It was a pretty big thing, for it was a sea-feather over five feet high, a regular tree. I gave a jerk at it, but it held fast. I wished, most earnestly, that I had taken hold of something smaller, but I didn't like to let go. I might get nothing else. I gave another jerk, but it was of no use. I felt that I couldn't hold my breath much longer, and must go up.
Captain Chris was the strongest and best swimmer I ever saw. Rectus was leaning over, ready to help, and he caught me by the arm as I reached up for the side of the boat. "No," said I, "take this," and he seized the sea-feather and pulled it in. Then the captain gave me a hoist, and I clambered on board.
We were disputing and puffing, and floating further and further away, when up came Captain Chris, swimming like a shark. He had jerked off his clothes and jumped in, when he saw what was going on. He just put one hand under my right arm, in which I held the sea-feather, and then we struck out together for the boat. It was like getting a tow from a tug-boat. We were alongside in no time.
So I gave it next day to Captain Chris, to sell, if he chose, but I believe he took it back and planted it again in the submarine garden, so that his passengers could see how tall a sea-feather could grow, when it tried. I chipped off a piece of the rock, however, to carry home as a memento.
But now let's see what we've got on this stone." There was a lot of curious things on the piece of rock which had come up with the sea-feather. There were small shells, of different shapes and colors, with the living creatures inside of them, and there were mosses, and sea-weed, and little sponges, and small sea-plants, tipped with red and yellow, and more things of the kind than I can remember.
I clutched the stem of the thing with both hands; I braced my feet against the bottom; I gave a tremendous tug and push, and up I came to the top, sea-feather and all! With both my hands full I couldn't do much swimming, and the tide carried me astern of the boat before I knew it. Rectus was the first to shout to me. "Drop it, and strike out!" he yelled; but I didn't drop it.
It was the handsomest and most interesting piece of coral-rock that I had seen yet. As for the big purple sea-feather, it was a whopper, but too big for me to do anything with it.
"Take hold of this, and we can all go in together." I thought that if one of them would help me with the sea-feather, which seemed awfully heavy, two of us could certainly swim to the boat with four legs and two arms between us. But neither of them would do it. They wanted me to drop my prize, and then they'd take hold of me and take me in.