Eric was on the front lawn of the palace; showing Ariel how to play badminton. The girl was giggling like a child, as she watched Eric's valiant attempts at intercepting her volleys over the net. Max was watching from the sidelines; barking excitedly.
Grimbsy came walking up and handed Eric (who was leaning over; gasping for breath) a large letter. "It is from the White House. President of the United States.", Grim said, nonchalantly.
Eric coughed. "What?" He took the letter and looked at it.
Ariel came around the net to join them: she hugged her husband around the waist. "What is it, Sweetheart?"
Eric showed her the letter. "It's from President John Adams!"
Grim produced a letter opener. "This might provide some enlightenment."
Eric smiled at the elderly man and opened the letter. "Says he's heard about my recent marriage to Ariel and wants to meet us! Says he's met Ariel before,.." Eric looked in amazement at the girl. "You've met John Adams?"
Ariel smiled, mischieviously. "Well,...being daughter to the Sea-King; I get to meet lot's of Kings and Queens and stuff. Mr. Adams is a sweet man."
Eric raised an eyebrow. "A mermaid living in the ocean, and she's got more contacts than me!" The Prince continued to read. "Listen to this! He's coming down here next week! Would be honored if we would recieve him at the palace!" Eric grinned. "The President's coming here!"
Grimbsy sighed. "Carlotta will rub all the silver off the silverware after she's done polishing them."
Ariel smirked at the man. "Silly! This is going to be fun! Maybe we can have a big dinner for him! Maybe a party!"
Grimbsy nodded. "Perhaps a ball."
Eric smiled, "Good idea, Grim! Says here: he's bringing some guests along with him."
The girl grinned. "We can invite all of our friends too!
Eric continued to read: "His only regret is that he won't be able to meet your father. He says that he would love to discuss policy involving the sea with him."
Ariel put her hand to her chin. "Hmm. I wonder if I could get a message to Daddy,..."
Eric laughed. "I don't think that would go over too well with Triton! Him meet the ruler of the Humans? Adams would be dodging trident blasts the whole time!"
Ariel smirked at him. "Daddy wouldn't do that! I think he would like to meet Mr. Adams! I'm gonna invite Daddy, and my sisters and Flounder and Sebastian too!"
Sebastian was sitting on the King's shoulder, as he played chess with Dudley. The King looked at the pieces with growing frustration. Slowly, his hand reached for the rook.
"Yes,..yes! Dat's the one, your Majesty!,.." whispered the crab in his ear. "Keep going,.."
Triton looked at him. "Sebastian; do you mind?".
Sebastian grinned. "Sorry; your Majesty!"
Triton moved the piece.
Dudley slowly slid his Queen down the board. "Check,....mate,.....your,....Majesty,..."
Triton glared at the crab. "Thank you, Sebastian."
A messenger entered the room; bowed to the King, and gave him a letter.
"It's from Ariel!", said Triton, with a smile. "She's inviting us to a ball at their palace."
Sebastian grinned. "A ball! Sounds good, your Majesty! Wonder if I should take my orchestra,.."
"Hmmm. Says the King of the Humans will be there." Triton looked darkly at the crab. "The fish-eating Humans."
Sebastian shrugged. "But,..it's Ariel; your Majesty!"
Triton looked back at the letter: "I know you might not want to come because of Mr. Adams, but please come! Please, Daddy!"
The King smiled. "Okay; my little Ariel. I'll do it for you."
The King and his daughters were the first to arrive at the palace. Ariel ran up and hugged her father with all her might. "Thank you for coming, Daddy!"
Triton smiled down at his youngest child. "Well; I guess I can tolerate walking on two legs for one evening." The King was dressed in a long grey gown; looking more like a vision of Saint Nicholas than the Sea-King.
Eric came up and bowed to the King. "We are honored to have the King of the seven seas in our household."
Ariel beamed, proudly, at her husband and squeezed his hand.
