Iris rowed on passed banks of reeds, dragonflies flew in the air like multicoloured dancing fairies. Thula called out ‘Have you seen a heron flying past here ?’
‘Heron, hmm, Heron, hmm, Heron’ buzzed each one to the other, soon the air was filled with a rainbow chorus of herons, until it changed to another word ‘Harnser, hmm, Harnser, hmm’
‘What does that mean?’ Iris asked Thula.
‘Not sure, maybe his name. Look they are flying off, let’s follow them.’
The dragonflies headed over to an island in the middle of the lake but they disappeared out of sight, too fast and small to see as the boat made steady progress. A mother duck with her ducklings swam beside the boat. Iris leaned over the edge and asked if she had seen a Heron called Harnser. Mother Duck had not but she asked her ducklings, a chain of messages in high pitched voices brought no joy until they reached the last little duckling at the end of the line called Duncan. ‘Yes, I saw Harnser and he had a stick in his beak’
‘thankyou, Duncan, I think that stick is what we are looking for, it’s my favourite paint brush. Did you see where he went?’
‘over there by the boat house on the island.’
As they got closer it looked less like a house and more like a frightening ruin, it slumped to one side, rotten timbers cloaked it’s skeletal frame in vain. There was an odd smell like rotting leaves. Iris and Thula scrunched up their noses.
But why, I hear you ask is there a place such as this in the Kingdom of Colours. I will tell you – where there is doubt, worry and fear there will always be places like this. Only courage can change that.
‘Thula, we need to go in, Harnser might be there.’ Thula looked at Iris, this time she didn’t know if she wanted to be the brave one, her body started to shake a little under her cloak and her soft fur seemed to have a mind of it’s own, doubling in size, every strand alive with fear. Iris stepped over and sat next to Thula on the bench putting her arm around her. ‘This time let me help you, we can do it together.’
‘Im not scared, think I’m coming down with something that’s all, a little cat flu, been a lot around lately you know.’
‘I know’ Iris said sweetly and she sat back down in her position to guide them into the old boat house. Storm clouds gathered overhead and once they were in it was dark and their hearts raced. There was nothing to see at first, an empty shack, certainly no sign of a giant bird. Up high above the sun burst through the clouds, shafts of the golden light reached their boat inside its shell. It lit up like a timber cathedral, the atmosphere changed immediately and Iris and Thula laughed in delight.
A voice croaked ‘What are doing in here?’ Iris jumped as she thought they were alone. But alone they certainly were not. Frogs and toads lined each beam with green.
‘My name is Preu, how do you do,’ ‘Hello, Im Iris and this is Thula’ Thula nodded to the frog, still a little suspicious.
‘you are in time for our rehearsal, stay if you like.’
‘that’s very kind of you but we need to find Harnser he has something of mine. Umm, stay for what ?
‘listen and I will tell you where ol Harnser is’
So they stayed for what turned out to be a Frog and Toad Band – drums, French horns, Trumpets, trombone and a Tuba.
Iris clapped her hands and Thula was much more relaxed after the music, she called out ‘Fantastic, Encore, Encore !’ and they played again once more before taking a break to tell them where Harnser had gone.
Part 3 of Arabella’s short story for Iris, more from this next time.