The Seal Queen

Imogen Rhia Herrad

...she went shell-hunting along the beach. There were amazing shells here, purple and green and canary-yellow, and white like a china teacup. Little waves lapped at the rocks and pebbles on the beach, sheep lay in the shadow of the few bushes, the sun was hot on Rhian's arms and back. There was a strong smell of seaweed and salt water. The whole Island, it seemed, was drowsing in the heat. That was when she heard the singing again.
First it was a snort, almost a sneeze. Then the voices started. Rhian got up from where she was crouching, her hands and pockets full of shells. There were seals lying on the rocks further out, sunning themselves lazily. And they sang, in the middle of the day!
They were nowhere near as loud as they had been in the night, but still! They didn't seem to mind her at all. Rhian went clambering over rocks and along a narrow sheep-track towards them, and still the seals stayed where they were, not in the least afraid. Then she heard a snort much closer, and looked. There were two, three, four heads in the water, looking directly at her, bright dark eyes frankly curious.
Rhian abruptly sat down on the nearest rock.
'Hello,' she said weakly, and wished she could think of something better to say. What do you say to a seal? she wondered. They look as if I should say something. They're so ... they look like humans, but good. Like good people. Not like humans then, really. Humans aren't very good, are they?
'I wish I could talk to you,' she said. 'Or that you could talk to me.'
The seals didn't say anything. But they didn't go away, either. Rhian was afraid they'd get bored with her and swim off, but they didn't...

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