A STICKY SITUATION

Sebastian looked over the piece that the Princesses were going to sing; marking down which part each girl was best at. The high notes went to Ariel, of course, but he wasn't as sure about the others. The crab looked up at the Princesses, as they jabbered girl-talk. Where was Ariel? There she was: looking inside a nautilus-shell tuba!

"Child; just what are you doing?", asked the puzzled crab.

"What did you say, Sebastian?", answered the young mermaid; her voice echoing in the shell.

"Why do you have your head stuck in dat tuba?!" Her sisters giggled.

"I wanted to see the key-holes from the inside", answered the girl.

Sebastian shook his head. "I'm sorry I asked. Okay; get your head out of dere; it's time to practice."

The girl wiggled her beautiful red head out of the shell and swam back to her sisters.

The crab rustled his papers and looked at the girls. "You're gonna love dis piece: Lot's of variations! A big challenge!"

The girls groaned.

"Okay; Now where's my stick,..." The crab looked all over his music stand, but didn't see his baton. The girls giggled, as he crawled under the stand. "Now where is dat ting?!" He looked back up at the Princesses and frowned. "Okay. Which one of you is in serious trouble?"

All of the smiles disappeared, and the Princesses shook their heads. Ariel swam up to the little crab and helped him look around. "Are you sure you had it with you?", asked the girl.

"Of course I had it with me! I was practicing with it just dis morning!"

"How do you practice with a stick?", asked the mermaid.

Sebastian frowned. "You wave it around! All conductors got to learn to wave their sticks properly! The music sounds better dat way."

Ariel suppressed a grin, "I see,..."

The little crab looked in a fretful state, "Dat was my best baton! And now it's gone! Stolen!"

"Stolen?", asked the girl. "Why do you think it's stolen?"

"What else could have happened to it?!", demanded Sebastian. "A stick like dat just don't swim off!'

Ariel crossed her arms. "I don't know, Sebastian. Why would someone take just a stick? There's lot's of musical stuff in here; why didn't they take any of that?"

Sebastian paddled over to the music room's door. "Cause dat was a special stick; dat's why! Very valuable! Came off a yellow-bellied urchin. You know how many yellow-bellied urchins live around here?"

Ariel shrugged.

"If we aren't going to sing today, can we go home?", blurted Arista.

Sebastian pointed to her chair. "No! Sit back down, young Lady! You're disturbing the scene of the crime!" The crab examined the door. "Hmm. I had my stick, this morning,... Laid it on the stand,...Went to get a cup of hot chocolate,..."

"Maybe it's still on the stand", offered Ariel.

"Shush! I'm tinking! No one swam by me,... AH HAH!"

Ariel jumped in surprise. Sebastian raced to the music room's open window. "Dat's how they got out! Through the window!"

Ariel grinned, "A stick-snatcher on the loose!"

Sebastian frowned at her. "I remember now,... A young merboy swims by here every morning on his way to school. He sees my baton every day! Every day he stares at it,...wanting it,... He gets desperate,..."

"He sees you leave for your hot chocolate", continued Ariel, "swims through the window and snatches your stick! Sebastian; that's silly!"

The crab shook his claws. "No! It makes perfect sense! Desperate criminals tink like dat!"

Ariel smirked at the crab. "Okay, Mr. detective; what happened next?"

Sebastian looked out the window. "He can't do anything til he gets back home. He'll pass by the window again, and then we'll tail him!"

Ariel's eyes lit up. This was like an adventure! But she knew, in her heart, that it wouldn't be right to follow an innocent merboy home. "Well; you can follow him. I'm going home, after the singing lesson."

"But I need you to over-power his mob!", insisted the crab.

"Sebastian! He's just a little merboy! He doesn't have a mob!", laughed the girl.

"I guess I'll have to go alone, den,...", whispered the crab, "Into a pack of desperate criminals,..." The crab looked up at the girl with big, sad eyes. "I,... may not come back,.."

Ariel smiled and sighed, "All right, Sebastian. I'll come with you."

That afternoon, Sebastian and Ariel waited near the window for the "criminal." The crab's eyes narrowed, as the merboy passed by the window. "Dis is it! Time to bring dis desperado to justice!", he whispered.

Ariel giggled. "I just hope this isn't too embarressing for you."

Sebastian and the girl followed the boy through the city; the crab grabbed the girl and pulled her behind cover whenever the "criminal" looked their way.

Ariel blushed with embarressment. "This is so silly, Sebastian! He doesn't have your stick!"

"Is dat so?", demanded the crab. "Just look in his school-bag! What's dat stick sticking in dere?!"

"That's his pencil", smirked the girl.

"Oh,... Well; he's got it hid good; dat's all", answered the crab.

They followed the merboy to a little house nestled on a peaceful swimway. "Dis must be the criminal's hideout!", announced Sebastian. "De place must be full of stolen loot!"

The girl noticed a shell chariot parked next to the house; her eyes widened as she stared at it. "No! That couldn't be,..."

Sebastian noticed the chariot, too. "Look at dat! The whole mob must be inside! We can catch de whole gang!"

Ariel looked, worriedly, at the little crab. "I don't think you ought to do that, Sebastian,..."

But the crab went right up to the door and banged on it. "Open up in the name of de law!", he shouted.

The merboy opened the door and Sebastian barged inside. "Okay! Dis is a raid! Don't nobody,..."

King Triton was staring at him. "Sebastian! Just what is the meaning of this?!" The King was sitting in a chair; right in the living room!

Sebastian's mouth dropped, and he turned as white as a ghost crab. "Your,..Your Majesty!!"

Ariel came right in behind Sebastian and saw her father sitting with the Finley's. "Uh oh,.."

The King stood up and glared at the crab. "For your sake; I hope you have an explaination for barging in on us like this!'

Ariel swam forward and blushed. "Oh, Daddy! I,..forgot to kiss you goodbye this morning!" The girl hugged her father's neck and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

Triton's anger dissolved; Ariel grabbed Sebastian by the claw and hustled him to the door. "Time to leave, Sebastian!", announced the girl, and she hot-finned it out.

The Finley's looked at the King, with puzzlement. Triton smiled weakly. "My advisor. He does,...strange things, sometimes,..."

When Ariel and Sebastian got back to the music room, the girl looked at him and smiled. "I hope that teaches you not to jump to conclusions."

Sebastian nodded, sadly. "I guess I did let my imagination swim away with me. But what happened to my stick?"

Ariel swam over to the music stand and looked through his papers. There it was; stuck between the pages!

Sebastian grinned, "My stick! Well,..What do you know about dat!"

Ariel sighed with relief.

Sebastian looked up at the girl and scratched his head. "You tink maybe you could follow me home? I lost my dental floss the other day and I've looked everywhere for it,..."


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