Sailing blithely over the bounding main, Sir Edmund Roberts, Sea Maiden quester and adventurer, at last reached the Islands of the Galapagos without further incident. Weeks of exploring ashore befuddled the naturist completely, he at a loss to explain the profound diversity of the fauna inhabiting or merely using as a breeding grounds each distant island. “Most unusual!” he exclaimed again and again. “A conundrum, to be sure,” he chided both the old salt, Gnarly Dan, and their beautiful captain, Constance Daphne Fitzwillie until they were ready to throttle him for his nonstop babbling. At last, Gnarly Dan took the naturalist aside and confided, “Yer a smart enough gent, yer honor, we all knows that, but yer divin’ our cap’n a bit daft with yer moanin’ about the different bugs an’ such we been seein’. My advice is, clamp aholt a’ yer yammering’ fer a bit an’ then just stew fer a while becalmed. Some sorta theory’ll grab you soon enough; all quite-like it’s sure ta worm into yer headan’ just evolve.”
Sir Edmund stared at the old sailor for a moment wondering at his erratic vocabulary. “Evolve’, indeed,” he thought, pleased with the word but unsettled by something he couldn’t put his finger on. That afternoon the three came upon their twenty-eighth Sea Maiden, she perched on a ledge near the sea, morose and apparently bemused. Gnarly Dan, of course, had an explanation:
“Look in ‘er hand, yer honor; it’s as plain as….” His eyes were drawn to Constance Daphne’s open naval tunic and her uplifted and magnificent chest. “It’s as plain as melons in a bag a grape shot.” He smiled too himself and continued, “Why she’s gotta make a decision what will chart the course fer the rest of ‘er voyage: That there necklace she’s got aholt of was made by a Sea Master. He fashioned it outa bits an’ pieces he found on the beach an’ in the sea, an’ even aboard some wrecked ship, most likely (God save ‘er crew, may they rest in peace). An’ he’s give that necklace ta missey there. Now, it’d be more’n just a trinket ta her. Why, if she accepts it—-an’ the decision’s all hers—under-sea folks bein’ ruled by the women an’ all—if she puts it on, then she’s given him the chanst ta please her the rest a’ her life. That ain;t somethin’ she takes lightly.
“We jumps into marriage easy enough,” Gnarly Dan lamented, think of his three current entanglements; separated geographically but hopelessly entwined in his crusty heart, but yer Sea Maiden don’t jump on the first handsome gob what pays attention to ‘er. He’s gotta be perfect: strong body, sharp mind, sensitive-like, good fer a laugh an’ helpful inna storm, an’ a course he’s gotta please her again and again. An’ she won’t tolerate no pirate tricks a’ ram an’ board. No, she’s lookin’ fer him ta bring gentle breezes an’ poundin’ waves onst she’s in the mood, if ya catches me drift. So she’s ponder’ a bit. Don’t look too pleased if ya asks me. Prob’ly finds ‘im a little weak in the ‘gentle breeze department.”
Sir Edmund’s notebook reads:
Sighted 28th Sea Maiden, she, according to Gnarly Dan, in the throes of a matrimonial dilemma. Braided hair. Full chest. Average height.
Maidenus Dilemma Matrimonus
November 24, 1833