The skirts--which of course were of many shades of pink--were so fluffy and light that they stuck out from the fat bodies of the Pinkie women like the skirts of ballet-dancers, displaying their chubby pink ankles and pink kid shoes. They wore rings and necklaces and bracelets and brooches of rose-gold set with pink gems, and all four of the new arrivals, both men and women, carried sharp-pointed sticks made of rosewood for weapons.
They halted a little way from our adventurers, and one of the women muttered in a horrified voice, "Blueskins!"
"Guess again! The more you guess I rather think you'll know the less,"
retorted the parrot, and then he added grumblingly in Trot's ear, "Blue feathers don't make bluebirds."
"Really," said the girl, standing up and bowing respectfully to the Pinkies, "we are not Blueskins, although we are wearing the blue uniforms of the Boolooroo and have just escaped from the Blue Country. If you will look closely, you will see that our skins are white."
"There is some truth in what she says," remarked one of the men thoughtfully. "Their skins are not blue, but neither are they white. To be exact, I should call the skin of the girl and that of the boy a muddy pink, rather faded, while the skin of the gigantic monster with them is an unpleasant brown."
Cap'n Bill looked cross for a minute, for he did not like to be called a "gigantic monster," although he realized he was much larger than the pink people.
"What country did you come from" asked the woman who had first spoken.
"From the Earth," replied Button-Bright.
"The Earth! The Earth!" they repeated. "That is a country we have never heard of. Where is it located?"
"Why, down below somewhere," said the boy, who did now know in which direction the Earth lay. "It isn't just one country, but a good many countries."
"We have three countries in Sky Island," returned the woman. "They are the Blue Country, the Fog Country and the Pink Country. But of course this end of the Island is the most important."
"How came you in the Blue Country, from whence you say you escaped?" asked the man.
"We flew there by means of a Magic Umbrella," explained Button-Bright, "but the wicked Boolooroo stole it from us."
"Stole it! How dreadful," they all cried in a chorus.
"And they made us slaves," said Trot.
"An' wanted fer to patch us," added Cap'n Bill indignantly.
"So we ran away and passed through the Fog Bank and came here," said Button-Bright.
The Pinkies turned away and conversed together in low tones. Then one of the women came forward and addressed the strangers. "Your story is the strangest we have ever heard," said she, "and your presence here is still more strange and astonishing. So we have decided to take you to Tourmaline and let her decide what shall be your fate."
"Who is Tourmaline?" inquired Trot doubtfully, for she didn't like the idea of being "taken" to anyone.
"The Queen of the Pinkies. She is the sole Ruler of our country, so the word of Tourmaline is the Law of the Land."
"Seems to me we've had 'bout enough of kings an' queens," remarked Cap'n Bill. "Can't we shy your Tut-Tor-mar-line--or whatever you call her--in some way an' deal with you direct?"
"No. Until we prove your truth and honor we must regard you as enemies of our race. If you had a Magic Umbrella, you may be magicians and sorcerers come here to deceive us and perhaps betray us to our natural enemies, the Blueskins."
"Mud and bricks, fiddlesticks! We don't play such nasty tricks,"
yelled the parrot angrily, and this caused the Pinkies to shrink back in alarm, for they had never seen a parrot before.
"Surely this is magic!" declared one of the men. "No bird can talk unless inspired by witchcraft."
"Oh yes, parrots can," said Trot. But this incident had determined the Pinkies to consider our friends prisoners and to take them immediately before their Queen.
"Must we fight you?" asked the woman. "Or will you come with us peaceably?"
"We'll go peaceable," answered Cap'n Bill.