Authors: Enid Blyton
Mrs. Willy laughed. “You're not going to bother me much, are you?” she said. “Well, here you are, four new-laid eggs—and you'd better take a new loaf down with you, and some more butter. You're sure you'll be all right?”
“Oh, yes” said Mollie. “We love being on our own like this with Ch—”
Peter gave her such a nudge that she almost fell over. She stopped and went red. Goodness gracious, she had almost said Chinky's name! Mrs. Williams didn't seem to have noticed anything, though. She added a pot of marmalade to the tray, and Peter took it.
“Well, I suppose I'll see you when you want more food!” she said. “And not before. Have a nice time—and don't get into mischief!”
Peter and Mollie went down the garden path with the tray. Good! Now they wouldn't need to go up to the house for breakfast, so if the chair grew its wings that night they would have time for a nice long adventure!
Just as they got near the playroom they heard a noise of shouting and slapping.
“I told you I'd smack you if I found you peeping again!” they heard Chinky say. “Coming right into the playroom like that!” Slap, slap, slap! “Howl all you like, you'll get a worse smacking if you come back again. What's up with you that you won't do as you're told?”
“You horrid thing!” wept the little brownie. “Your hand's very hard. You hurt me. I'll pay you out, yes, I will!”
Slap! Yell! Howl! Then came the sound of running feet and the little brownie almost bumped into the two children. He knocked the tray and an egg leaped right off it and landed on his head. It broke, and in an instant he had a cap of yellow yolk!
Mollie and Peter laughed. The little brownie couldn't think what had happened to him. “I'll pay you out,” he cried. “I will, I will!”
He disappeared into the tall hollyhocks, grumbling and wailing. Dear, dear—what a silly little fellow he was, to be sure!
“Well, he's gone,” said Peter. “And so is one of our eggs. Never mind, we've still got three left, one for each of us. Hey, Chinky, you've been having more trouble with that brownie, I see.”
“Yes. But I don't think he'll be back again in a hurry,” said Chinky. “I smacked him hard. I know who he is now. He's little Nose-About, a spoilt little brownie who sticks his nose into everything. His mother didn't spank him enough when he was little, so people have to keep on spanking him now. I say—what a lovely sponge sandwich! Are we going to have some now?”
They sat down to have their supper. It was a lovely summer's evening, still quite light. As they sat by the doorway, munching big slices of jam sandwich, a purple cloud blew up. Big drops of rain fell, and yet the sun still shone brightly, for it was not covered by the cloud.
“There's a rainbow, look!” said Mollie, and they all gazed at the lovely, shimmering rainbow that suddenly shone out in the sky. “I do wish the chair would grow its wings, because I'd love to go to the rainbow and see if I could find a crock of gold where it touches the ground.”
“Yes, I'd like that, too,” said Chinky. “I don't believe anyone has ever found the crock of gold yet. They say you have to slide right down the rainbow itself and land with a bump on the patch of ground where the crock is hidden.”
“Let's go right into the garden and see if we can spot where the rainbow-end touches,” said Mollie. So out they went, but as the end of the rainbow disappeared behind some high trees they couldn't make up their minds where it touched.
“It's miles away, anyhow,” said Peter. “Isn't it a lovely thing? It's like a bridge of many colours.”
They heard a sudden little scuffling sound and turned quickly. “Was that that tiresome brownie again?” said Chinky, frowning. “Anybody see him?”
Nobody had. Nobody had spied him scuttling into the playroom. Nobody saw where he went. Peter felt uneasy. “I believe he's slipped into the playroom,” he said. “We'd better look.”
They went in and hunted round. They looked into every corner, and Mollie even looked inside the dolls' house because she thought he might have been able to squeeze himself in at the door.
“He's not in the playroom,” said Peter at last. “We've looked simply everywhere. Let's shut the door now, and keep him out. It's still very light, and the rainbow is still lovely, though not so bright as it was. We'd better go to bed. I'm really sleepy.”
Mollie looked longingly at the wishing-chair. “If only it would grow its wings!” she said. “I just feel like an adventure!”
The two children had mattresses to lie on. Chinky had a cushion and a rug. They all settled down, yawning. How lovely the very first evening was! Half-term seemed to be quite long when it was still only the first day.
Mollie fell asleep first. Chinky gave an enormous yawn, and then he fell asleep, too. Peter lay watching the rainbow fading gradually. He could see part of it through the window.
