THE SUNRISE TRIBE AND THE SUNSET TRIBE
Although Trot and her comrades were still prisoners, they were far more comfortable than they had been in the Blue Country. Coralie took them to her own home, where she lived in great luxury, being one of the prominent women of the Pinkies. In this country the women seemed fully as important as the men, and instead of being coddled and petted, they performed their share of the work, both in public and private affairs, and were expected to fight in the wars exactly as the men did.
Our friends learned considerable about the Pinkies during that afternoon and evening, for their hostess proved kind and agreeable and frankly answered all their questions. Although this half of Sky Island was no larger than the Blue Country, being no more than two miles square, it had several hundred inhabitants. These were divided into two tribes, which were called the Sunrise Tribe and the Sunset Tribe. The Sunrise Tribe lived in the eastern half of the Pink Country and the Sunset Tribe in the west half, and there was great rivalry between them, and sometimes war.
It was all a question of social importance. The Sunrise Tribe claimed that every day the sun greeted them first of all, which proved they were the most important; but on the other hand, the Sunset Tribe claimed that the sun always deserted the other tribe and came to them, which was evidence that they were the most attractive people. On Sky Island--at least on the Pink side--the sun arose in wonderful splendor, but also it set in a blaze of glory, and so there were arguments on both sides, and for want of something better to argue about, the Pinkies took this queer subject as a cause of dispute.
Both Tribes acknowledged Tourmaline their Queen and obeyed the laws of the country, and just at this time there was peace in the land, and all the inhabitants of the east and west were friendly. But they had been known, Coralie said, to fight one another fiercely with their sharp sticks, at which times a good many were sure to get hurt.
"Why do they call this an Island?" asked Button-Bright. "There isn't any water around it, is there?"
"No, but there is sky all around it," answered Coralie. "And if one should step off the edge, he would go tumbling into the great sky and never be heard of again."
"Is there a fence around the edge?" asked Trot.
"Only a few places are fenced," was the reply. "Usually there are rows of thick bushes set close to the edge to prevent people from falling off. Once there was a King of the Pinkies who was cruel and overbearing and imagined he was superior to the people he ruled, so one day his subjects carried him to the edge of the island and threw him over the bushes."
"Goodness me!" said Trot. "He might have hit someone on the Earth."
"Guess he skipped it, though," added Cap'n Bill, "for I never heard of a Pinky till I came here."
"And I have never heard of the Earth," retorted Coralie. "Of course, there must be such a place, because you came from there, but the Earth is never visible in our sky."
"No," said Button-Bright, "'cause it's UNDER your island. But it's there, all right, and it's a pretty good place to live. I wish I could get back to it."
"So do I, Button-Bright!" exclaimed Trot.
"Let's fly!" cried the parrot, turning his head so that one bright little eye looked directly into the girl's eye. "Say goodbye and let's fly through the sky, far and high!"
"If we only had my umbrella, we'd fly in a minute," sighed Button-Bright. "But the Boolooroo stole it."
"Naughty, naughty Boolooroo, What a wicked thing to do!"
wailed the parrot, and they all agreed with him.
Coralie belonged to the Sunset Tribe, as she lived west of the queen's palace, which was the center of the Pink Country. A servant came to the room where they were conversing to state that the sun was about to set, and at once Coralie arose and took the strangers to an upper balcony, where all the household had assembled.
The neighboring houses also had their balconies and roofs filled with people, for it seemed all the Sunset Tribe came out every night to witness the setting of the sun.