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Pithistle Strait.

'Slinting' is the slang term in Jail for the glitter of sunlight on water. It implies a relentless, flickering glare which if stared at for too long may bring about 'slint-blindness,' a temporary sightlessness akin to snow-blindness, during which the sufferer sees the world of their vision transformed into a featureless white flare of light. The water in Pithistle Strait does a lot of slinting.

The Strait runs between part of the western coast of the Umbagollian mainland and the islands of Aorist and Yunck, where the town of Cumber Poidy is located. You can't see the islands from the mainland. Crossing the strait means a day's journey by boat over fierce water, a trip that is undertaken by the Poidians whenever their storerooms are full of harvested sea-crops to sell to the rest of the country. Tubs of pickled tube-winkles and bundles of dried seaweed are loaded onto the wide, flat boats which set off, rocking, across the plain of waves toward the horizon. There is always the fear that they will not come back again, and sometimes they do not.

Toward the mainland shore, black, pitted rocks stand above the surface of the water. Their impressive height and the shade they cast has earned them the nickname of 'sea-trees,' and they provide travellers with a welcome relief from slinting. Fisherpeople wanting to spend the night at sea (usually because they are after salt-moon-mackrel and rosy dawn-fish, which can only be caught by the light of the moon and the rising sun, respectively) will tie their boats together and anchor themselves to a sea-tree for safety. The submerged feet of the sea-trees house colonies of crustaceans and the water around them attracts schools of fish with crooked beaks with which they pluck weed and scum from the rocks for sustanance.

Pithistle Strait is also the home of the Happy Darling Squid. The Happy Darlings are friendly animals. They seem to enjoy the company of humans. It is not unusual for a pod of squid to approach groups of people swimming in the surf near the beaches and frolic with them. The story of Ralph, a lone squid who made its home at the Rest Beach in northern Jail and was adopted by the local people as a friend and mascot, is a favourite amongst the Jailites, who all know how the story ends, and one day the children found their sweet Ralph washed up on the beach with knife-wounds in his head. Who did it? We will never know. But if ever find them, we will tear their heart out and feed it still warm and beating to his cousins who are out there, playing wild and free in their beloved sea. "Ralph, the story of a squid," is a perennial favourite in the town's repertoire of musical plays.