The Prince ushered Triton into the ball room and offered him a chair. Aquata followed behind her father; carrying a big bowl of water with Flounder inside. "Where can I sit him down; Ariel? He's getting heavy!"
"Oh! Here! Let me help!", said Ariel, as she hurried up to her oldest sister. Together; they carried Flounder to a table next to the wall.
"Don't drop me!", urged Flounder, as he looked fearfully up at them. Aquata and Ariel set him down, next to the punch bowl.
Ariel hugged Aquata, then went to welcome her other sisters. Arista was stumbling around and staring down at her legs. "Ariel! How can you supposed to use these things?!"
Ariel grinned at her. "You'll get used to them! I was wobbly, at first, too; but I had Eric to lean on!"
Arista puckered her face. "Ugh! Those Human boys better stay away from me!"
Adella was sweating and fanning herself. "Ariel! How can you stand being inside all this,...seaweed stuff?!"
Ariel smiled. "That's a dress; Adella, and it looks very pretty on you!"
Adella blushed and looked down at it. "You think so?"
"Okay! Where's de band?! I need to start practicing!" Sebastian came skittering into the room, looking for the orchestra.
Ariel bent down and picked him up. "Sorry, Sebastian; but you can't conduct, this time."
Sebastian frowned up at her, as she carried him over to Flounder. "And why not; young Lady?", he grumbled.
Ariel put him down on the table. "Cause there's gonna be a lot of Humans here tonight, and I don't want them getting frightened when you start talking! Remember; animals don't talk in the Human world! You and Flounder can't say a peep to any of them!"
Sebastian frowned over at Flounder. "Now how about dat! I was gonna really impress these Humans with my music, and now I can't even talk to dem!"
Ariel leaned down and kissed him on the cheek. "Well,...You can still smile at them! Let's see a big smile!"
Sebastian frowned up at her.
"That's not a very big smile", commented Ariel. "Look at Flounder,...he's smiling!"
Flounder smiled from ear-to-ear at the crab. Sebastian smirked at him, "Your cheerfulness is not rubbing off."
Ariel stepped back and showed them her dress. "How do you like my dress? Isn't it pretty?"
Flounder nodded. "It sure is! Pink looks good around you!"
Sebastian smiled. "Of course it does, Child. It's got you under it!"
Ariel grinned. "Why; thank you Sebastian!" She kissed Flounder on the head and started walking, "Flounder; you keep Sebastian smiling now! I'll be back in a little while!"
Sebatian looked over at the fish. "Wipe dat silly grin off your face."
Ariel rejoined Eric; who was talking with her father. "Yes; I've never met this President before, but I've certainly met enough of his fishing ships!", growled Triton.
Eric looked over at Ariel with an expression of anticipated doom. Ariel took her father's arm. "Now; Daddy! You haven't even met him yet. Give him a chance! Like you gave Eric!"
"Eric proved his love and courage", countered Triton. "This Adams has shown me nothing but harpoons and fishing nets."
Ariel patted his arm. "I've met the man, and he's very sweet. And he wants to talk to you about all that stuff. The least you can do is be civil with him."
Triton smiled up at her; slyly, "I won't use my trident on him; if that's what you mean!"
Ariel grinned. "No trident blasts in the ball room!"
Arista came wobbling over to a seat, next to her father. "I'm coming over here with you! I don't want any Humans close to me!"
"You'll see", answered Ariel. "They're just like you and me."
Carlotta came running through the room, "Oh dear! We're missing the stirring spoons! Where on Earth are those things! Grim! Where have you hidden those spoons?!" She disappeared into the kitchen.
Arista looked over at Ariel. "You're right! She reminds me of you, looking for your treasure sack before going off on an "adventure.""
Ariel smirked at her sister.
Grim came walking up to the Prince and tapped him on the shoulder. "The President has arrived."
Eric gulped and stood up. Ariel joined him; giving her husband a reassuring squeeze on his hand. Eric smiled back at her, with love.
