Toto, now allowed to run about as he pleased, was glad to be free again and able to bark at the birds and chase the butterflies. The country around them was charming, yet in the pretty fields of wild-flowers and groves of leafy trees were no houses whatever, or sign of any inhabitants. Birds flew through the air and cunning white rabbits darted amongst the tall grasses and green bushes; Dorothy noticed even the ants toiling busily along the roadway, bearing gigantic loads of clover seed; but of people there were none at all.
They walked briskly on for an hour or two, for even little Button-Bright was a good walker and did not tire easily. At length as they turned a curve in the road they beheld just before them a curious sight.
A little girl, radiant and beautiful, shapely as a fairy and exquisitely dressed, was dancing gracefully in the middle of the lonely road, whirling slowly this way and that, her dainty feet twinkling in sprightly fashion. She was clad in flowing, fluffy robes of soft material that reminded Dorothy of woven cobwebs, only it was colored in soft tintings of violet, rose, topaz, olive, azure, and white, mingled together most harmoniously in stripes which melted one into the other with soft blendings. Her hair was like spun gold and flowed around her in a cloud, no strand being fastened or confined by either pin or ornament or ribbon.
Filled with wonder and admiration our friends approached and stood watching this fascinating dance. The girl was no taller than Dorothy, although more slender; nor did she seem any older than our little heroine.
Suddenly she paused and abandoned the dance, as if for the first time observing the presence of strangers. As she faced them, shy as a frightened fawn, poised upon one foot as if to fly the next instant, Dorothy was astonished to see tears flowing from her violet eyes and trickling down her lovely rose-hued cheeks. That the dainty maiden should dance and weep at the same time was indeed surprising; so Dorothy asked in a soft, sympathetic voice:
"Are you unhappy, little girl?"
"Very!" was the reply; "I am lost."
"Why, so are we," said Dorothy, smiling; "but we don't cry about it."
"Don't you? Why not?"
"'Cause I've been lost before, and always got found again," answered Dorothy simply.
"But I've never been lost before," murmured the dainty maiden, "and I'm worried and afraid."
"You were dancing," remarked Dorothy, in a puzzled tone of voice.
"Oh, that was just to keep warm," explained the maiden, quickly. "It was not because I felt happy or gay, I assure you."
Dorothy looked at her closely. Her gauzy flowing robes might not be very warm, yet the weather wasn't at all chilly, but rather mild and balmy, like a spring day.
"Who are you, dear?" she asked, gently.
"I'm Polychrome," was the reply.
"Polychrome. I'm the Daughter of the Rainbow."
"Oh!" said Dorothy with a gasp; "I didn't know the Rainbow had children. But I MIGHT have known it, before you spoke. You couldn't really be anything else."
"Why not?" inquired Polychrome, as if surprised.
"Because you're so lovely and sweet."
The little maiden smiled through her tears, came up to Dorothy, and placed her slender fingers in the Kansas girl's chubby hand.
"You'll be my friend--won't you?" she said, pleadingly.
"And what is your name?"
"I'm Dorothy; and this is my friend Shaggy Man, who owns the Love Magnet; and this is Button-Bright--only you don't see him as he really is because the Fox-King carelessly changed his head into a fox head. But the real Button-Bright is good to look at, and I hope to get him changed back to himself, some time."
The Rainbow's Daughter nodded cheerfully, no longer afraid of her new companions.
"But who is this?" she asked, pointing to Toto, who was sitting before her wagging his tail in the most friendly manner and admiring the pretty maid with his bright eyes. "Is this, also, some enchanted person?"
"Oh no, Polly--I may call you Polly, mayn't I? Your whole name's awful hard to say."
"Call me Polly if you wish, Dorothy."
"Well, Polly, Toto's just a dog; but he has more sense than Button-Bright, to tell the truth; and I'm very fond of him."
"So am I," said Polychrome, bending gracefully to pat Toto's head.
"But how did the Rainbow's Daughter ever get on this lonely road, and become lost?" asked the shaggy man, who had listened wonderingly to all this.
"Why, my father stretched his rainbow over here this morning, so that one end of it touched this road," was the reply; "and I was dancing upon the pretty rays, as I love to do, and never noticed I was getting too far over the bend in the circle. Suddenly I began to slide, and I went faster and faster until at last I bumped on the ground, at the very end. Just then father lifted the rainbow again, without noticing me at all, and though I tried to seize the end of it and hold fast, it melted away entirely and I was left alone and helpless on the cold, hard earth!"
"It doesn't seem cold to me, Polly," said Dorothy; "but perhaps you're not warmly dressed."
"I'm so used to living nearer the sun," replied the Rainbow's Daughter, "that at first I feared I would freeze down here. But my dance has warmed me some, and now I wonder how I am ever to get home again."
"Won't your father miss you, and look for you, and let down another rainbow for you?"
"Perhaps so, but he's busy just now because it rains in so many parts of the world at this season, and he has to set his rainbow in a lot of different places. What would you advise me to do, Dorothy?"
"Come with us," was the answer. "I'm going to try to find my way to the Emerald City, which is in the fairy Land of Oz. The Emerald City is ruled by a friend of mine, the Princess Ozma, and if we can manage to get there I'm sure she will know a way to send you home to your father again."
"Do you really think so?" asked Polychrome, anxiously.
"I'm pretty sure."
"Then I'll go with you," said the little maid; "for travel will help keep me warm, and father can find me in one part of the world as well as another--if he gets time to look for me."
"Come along, then," said the shaggy man, cheerfully; and they started on once more. Polly walked beside Dorothy a while, holding her new friend's hand as if she feared to let it go; but her nature seemed as light and buoyant as her fleecy robes, for suddenly she darted ahead and whirled round in a giddy dance. Then she tripped back to them with sparkling eyes and smiling cheeks, having regained her usual happy mood and forgotten all her worry about being lost.
They found her a charming companion, and her dancing and laughter-- for she laughed at times like the tinkling of a silver bell--did much to enliven their journey and keep them contented.