ariel picked him up and hugged him. "Oh, Sebastian! I'm so happy to see you!", cried the girl, joyfully.
"There, there, child", soothed the crab. "Ol' Sebastian's here now." The crustacean turned a glare onto the Captain. "What have dese Humans been doing to you?"
Melville's jaw dropped, when he heard Sebastian speaking. He could only stare, and scratch his head.
"Oh; don't blame Melville", answered the girl. "He's been very kind to me; it's not his fault. He's just under orders."
"A,...talking crab?", stuttered Melville.
"This is Sebastian. He's one of my dearest friends, and he's Daddy's chief advisor", explained the girl.
The Captain shook his head, in disbelief. Then he nodded. "Well; I've seen a lot of amazing things, today. I'll go get that milk now. Your pardon." With that, the Captain left them alone.
Ariel looked at the crab, with a smirk. "Sebastian! I didn't want you in danger! I bet Flounder's somewhere around here, too; isn't he?"
The crab laughed. "He would be, if he could! He didn't have anything to hold onto the anchor-chain with!"
"What am I gonna do with you?", sighed the girl.
"Somebody's gotta get you out of dis mess", answered Sebastian.
"I bet, if I asked Melville, he'd drop you over the side", mused the girl.
"You are my responsibilty now, young lady!", fussed the crab, "and I am not leaving your side, til I get you off dis boat!"
Ariel smiled. "All right, Sebastian. I guess we'll find out, together, what's gonna happen."
The crab shook his head. "It ain't gonna be fun; I can tell you dat!"
ARIEL GOES TO AMERICA, PART TWO
When Flounder explained what had happened, the King's face turned pale. "Ariel? No,...", he whispered.
Flounder could barely keep from crying, as he looked fearfully at Triton. "You're gonna save her; you've got to save her,..."
Triton heard the little fish's voice breaking, and it brought him out of his shock. He smiled down at Flounder, with compassion. "Of course. I'll save her."
Triton's trident glared with a fierce flame, as the Sea King looked up, angrily. "I'll sink every boat in the ocean, if they don't bring back my Ariel!"
Dudley overheard the conversation, and swam up to the King. "Your,...Majesty,..."
Triton seemed not to hear the turtle, as he started to leave.
"Hmmm? What?", answered Triton; finally noticing his friend.
"It,...might,...be wiser,... to wait,..."
"Wait? Wait for wait?! My little girl is in danger!", interupted the impatient King.
"The Humans will run, with their tails between their legs!", roared Triton.
Triton stopped cold. "Hurt Ariel? They might hurt Ariel?" The King's face darkened, with dread.
Dudley nodded. "They,...tend,..to,..favor,...violent,... responses."
Triton sat on his throne; unsure of what to do.
Flounder hung, closeby; trembling with worry.
"I must save my girl! But how can I do it?", agonized the King.
"I might,...sugguest,...that,...your Majesty,...offer yourself,...in place of,..Princess Ariel".
Triton's face lit up. "Of course! That's it!" He sprang out of his throne and tossed the trident to Dudley. "Give this to Aquata", he shouted, as he left the room.
"Be,...careful,...your,..Majesty." Dudley looked over at Flounder. "Don't,...worry,... The,...King,...will save,...them both."
That evening, Ariel and Sebastian watched, as the hidden sun colored the ocean with a peaceful, orange light. Melville had open the windows so they could get some fresh air.The Captain had treated them with as much kindness as he could provide: He allowed Ariel to be lowered into the sea, from time to time, to take care of personal matters; he had seen to it that both she and her crab friend were well-fed, and had even brought pillows and blankets for them, for the night.
Ariel watched, as the golden light began to fade, and the waxing moon began to rise in the darkening sky. It felt peaceful now; her worries would not change matters, so she had ceased to think about them. She looked over at Sebastian; resting on the Captain's bed, and saw him yawn. She smiled; gently.
"I'm glad you're here. I'm not afraid, anymore."
Sebastian waved a claw. "Tink nothing of it, child. I'm just keeping an eye on you til your Daddy shows-up."
"Do you think he will?", asked the girl, hopefully.
"Of course. His girls are more important to him than any ol' kingdom."
