The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 9 (December 1, 1938)
The Magic Island — Chapter VIII. — The Finding Of Peter And The Elves
For a minute Barbara looked as if she was going to cry when she saw that Kingi and the sphenodons had disappeared. “Oh, where could they have gone?” she cried.
“They can't be far away,” said Michael, “for we weren't long in the Palace courtyard. We had better not wait out here, though, we must see if we can't rescue Peter, Tiny Toes and Dimples, alone. Have you got your pointed stick ready?”
For an answer, Barbara held up the stick which she clasped tightly in her hand.
“Right! Come on!” said Michael.
Once more they crept into the courtyard. Their sticks held in front of them like spears. Before them loomed the Palace. It was not a very large building and the only window appeared to be in the tower. The children could not see any doors. Quietly as they could the children crept round the building.
“How are we going to get in?” asked Barbara.
“There must be some way,” answered Michael. He began to feel the shells on the walls. He pressed and pulled and turned the shells at the bottom of the wall and up as far as he could reach. He was just giving up in despair when click! a section of the wall opened, disclosing a long, dark narrow tunnel.
“Ooh! I don't like going in!” exclaimed Barbara, “It's so dark!” She shivered
“We will have to go in, anyway,” said Michael; “Are you ready?”
Barbara nodded. Michael took her hand and led the way. The passage was so narrow that Michael bumped his head two or three times on the roof. “Ugh!” he grunted, “The roof's jolly low, here!”
How long they crept through the tunnel, they did not know. “Shs!” whispered Michael, “I can see a light ahead.” They had come to the end of the tunnel and they entered into a large, bright passage. The walls were of the same coloured shells as the walls of the Palace outside. On tip-toe, hardly daring to breathe, and with their hearts thumping in their ears with excitement, the children went silently down the passage.
Suddenly Michael stopped. “I can hear birds singing,” he exclaimed. “The sound's coming from the end of the passage. There's a room there.”
They peered through the opening into the room, and then both gasped with amazement. From the walls and the ceiling, were hanging hundreds of small cages, each with a canary in it, singing merrily.
“Oh!” said Barbara, “Isn't it wonderful! But why are they here?”
“I wonder,” answered Michael. “I think I would call this room ‘The Room of a Thousand Songs.'”
“That's a good name,” said Barbara.
“But, come,” Michael said, “We must hurry. There's an opening over the other side of the room. Let's see where that leads to.”
They walked quickly over to the opening, and entered into another room. This room was more amazing than the last. The shells of the room were gleaming and scintillating like mirrors. Hundreds of fairies and elves perched in the most dangerous positions were vigorously polishing the shells. Barbara and Michael stood unnoticed for a moment, then Michael coughed. With one accord, the elves and fairies stopped work and looked down at the children from the walls and ceiling.
“Excuse me,” said Michael, “But could you tell us the way to find Peter, Tiny Toes and Dimples?”
There was no answer. Then an elf, high up on the ceiling, said, “Who are you? And where have you come from?”
“We are Barbara and Michael,” answered Michael, “and we come from New Zealand.”
“Oh, New Zealand,” said the elf dreamily, “That's where we all come from,” he waved his hand at the elves and fairies round the room, “but I'm afraid we shall never see our home again.”
“You haven't answered our question yet,” said Michael impatiently.
“What was it again?” asked the elf, “My memory's very bad.” Michael repeated the question.
“I don't know who you mean,” said the elf, “We've seen no Peter, Tiny Toes or Dimples.”
“Oh!” exclaimed Barbara, “We'll never find them!”
“What are you polishing the shells for?” asked Michael.
“The Goblin King makes us do this,” answered the elf. “This is the Room of Mirrors. Here the goblins dance and play and look at themselves in the shells. They are very vain, you know.”
“Where are all the goblins now?” asked Barbara.
“They are asleep, no doubt,” answered the elf, “But you had better watch out, for they may wake up any time.”
“I'm not asleep,” said a voice.
The children started and turned in the direction of the voice, which came from an opening in the room.page 56
“Quick, run for it!” shouted Michael. But they were too late. A goblin barred their exit.
