Where is it? Where is it? Why, it is in the water! Isn't that
funny? But you see it isn't a real fire, but only a fire-fish.*
Sweet creature, isn't he? Suppose you were a little, innocent
mermaid, swimming alone for the first time; how would you feel if
you were to meet this fellow darting towards you with his great
red mouth open? Why, you would scream with fright, and swim to
your mother as fast as you could, and catch hold of her tail for
protection. At least, that is what I should do if I were a
mermaid. But Mrs. Mermaid won't tell you that the fire-fish will
not hurt you unless you hurt him first, in which case he will
prick you dreadfully with his long, sharp spines.
*also known as a scorpionfish
I never see his picture without thinking of a red Indian in his
warpaint and feathers. Perhaps--who knows?-perhaps when Indians
are greedy, and eat too much fish, they may turn into fire-fish,
and have to swim about forever under water, and never see a green
forest again. If you are an Indian I advise you to be careful, my dear.
Nobody knows why this fish has such enormous, wing-like fins.
Wise men used to think that he could raise himself out of the
water with them, like the flying-fish; but it is now proved that
he cannot, and there seems to be no reason why a set of plain,
small fins would not serve him just as well for swimming. He
prefers warm water to cold; so he lives in the tropical seas,
swimming about the coasts of India, Africa, and Australia. The
natives of Ceylon call him Gini-maha, and they think he is very
good to eat. They take great care in catching him, for they are
very much afraid of him, thinking that his sharp spines are
poisoned, and can inflict a deadly wound. But in this they are
too hard upon the fellow. He can prick them deeply and painfully,
and he will if they meddle with him; but he is a perfectly
respectable fish, and would not think of such a cowardly thing
as poisoning anybody.
Room | Cinderella