Sky Island

Page 41

"We are now ready to vote as to your fate," said the pretty Queen to them. "We have decided there are but two things for us do to: either permit you to remain here as honored guests or take you to an edge of the island and throw you over the bushes into the sky."

They were silent at hearing this dreadful alternative, but the parrot screamed shrilly,

"Oh, what a dump! Oh, what a jump! Won't we all thump when we land with a bump?"

"If we do," said Cap'n Bill thoughtfully, "we'll none of us know it."

ROSALIE THE WITCH

CHAPTER 16

Trot and Button-Bright had now become worried and anxious, for they knew if they were tossed over the edge of the island they would be killed. Cap'n Bill frowned and set his jaws tight together. The old sailor had made up his mind to make a good fight for his boy and girl, as well as for his own life, if he was obliged to do so.

The twelve Counselors then voted, and when the vote was counted, Tourmaline announced that six had voted to allow the strangers to remain and six to toss them over the bushes. "We seem evenly divided on this matter," remarked the Queen with a puzzled look at her Council.

Trot thought the pretty Queen was their friend, so she said, "Of course you'll have the deciding vote, then, you being the Ruler."

"Oh no," replied Tourmaline. "Since I have asked these good people to advise me, it would be impolite to side against some of them and with the others. That would imply that the judgment of some of my Counselors is wrong, and the judgment of others right. I must ask someone else to cast the deciding vote."

"Who will it be, then?" inquired Trot. "Can't I do it? Or Cap'n Bill or Button-Bright?"

Tourmaline smiled and shook her head, while all the Counselors murmured their protests.

"Let Trot do it Or you'll rue it!"

advised the parrot, and then he barked like a dog and made them all jump.

"Let me think a moment," said the Queen, resting her chin on her hand.

"A Pink can think As quick's a wink!"

the parrot declared. But Tourmaline's thoughts required time, and all her Counselors remained silent and watched her anxiously.

At last she raised her head and said, "I shall call upon Rosalie the Witch. She is wise and honest and will decide the matter justly."

The Pinkies seemed to approve this choice, so Tourmaline rose and took a small, pink paper parcel from a drawer. In it was a pink powder, which she scattered upon the seat of a big armchair. Then she lighted this powder, which at first flashed vivid pink and then filled all the space around the chair with a thick, pink cloud of smoke. Presently the smoke cleared away, when they all saw seated within the chair Rosalie the Witch.

This famous woman was much like the other Pinkies in appearance except that she was somewhat taller and not quite so fat as most of the people. Her skin and hair and eyes were all of a rosy, pink color, and her gown was of spiderweb gauze that nicely matched her complexion. She did not seem very old, for her features were smiling and attractive and pleasant to view. She held in her hand a slender staff tipped with a lustrous pink jewel.

All the Pinkies present bowed very respectfully to Rosalie, who returned the salutation with a dignified nod. Then Tourmaline began to explain the presence of the three strangers and the difficulty of deciding what to do with them.

"I have summoned you here that you may cast the deciding vote," added the Queen. "What shall we do, Rosalie, allow them to remain here as honored guests, or toss them over the bushes into the sky?"

Rosalie, during Tourmaline's speech, had been attentively examining the faces of the three Earth people. Now she said,

"Before I decide, I must see who these strangers are. I will follow their adventures in a vision to discover if they have told you the truth. And in order that you may all share my knowledge, you shall see the vision as I see it." She then bowed her head and closed her eyes.

"Rock-a-bye, baby, on a treetop; Don't wake her up, or the vision will stop,"

muttered the parrot, but no one paid any attention to the noisy bird.

Sky Island Page 42

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