Back on the Cheese Grater, First Officer Mash watched as his messenger to the stars descended with the news he was waiting to hear.
"The eastern horizon, eh?" he said in response to the albatross's report, "We'd better turn the ship about and go look for it then."
"Don't forget my fish," said Albert.
"I shall allow you to choose the fattest juiciest fish from the hold for your endeavours Mister Ross," smiled Mash.
"Thank you, Mister Mash," said Albert.
Mash led Albert down to the hold which was packed full with the bounteous catch they had accumulated that day. Albert licked his lips and cast his eyes about the haul in search of the meatiest looking fish. Suddenly, something strange caught his attention.
"What's that in the far corner over there?" he asked Mash.
"What? Where?" said Mash.
"There," said Albert, "That strange flickering thing under those fish."
"Probably just a trick of the light," said Mash, "You know how fish tend to glisten."
"Hey, I know a glisten on a fish when I see one," said Albert, "and that just ain't normal."
He hopped over to the strange corruscating light and rummaged about amongst the fish that were covering it. With a mighty tug he pulled out of the haul a brilliant glowing twinkling herring.
"Jamie's twinkle!" exclaimed Mash, "What's it doing on that fish?"
"My twinkle if you don't mind!" snapped the herring.
"Don't be ridiculous," said Mash, "Fish don't twinkle. Hand it over immediately, or you're kipper!"
"Shan't!" said the fish, "It's mine and I'm keeping it."
"Albert, get Jamie's twinkle off that fish!" Mash ordered.
"How?" said Albert, "I'm more used to swallowing them whole."
"Well, try bashing it about a bit," said Mash, "Fish tend to be more co-operative after a good slapping."
"All right, all right," conceded the fish, "But please hear me out. You see I really need this twinkle."
"Why?" said Mash.
"My name is Pembroke," began the herring, "and I've been swimming around these waters for many years now and I know them like the back of my fin. Well, last Tuesday I ventured over to Goose Bay and there I met . . . her!"
"Her?" queried Mash.
"Muriel," said Pembroke dreamily.
"A lady herring I presume," said Albert.
"A lady herring of the finest quality," Pembroke continued, "Oh, how I adored her, those glistening scales, those silken fins, that seductive wiggle as her sleek body scythed through the water. I just knew she had to be mine."
"This is all I need," said Mash, "A lovestruck herring."
However, Albert was not so cynical. As he listened to Pembroke's tale of passion he couldn't help feeling a tear well up in his eye.
"Anyway," said Pembroke, "what was I to do? I am but a poor impoverished herring. How was I to win the affections of one so beautiful as she? Suddenly, I had an idea. If I could give her as a token of my love the twinkle from a star then she would fall in love with me and we would live happily ever after."
"Go on," urged Albert, clearly moved by the fish's story.
"Well, I swam over to the eastern horizon where the stars rise and waited. Then, as one of them was about to rise I snatched its twinkle and dashed off with it before anyone noticed it was gone."
"You stole Jamie's twinkle!" roared Mash.
"I . . . I didn't mean to," said Pembroke, "I just needed it for Muriel."
"You'll have to give it back," said Mash, "Twinkles belong to the stars, not fish."
"I'm afraid he's right," said Albert, "but you'll find some other way of wooing Muriel. So long as she sees you're sincere, it doesn't really matter what you give her."
"I don't suppose I have much choice, do I?" said Pembroke sadly.