Sea Maiden 1 Ashley by Robert Kline
This beautiful Sea Maiden illustration is from a collection of Sea Maidens (mermaids), Sea Babies (mermaid babies), Sea Masters (merman), pirates and fairies created by renowned artist and novelist Robert Kline of St. Augustine, Florida. The illustrations are from Robert’s novel The Forgotten Voyage of H.M.S. Baci in which the Sea Captain, Sir Edmund Roberts describes in his log, his various Sea Maiden, Sea Baby and Sea Master sightings. The following is the excerpt for this illustration:
In the summer of 1912 Western civilization had every right to believe it was finished with rumors of Sea Maidens. And yet, in that most scientific of years, while the world cavorted in self-absorbed folly near the quicksand that would be the War to end all Wars, there occurred a conjunction of destiny, madness, loneliness and a son’s need to find his parents that once again brought those mythical creatures to the fore. Edmund C. Roberts, grandson and sole heir to the vast fortune of Sir Edmund Roberts, purchased a steamship, hoisted his Bleriot XI aeroplane (a modern wonder of sticks, canvas, piano wire and a reluctant engine) and set sail (more accurately “steamed forth”) to solve the mystery of his parents’ disappearance. Along the way he intended to put an end to the haze of derision that had befogged his family and his youth by capturing a Sea Maiden and returning with her to swim before his doubters. Ironically, Edmund C. Roberts, noted womanizer, society scoundrel and currently bereft from the loss of the only woman he had ever truly loved, longed to be shut of them; this quest, therefore, to take place “in the glorious absence of female company and temptation”. Afloat with a ship full of men, he was determined to come to grips with his past. They left England and immediately navigated a third of the way around the globe.
Edmund C. Roberts stood on his side of the bridge and felt the comforting resonance of the ship beneath him. A pall of black coal smoke floated as a diminishing line above their wake; an apt marker for a voyage that was so far, a disappointment at best. He had encountered no living soul with even a vague recollection of his parents’ passing. He’d seen no Sea Maidens, and his attempts to take off and land his aeroplane from the makeshift platform that ran the length of his ship were exercises in survival, consuming the mountain of spare part she’d bought and frequently bringing him to within the shadow of serious injury or death. Of the five engines boxed and stowed aboard, two were now smashed and one was somewhere at the bottom of the sea. And his plan to keep his ship all male had proved a mockery from the beginning.
But he was off the coast of Gran Colombia now, lost in thought, depressed and clutching in his hand the finale letter from his parents. More than thirty years old, tattered and soiled, fondled, cursed and salt stained, it was the last touch from his mother’s hand. “We will be back, my dearest Edmund, though not soon enough for your mother’s aching heart. And when we return we will never, ever leave you again. I will hold you tightly, my precious child, and I will not let go. Dream of me, sweet dearest, and always, always remember our kiss—our baci finale. Until you are in my arms once more, I am and always will be, your loving mother.”
Edmund C. did not remember that kiss, though its thought haunted him, its reality elusive; alive only in the fading script of his mothers words. The sun had risen, the ripe smell of land and jungle overlaying the ever-present sweetness of burning coal. Today his luck would change. Today the cloak of loneliness and despair would start to rend.
It began just after noon, the day already steamy, his monoplane once more poised and noisy at the end of his makeshift runway, the Baci Finale heading into the wind, slicing the warm Pacific sea with her plumb bow. “Wish me luck, old chap,” he shouted to his mechanic, the little aeroplane shaking as the latest engine sputtered and coughed before truly coming to life. Three sailors released their grasp of the rudder as Edmund C. powered up and squinted ahead. The latest version of their catapult snapped into action and the tiny aeroplane and its pilot accelerated toward the end of the ship and the wide ocean. The tail lifted and they raced on. Off the bow of the ship, and then the stomach-churning drop as Edmund C. and his aeroplane fought for airworthiness. It was gained sooner than ever before and he was aloft and in tentative control. He circled his ship as he fought for altitude and then headed off toward the beach described in his grandfather’s notebook. A splash of orange and white and it was done—his first Sea Maiden sighting. The aviator quietly smiled and then after a gentle diving curve flew by once more. The Sea Maiden, startled from reverie, looked up shielding her eyes. Edmund C. passed, she removed her self to the oceans embrace, and the adventure was engaged.
Edmund C. Roberts’ notebook reads:
One cannot but wonder where it will lead. My first Sea Maiden sighting.
Tail of a clown fish. Wonderful chest. Long hair.
Gran Columbia, South America
August 4, 1912
This illustration is available for purchase in the following matted sizes: 5″ x 7″, 8″ x 10″, 11″ x 14″ and an 11″ x 17″ that comes unmatted on a piece of 1/4″ foam board.