Sky Island

Page 44

"I'm pretty sure it'll take all o' you, young lady, an' the chances are you won't do it then."

They had halted a short distance from the bushes, and now there suddenly appeared through a rift in the clouds an immense Rainbow. It was perfectly formed and glistened with a dozen or more superb tintings that were so vivid and brilliant and blended into one another so exquisitely that everyone paused to gaze enraptured upon the sight. Steadily, yet with wonderful swiftness, the end of the great bow descended until it rested upon the pink field--almost at the feet of the little party of observers. Then they saw, dancing gaily upon the arch, a score of beautiful maidens, dressed in fleecy robes of rainbow tints which fluttered around them like clouds.

"The Daughters of the Rainbow!" whispered Tourmaline in an awed voice, and the Witch beside her nodded and said, "Fairies of the sky. What did I tell you, Tourmaline?"

Just then one of the maidens tripped lightly down the span of the arch until near the very end, leaning over to observe the group below. She was exquisitely fair, dainty as a lily and graceful as a bough swaying in the breeze. "Why, it's Polychrome!" exclaimed Button-Bright in a voice of mingled wonder and delight. "Hello, Polly! Don't you remember me?"

"Of course I remember Button-Bright," replied the maiden in a sweet, tinkling voice. "The last time I saw you was in the Land of Oz."

"Oh!" cried Trot, turning to stare at the boy with big, wide-open eyes. "Were you ever in the Land of Oz?"

"Yes," he answered, still looking at the Rainbow's Daughter, and then he said appealingly, "These people want to kill us, Polly. Can't you help us?"

"Polly wants a cracker! Polly wants a cracker!"

screeched the parrot.

Polychrome straightened up and glanced at her sisters. "Tell Father to call for me in an hour or two," said she. "There is work for me to do here, for one of my old friends is in trouble."

With this she sprang lightly from the rainbow and stood beside Button-Bright and Trot, and scarcely had she left the splendid arch when it lifted and rose into the sky. The other end had been hidden in the clouds, and now the Rainbow began to fade gradually, like mist, and the sun broke through the clouds and shot its cheering rays over the Pink Country until presently the Rainbow had vanished altogether and the only reminder of it was the lovely Polychrome standing among the wondering band of Pinkies. "Tell me," she said gently to the boy, "why are you here, and why do these people of the sky wish to destroy you?"

In a few hurried words Button-Bright related their adventures with the Magic Umbrella and how the Boolooroo had stolen it and they had been obliged to escape into the Pink Country. Polychrome listened and then turned to the Queen. "Why have you decreed death to these innocent strangers?" she asked.

"They do not harmonize with our color scheme," replied Tourmaline.

"That is utter nonsense," declared Polychrome impatiently. "You're so dreadfully pink here that your color, which in itself is beautiful, had become tame and insipid. What you really need is some sharp contrast to enhance the charm of your country, and to keep these three people here would be a benefit rather than an injury to you."

At this, the Pinkies looked downcast and ashamed, while only Rosalie the Witch laughed and seemed to enjoy the rebuke. "But," protested Tourmaline, "the Great Book of Laws says our country shall harbor none but the Pinkies."

"Does it indeed?" asked the Rainbow's Daughter. "Come, let us return at once to your City and examine your Book of Laws. I am quite sure I can find in them absolute protection for these poor wanderers."

They dared not disobey Polychrome's request, so at once they all turned and walked back to the City. As it was still muddy underfoot, the Rainbow's Daughter took a cloak from one of the women, partly rolled it, and threw it upon the ground. Then she stepped upon it and began walking forward. The cloak unrolled as she advanced, affording a constant carpet for her feet and for those of the others who followed her.

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