Adams came in, with a big smile, and headed right for Ariel. "I'm so happy to see you again, Dear!" He kissed her hand; then turned to the Prince. "So this is the fellow you married?"
Eric bowed to the President and Adams laughed. "No! No bowing here! I'm just a President!" Adams shook his hand, warmly. "I'd like you to meet my wife; Abigail,.." The woman smiled and nodded.
Ariel grinned and nodded back. "It's nice to meet you, Abigail!"
Adams reached back and took Ben's shoulder; who was busy talking behind him. "And this is my close friend, Dr. Benjamin Franklin, and his companion,..?"
Franklin paused for a second, then turned to the young lady beside him, "What did you say your name was, Dear?" Franklin looked back to Ariel and Eric. "Picked her up in the village; I didn't want to be a wall-flower tonight."
"Caprice", offered the girl. Ariel took her hand. "It's nice to meet you, Caprice!"
A tall gentleman with reddish-brown hair stepped up. He looked to be in his late thirties. Adams introduced him: "Mr. Thomas Jefferson; my Vice-President." The man bent down to kiss Ariel's hand. "I am honored to meet such a lovely host", he spoke quietly.
Ariel blushed and Adams winked at her. "He said that his wife couldn't make this trip, but I'm starting to have my doubts about that story."
Franklin spoke up. "The introductions are over,..now where's the food?"
Ariel took his hand and led him to the dinner table. Franklin was marveling at her physical transformation as they walked away, "That magic of your's is just incredible! And I must say that I much prefer you entirely Human; no offense, Caprice, Dear."
Eric looked back to the President. "Well, Sir; If you will follow me, I'll introduce you to King Triton of Atlantica.
"Wonderful!", answered Adams.
Eric and the President came up to where Triton was sitting. The Sea King stood up and towered over Adams; looking down at him with a frown.
"Mr. President, may I introduce King Triton," offered the young man. Adams bowed low to the King.
Triton growled. "Ruler of the Humans,.."
Adams laughed. "Oh no, Your Majesty! Only some of them! I am honored to meet you, Sir."
Triton coughed. "Yes,...well,.."
Eric offered the President a seat next to Triton. The little man sat down without hesistation and began talking to the King, "I'm so glad we had a chance to meet! There's so much I want to ask you about your Kingdom. Your people must have suffered greatly from the long years of fishing in your waters."
Triton nodded. "Indeed we have! Thanks to the Human's boundless greed and violence!"
"I agree", returned Adams. "That's why I wanted so much to discuss this with you,..."
Ariel looked over at the two; her face filled with anxiety. Daddy hadn't hit him yet,...That was promising,..."
Arista was staring around, with boredom, when she caught sight of Thomas Jefferson. Her mouth dropped. "Who is that?", she whispered.
Ariel looked over at her sister. "Who? Him? That's Mr. Jefferson. The Vice-President."
A broad grin spread on Arista's face. "He's a hunk!" The girl shot over to Triton: "Father; I think I'd rather sit over there,.."
Ariel looked at her sister, with amused puzzlement, then returned to her husband; who was still recieving their guests.
It wasn't long before the dining room was filled with people: Franklin was sitting with Ariel on one side of him and Caprice on the other. Arista was staring, dreamily at Jefferson, and Adams and Triton were having a serious discussion between bites of roast kelp.
On the table, Sebastian whispered to Flounder: "Watch out,..here they come,..." Two young ladies walked up to get a glass of punch. They gasped with delight when they saw Flounder in the nearby bowl. "Oh! Look at this, Debra! What a cute little fish!" The woman leaned down to look at him, "Oh! Sweet little fishie!" Flounder grinned back.
"He acts like he almost understands you!", commented Debra. She looked over at Sebastian. "Ugh! Look at that thing!"
The other woman looked over at Sebastian, and her face soured. "A crab! Don't get too close, Debra! He might pinch you!" Sebastian frowned. The two women got their punch and waved goodbye to Flounder. "Bye little fishie!"
