Sky Island

Page 17

"Our scientists have proved that the Earth is not inhabited."

"Your scientists'll have to guess again, then," said Trot.

"But how did they get to Sky Island?" inquired the third snubnosed one.

"By means of a Magic Umbrella, which I have captured and put away in my Treasure Chamber," replied the Boolooroo.

"What will you do with the monsters, papa?" asked the fourth Princess.

"I haven't decided yet," said the Boolooroo. "They're curiosities, you see, and may serve to amuse us. But as they're only half civilized, I shall make them my slaves."

"What are they good for? Can they do anything useful?" asked the fifth.

"We'll see," returned the King impatiently. "I can't decide in a hurry. Give me time, Azure, give me time. If there's anything I hate, it's a hurry."

"I've an idea, your Majesty," announced the sixth Snubnosed Princess, whose complexion was rather darker than that of her sisters, "and it has come to me quite deliberately, without any hurry at all. Let us take the little girl to be our maid--to wait upon us and amuse us when we're dull. All the other ladies of the court will be wild with envy, and if the child doesn't prove of use to us, we can keep her for a living pincushion."

"Oh! Ah! That will be fine!" cried all the other five, and the Boolooroo said:

"Very well, Indigo, it shall be as you desire." Then he turned to Trot and added, "I present you to the Six Lovely Snubnosed Princesses, to be their slave. If you are good and obedient, you won't get your ears boxed oftener than once an hour."

"I won't be anybody's slave," protested Trot. "I don't like these snubnosed, fussy females, an' I won't have anything to do with 'em."

"How impudent!" cried Cerulia.

"How vulgar!" cried Turquoise.

"How unladylike!" cried Sapphire.

"How silly!" cried Azure.

"How absurd!" cried Cobalt.

"How wicked!" cried Indigo. And then all six held up their hands as if horrified.

The Boolooroo laughed. "You'll know how to bring her to time, I imagine," he remarked, "and if the girl isn't reasonable and obedient, send her to me and I'll have her patched. Now, then, take her away."

But Trot was obstinate and wouldn't budge a step. "Keep us together, your Majesty," begged Cap'n Bill. "If we're to be slaves, don't separate us, but make us all the same kind o' slaves."

"I shall do what pleases me," declared the Boolooroo angrily. "Don't try to dictate, old Moonface, for there's only one Royal Will in Sky Island, and that's my own."

He then gave a command to a soldier, who hastened away to the palace and soon returned with a number of long, blue ribbons. One he tied around Trot's waist and then attached to it six other ribbons. Each of the Six Snubnosed Princesses held the end of a ribbon, and then they turned and marched haughtily away to the palace, dragging the little girl after them.

"Don't worry, Trot," cried Button-Bright. "We'll get you out of this trouble pretty soon."

"Trust to us, mate," added Cap'n Bill. "We'll manage to take care o' you."

"Oh, I'm all right," answered Trot with fine courage. "I'm not afraid of these gawkies."

But the princesses pulled her after them, and soon they had all disappeared into one of the entrances to the Blue Palace.

"Now, then," said the Boolooroo. "I will instruct you two in your future duties. I shall make old Moonface--"

"My name's Cap'n Bill Weedles," interrupted the sailor.

"I don't care what your name is. I shall call you old Moonface," replied the king, "for that suits you quite well. I shall appoint you the Royal Nectar Mixer to the court of Sky Island, and if you don't mix our nectar properly, I'll have you patched."

"How do you mix it?" asked Cap'n Bill.

"I don't mix it. It's not the Boolooroo's place to mix nectar," was the stern reply. "But you may inquire of the palace servants, and perhaps the Royal Chef or the Major-domo will condescend to tell you. Take him to the servants' quarters, Captain Ultramarine, and give him a suit of the royal livery."

So Cap'n Bill was lad away by the chief of the soldiers, and when he had gone, the king said to Button-Bright, "You, slave, shall be the Royal Bootblue.

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