"It is still early in the day!" I said, "So lets get going NOW! Which way is the Slippery Slope?"
"Well, the Slippery Slope is near at hand--in fac' it starts to get slipperty just as soon as ya leave this nice pile o' stones where Auntie Agatha makes her home, but..."
"And a mighty fine home it is!" I agreed.
"But," continued Rocky, "but, M'Lord, I's sorry, but I can't go wit'cha."
"You mean--you mean-- I have to go on alone?" I asked, a little surprised--since the good rock crabs had been so generous and helpful to me in my quest so far.
"Ya'see Your Worship--I's Kinda..."
"My Nephoo Hemi Grapsus, Sir Knight, is King o' this Rockcrabby Land. An' as such, MUST sorrowfully stay wit' an' pertect his rock crabby folk and not go on quests--even those as serioous and important as yers doubtless is!"
"Say no more, my Dear Friends!" I said. "To each his duty! Just point me to the Slippery Slope and I will carry on!"
"Stout Heart, Yer Grace!" Rocky quietly whispered, as my two new--very helpful--rock crab friends led me to the edge of their stone pile home and the base of The Slippery Slope.
"This Ring-Bo-Ree is excellent!" I said. "It makes me feel energized, alert, ready and strong!"
" 'At's it exactly yer Grace!" Rocky replied--"Very tasty stuff it is! --an' now, Auntie, Wot about th' aforesaid BOX?"
"The Jumblies carried that 'ere Box o' Destiny with 'em t' the East." Auntie Agatha said, "--over th' Slippery Slope and through th' Dell o' Gloom-- an' 'tis not exackly sartain, but 'tis highly possable they stashed it finely under a tor in the middle of the Perplex Plain!"
" 'Under th' Tor in the Perplex Plain An' 'there it ever shall remain 'Til the knightly Crab brings it home again!'
As we followed the big lady rock crab through the crack, I whispered to my new friend: "Didn't you say your name was 'Rocky'?"
"Well, yes, yer Highness." He whispered back.
"But 'ats only what me friends calls me! My REAL name is Hemi Grapsus the Third. And I's a leftover from the old Sexdentatus fambly. Auntie Agatha calls me 'Hemi' fer short--but NOT fer long! Arr, harr!"
"And wot d'yer think to go lookin' fer, yer Lordship, if I may be so bold wit' a new acquaintance?"
"It seems to be no secret. I am seeking the Box of Destiny!"
"Arr! The Box of Destiny, issit? And WHERE is this aforesaid BOX?"
"That's just it! No one knows--least of all ME!"
The Rock crab pondered a moment and then unexpectedly offered:
"I HAVE heard o' that BOX--'t was with the peculiar stuff the old Jumblies brought back from beyond the Torrible Zone as I remember it. And I knows whom can give yer more information on the subject, yer Grace!"
The rock crab grabbed my claw and hurried me down the beach.
"Yer gotta meet my dear old Auntie Agatha! Old Auntie Agatha was mighty tight wit' those Jumblies in the old days, yer Excellency!"
Suddenly I was picked up and held--fairly gently--by a strong human hand!
"Ahhh--Here you are, Sir Crabaine--and right on time too!" spoke a surprisingly quiet but powerful voice.
"There must be some mistake, sir!" I hurriedly said, "My name is Constable Crab!"
"Oh? --So That is what YOU think! Ah, ha, ha! What strange ideas creatures have! Well, MY name is Merlin, and as you will soon find out--I am seldom wrong!"
"I really am--just Constable Crab! I have ALWAYS been Constable Crab!"
"Tut, tut!" Merlin scoffed, "Perhaps you HAVE been Constable Crab in the past--but here comes my friend and liege, Arthur Rex who is quite determined to knight you--if I understand the purpose of the great sword he is carrying. And THEN you will BE what you ARE--Sir Crabaine indeed!"