Ariel looked back at the sea, and her hope faded. "But we're so far away from home now. He might not be able to find us."
Sebastian nestled into the covers. "Don't worry about it. Get some sleep." The crab yawned again.
Ariel watched the moon grow in brilliance, and the stars begin to shine. Her eyelids drooped, and it wasn't long before she was sleeping, peacefully, to the gentle rocking of the ship.
Ariel and Sebastian were on the ship for almost a week; the girl's hopes for rescue faded with each passing day. The sights and sounds that now greeted her, however, kept the girl curious and even excited about this "adventure". They had entered Boston Harbor, and Ariel was amazed at the sheer number and variety of boats which surrounded her. Melville and Bob carried her out onto the deck to see the shoreline: Ariel couldn't believe her eyes! The Humans' houses were so big! And they were everywhere! Some were red, and made of some sort of coral (she thought), and others were white, and all of them were beautiful to the girl. She totally forgot about the Humans gaping at her, as they docked. Humans! Humans were everywhere! They had hundreds of pretty coverings for their bodies. Ariel noticed that the styles between the men and the women were different; but all of them were beautiful!
She saw one Human walking up the gangplank towards them, and she suddenly shrank into Melville's arms. This man didn't look nice. He had cold blue eyes, and a cruel smile on his lips. The man looked angrily at her; then at Melville.
"This isn't going to please Adams", sneered the stranger.
"Adams wanted the poor child; so he's getting her!", snapped Melville.
The man looked back at Ariel, and she shuddered at his eyes. "Interesting creature; isn't it? Almost Human. Kept her in your cabin, I hear."
Melville gritted his teeth, "She's a Princess in her world and due proper respect!"
The stranger laughed. "A Princess?! It's a freak. A creature. Your duty is finished now, Captain. My men will take it, from here." The man turned and snapped his fingers; two burly strangers hurried up to join him.
Melville looked almost like he would cry; Ariel's heart went out to him: here was a man weathered hard by the sea, but his heart was as tender as her father's. She smiled up at him. "Thank you for all of your kindness, Melville."
The Captain looked at her and choked, "Don't worry, child. Adams is a good man. He won't hurt you." Melville looked back up at the stranger. "You go gentle with her, or Adams will hear of it!"
The stranger pointed to the girl, and his men took Ariel from the Captain and first-mate. The little mermaid was carried down the gangplank, as people gasped and shouted with amazement. She was dropped into a barrel, filled with water, which was sitting in a horse-drawn wagon. The evil-eyed man climbed into the wagon, as his men urged the horse to a walk.
Ariel forgot her fear, as she caught the amazing sights along the street. She felt Sebastian shaking in her hair. "Come on out, Sebastian!", she laughed. "Look at all the neat stuff!"
"I'm stayin' right here!", answered the crab, who was hidden from view.
Ariel sighed. "Scaredy-crab. You're missing it."
"Dat's all right by me!"
The girl grinned, as she watched the bustling Humans all around her. The beautiful buildings sprang up on either side; dotted with wonderful green seaweed-like plants upheld on thick brown stalks. Activity was everywhere; the poor girl was dazed by this overwhelming new world. Her eyes glanced forward and she shrank down, as she saw the evil-eyed Human staring at her. A cruel smile played across his face.
"Interesting creature. Perhaps Melville had the right idea,... Adams can wait a while,..."
Ariel swallowed and tried to find a strong voice. "If Adams finds out you hurt me, you're gonna be in big trouble."
The smile on the man's face soured into a frown. He turned back towards the front; as if abandoning any evil plans of his own.
Ariel breathed a sigh of relief, as she heard Sebastian squeek, "Humans! Dey are nothing but trouble!"
"You're forgetting Melville", returned the girl.
"Most of dem are trouble", corrected the crab.
The wagon eventually halted outside the gates of a large red-bricked home; surrounded by large trees. The gates were open by two men, wearing powered wigs. The wagon came to a stop, behind the home, and the evil-eyed man jumped out. He looked up at the girl and smiled. "Adams will probably have the lower half of you for supper tonight."
