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A resourceful young lady is able to meet any challenge. She would never quail in the face of difficulties or let a momentary stumble take her off her course.

Thus when a young lady finds a somewhat unconventional pet, she should not leave the animal to the mercies of others but care for the animal to the best of her ability.

Victoria's deportment books did not precisely cover what a young lady should do when confronted with an octopus. Being a rather original and inventive young lady, however, she decided that the same maxims could apply no matter what.

A young lady would learn what was needed for the animal and follow through accordingly. All creatures enjoyed exercise, of course, when appropriate to their forms. And if a dog with four legs must go for walks, then so too must an octopus, she reasoned. Twice as many walks, in fact.

Otto, as she christened the cephalopod, was reluctant at first to wear the leash, but after a lecture on leash laws he acquiesced. And took to their perambulations like a natural. It was some time before he understood that chasing other animals was improper. However, Victoria was indulgent of this impulse when she realised that Otto did not intend to eat the puppies but rather to make their acquaintance. How could she object to such friendly sociability? The dogs were quite curious as well, though their owners were rarely as accommodating. But Victoria knew that in time they would be accustomed to Otto as well.

Indeed, Otto was so enthusiastic about their walks that Victoria found it necessary to invest in very sturdy walking boots. Fortuitously, Otto was very good with a buttonhook.

The buttonhook was not his only area of unaquatic genius. Otto was in fact exceedingly intelligent, more a true companion than a mere pet. He was quite musical when given an instrument that would conform to his physical requirements; he was an adventurous cook, though he naturally preferred seafood; he was immensely helpful when Victoria was working on her latest self-designed dress. Aside from the occasional accidental ink spill, Otto was a perfect comrade for an independent and adventurous lady.

But Victoria could not be surprised when Otto would look occasionally wistful in the presence of bodies of water. A trip past the river would require her to pull gently at his lead to keep him from dragging them both in. He spent hours upon hours in the bath, which was only to be expected. And she was somewhat prepared when he took down a book of maps and plotted a route to the nearest beach.

Victoria nodded and informed her friend that he could of course return to his home any time he liked. She was somewhat surprised by the tears that sprang to the corners of her eyes and dashed them away with one gloved hand.

Otto burbled loudly in consternation. He gestured at her and then at the sea, and then trundled up the stairs to the laboratory. Home was here, he indicated. (He could not speak, but he and Victoria understood each other well enough.) But Otto wanted Victoria to share the sea with him.

And when they had taken the little boat out past the end of the pier, and Otto tumbled into the water with a splash - when she had made sure her helmet and tank were properly connected to the regulator and slipped over the side and plunged down - when she opened her eyes inside the helmet…

she saw a world of aquamarine and turquoise and cobalt and emerald, of strange branching corals that seemed almost to be breathing under the water, of schools of tiny fish darting through the water like a murmuration of starlings.

She saw enormous clams opening and closing in the currents, revealing flashes of secret soft places and the possible glint of a pearl. Waving fronds of seaweed, more vibrantly viridian than her hair, curling and fluttering in the eddies. Starfish plastered to rocks like their namesakes clung to the skies above.

She saw Otto, tentacles swirling in unfettered joy, even more graceful than his exploits on land. His eyes were nearly hidden in what passed for a smile, as an enormous turtle swam down to greet him and then to investigate this human interloper. Victoria could almost hear Otto's joy through the water, bubbles bursting against her helmet.

One tentacle wrapped around her wrist and tugged gently. Victoria understood.

And she let Otto take her for a walk.