V - Neptune's Net
Christine flipped her mermaid tail and kept swimming. She passed a whale shark, more dolphins, and a school of yellowfin tuna looking for a meal. Suddenly, her tail caught on something and she was tugged a little off course. She turned her head around until she could see that one of her flippers was caught in a fisherman's net. What on Earth? How did she get her tail caught like this? Whose net was this? Christine started trying to free her tail in a panic before she heard a loud, booming voice behind her.
"Hello Christine! What brings you to this part of the sea?" What on Earth? Christine could not figure out who was yelling at her from under the sea, much less how her tail had been caught up in a fisherman's net. "Hold on! Just a second! My tail is caught!" Christine struggled to free the tip of her tail, but it seemed hopelessly tangled up in the luminous net of a fisherman she couldn't find.
"Here Christine, let me help you." The large, booming voice drew near and Christine shrieked in fright. "Aack! What is that? What are you doing to me? I'm just a mermaid looking for my friend!" Christine felt a slight poke at her long, scaly tail and before she could say "Neptune's Net" she was free. The clear, fishing net drifted off with the current and she cowered under a coral, awaiting further punishment.
"Ah Christine, you are young and foolish still, not to have recognized me. I am Neptune, god of the sea." Neptune. Neptune? What was I being poked with? Christine peered out from under her hiding spot and saw a large, bearded man with ice blue eyes holding a three-pronged trident and riding a seashell chariot drawn by seahorses. Neptune was surrounded by dolphins, whales, and swirling schools of fish, including the yellowfin tuna she had glimpsed earlier. Neptune? Christine was puzzled. Who was Neptune and why was he poking her?
"Your tiny, little mermaid tail got caught up in my fishing net, Christine." Neptune tried to explain patiently. "I used my trident to free you. You are now free to swim away." Neptune gestured to the ocean off in the distance with a grand sweep of one, large arm. "Oh," Christine murmured sheepishly, only then realizing he was trying to help her. "My tail was caught in your net?"
"That's right Christine. I'm Neptune and your tail was caught in my net. I used my trident to free you. You are now free to go."
Christine glanced at Neptune again who was now floating idly next to her in the ocean current, holding his trident in one hand and the reins of his seahorses in the other. The dolphins, fishes and whales hadn't gone anywhere either. This large, bearded man with ice blue eyes couldn't be that dangerous if he rode a seashell chariot pulled by seahorses and was surrounded by all her other favorite sea creatures.
But...Christine paused again, then finally worked up the nerve to ask Neptune a question. "What about that pitchfork thing?"
"Pitchfork thing!!" Neptune's voice boomed out in anger. Christine quickly scurried back under her coral hiding place again, and only peeked out after Neptune had calmed down a little. "Sorry! I didn't mean it like that!" Christine tried to explain, "It's just that I've never seen your...your...what was it called again?" She peered up at him cautiously.
"A trident," Neptune stated emphatically, "is different from a pitchfork. My trident has three prongs which symbolize birth, life and death. The cross at the lower end of the trident symbol stands for the root of things or the essence of nature."
"Oh! Right!" Christine exclaimed, as if she might have already known. She didn't want to offend the tempestuous sea god any more than she already had. "Birth, life and death. Sounds exciting! Are you friendly towards mermaids?"
Neptune's entire body shook and the ocean boomed with laughter as the sea god smiled broadly at Christine's question. "Am I friendly towards mermaids? I should be! I myself have 3,000 mermaids and 3,000 triton (merman) by my own son Triton! Does this answer your question Christine?"
"Oh." Christine responded in a small whisper, not sure what to think. "Where are they? All your children?"
"They are here and there, Christine. Scattered about the ocean waves, playing amongst the starfishes, the seahorses and the coral reefs we call home. Would you like to visit us sometime? Perhaps we can arrange a visit." Neptune looked closely at Christine, as if to determine her true desire.
"I would very much like to visit you and your mermaids, oh venerable god of the sea. But I am looking for a mermaid friend of my own. Her name is Evangeline and we were supposed to meet quite some time ago for an afternoon tea party. Have you heard of a mermaid named Evangeline?"
"I'm afraid I have not." Neptune responded.
"Let me ask my son Triton. He is the leader of the mermaids and the mermen. Perhaps they will have a better idea. Come Christine. Come with me, and I will show you our underwater home." Neptune beckoned for Christine to follow with a slight wave of his trident.
"Ok." Christine gulped nervously and Neptune must have seen the expression on her worried mermaid face.
"Don't worry my little mermaid friend. I might be known for my ill-temper, but Triton and I mean you no harm. The seas are calm at the moment, and my wife Salacia will help maintain order while we converse. Please follow me." Neptune headed toward a protected cove off in the distance, and Christine followed only a little reluctantly.
Perhaps I should follow my treasure chest's advice, and get to know this fellow and his mermaids a little bit better.
Christine remembered her note about Treasures of the Heart and using her wisdom. Maybe I will learn something about Evangeline...
to be continued...