Ariel felt Sebastian trembling in her hair, but she wouldn't allow this man to scare her. "You're just trying to frighten me", she answered; trying to keep her voice from shaking.
The man snorted and walked towards the back door. After a few minutes, the man returned; followed by an older Human in very fancy clothes. This man looked stern, but not bad, like the first one. The older man looked up at her with astonishment.
"Don't let it's appearance decieve you, Sir. It's a monsterous creature", assured the evil man.
"That's not true! ", cried Ariel. "I'm the one taken from my family and home!
Adams turned to the evil man. "I thought Melville was bringing the King. Who is this girl?"
"It tricked Melville into taking it, Sir", answered the evil man. "No doubt; it's intentions are to get you alone and cast an evil spell over you. Let me take it away and kill it, before it puts you under it's power!"
"Don't listen to him! I'm not a witch! I'm just,..a girl!" Ariel suddenly broke down and sobbed. "I'm,..scared!"
Adams went to her and put her head on his shoulder. "There, there, child. Don't be frightened. I'm not going to hurt you." Ariel felt compassion and understanding at the man's touch; her despair slowly drained away as he comforted her.
Adams looked back at the evil man. "That will be all, Sloan." The evil man got back into the wagon. Adams motioned for the two servants in the wagon to help Ariel out of the barrel. She was carried through the door, and placed into a large tub of warm saltwater.
Adams sat down in a chair, next to the tub, and sighed. "Melville was supposed to bring the Sea-King."
"The Sea-King is my father", answered Ariel.
Adams stared with amazement. "You mean that your father sent you in his place?"
"No. I surrendered to keep Daddy from being taken. It was my fault that you found Atlantica to start with."
Adams rubbed his chin. "How so?"
Ariel hung her head. "Merfolk aren't supposed to visit the surface. But I disobeyed my father. Humans must have seen me."
"Why did you want to visit the surface?", asked Adams.
Adams smiled. "If it is any comfort to you, child; it was not your visit to the surface which gave your people away." Adams sat back in his chair and paused; as if reconsidering matters. "A woman came to see me, not long ago. She told me of your kingdom, and of your father's plan to make war with America."
"That's ridiculous! My father doesn't want war! He hates violence," returned the girl.
"I don't listen to just anyone off the street; of course," continued Adams. "But this woman was a witch; she could show me things in a magical globe: Atlantica making preparations for war."
"If Humans would visit Atlantica, they would see that this isn't true!", insisted Ariel.
"Why would this woman speak a falsehood at the risk of her own life?", asked Adams.
Ariel shook her head, in confusion. "I,...I don't know. But it isn't true! Daddy wants to live in peace with Humans. We only want to be left alone."
Adams nodded. "I believe you. But it is my job to protect my people, too. I am the,...King here." Adams smiled. "Although King is not really the proper word! We spent five years breaking away from a monarchy. I was elected by my people; not born to the role."
"Elected?", asked the curious girl.
"It was the popular consent of the people", explained Adams.
"So you rebelled against your King? Was he a bad ruler?"
Adams nodded. "He ruled well-enough in his own land; but we are an ocean apart from our mother-country. We had no voice in government; our property was seized; taxes imposed; solders kept in our homes; all without our consent."
"I understand. You did what you had to do," answered Ariel.
"Yes. To be free, we had to break the bonds to our mother-country."
"Daddy listens to all of his people. He shops in the marketplace and talks to all the shopkeepers. He goes to the octopus arm-wrestling matches and turtle races every month. I've seen him worn-out after a day of going round and visiting everyone. Everyone loves Daddy,..."
Adams sighed. "I see only sweetness and innocence in you. But I must think of my country as well. I'll have the woman brought here to be questioned once more. Then we shall get to the heart of the matter."
Ariel shank back into her tub of water. Sebastian felt her shudder with anxiety, and tried to comfort her.
It was not long before a servant brought the woman into the parlor. To Ariel's eyes, she looked to be a kindly, grey-haired old woman who walked with a halting, crippled gait. The girl's heart immediately melted for the old woman, and she found it hard to think ill of her; despite the trouble that she had gotten Atlantica into.
"You requested my presence, Sire?", asked the woman, humbly.
Adams nodded and motioned to the little mermaid in the tub.
