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Age Rating 8 Plus.
Start of Story
The sound of the waves came nearer and nearer,
and on and on the child went, until at last he stopped
at the end of a long pier, beneath which the water
rushed and foamed. Then the child looked at the
imitation fish again, and kissed it for the last time,
while his tears fell upon its red-and-yellow sides.
" Farewell, dear little fish," he said. " You shall
never be lonely more, or live in a stupid little card-
board box ; you shall go back to your home in the
sea, and dwell among others like you. I love you,
dear little fish farewell ! " and the child dropped it
into the deep water beneath. For one moment the
poor little imitation fish dimly saw out of one painted
eye the sweet face above, and then the waves tossed
it away and away, farther and farther out to sea.
" Ah, dear child," it cried in terrible fear, " your
purity has been the ruin of my false self. I was not
made for things that were real ; now I am indeed
But no one took any notice of the poor toy, and
the living fish swam past it with scarcely a glance ;
even they knew it was a sham ; and when the fisher-
man cast his line into the sea, the hook at the end
did not touch or hurt the imitation fish ; all around
it was heedless of its presence, only the waves went
on tossing it day after day, week after week. Some-
times the sunlight came, and the real fish swam
about and were glad ; or the storms, and they crowded
into the fisherman's net; but nothing pleased or
hurt or harmed the imitation fish only the waves
went on tossing and tossing.
At last, after a long, long time, the waves seemed
to be going on and on, always in one direction, and
the fish went with them, until at last it was thrown
on the shore among the pebbles and seaweed, and the
little pools of water that collected between great
stones; and the little fish was thankful, for it had
escaped from a great loneliness, and the quiet of the
shore seemed a blessed thing after the ceaseless toss-
ing of the waves.
How long it lay there it never knew, but one day
there was a sudden sound of a voice, and the little
fish was lifted up by hands almost as tender as the
" It is so like a toy my darling loved ! " a voice
said ; and a great happiness stole over the poor little
fish, for he knew the voice of the child's mother.
" He had a little fish that pleased him more than all
his other toys, but he thought it was real, and threw
it into the sea to make it happy," and she raised it to
her lips, and kissed it passionately again and again,
and bathed it in her tears. Then the little fish was
sad, and yet thankful and glad to feel itself gcing
back to the child.
And the mother put it in a soft hiding-place,
and looked at it many a time, kissing it tenderly;
for the sound of the child's voice was hushed, and
the blue eyes that had so lovingly watched the
imitation fish watched it never again grave blue
eyes that were closed for evermore.