The Water Babies

Illustrated Online Children's Book by Charles Kingsley

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it was not my fault—a shark coming by saw him flapping, and snapped him up. And since then I have lived all alone -
‘With a fal-lal-la-lady.’
And soon I shall be gone, my little dear, and nobody will miss me; and then the poor stone will be left all alone.”
“But, please, which is the way to Shiny Wall?” said Tom.
“Oh, you must go, my little dear—you must go. Let me see—I am sure—that is—really, my poor old brains are getting quite puzzled. Do you know, my little dear, I am afraid, if you want to know, you must ask some of these vulgar birds about, for I have quite forgotten.”
And the poor old Gairfowl began to cry tears of pure oil; and Tom was quite sorry for her; and for himself too, for he was at his wit’s end whom to ask.
But by there came a flock of petrels, who are Mother Carey’s own chickens; and Tom thought them much prettier than Lady Gairfowl, and so perhaps they were; for Mother Carey had had a great deal of fresh experience between the time that she invented the Gairfowl and the time that she invented them. They flitted along like a flock of black swallows, and hopped and skipped from wave to wave, lifting up their little feet behind them so daintily, and whistling to each other so tenderly, that Tom fell in love with them at once, and called them to know the way to Shiny Wall.
“Shiny Wall? Do you want Shiny Wall? Then come with us, and we will show you. We are Mother Carey’s own chickens, and she sends us out over all the seas, to show the good birds the way home.”
Tom was delighted, and swam off to them, after he had made his bow to the Gairfowl. But she would not return his bow: but held herself bolt upright, and wept tears of oil as she sang:
“And so the poor stone was left all alone; With a fal-lal-la-lady.”
But she was wrong there; for the stone was not left all alone: and the next time that Tom goes by it, he will see a sight worth seeing.
The old Gairfowl is gone already: but there are better things come in her place; and when Tom comes he will see the fishing-smacks anchored there in hundreds, from Scotland, and from Ireland, and from the Orkneys, and the Shetlands, and from all the Northern ports, full of the children of the old Norse Vikings, the masters of the sea. And the men will be hauling in the great cod by