The Water Babies

Illustrated Online Children's Book by Charles Kingsley

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And now happened to Tom a most wonderful thing; for he had not left the lobster five minutes before he came upon a water-baby.
A real live water-baby, sitting on the white sand, very busy about a little point of rock. And when it saw Tom it looked up for a moment, and then cried, “Why, you are not one of us. You are a new baby! Oh, how delightful!”
And it ran to Tom, and Tom ran to it, and they hugged and kissed each other for ever so long, they did not know why. But they did not want any introductions there under the water.
At last Tom said, “Oh, where have you been all this while? I have been looking for you so long, and I have been so lonely.”
“We have been here for days and days. There are hundreds of us about the rocks. How was it you did not see us, or hear us when we sing and romp every evening before we go home?”
Tom looked at the baby again, and then he said:
“Well, this is wonderful! I have seen things just like you again and again, but I thought you were shells, or sea-creatures. I never took you for water-babies like myself.”
Now, was not that very odd? So odd, indeed, that you will, no doubt, want to know how it happened, and why Tom could never find a water-baby till after he had got the lobster out of the pot. And, if you will read this story nine times over, and then think for yourself, you will find out why. It is not good for little boys to be told everything, and never to be forced to use their own wits. They would learn, then, no more than they do at Dr. Dulcimer’s famous suburban establishment for the idler members of the youthful aristocracy, where the masters learn the lessons and the boys hear them—which saves a great deal of trouble—for the time being.
“Now,” said the baby, “come and help me, or I shall not have finished before my brothers and sisters come, and it is time to go home.”
“What shall I help you at?”
“At this poor dear little rock; a great clumsy boulder came rolling by in the last storm, and knocked all its head off, and rubbed off all its flowers. And now I must plant it again with