His eyes fell shut. His thoughts went crooked, and he was almost asleep when something woke him.
Peter opened his eyes. What was that noise that had slipped into his first moment of dreaming? His eyes shut again.
Ah! That woke up Peter properly. He sat up quickly. He knew that noise all right! It was made by the wishing-chair. It was about to grow its lovely wings of green and yellow! He sat and stared at the chair.
Could he see bumps coming on its legs? He was almost sure he could. Yes—there was a big one on the right front leg—and now another on the left. He could see bumps on the back legs, too.
Then one bump sprouted a few red feathers! Hurrah! The wishing-chair was growing its wings for them. What luck!
Peter reached over to Chinky and gave him a little shake. He did the same to Mollie. “Wake up! The chair's growing its wings. We can fly off in it tonight!”
Both Mollie and Chinky woke up with a jump. Chinky leapt up and ran to the chair. His face beamed at them.
“Yes! Look at its lovely wings sprouting out—good big ones! Quick, open the door, and we'll all get into the chair—and away we'll go!”
Peter flung the door open. Chinky and Mollie were already sitting in the chair. It flapped its wings and rose a few inches. “Wait for Peter!” cried Mollie, in a fright. Peter leapt across to the chair and sat himself firmly on the seat. Chinky sat himself on the back to make more room. Ah—they were off!
“Tell the chair where to go,” said Peter. “Or shall we just let it take us where it wants to?”
“Chair, go to the rainbow!” suddenly cried a voice.
And the chair, which was flying in the opposite direction, changed its course and flew towards the almost-faded rainbow. It had flown right out of the door and up into the air, the children and Chinky holding fast to it, all feeling very excited.
“Who said that?” asked Peter. “Did you, Mollie? Or you, Chinky?”
They both said no. All three gazed at one another, puzzled. Then who had said it? There was nobody on the chair but themselves. Whose voice had commanded the chair to go to the rainbow?
“I expect it was that silly little brownie, calling from the ground,” said Peter at last. “He must have seen us flying off, and yelled out to the chair to go to the rainbow. Well—shall we go?”
“Might as well,” said Chinky. “Go on, Chair—go to the rainbow!”
And immediately a voice chimed in: “That's what
said! Go to the rainbow, Chair!”
Who could it be? And where was the speaker? How very, very peculiar!
“THERE must be somebody invisible on the chair with us!” said Chinky. “Quick—feel about on the seat and on the arms and back. Feel everywhere—and catch hold of whoever it is.”
Well, they all felt here and there, but not one of them could feel anybody. They heard a little giggle, but it was quite impossible to find whoever it was giggling.
“Surely the chair itself can't have grown a voice—and a giggle,” said Peter at last.
“Of course not. It wouldn't be so silly,” said Chinky. “Gracious—here we are at the rainbow already!”
So they were. They landed right on the top of the shimmering bow. “It's like a coloured, curving bridge,” said Mollie, putting her foot down to it. “Oh, Peter—we can walk on it. I never, never thought of that.”
She jumped down to the rainbow—and immediately she gave a scream.
“Oh, it's slippery! I'm sliding down! Oh, Peter, help me!”
Sure enough, poor Mollie had sat down with a bump, and was slithering down the curving rainbow at top speed. “Follow her, Chair, follow her!” yelled Peter.
“No, don't!” shouted the strange voice, and the chair stopped at once. That made Peter angry. He began to yell at the top of his voice.
“You do as
tell you, Chair. Follow Mollie, follow Mollie, follow Mollie, follow . . .”
And because his voice was loud and he shouted without stopping, the chair couldn't hear the other little voice that called to it to stop. It slid down the rainbow headlong after Mollie, who was now nearly at the bottom. Chinky held on tightly, looking scared. Would the chair be able to stop at the bottom of the rainbow?
It wouldn't have been able to stop, that was certain—but before it reached the bottom it spread its red wings and flew right off the rainbow, hovering in the air before it flew down to Mollie.
“That was clever of it,” said Peter, with a sigh of relief. “Mollie, are you all right?”
“I fell on a tuffet of grass, or I'd have had a dreadful bump,” said Mollie. “Let me get on to the chair again. I don't want it to fly off without me. Oh—what's this?”