Flounder grinned over at Sebastian. The crab frowned. "Bye little fishie!", he mimicked. "I don't like dis party."
Arista was edging close to Jefferson. "Hi there!", she sighed. Jefferson looked at her, with politeness. "Hello, young Lady."
"I'd love to dance with you,...Thomas!"
Jefferson stared back at her, with puzzlement. "I beg your pardon?"
Arista put her hand on his arm. "I've,... been staring at you all evening long,.. I think you're,..very handsome,.."
Jefferson coughed. "Well,..Thank you,.." The Vice-President took a gulp of wine.
Triton was trying to argue with Adams, "Don't deny that it has been your fleets that have been ravaging my kingdom for so long!"
Adams nodded. "I am terribly sorry about it, Your Majesty. We never knew that your people even existed, until recently. I've had to think about my people and how to feed them. I'm sure that you have had similar concerns for your people too."
Triton hesitated, "Well,...yes,.. But I don't allow them to harvest on the land, as you do in the sea!"
Adams took a bite of roast kelp. "That's true, Your Majesty. But I don't have either the power or the love of my people, as you do, to stop that harvesting. By-the-way; this stuff is delicious!"
Triton smiled. "Thank you! That's Arista's recipe. She's a very talented cook."
Adams nodded. "She certainly is!"
"Here", offered Triton, "let me refill your seaweed tea: you're getting low."
Sebastrian frowned, as another pair of Humans came walking over. "Look at the fish, Dear!", commented the man. The woman grinned. "Why! What an adorable little fish!"
Flounder grinned and did a twirl. "Did you see that!?", gasped the woman. "He's so talented too! Cute little fishie!" Sebastian stared; sarcastically, as Flounder did another twirl.
The man pointed at the crab. "Look at this, Dear. Wonder if he's alive,..." Sebastian glared up at him.
"Ugh,..A nasty crawly thing,..", observed the woman. They got their punch and returned to the table.
Flounder looked at the crab. "I don't think Humans like you."
"How could you tell dat?", growled Sebastian. "Dis party stinks."
Dr. Franklin was smiling from ear-to-ear, as he talked with Ariel. "So you say that you can talk to all the aquatic denizens around Atlantica? Even the lower life-forms?"
Ariel hesitated. "Well,...I wouldn't say that anyone is lower; just different from me."
Franklin patted her hand. "Of course! I beg your pardon! So you can speak with the crabs and shrimps and sea-slugs,...what about sponges?"
"Oh yes! They're quite sweet! They like to play games a lot: We play sponge-ball with them. They enjoy that cause they don't get a chance to move around very much!"
Franklin nodded. "I can imagine."
"I knew one sponge who was quite artistic", noted Ariel. "He would jump into the paint and then bounce against the canvas. Daddy has one of his paintings hanging in the hallway."
Franklin grinned. "Amazing!"
"All the animals could talk in Atlantica. It was only when you swam into the wilderness that they couldn't."
"So you find the animals quite different on land", noted Franklin.
Ariel smiled. "Well,...sort-of. They may not be able to talk here, but they can still let you know how they feel! You've just got to learn to understand them."
"Dis is really getting annoying", grumbled Sebastian, as he spied two more ladies heading for the punch bowl. Flounder put on his most adorable smile.
"Oh!", exclaimed a pretty young woman, "Look at that sweet little crab!" Before Sebastian knew what was happening, he was picked up and cuddled against the lady's neck.
The other woman stared at her. "Be careful! It might pinch you!"
"No he won't,... You won't pinch me, will you sweetie?"
Sebastian grinned and shook his head.
Before long, the orchestra began to play, and couples got up to dance.. Eric walked over to his wife, but Dr. Franklin took her hand. "You don't mind if I go one round with her? It's not every day that I get the opportunity to dance with a mermaid. And a very lovely mermaid at that! You don't mind; do you Caprice?" Before anyone could answer, Ben ushered Ariel to the dance floor: Ariel grinned back at Eric.