The old woman took one look at Ariel and cringed in terror. "How horrible! You've got one of them here?! Don't get too close, your Highness! It will attack you!"
Adams smiled. "Surely, you can see no harm in this sweet child,..."
The woman shook her hands, frantically. "No! No! Don't let it fool you, Sire! I can see it's true form! A horrible slimy monster with slavering mouth and clawed tenticles! I praise God that it hasn't already devoured you!" The old woman spoke with such an honest fear and concern; her voice cracking from decrepit age.
Ariel shook her head, urgently. "I am not a monster!", she pleaded. "How can you say that?!"
Adams rubbed his chin. "You see a monster before you?', he asked the woman.
"As God is my witness!"
Ariel was close to tears, as Sebastian popped out of her hair. "What a bunch of nonsense! Dis Human's as silly as a goosefish!"
The old woman crossed herself. "Another demon, your Greatness! They should be put to death at once! Call Sloan to help remove these creatures!"
Adams looked between the two. "One of you is lying. I'm just not the one to judge such unearthly matters: I'm just a lawyer! I'll get Dr. Franklin." Adams motioned the servant to take the old woman into another room. Adams turned back to Ariel. "You have my heart, child; but I can't let that sway me. The only guides that I've ever used have been facts and evidence. My feelings cannot enter into the matter, and this decision is too important to trust in them."
Adams paused. "If you are the monster that the woman described, it would be better to have you guarded. I wish that it could be otherwise." The man stepped into another room, and returned with two solders; who stood at attention, closeby.
"Are you hungry or thirsty, Princess?", asked the President.
Ariel shook her head.
"Very well. I will return shortly." Adams left Ariel to the two guards; who stared at her with amazement.
The girl sighed. "I can't understand why that Human lady was afraid of me!"
Sebastian frowned. "She's Human! What more do you need to know?"
Ariel rested her cheek in her hand. "There has to be a reason for this. Mr. Adams said that she was a witch."
"Or nutty as a coconut", offered Sebastian.
"She knew about Atlantica", continued the girl, "so if she isn't crazy, then she must be lying. What would be the reason to make up a story like that?"
Sebastian scratched his head. "Hmmm. To get dese Humans fighting Atlantica."
Ariel nodded. "That's right! She wants a big war between Daddy and Mr. Adams."
"Either she don't like Adams, or else she has someting to gain from de ruckus," added Sebastian.
"No. We wouldn't stand a chance with Humans; we're just too small, and Daddy's not into war. She wants us to lose."
"Den she don't like us, or has someting to gain from Atlantica gettin' defeated."
Ariel paused. "I,...wonder,... I wonder how Human this woman really is."
Sebastian looked at her with puzzlement.
Adams returned with an eldery gentleman with long white hair, a balding head, round spectacles, and a chubby frame. The stranger looked at Ariel and his mouth dropped.
"John! This,...this is incredible!" The old man approached the girl, with a broad grin.
"Be careful, Ben," warned Adams. "She may not be what she seems."
Franklin brushed it off. "Nonsense, John. I know a charming young lady when I see one." The old man took Ariel's hand and kissed it. The girl blushed to the ears.
"What a delightfully charming child!", declared Franklin. "Oh, John! How long have you been keeping her secret? She is every bit the Princess you described!" The aged man bowed to the girl. "Haven't told Abbie about her, have you? She'll have your hide if she finds out!"
Adams shook his head and strode up to them. "Ben! Don't you listen to a word,.. Oh well; if she was going to grab you, I suppose she would have done it by now." He turned to Ariel "Princess Ariel; this is Dr. Benjamin Franklin. He's an old friend of mine."
Ariel smiled and looked at his hair. Ben chuckled. "Yes! It's natural. I've never been one for fashion. Besides; the women love it."
Ariel looked at Adam's hair, with curiousity. Franklin broke out laughing again. "No! His isn't real! You've been caught, John."
Adams tried to remain dignified. "It is the fashion to wear wigs, Princess."
Ariel laughed. "Oh! I thought all the men here had white hair!"
