Sky Island

Page 52

Cap'n Bill was alert and had told his army what to do in case of an attack. The Pinkies did not run like rabbits, but formed a solid line and knelt down with their long, sharp sticks pointed directly toward the Blueskins, the other ends being set firmly upon the ground. Of course, the Blueskins couldn't run against these sharp points, so they halted a few feet away and began swinging their cord-and-weights. But the Pinkies were too close together to be caught in this manner, and now by command of Cap'n Bill they suddenly rose to their feet and began jabbing their sticks at the foe. The Blueskins hesitated until a few got pricked and began to yell with terror, when the whole of the Boolooroo's attacking party turned around and ran back to the gate, their Ruler reaching it first of all. The Pinkies tried to chase them, but their round, fat legs were no match for the long, thin legs of the Blueskins, who quickly gained the gate and shut themselves up in the City again.

"It is evident," panted the Boolooroo, facing his defeated soldiers wrathfully, "that you are a pack of cowards!"

"But we followed your own royal example in running," replied the Captain.

"I merely ran back to the City to get a drink of water, for I was thirsty," declared the Boolooroo.

"So did we! So did we!" cried the soldiers eagerly. "We were all thirsty."

"Your High and Mighty Spry and Flighty Majesty," remarked the Captain respectfully, "it occurs to me that the weapons of the Pinkies are superior to our own. What we need in order to oppose them successfully is a number of sharp sticks which are longer than their own."

"True, true!" exclaimed the Boolooroo enthusiastically. "Get to work at once and make yourselves long, sharp sticks, and then we will attack the enemy again."

So the soldiers and citizens all set to work preparing long, sharp sticks, and while they were doing this, Rosalie the Witch had a vision in which she saw exactly what was going on inside the City wall. Queen Trot and Cap'n Bill and Button-Bright saw the vision, too, for they were all in the tent together, and the sight made them anxious.

"What can be done?" asked the girl. "The Blueskins are bigger and stronger than the Pinkies, and if they have sharp sticks which are longer than ours, they will surely defeat us."

"I have one magic charm," said Rosalie thoughtfully, "that will save our army; but I am allowed to work only one magic charm every three days--not oftener--and perhaps I'll need the magic for other things."

"Strikes me, ma'am," returned the sailor, "that what we need most on this expedition is to capture the Blueskins. If we don't, we'll need plenty of magic to help us back to the Pink Country; but if we do, we can take care of ourselves without magic."

"Very well," replied Rosalie. "I will take your advice, Cap'n, and enchant the weapons of the Pinkies." She then went out and had all the Pinkies come before her, one by one, and she enchanted their sharp sticks by muttering some cabalistic words and making queer passes with her hands over the weapons. "Now," she said to them, "you will be powerful enough to defeat the Blueskins whatever they may do." The Pinkies were overjoyed at this promise, and it made them very brave indeed, since they now believed they would surely be victorious.

When the Boolooroo's people were armed with long, thin, lances of bluewood all sharpened to fine points at one end, they prepared to march once more against the invaders. Their sticks were twice as long as those of the Pinkies, and the Boolooroo chuckled with glee to think what fun they would have in punching holes in the round, fat bodies of his enemies.

Out from the gate they marched very boldly and pressed on to attack the Pinkies, who were drawn up in line of battle to receive them, with Cap'n Bill at their head. When the opposing forces came together, however, and the Blueskins pushed their points against the Pinkies, the weapons which had been enchanted by Rosalie began to whirl in swift circles--so swift that the eye could scarcely follow the motion.

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