Chapter 10: The Place Where the LOST Things Hide

 

After the banquet, everybody hurried around preparing to leave. Jenny didn’t really have anything with her so there was not much for her to prepare, but Molly gave her a backpack just like her own. And they both loaded their packs with:

Two cans of lemonade

A packet of egg sandwiches

A bag of toffees

A small torch

A pot full of pepper

A ball of string

Jenny told Molly that she wasn’t too sure about the toffees, because her mother said that eating sweet things was bad for her new teeth.

Molly laughed: ‘These are Raggedy Lyme toffees, Jenny. And they’re good for your teeth. They teach them how to chew.’

Jenny looked a little doubtful: ‘But what are the ball of string and the pepper for?’ she asked.

‘Your Grandma said to bring them,’ said Molly, ‘She said you never know when a ball of string and a handful of pepper might come in handy.’

‘And what about the torch? Isn’t it always daytime in Raggedy Lyme?’

Molly gave a little sigh: ‘There are a few dark places in Raggedy Lyme. We will need it when we pass through the Valley of Terrors. Because Terrors can only frighten you when it’s dark and you start imagining things are worse than they are.’

Jenny wasn’t at all sure that she wanted to pass through a Valley of Terrors, with or without a torch. But there was no changing her mind now. So Jenny and Molly hurried out into the Castle courtyard, which was now full of Knights and Witches and Fairies and other creatures Jenny did not recognise. Grandma Lily was close-by organising the White Witches, who were all looking very serious. Sir Lucas was instructing his Raggedy Knights. And the Fairies were fluttering everywhere. More and more of them were pouring out of windows and doors all around the courtyard.

The Castle grounds looked as full as a supermarket on a Saturday afternoon. And then suddenly, flying over the top of the Castle turrets, came the strangest thing of all. It was a beautiful Silver Carriage. It looked a little like the pumpkin carriage in Jenny’s old Cinderella Picture Book. But it wasn’t being pulled by horses, not even flying horses. It was being pulled by six huge Dragonflies. They looked just like the Dragonflies that Jenny had seen darting between the lily pads in the lake in the park. But these Dragonflies were much, much bigger.

Grandma walked over to stand beside Jenny and Molly: ‘It’s the Royal Carriage,’ she said. ‘And we are, all three of us, invited to travel with the Queen.’

‘In her Carriage?’ asked Jenny.

‘Yes, of course,’ said Molly.

‘But, Molly, how will all the others keep up with us?’

‘All the King’s Men have already left on horseback,’ said Grandma Lily. ‘They are riding ahead of us to the Land of LOST Things. And the Raggedy Knights’ horses are being made ready. But the Witches will travel in those.’ Grandma Lily pointed to the far side of the courtyard, where Jenny could just make out several rows of comfortable-looking chairs with arms and cushions.

‘They are flying chairs,’ explained Molly. ‘And they have come from the land of NOT YET.’

‘Flying chairs?’ gasped Jenny.

‘Yes, dear,’ said Grandma Lily. ‘They have not been invented yet. And we are all getting very impatient waiting for someone to do so. It’s much more sensible to have chairs that can fly a person to where that person needs to be, instead of filling up all those huge aeroplanes with chairs that all have to go to the same place.’

Jenny had to admit that did seem to make sense.

*

Quite soon everyone was ready to leave, although Queen Peony had not yet appeared, so Jenny and Molly and Grandma Lily waited outside the Royal Carriage. Jenny was so excited. She watched Sir Lucas and his Knights waiting astride their horses. They were of course very different to any horses Jenny had ever seen. Firstly, their tails were very long and curly. And secondly, they were completely Green. Jenny watched Sir Lucas stroking his horse’s long Green mane.  She would really miss all these strange things when she got back to the Real World. She turned to see what the Fairies were suddenly whispering about and what she saw made her smile with happiness. King Persimmon the Wise and Queen Peony were walking hand in hand towards the Royal Carriage.

‘Is the King coming too?’ said Jenny.

‘No, Jenny,’ he is not yet recovered,’ said Grandma Lily. ‘But he will not let his Queen leave without bidding her farewell.’

Jenny watched the King and Queen approach. She noticed Molly and Grandma Lily bowing, so she thought she had better do the same. So she bowed low and when she looked up again the King was gone and the Queen was already seated in her carriage. Jenny decided that time in Raggedy Lyme was a very strange thing indeed!

Queen Peony invited Grandma Lily, Molly and Jenny into her carriage, so they all climbed in and sat down opposite her. Grandma Lily sat in the middle so that Jenny and Molly could look through the windows. Then someone closed the door, and slowly the carriage lifted off the ground and floated across the courtyard and clean over the Golden Archway and away. Jenny placed her cheek close to the window. She could see the Raggedy Knights galloping way below, and over to one side, flying just above them, she could see the Witches, sitting in their flying chairs, their seat belts firmly fastened and their long White cloaks hardly moving as they travelled through the air. The Fairies were flying much higher than everyone. She could just recognise them as tiny specks of light, so high that they must have almost been touching the roof of Raggedy Lyme. She leaned towards Grandma Lily and whispered in her ear: ‘When will we get there?’ she asked.

The Queen looked up and smiled: ‘First we must go to the Land where the LOST things hide. And that is just beyond this patch of forest we are flying over.’

Jenny stared down at the vast expanse of forest beneath their Carriage. It seemed to go on forever into the distance. She could catch the occasional glimpse of the Raggedy Knights galloping between the trees way below. And, here and there, she could see something else, moving just below the treetops.

‘It’s the Forest Giants,’ said Molly. ‘They keep the trees watered. And they make sure that the pathway to the Land of the LOST things doesn’t get overgrown with ivy and toadstools and brambly bushes.’

Jenny looked and Molly and smiled: ‘Did you just read my mind again?’

Molly laughed: ‘Yes, Sister-witch. It is a very easy mind to read. But now look, we are almost there. Do you see that huge White Dome in the distance? That is the Dome of LOST Things.’