In the meantime, it hardly need be said, the Wicked Fairy had fled far away with the King’s shadow, so that there was not the slightest use in looking for it about the palace. In the meantime, also, the advice of the Wicked Fairy to the Twins had been productive of further trouble. Hardly had the two well arisen from their beds before they began to whisper together about certain plans.
First, they got possession of the Enchanted Banjo; for it hardly need be said that they now proposed a journey to the Valley of the Fairies, and without the Banjo they could not put the Dragon Jankow to sleep. The Private Secretary, excited over the condition of the King, did not miss the Banjo, so Lulu and Zuzu had no difficulty in taking it away.
“Pray, where are you going with me?” asked the Enchanted Banjo of the Twins.
“Where should we be going,” replied Zuzu, “if not to the Valley of the Fairies? Will you not go with us?”
“With all my heart,” said the Enchanted Banjo, “for it was in that Valley that I was born. You may depend upon me; but we shall need to be very careful indeed.”
By this time, as the Twins walked on their way through the forest, they began to hear the voice of the Dragon—”Arrnghgh! Arrnghgh!”—but they went on as bravely as they could, and presently were directly before the Dragon, which again reared and rattled its long body covered with heavy scales. This was a fearful sight, but Zuzu and Lulu tightly grasped the Enchanted Banjo, and it began to play:
THE LULLABY OF ENCHANTMENT
Ho, Little Wind, come out of the west And whisper the song that is laden with rest. The world is a-weary, The day has been long So sing for my dearie A lullaby-song. Lullaby, lullaby, soft and low, For that is the way that the Fairy-horns blow; And thither and hither and thither and here The Fairies bring dreams for the sleep of my dear. Lullaby, lullaby, low. Ho, Little Wind, you may creep, if you will Where the willows bend low at the foot of the hill; The flowers are closing, They drowse in the dew— And dozing, and dozing, They wait now for you. Lullaby, lullaby, soft and deep; The stars far away now are climbing the steep, And out of the silence is wafted a croon That murmurs in mellowness under the moon. Sleep-i-ly, sleep-i-ly, sleep.
At the first verse of this song, the Dragon began to beat time with his good foreleg; then it began to nod a little, and then it yawned very wide and deep, until one could see very far down into its hollow throat. “Dear me!” said the Dragon, “I feel very drowsy this morning. I think I must have a bit of spring fever.”
“Play again,” whispered Zuzu to the Enchanted Banjo. So the Banjo played again:
Ho, Little Wind, sing it gently and sweet; Come, hum through the vines till the echoes repeat The words you are singing, And on through the night Go swinging and swinging Away to the light. Lullaby, lullaby, low and low— That is the way that the Fairy-songs go, And that is the way that the sleepy-song sighs Till the magical spell sets its seal on our eyes. Lullaby, lullaby, low.
By this time, the Dragon was openly nodding at its post of duty. Its head would fall down, and then it would waken and jerk its head upright again and frown at them as though they had accused it of being asleep when nothing of the sort was true. At last, it laid its head down upon a rock for a pillow and went fast asleep, snoring so loudly that it might have been heard at least the distance of a mile.
“Quick! Quick!” cried Zuzu, when they saw the great Dragon was indeed asleep. “Give me the screw-driver from the lunch basket, quick!”
Lulu felt in the basket which she carried and found the screw-driver, and at once Zuzu sprang to the side of the Dragon and with a few strokes unscrewed the wooden leg of the Dragon close up to the shoulder.
“Now,” cried Zuzu, “hurry, and soon we shall be at the Valley.”
So now they stepped close to the side of the sleeping Dragon and edged past through the long, narrow passageway where the great tail lay curled up. They jumped close against the wall whenever the Dragon stirred in his sleep, and for the last few paces of the passage they almost ran. But the Dragon did not waken and they got through in safety. Then, to their great surprise, they found themselves directly at the top of a long, narrow, golden ladder, which fell straight down, down from the edge of a break in the rocky floor. It extended down farther than they could see, until finally its two sides seemed to unite in a shining thread of gold far below.
“This,” said Zuzu, “must be the Fairy Ladder. Quick, before the Dragon wakens!”