“So you want to find a little boy called Peter, and two elves called Tiny Toes and Dimples?”
“H-how d-did you know?” stuttered Michael.
“I was listening!” answered the goblin with a grin.
“You-you s-s-shouldn't have b-been,” said Barbara, “It's a bad habit.”
“Please let us go,” pleaded Michael.
“Don't be frightened,” said the goblin kindly. “I want to help you.”
“H-help us?” stuttered Barbara, “How?”
“By showing you the way to find Peter, Tiny Toes and Dimples.”
“Oh, you are a very kind goblin,” said Barbara.
“It's nothing,” answered the goblin. “You see, I hate the goblin King. He banished my father and mother from the Kingdom for planning a rebellion against him, and now he takes his spite out on me.”
“He's a nasty man,” said Barbara.
“If you will follow me, I will lead you first to Tiny Toes and Dimples.”
“Oh, thank you,” chorused the children. “Good-bye elves and fairies,” said Michael.
“I hope you see your home again soon,” said Barbara.
“Good-bye. Good-bye,” said the elves and fairies.
The goblin went through the opening in the far wall and up a flight of stairs. The children quickly followed. Up and up they climbed. The stairs wound round and round, until the children became quite giddy. “This is the staircase leading to the tower,” explained the elf.
“There must be thousands of stairs,” said Barbara.
They came to a place where the stairs branched off. “This way,” said the goblin as he took the left flight of stairs. He stopped before a little door on the top. Barbara and Michael could hardly contain themselves, they were so excited. The goblin inserted a key, and pushed the door open. There, inside the tiny room were Tiny Toes and Dimples sitting on stools and stitching spider webs together to make summer suits for the goblins. They glanced up as the door opened. The children rushed in. “We've found you at last!” they cried.
The elves danced madly round the room in their excitement and they began to ask questions, one after another.
“There's no time for questions now,” said the goblin. “You are not free, yet, you know.”
Tiny Toes turned to the goblin. “Did you tell Barbara and Michael where we were?”
“Yes,” answered the goblin, “But it's nothing,” he ended modestly.
“Nothing!” exclaimed Michael. “Why we can never reward you for what you have done!”
“Quick!” said the goblin. “We must waste no more time. I will show you the way to Peter.”
The children and the elves followed the goblin down the stairs again and up the flight of stairs on the right. There the goblin opened a little door with a key. Peter was sitting on a stool with his elbows resting on a table, and his head pressed in his hands. He was saying over and over again, “Fourteen hundred and ninety-two Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Fourteen hundred and —” He looked at the children standing in the doorway.
“Gosh!” he exclaimed. “Is it really you? Whoopee!” He jumped up quickly and hit his head a nasty bang on the ceiling.
“Ooh!” he exclaimed. “Why do they make these rooms so low!” With one sweep of his hand he pushed the pile of schoolbooks which were on the table onto the floor. “I'm done with you!” he said. He eyed the children again. “What's ever happened to you?” he asked. “You're as small as the elves. By the way, who are they?”
“We are Tiny Toes and Dimples,” answered Tiny Toes, “and we brought Barbara and Michael here in a fairy boat to help find you. And as regards the size of Barbara and Michael, I think it would be a most convenient size for you to be.” He took out of his pocket his Fairy Reducing Powder and sprinkled it over Peter's head. Peter grew smaller and smaller. “How funny it feels,” he said.
“We must hurry!” cried the goblin. “I can hear someone coming!”
He ran down the stairs, the children and the elves after him. They ran through the Room of Mirrors and the Room of a Thousand Songs. By now they could hear the cries of the goblins who were assuredly gaining on them! Down the passage they ran and into the tunnel.
“Quicker! Quicker!” shouted the goblin. “They'll catch us!”
The children tumbled after each other out of the tunnel and into the bright sunshine of the courtyard.
“Make for the gate!” shouted the goblin. But freedom was not to be theirs.
Straight in front of them were dozens of goblins, who, with warlike cries, rushed towards them!
(To be continued.)