Poisoned by a plant!
It was a fine day to begin the week at Aquatic School. As always Delma was one of the first students to reach the school premises. Their new school campus at the eastern end of the lake was now well established and the lake creatures looked forward to coming to their new school with its chain of spacious coves. Olly the octopus, the Aquatic School's popular and respected principal, as well as his staff of dedicated teachers, made learning fun.
It was the Science lesson today — a subject Delma was very interested in.
Their Science teacher this term was Luke, the lake trout. Luke was a young teacher and the students of Aquatic School simply adored him. He brimmed with confidence and his energy was contagious. In every class he involved his students in a host of new activities which inspired them.
Today, when Luke swam into class he was greeted with enthusiasm. "Hello, young scientists!" he cried out with a huge grin. "Today I have an interesting activity planned for you all. It calls for a little excursion!" he beamed.
"An excursion!" gasped the entire class in glee. "A surprise field trip! Yayy!"
Luke laughed at their excitement. "Yes, yes, dears! I have taken permission from Sir Olly the Octopus. We are to visit the nearby areas of the Aquatic School and collect some interesting aquatic plants and flowers."
"This is a botany project. Each one of you is supposed to collect a single kind of plant and then use our school library to find out about it. Tomorrow each one of you will make a presentation about the plant you choose today," Luke explained further.
So oozing with excitement the entire class trouped out of the Aquatic School led by Luke. He took them to a nearby inlet created by the lake which had a profusion of exotic plants growing in abundance at the edges.
"I have been here, Sir," said Delma shyly to Luke as the creatures dispersed to pick out an interesting plant.
"Really?" smiled Luke.
"Yes, when Olly Sir and I were hunting for a new school premises we came across this area too," explained Delma.
"This is one of my favorite places in the lake. It has a lot of fascinating plant life," Luke confined with a kind smile.
"You are an explorer like me, Delma!" Grinning with pleasure at her teacher's compliment, Delma went about the lake's edge to find an aquatic plant that tickled her interest.
Her adventurous streak made her edge further into a swampy area where she saw a beautiful white and pink striped lily. Its fragrance seemed to draw her closer.
"This looks lovely," said Delma in wonder and she swam forward through the marshy waters to pluck it gently with its bulb and pad.
Wanting to keep her discovery a secret she quickly swam back to the group when Luke hollered to all of them to assemble. When they returned to the Aquatic School it was nearly time to go home. Delma and some of her classmates stayed behind in the Aquatic School library to research on the plants they had picked.
"It's time for me to close up the library," said Bill the bullfrog, the stern librarian. Quickly, Delma chose a book compiled on Aquatic Plants and hurried back home.
Dazel had come over to visit Delma and oohed and aahed over the beautiful and scented lily Delma showed her.
"I'll help you prepare your presentation, Delma," rejoined Dazel cheerily. Carefully, the two friends opened the book Delma had issued from the Aquatic School library. Books for the Aquatic School were written on huge leaves covered by thin films of plant cuticles so that they are not damaged by the water.
Finally, they came to a section on water lilies. "Oh look! This description and diagram sounds like the lily you found."
Delma read the section aloud eagerly, "River Lily, Spider Lily, Swamp Lily, Poison Bulb are common names for species in the genus, Crinum.
Leaves, usually strap-like, may be evergreen or deciduous, depending upon the species. Clusters of handsome flowers, often fragrant, are produced on long, leafless stems throughout summer. Crinums grow from bulbs which, like so many ornamental plants, are poisonous if ingested."
"Poisonous?" whispered Dazel. Delma was shell-shocked.
Dazel snatched the book from her and read further, "Raw bulbs of this plant have caused vomiting and diarrhea. Toxicities result in gastroenteritis, shivering and occasionally death."
"Oh dear!" yelped Dazel. "Delma! Are you feeling okay? Do you have a stomach ache? Let's go to a doctor!"
"I...I ...don't know," said Delma faintly. She was already feeling sick.
"You wait here and I will go and fetch Dr. Owl," stammered Dazel.
But Dr. Owl was nowhere to be found. "He said he will return in a few days," said Mrs. Owl when Dazel flew to his home.
Panic stricken, Dazel flew to the Aquatic School hoping to find Olly the Octopus there. It was nearly sundown then. "Olly, Sir!" cried Dazel flying above the coves.
Just then she spotted another fish poke his head out of the water, "What's wrong? I'm Luke the lake trout. Who are you? Olly isn't here. He has gone home."
"I'm Dazel, Delma the dolphin's friend," explained a breathless Dazel. "Delma has been poisoned!"
Luke was shocked to hear the entire story from the duck. "I am Delma's Science teacher. I was the one who gave them the assignment to collect an interesting aquatic plant. I feel responsible for all this. Please, take me to Delma."
"Yes," replied an agitated Dazel. "But we must tell Olly first. He has immense knowledge about the plant and animal life of this pond."
Soon, Dazel, Luke and Olly were with Delma. Delma was floating listlessly on her stomach.
"Delma dear, tell me what you are feeling?" Olly asked Delma gently.
"I...I feel sick and weak," whispered Delma.
"Did you eat the lily, Delma," prodded Olly.
Delma shook her head, "No!"
"It's okay then. This lily is only poisonous if you have ingested it," smiled Olly reassuringly.
"But...then why do I feel sick?" asked a puzzled Delma.
"That's because you are sick with worry. You are ill with dread that you might have been poisoned. But dear, if you had actually been poisoned you would not have been in any condition to even talk," explained Olly kindly.
"Oh! What a relief," cried Dazel and hugged Delma while Luke patted Delma compassionately. "Delma, you gave us a scare! Let's get rid of this lily!" said Luke and they all laughed.
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