SI Vault
Clare Boothe Luce
August 18, 1958
A fish in the hand, finds the diplomat turned diver, is worth two in a bowl—and that goes for lobsters, too
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August 18, 1958

Adventures On The Reef

A fish in the hand, finds the diplomat turned diver, is worth two in a bowl—and that goes for lobsters, too

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(Coles says later the new race of underwater scientists are coming to the conclusion that some marine creatures have greater intelligence than many land animals. Then, I suspect, that squirrelfish is flapping himself all over the ledge because he picked a hole without any "exit, in case of humans.")

Louisa and I swim in search of further treasures. Aimlessly, we tweak the twinkling polyps until they shrink into themselves. We pick up shells and crack off brittle pieces of elkhorn coral, and pluck sea fans. I see a brilliant purple-hued vase sponge, and I garner that. We now have armfuls of last-moment souvenirs. Then I see a big dark bucket-shaped sponge. I motion to Louisa that we can use it for a basket. We drop our souvenirs into it. Then we try to pluck it off the bottom. It comes loose, but its bottom rips off and all our little treasures fall through. Louisa, laughing through her mask, goes off after queen angel-fish—like mine, her favorites.

I start to throw away the sponge. It is a thing of no beauty. Suddenly I think it looks like a hat. (I am feeling a little dizzy and definitely silly.) I pay no attention to Art who dives down and signals I am almost out of air. I decide to trim the hat. I pick a single sea plume and stick it into the side of the sponge. I plop the hat upon my head, as Art comes diving down again, pointing frantically at his watch and making signs with his fingers that I have only two more minutes of air left.

So this is the end.... How do I meet it? Do I drown in gory struggle with a tiger shark? In tragic tangle with a giant octopus? Oh, no, I meet my watery end while trimming a hat. A sad hat. A sad-sack hat. In fact, a hat for Greta Garbo. My tank is out of air, so I tank I go home now.... I plop the hat on my head, and flipper hard for the surface. Art, his eyes wide with concern, is at my shoulder. The sponge hat drops off and we break through the Salt Curtain. I drop my mouthpiece and gulp the wind.


Coles, Art and Dave take us to the airport. It is raining.

"Goodby, Coles. You have all been so very kind and so very careful of us."

"I wish we were back on the reefs this minute."

"Goodby, Dave. Hope you got some good pictures."

"I know I got some, crud or no crud."

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