Arista grabbed Jefferson's hand, "Come on, sweetie! Let's dance!" She pulled him up and dragged him onto the floor.
Jefferson looked down at her, with a sigh. "Young Lady; I'm old enough to be your father!
Arista pressed close to him. "That's okay, cutie; I'll make an exception!"
Adams gave his Vice-President a hearty chuckle, as he saw the man being led around by the girl. Abigail smiled at her husband, "Look over there at Dr. Franklin. I think he's in love!"
Adams smiled. "Again?"
Eric relieved the elderly Franklin; giving him a chance to sit down and rest, and he took his wife in his arms. Ariel grinned up at Eric, with love, and pressed close.
Sebastian glanced over at the orchestra. "Hmm. Not bad. Ariel must have picked them out. Dey sound a little like me. Not a bad party."
Flounder nodded and grinned.
Eric felt a tap on his shoulder. It was King Triton. "May I have the next dance with her?", he asked with a smile.
Eric smiled and bowed, as he offered the girl. Triton took Ariel hand and began to dance.
"Why,... Daddy! You dance really good as a Human!", exclaimed Ariel.
"It's all in the timing", answered the King, with a smile.
Arista gazed up; dreamily at the Vice-President. "You have the cutest eyes,.."
Jefferson was getting desperate with this young Lady. "I'm married!", he exclaimed.
Arista brushed it off. "Aw; you can dump her! You want to be with me,...mermaids can sense these things,.."
Jefferson suddenly got an idea. "Well,...okay,... As long as you don't mind eating,...fish."
Arista looked up at him. "Huh?"
Jefferson nodded his head. "Yes,..fish. As long as you don't mind eating fish. I love eating fish. Broiled,..fried,.."
Arista pushed him away. "Ugh! You don't mean that!"
"Oh yes! And crab-legs and scallops,..and Boston chowder. Mmm Mmm!"
Arista backed away in disgust. "I think I've had enough dancing,...bye!"
After the dancing, everyone sat back down and talked a while. Ariel went looking for her father, and found him sitting next to Mr. Adams. Ariel's mouth opened with astonishment: they were laughing with each other!
"Oh yes!", Triton was saying, " they wanted to build a new swimway right through the palace! I went out to talk to them and the chief octopus said the palace would have to come down!" Triton laughed until he cried.
Adams chuckled and nodded. "Sounds like my place in Philadelphia! Wanted to paint the shingles red, and foreman said they could only be white because they didn't have any red paint!
Triton slapped the man on the back, as he giggled like a child. Ariel came over with an expression of amazement. "Daddy? Are you all right?"
The King laughed and nodded. "Just fine, Dear! Me and John are just gabbing."
The girl smiled, with joy. "Okay Daddy! You two gab all you want!"
At last, it was time for everyone to leave. Ariel had to hug everybody; with Dr. Franklin doing a good job of hugging back. He smiled; sadly, at her. "I don't think we'll be meeting again."
Ariel took his hand. "I understand. You are a sweet man. I won't forget you." Franklin kissed her cheek.
Adams also kissed Ariel's hand. "You take good care of her, young man. She's a very special Lady."
Eric nodded. "I will, Sir."
Ariel kissed Flounder on the head, and kissed Sebastian's cheek. She looked at the crab, with surprise. "Why; Sebastian! Is that perfume I smell on you?"
Sebastian smiled, slyly. "Well,...you know. Women just got a ting for me,..."
Triton looked sternly down at Eric. "The next time I visit, I'll expect to see some grandchildren around here."
Eric smiled. "We're working on it, Your Majesty!"
Ariel giggled and blushed.
The King smiled and hugged his daughter. "Goodbye, my little Ariel."
Ariel and Eric watched, as their coach pulled away. Hand-in-hand; the young couple waved goodbye.