And scuttling just as hard and fast as I could I raced through the deep canyons and cliffs until I came into the shallower, brighter water near the shore. There I felt much safer so I slowed a bit until I finally reached the familiar beach--with the Plumbago Pearl gripped tightly in my claws.
"Constable! Constable Crab!" It was the cheerful cry of my young friend Sandy Sand Crab.
"Hello Sandy! I have returned--and WITH the pearl!"
"Where did you find it ?--How did you ever..." he began.
"I'll tell you the whole amazing adventure soon--but right now let's get the pearl back to its rightful owner: Claire Clam!"
And together we went straight back into the sea to Claire Clam's mansion.
"SO I am a'common hoodlum' that is only fit to do your dirty work am I?" hissed The Electrician.
"You haven't got the imagination of a sea snail or the brains of a sea cucumber!" said Boss Octopus to his henchman--and to prove it to the world--the Plumbago Pearl is MINE--ALL MINE! Muaah! Hah! Ha!" and he laughed a maniacal laugh.
"Oh Yeah?" rejoined The Electrician, "How'd you like a taste of THAT!" and he threw a terrifying bolt of electricity at Boss Octopus.
"FOOL!" shouted Boss Octopus--"Do you think I am called Boss Octopus for NOTHING?" as he slid his strong, slimy tentacles around the eel--"I'll SQUEEZE you 'til you SQUEAK!" and he commenced to do just that.
Meanwhile, since they were so busy trying to electrocute and throttle each other--I simply grabbed the pearl and scuttled!
I knew that Boss Octopus would have that most valuable pearl close by--and I soon saw it under his tentacles behind him. I ALSO knew that The Electrician and Boss Octopus--like all criminals--could not trust each other. I planned to get the pearl and get away by exploiting that lack of trust.
"I thought that it would be YOU who would have the pearl, Boss Octopus," I said, "because it is obvious that YOU are the brains of this outfit!"
"So TRUE!" Boss Octopus smiled. "I use common hoodlums like The Electrician here to perform my dirty work--but I am the one who lays out the plan and who reaps the reward!"
And so we---myself followed closely by The Electrician ---headed down and away from the shallow vile neighborhoods of the urchins--and into the deep crevasses and caves of the sea bottom---deeper than I had ever gone before---into a dark and gloomy realm---the haunts of the baddest creatures of the sea---even the MOST BADDEST of ALL----BOSS OCTOPUS!!
I had recently seen a strange electric eel hanging around the rocky cave where the Urchins lived--and I knew that I would have to go there to find out what he was up to--but I also knew that the urchins were a lawless type which had little respect for me --or anything else.
I realized that the only way I could get the information I needed was to go to the urchins cave in disguise!
I returned to the main salon of the mansion, said goodbye to Madam Clam and assured her that I was on the case and would retrieve her pearl if it was possible.
Then, attended by Sandy Sandcrab, I returned to the beach where I could assemble the disguise I needed.
As soon as we were there, Clarence turned and spoke.
"You will wish to know what I know about the missing pearl."
"Correct." I answered.
"Well, I must say, I don't know anything at all!"
"You summoned Madam Clam to breakfast..."
"As usual. Then I preceded her into the breakfast room and waited on her--also as usual."
"Was there anyone else in the house in the morning?"
"No. We were alone--also as usual. I served her second cup of coffee and then she left the room. I was clearing the breakfast things when she returned as white as a sheet to report to me that her beautiful pearl was gone!"
"And you had NOT left the breakfast room at the time."
"I NEVER do until the breakfast things are clear--that is one of my duties."
"And are you ABSOLUTELY SURE there was no one else about--remember well, because this is VERY important!"
"Yes. I am sure...WAIT a MOMENT! Now I remember! A workman--an electric eel--had come earlier to check the wiring! He COULD have entered the bedroom after we left!"
"AN ELECTRIC EEL! AHA! NOW we're GETTING SOMEWHERE!!" I said.