She pointed to something half-buried in the grass. It had a handle at one side and she gave it a tug. Something bright and shining flew out of it.
“Mollie! It's the crock of gold!” shouted Peter, “The one that is hidden where the rainbow end touches. We've found it! All because you slid all the way down and landed by it with a bump. Let's pull it up.”
He and Chinky jumped off the chair to go to Mollie. All three took hold of the handle of the crock and tugged. It came up out of the ground with a rush, and all three fell over.
“There it is—and, my word, it's full of gold!” said Peter. He put his hand into the crock and ran the gold through his fingers. “Who would have thought we would be the first to find the gold at the rainbow's end?”
“Let's carry it to the chair and take it with us,” said Mollie. “I don't know what we're going to do with it, though! We could give it away bit by bit to all the poor people we meet, perhaps.”
They lifted the gold on to the seat of the nearby wishing-chair. They were just about to climb on beside it when the strange little voice cried out again.
“Off you go, wishing-chair! Go to the Brownie Mountain!”
The chair rose up, flapping its wings. It almost got away—but Peter managed to catch hold of the bottom of its right front leg. He held on for all he was worth, and Mollie helped him. They pulled the chair down between them, and climbed on to it.
“This is amazing!” said Chinky. “Who is it that keeps calling out? Where can he be? Even if he is invisible we should be able to feel him! He nearly got away with the chair, and the gold, too. My word, if I get hold of him I'll turn him into a fly and blow him into a spider's web!”
“Chair, go to the Old Woman Who Lives in a Shoe!” cried the voice suddenly, and the chair shot off to the east.
“Oh, no!” yelled Peter, angrily. “We're not going there for the Old Woman to get hold of us. Chair, go where you like!”
The chair set off to the west, then, changing its course so suddenly that Chinky almost fell off the back. It flew over a land of gleaming towers.
Chinky peered down. “This is the Land of Bells, I think,” he said. “There are bells in every tower. Yes, listen—you can hear them.”
“Ding-dong, dong-dong, dell!” rang dozens and dozens of bells, echoing all through the sky round them. The wishing-chair didn't attempt to go down. It kept high above the tall, gleaming towers, and soon it had left the Land of Bells far behind.
“It's beginning to get really dark now,” said Peter peering down. “Where do you suppose the chair is going to?”
“I think it's rather cross,” said Chinky. “It's begun to creak a bit. I wonder why? We haven't done anything to make it angry. I wish it wouldn't swing about so. It feels as if it's trying to shake us off.”
“Yes, it does,” said Mollie. “Hold tight, everyone! I say, look—is that a town down there? Chinky, do you know what it is?”
Chinky peered down. “Yes—it's the Town of Bad Dreams. Gracious, I hope we don't go there. We don't want to fall into a bad dream and not know how to get out of it!”
“Go on farther, Chair,” commanded Peter at once. A little voice called out, too, “Go farther! Go to the Brownie Mountain!”
“There's that voice again,” said Chinky crossly. “Chair, take no notice. You belong to us and you have to do what
say! Go farther—but go where you like. We want an adventure before we go back home.”
The chair suddenly began to drop downwards. Chinky peered to see where they were going. “We've passed the Town of Bad Dreams. We're dropping down to the Village of Gobbo. Yes—that's right. Dear me, I wonder why? Gobbo is the head of all the brownies, and bad ones are sent to him to be punished.”
A loud wail rose on the air. “Oh my, oh my! Chair, go to the Brownie Mountain, I tell you!”
But the chair took no notice. It flew right down to the ground, and immediately two stern-looking brownies came up, both with long beards and shaggy eyebrows.
“Who has been brought to be punished?” said one. “Which of you is a bad brownie?”
“Not one of us,” said Peter, puzzled. “Mollie and I are children—and Chinky here is a pixie.”
“Well, go away again, then,” said one of the brownies. “Landing is not allowed here unless naughty brownies are to be taken before our chief, Gobbo.”
“Right. Chair, fly away again,” said Peter. Up flew the chair—but one of the brownies suddenly gave a loud cry and caught hold of the right-hand wing. The chair almost tipped over, and Chinky fell right off the back. He landed with a bump on the ground.
“What did you do that for?” he shouted to the brownie. Then he stared in surprise. The two brownies pulled the children off the chair, which was now back again on the ground—and then they turned the chair upside-down! It creaked angrily.