Sky Island

Page 22

There were no horses nor cows in this land, but there were plenty of blue goats, from which the people got their milk. Children tended the goats--wee Blueskin boys and girls whose appearance was so comical that Button-Bright laughed whenever he saw one of them.

Although the natives had never seen before this any human beings made as Button-Bright and Cap'n Bill were, they took a strong dislike to the strangers and several times threatened to attack them. Perhaps if Ghip-Ghisizzle, who was their favorite, had not been present, they would have mobbed our friends with vicious ill-will and might have seriously injured them. But Ghip-Ghisizzle's friendly protection made them hold aloof.

By and by they passed through a City gate, and their guide showed them the outer walls, which protected the City from the country beyond. There were several of these gates, and from their recesses stone steps led to the top of the wall. They mounted a flight of these steps and from their elevation plainly saw the low mountain where the Arch of Phinis was located, and beyond that the thick, blue-gray Fog Bank, which constantly rolled like billows of the ocean and really seemed, from a distance, quite forbidding.

"But it wouldn't take long to get there," decided Button-Bright, "and if you were close up, it might not be worse than any other fog. Is the Pink Country on the other side of it?"

"So we are told in the Book of Records," replied Ghip-Ghisizzle. "None of us now living know anything about it, but the Book of Records calls it the 'Sunset Country' and says that at evening the pink shades are drowned by terrible colors of orange and crimson and golden-yellow and red. Wouldn't it be horrible to be obliged to look upon such a sight? It must give the poor people who live there dreadful headaches."

"I'd like to see that Book of Records," mused Cap'n Bill, who didn't think the description of the Sunset Country at all dreadful.

"I'd like to see it myself," returned Ghip-Ghisizzle with a sigh, "but no one can lay hands on it because the Boolooroo keeps it safely locked up in his Treasure Chamber."

"Where's the key to the Treasure Chamber?" asked Button-Bright.

"The Boolooroo keeps it in his pocket night and day," was the reply. "He is afraid to let anyone see the Book because it would prove he has already reigned three hundred years next Thursday, and then he would have to resign the throne to me and leave the Palace and live in a common house."

"My Magic Umbrella is in that Treasure Chamber," said Button-Bright, "and I'm going to try to get it."

"Are you?" inquired Ghip-Ghisizzle eagerly. "Well, if you manage to enter the Treasure Chamber, be sure to bring me the Book of Records. If you can do that, I will be the best and most grateful friend you ever had!"

"I'll see," said the boy. "It ought not to be hard work to break into the Treasure chamber. Is it guarded?"

"Yes. The outside guard is Jimfred Jinksjones, the double patch of the Fredjim whom you have met, and the inside guard is a ravenous creature known as the Blue Wolf, which has teeth a foot long and as sharp as needles."

"Oh," said Button-Bright. "But never mind the Blue Wolf; I must manage to get my umbrella somehow or other."

They now walked back to the palace, still objects of much curiosity to the natives, who sneered at them and mocked them but dared not interfere with their progress. At the palace they found that dinner was about to be served in the big dining hall of the servants and dependents and household officers of the royal Boolooroo. Ghip-Ghisizzle was the Majordomo and Master of Ceremonies, so he took his seat at the end of the long table and placed Cap'n Bill on one side of him and Button-Bright on the other, to the great annoyance of the other Blueskins present, who favored the strangers with nothing pleasanter than envious scowls.

The Boolooroo and his Queen and daughters--the Six Snubnosed Princesses--dined in formal state in the Banquet Hall, where they were waited upon by favorite soldiers of the Royal Bodyguard.

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