Sky Island

Page 37

"I have one great privilege. After my death a pink marble statue of me will be set up in the Grand Court, with the statues of the other Kings and Queens who have ruled this land, and all the Pinkies in ages to come will then honor me as having been a just and upright queen. That is my reward."

"I'm sorry for you, ma'am," said Cap'n Bill. "Your pay for bein' a queen is sort o' like a life-insurance. If don't come due till after you're dead, an' then you can't get much fun out o' it."

"I did not choose to be the Queen," answered Tourmaline simply. "A misfortune of birth placed me here, and I cannot escape my fate. It is much more desirable to be a private citizen, happy and carefree. But we have talked long enough of myself. Tell me who you are, and why you have come here."

Between them they told the story of how the Magic Umbrella had taken them to Sky Island, which they did not know when they started was anywhere in existence. Button-Bright told this, and then Trot related their adventures among the Blueskins and how the Boolooroo had stolen the umbrella and prevented them from going home again. The parrot on her shoulder kept interrupting her continually, for the mention of the Boolooroo seemed to make the bird frantic with rage.

"Naughty, naughty Boolooroo! He's the worst I ever knew!"

the parrot repeated over and over again.

Cap'n Bill finished the story by telling of their escape through the Fog Bank. "We didn't know what your Pink Country was like, o' course," he said, "but we knew it couldn't be worse than the Blue Country, an' we didn't take any stock in their stories that the Fog Bank would be the death o' us."

"Pretty wet! Pretty wet Was the journey, you can bet!"

declared the parrot in conclusion.

"Yes, it was wet an' sticky, all right," agreed the sailor, "but the big frog helped us an' we got through all right."

"But what can you do here?" asked Tourmaline. "You are not like my people, the Pinkies, and there is no place for you in our country."

"That's true enough," said Cap'n Bill, "but we had to go somewhere, an' this was the likeliest place we could think of. Your Sky Island ain't very big, so when we couldn't stay in the Blue Country, where ever'body hated us, or in the Fog Bank, which ain't healthy an' is too wet for humans to live in for long, we nat'rally were forced to enter the Pink Country, where we expected to find nice people."

"We ARE nice," said Tourmaline, "but it is our country, not yours, and we have no place here for strangers. In all our history you are the first people from outside our borders who have ever stepped a foot in our land. We do not hate you, as you say the Blueskins do, nor are we savage or cruel, but we do not want you here, and I am really puzzled what to do with you."

"Isn't there a law to cover this case?" asked Coralie.

"I do not remember any such law," replied the queen, "but I will search in the Great Book and see if I can find anything that refers to strange people entering our land."

"If not," said the woman, "you must make a law. It is your duty."

"I know," answered Tourmaline, "but I hope such a responsibility will not fall upon my shoulders. These poor strangers are in a very uncomfortable position, and I wish I could help them to get back to their own country."

"Thank you," said Trot. "We wish so, too. Haven't you any fairies here?"

"Oh, there are fairies, of course, as there are everywhere," answered Tourmaline, "but none that we can call to our assistance or command to do our bidding."

"How about witches?" asked Button-Bright.

"I know of one witch," said Tourmaline thoughtfully, "but she is not very obliging. She says it makes her head ache to perform witchcraft, and so she seldom indulges in it. But if there is no other way, I may be obliged to call upon Rosalie for help. I'll look in the Great Book first. Meantime, you will go home with Coralie, who will feed you and give you entertainment. Tomorrow morning come to me again and then I will decree your fate." The little queen then picked up her stocking and began to darn the holes in it, and Coralie, without any formal parting, led the strangers from the miserable palace.

Sky Island Page 38

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