Derick Wycherly was a fisherman. He was out fishing one day when he heard a commotion. He looked up the beach and saw a group of children torturing a small turtle. Derick couldn’t stand to see an animal getting hurt.
He had to stop it.
Derick shouted at the children, “What are you doing? You shouldn’t hurt an innocent animal!”
The kids responded, “She’s not innocent! She’s a devil!”
Derick shooed the kids away. “Get away from here. Poor kids. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
The kids ran off, and Derick scooped the turtle back into the sea.
The next day, as Derick was fishing on the beach, a huge turtle approached him. The turtle told Derick that the small turtle he had saved the day before was really the daughter of the Emperor of the Sea. In exchange for saving his daughter, the Emperor wanted to see Derick and thank him.
The turtle, who was magic, gave Derick some gills and brought him to the bottom of the sea.
Derick and the large turtle arrived at the Maison du Sun Fish, where Derick met the Emperor and his daughter who was now a lovely princess, Rosie.
They were both very glad to see him. In exchange for his heroism, Rosie offered Derick a chance to stay under the sea forever. Without thinking, Derick said yes. He felt like he was in his own personal heaven.
But after a few days, Derick was homesick. He missed his village, and wanted to see his aging mother. He asked Rosie’s permission to leave the Maison du Sun Fish. She said she was sorry to see him go, but wished him well.
Just before Derick’s return to the land, Rosie gave him a mysterious box. “This box will protect you,” she said, “but you must never open it.”
Derick grabbed the box from Rosie. Then he jumped on the back of the large turtle who had first brought him under the sea. He was soon back on shore.
But when Derick arrived at his village, everything had changed! His home was gone, his mother had vanished. He couldn’t find a single person he knew. He felt so out of place. He asked everyone he met if they had known a man named Derick. Every single person answered that they had heard of someone of that name -- but he had vanished at sea long ago. “How long?” asked Derick. “300 years ago.” And so Derick learned that in what felt like 3 days to him, 300 years had passed.
Struck by grief, Derick opened the box Princess Rosie had given him. A cloud of white smoke poured out,
engulfing his face and body.
Inside the cloud, Derick suddenly aged. His beard turned white and grew long, his back bent painfully and his eyes grew dim. As the cloud cleared,
he heard the sweet, sad voice of the princess from the sea:
“I warned you not to open the box . . . now you have lost the protection of your youth.”