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The Seaweed Hat

Click to return to index      Author:  Louis Slobodkin
  Copyright Date:  1947
  Publisher:  Macmillan
  Pagination:  43 p.
  Dedication:  to You

We were alone on the beach—just Millie and me.
She was scared of waves though she knew she shouldn’t be.
So I petted her gently,—gave her some tea,
And I told her a story about the bottom of the Sea.

Once a little Captain appeared from ... I don’t know where.
He had merry bright eyes and golden hair,
And he doffed his cap of seaweed green
As he said, “Would you like a ride in my SUBMARINE?”
Before I could say—either yes or no
He was gone and back with his ship in tow.

“Grab hold now and pull! Heave ho, my hearty!”
Said the gold-haired Captain, “We’ll have a Party
At the bottom of the sea with the Monsters and Fishes
And don’t you worry—I’ll wash the dishes!
Now if you’re scared of the waves or things like that
You’d better wear this SEAWEED HAT!”
The Hat was pretty—though small and flat.
I said I’d come to his party—he was as pleased as a cat.

So I packed all our things and climbed down the hatch
Then the Captain came aboard. He snapped the latch.
Shouting, “Hold fast, everybody!—Is everyone in?”
He started the motor with an awful din!

Down, down, we dove into the cool dark Sea.
Little fishes peeped in at the Captain and me.
They were trembly and pale as they goggled at us.
“We’re not a Whale,” said the Captain, “Don’t raise such a fuss!”

“Shall we give them a ride in our Submarine?
We have plenty of room and they’re so nice and clean.
Let’s take those two Catfish Kittens—all gold and green
We’ll call this one Robert and that one Jean.”
We opened the porthole and in they came.
They sat quietly beside me—gentle and tame.
“NOW,” bellowed our Captain, “We’ll go deeper yet
These little fishes never swam so deep—I bet.”

Robert and Jean said not a WORD!
They just pretended they hadn’t heard.
Down, down we went in one long jump
Until we stopped diving with a gentle Bump.

The Captain clanged bells and blew his whistles.
We were at the bottom of the Sea, in a nest of thistles.
We peered out the porthole—the light was dim.
“That’s EEL grass,” said the Captain,—Jean nodded at him.

“Well Mates, take a deep breath and out we’ll go
The Seaweed Hat protects us all, you know.”
So we all climbed out and swam around.
We rested on a chest the Captain found.
And our little Fish friends played hide-and-seek
Till they waked a Monster with an enormous BEAK!
We quickly said, “Excuse us, please” and “We apologize”
The Monster shut his mouth again but not his big, red eyes.

But we weren’t scared—for I wore the Seaweed Hat
We kept right on sitting—exactly where we had sat.
“It’s quiet here,” the Captain said, “We can’t have any fun.
I know we’d all be happier if we were minus ONE!
Let’s leave this chest ... it’s terribly old,
Besides there’s nothing in it—just lumps of gold.
We’ll find some wreck of a Pirate ship,
That’s loaded with Diamonds right up to its tip.
There we’ll have our lunch
     and the Fish Kittens can play.”
So we packed up our things and gently sailed away.

We hunted high, we hunted low, for a ship with a broken mast
Until we found behind a rock—a battered hulk, at last!
There we had our lunch,—the Fish Kittens had a nibble,
“Eat hearty,” said the Captain, “Please don’t quibble.”

When our lunch was done and the crumbs brushed up,
We fed them one by one to a dogfish pup.
The Fish Kittens mewed—they wanted a drink.
“It’s milk they want—that’s what I think,”
Said our kind-hearted Captain, “We’ll shove off right now
And scour the sea’s bottom till we find a SEA-COW!”
So we piled aboard with the Fish Kittens, of course.
Our Submarine raced swiftly past a mother Sea-horse,
Past Tiger Sharks and giant Buffalo Clams
Then some young Sea Lions ... fleecy as lambs,

Past a Swordfish with a long jigsawed Nose
An Octopus walking up on his toes
A bearded blue Lobster leaving his shell,
A Tattle-tale fish with a tale to tell,

An Angel-fish with sky blue lines,
Some needle-spined Fish ... Porcupines!
An Electric Eel with his name in Lights,
A puffed up Puffer and other strange sights,

Five twinkling Starfish and a young Giant Squid
Who squirted ink on us (we know he did).
And as we came out of his inky wake
Through a pearly pasture with a crimson lake

We came to the pink coral fields where the Sea-cows grazed,
But there was no one THERE! The Captain was amazed.
“Can’t understand it. Hope they’ve met with no harm
Dear me,” said he, “Shall I sound the Alarm?”
We all sat down ’neath a Striped-Mackerel tree
And said not a word—the Fish Kittens or me

We listened to the song of a
     bright Parrot Fish
“Want a cracker?”
     asked the Captain,
     if you wish!”

The Fish Kittens replied with
     a sad shake of the head
   “It’s very GOOD butter!”
        The Captain angrily said.
Then a tear appeared in each kitten blue eye
“We must cheer them up,” said the Captain, “They’re going to cry.”
So we sang and we danced at the bottom of the sea
But the Fish Kittens didn’t look at the Captain or me!
“Perhaps,” said he, “You’d like some Poem or other?”
They shook their heads—they wanted their mother,

“Well—then the PARTY’S over ... and home we’ll sail”
The Kitten Fish left us with a twirl of the tail.
And the Captain took me back up to the top of the sea
There he doffed his cap and said goodbye to me.

And then my Captain with the golden hair
Went off once more to ... I don’t know where!
But just before he left me at the edge of the deep
He gave me the SEAWEED HAT—to KEEP!

Millie listened to this story curled up in a furry heap.
She listened so quietly—I thought she was asleep.
But when I let her wear the Hat
(It was like a sip of catnip tea.)
She became very brave and chased a Wave,
Right back to the deep, deep Sea!  

Author’s dedication sketches (click each image to view a larger version)
Click to view larger image     Click to view larger image     Click to view larger image
For Anne (possibly his editor?) For the Little Rock Public Library For Leda Schubert

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