1054 THE GREAT SEA-SERPENT
And the sea-cow explained to them that the whole cause of alarm, which did not say a single word itself, was only an invention from the dry land. And it held a little discourse over the tiresomeness of men.
1 They want to get hold of us,' it said, ' it is the only thing they live for; they stretch out nets and come with bait on a hook to catch us. That thing there is a kind of big line which they think we will bite, they are so stupid! We are not that! Don't touch it and it will crumble to pieces, the whole of it. What comes from up there has cracks and flaws, and is fit for nothing !'
'Fit for nothing,' said all the fishes, and adopted the sea-cow's opinion, so as to have an opinion.
The little sea-fish had its own thoughts. ' The enormous, long, thin serpent is perhaps the most marvellous fish in the sea. I have a feeling like that.'
' The most marvellous,' we men say also, and say it with knowledge and assurance.
It is the great sea-serpent talked about long before, in song and story. It is conceived and born, sprung from man's ingenuity and laid at the bottom of the sea, stretching itself from the eastern to the western lands, bearing messages as quickly as beams of light from the sun to our earth. It grows, grows in power and extent, grows from year to year, through all the seas, round the earth, under the stormy waters and under the glass-clear water, where the skipper looks down as if he sailed through transparent air, and sees fish swarming like a whole firework show of colours. Farthest down the serpent stretches itself, a world-serpent of blessing, which bites its tail as it encircles the earth. Fish and reptiles run against it with their heads, they do not yet understand the thing from above, the serpent of the knowledge of good and evil, filled with human thoughts and declaring them in all languages, yet silent itself, the most marvellous of the marvels of the deep, the great sea-serpent of our time.