Chapter 19: Orange

Chapter 19: Orange

‘The Most Beautiful Bead?’ snapped the Queen.

Prince Sorrel pulled the blanket back over his head. So Jenny tried to reason with him: ‘Prince Sorrel, we need your help desperately. Only you can save Raggedy Lyme. And we are all here to help you to do so. But first you have to explain to us what is so special about this Most Beautiful Bead. Why don’t you come and sit on the sofa with me and Princess Molly Berry, so we can work out a plan? And you must be hungry. The Queen has ordered hot chocolate and cream cakes and sandwiches.’

Prince Sorrel sat up: ‘Cheese and pickle sandwiches?’

‘Yes, are they your favourite?’

The Prince nodded. Then slowly he got to his feet, letting his blanket slip away into a crumpled heap on the floor. Jenny stepped back and watched the bedraggled Prince stagger over to his sofa. He was a sorry sight. He was even thinner than his brother, King Persimmon, but with the same big grasshopper eyes. He stroked his wings flat and then, with his big sad eyes he looked at the Queen: ‘Majesty, may I sit?’

‘Yes, Sorrel, you may sit,’ said the Queen. ‘The four of us will join you and we will listen to your story.’

*

The cakes and sandwiches and hot chocolate arrived and the Prince nibbled away at the cheese and pickle and between nibbles he told of his enchantment by the Most Beautiful Bead. He had wanted it so badly until suddenly he could stand it no more. So he had stolen it from behind the Black door. He waited until his Boy Fairies were not looking and hid it in his pocket. But then he realised that, if the person who owned it deserved to have it back, then the King would return it. So he had to steal the King’s memory so that he wouldn’t remember where it had come from. But the King’s memories were all stuck together, so he had to steal them all. And then his Fairies discovered that something was missing so he had to place a forgetting spell over them all. And that meant that all the Fairies forgot how to mend the Errors. And then he realised that the Queen would bring her Raggedy Knights to find out what had happened, so he made the Valley darker and sent the Fairies to frighten everyone. And then he shut himself away. And now he was very, very sorry.

Nobody said anything for a moment or two and then Grandma Lily said: ‘Your Highness, you caused all of this for a bead?’

‘It was the Most Beautiful Bead I had ever seen! More beautiful than all beads in the Royal Jewels.’

Jenny tried to imagine how beautiful a bead would have to be to cause someone to steal it. So she asked the Prince what it was that made it so beautiful.

The Prince’s eyes went very wide. And he said: ‘It was its colour. The impossible colour from the Real World. I have seen things of that colour before, ordinary things, but I have never before seen anything of this colour through which the light shines.’

Jenny glanced at the Queen who was frowning at Grandma Lily. Then she looked at Molly who seemed to be thinking of nothing. And then she touched the Prince’s arm very lightly: ‘There is no impossible colour, Prince Sorrel, because an impossible colour would be impossible. I’m afraid we don’t know what you mean.’

‘He means ORANGE,’ interrupted Grandma Lily.

‘Yes, Orange!’ said Prince Sorrel, his eyes bright for the first time.

‘Orange?’ said Jenny in disbelief.

Grandma Lily nodded her head: ‘Yes, Jenny, think about it, have you seen anything coloured Orange since you arrived in Raggedy Lyme? That colour cannot happen in Raggedy Lyme. The only Orange that can ever be here is the Orange in the LOST things that come from the Real World. But not many Orange things are ever LOST and if they are they have to go to the Impossible Locker behind the Black Door, so that nobody can see them. Jenny, think of the rainbow that stretched over the Dome of LOST things. Didn’t you notice anything strange about it?’

And then Jenny realised. Rainbows usually have seven colours. But that rainbow only had six. She closed her eyes and remembered. There was no Orange between the Red and Yellow. But that wasn’t possible. She turned to Molly: ‘But what happens in Raggedy Lyme if you mix Red paint and Yellow paint? That ALWAYS makes Orange.’

Molly shook her head: ‘Only in the Real World, Jenny. Here in Raggedy Lyme it makes Green.’

‘But you make Green by mixing together Blue and Yellow,’ insisted Jenny.

‘Not here in Raggedy Lyme, said Grandma Lily. ‘Here in Raggedy Lyme Red and Yellow also mix together to make Green. That’s why there’s so much Green in Raggedy Lyme.’

Jenny frowned. And then she thought of the Green horses and Sir Lucas’ Green hair: ‘So Orange things are very special here in Raggedy Lyme?’

‘Yes, Jenny,’ said Queen Peony. ‘King Persimmon has a valuable collection which he keeps locked in an enchanted safe at all times.’

Jenny looked around her. No, there was definitely no Orange to be seen, but then how much Orange do you usually see in a room? Then she thought of the big bowl of Christmas Oranges on the dining room table at home: ‘Grandma, what about Oranges, you know the ones with peel and pips, what colour are they in Raggedy Lyme? And what are they called?’

Grandma Lily could not help laughing: ‘They are Green even when they are ripe, and they are called Greens.’

Jenny laughed too. And then she asked Prince Sorrel if he would show her the Most Beautiful Bead. The prince froze and then slowly he removed a small velvet pouch from his waistcoat and tipped it into his hand. And out rolled an Orange bead. It twinkled as the light shone through it. It was exactly like the Orange beads that Jenny had made into a necklace. The necklace that she was still wearing around her neck. She looked at Molly who put her finger across her lips, not to tell.

‘I will return it straight away,’ said the Prince, slipping the bead back into the pouch. ‘And I will also return these.’ He felt beneath the sofa and pulled out a carved box: ‘Majesty, my brother Persimmon’s memories are in this casket. The magical key that will open it is behind the Violet Door in the Dome of LOST things. It is hanging on the highest hook. Please ask my brother to forgive me and tell him that I will suffer my punishment bravely.’

The Queen stood up and accepted the casket and the velvet pouch. Then she said: ‘Sorrel, you will suffer no punishment other than the loss of this jewel that is not rightfully yours. And you will come yourself and tell the King about all this. And that will be an end to it. It is not right for brothers to quarrel. Now, make yourself ready. And lighten the path back through the Valley. I have had enough of darkness! And remove the spell from your wretched Fairies so that they can put things right!’

Queen Peony strode from the room to tell her Knights that the problem was about to be solved. Grandma Lily watched her leave and then she held out her hand: ‘Come on, Jenny, it is time for you to start your journey home.’