Even Adams chuckled at this. Franklin nudged him. "What a treasure, John! How long is she staying?" Franklin didn't wait for a reply, but looked back at the girl. "Dear; would you mind showing me your flukes? Scientific curiousity, you understand."
This Human was so charming and easy-going that Ariel didn't hesitate about exposing her flukes.
"Amazing!", exclaimed Franklin. "Notice, John, how they are turned horizontal to the body; like whales and dolphins; and not vertical, like the fishes."
Adams smirked. "If she grabs you, I'm not lifting a finger."
"Obviously, the mermaid is a mammal, or a close kin. Warm-blooded, and,..umm,..shell-bodiced." Franklin studied her so closely that Ariel blushed again. "She's totally Human from the waist up. Incredible! Dear; does your People have a written history?"
"I brought you here to discover the truth; not have a tea party," growled Adams.
Franklin nodded. "Very well, John. Bring in the woman so we can get this settled."
The old woman returned; still trembling with fear and crossing herself.
Franklin turned a keen eye on her. "So Madam. Describe the aquatic visitor in the tub, once more."
"Do I have to describe such a horrid beast again?", groaned the woman. "Aye, noble Sir. It's slavering, even now. Sharp white teeth. Three glaring eyes. Oh,..it's watching me! I can't look!" The woman hid her face.
Franklin looked at Adams. "I see your dilemma, John. You know this woman; I suppose?"
"No. I assume that she's a local resident," answered Adams.
"I've lived here all my life, noble Sirs. A loyal citizen", offered the woman.
Franklin and Adams paused; as if considering a question.
Ariel hesitatly spoke up. "Sirs;...may,...may I ask her a question?"
Franklin smiled and nodded, "Certainly, child!"
"Ma'am. Why are you saying such untrue things about me?"
"I don't speak to monsters!", answered the woman.
"Could,..could it be that you want to see my kingdom hurt?", asked the girl.
"Nonsense!", blurted the woman, but they all saw her start at the question.
"You say that you've lived here all your life. Can you prove it?", asked Ariel. Sebastian grinned.
The woman was speechless. "What,...what utter nonsense is this?!"
Franklin and Adams crossed their arms and looked at her. "Well?", asked Franklin. "Which provence do you live in?"
The woman straightened her dress. "That evil creature is decieving you! don't listen to it!"
"If you've lived here all of your life, then you must know about the revolution", continued Adams. "What was the stamp act?"
The woman stuttered, "Well,...how am I supposed to keep up with every act to come along,..."
"You've lived in Boston all of your life", noted Franklin, "What did the Sons-of-Liberty dump into Boston Harbor?"
"How should I know what Humans dump in the water!", demanded the woman. "You will die if you allow this monster it trick you! Kill it now!"
Franklin smiled. "You crossed yourself, when you entered. What is the Pope's name?"
The woman stood, frozen.
Sebastian grinned. "Got her!"
Suddenly, the woman laughed with such cruelty that the two men stepped back.
"You've beaten me this time, Princess! But there'll be another day! I'll rule the ocean yet!"
Ariel gasped. "Ursula!" It was the voice of the sea-witch!
Before anyone could move, Ursula transformed into a vulture and flew out a window.
Franklin stumbled to a chair; in shock. When he came to his senses, he looked up at Adams. "Well, John; need anything else solved?"
Although Franklin wanted the girl to stay a while, Adams knew that it would be a great evil to keep her away from her home any longer. While they were calling for a special coach, a messenger rushed in and told something to Adams. The President answered the man and looked over at the Princess. "Your father surrendered himself some time ago, and is on a ship to Boston, at this very moment. He wants only your release in return."
"Daddy?", asked Ariel.
Adams nodded. "I've sent a message to the ship, ordering them to release your father and to inform him that you are safe and will be joining him soon."
The girl smiled. "Thank you for your kindness."
Adams smiled at Dr. Franklin. "We will keep all of this a secret; you understand?"
Franklin's face dropped. "John! No! Just think of the scientific revelations! The exchange of cultures! Why; the gain of knowledge about the oceans, alone, would be astronomical!"
John shook his head. "These people want to be left alone, and I will abide by their wish." The man turned to Ariel; smiled, and kissed her hand. "And, if I'm right, there may come a time when we will meet again."