Bump! Arthur, for that was the boy’s name, felt something substantial behind his back. He tried to remember if there had been a tree in the field. No, he didn’t think there had been, but in that case, it had to be the….!
Being careful not to turn his head lest he scared the rainbow away, he slowly reached behind his back and took a firm hold on whatever was blocking his way. Then he spun about to see what he had caught. Surprise, surprise! It was indeed the rainbow.
The rainbow twisted this way and that as it tried to escape, but Arthur was strong for a boy his age and kept a firm grip on the loose strand of colour that he was holding. He wasn’t going to let the rainbow go now that he had gotten so close to it. After a while, his captive stopped struggling, but what was Arthur to do now that he had caught it?
He thought for a while, before deciding there was only one choice he could make. Taking a deep breath, Arthur started to climb, pulling himself up hand over hand by the strands of colour that hung from the rainbow’s multi-coloured trunk. Fortunately, Arthur was an excellent climber, having mastered the skill on the old oak tree in his granny’s garden.
Heave, push, breathe. Heave, push, breathe. Slowly, but surely, Arthur made his way up the side of the rainbow. Before long, he was high above the ground and just below the clouds. Looking down at the tiny scarecrow below him, he suddenly felt frightened and considered climbing back down. But then he
It was wet and cold in the clouds. Beneath the boy’s hands and feet, the rainbow felt very slippery, but still he climbed. Heave, push breathe. Heave, push, breathe. After what seemed an awfully long time, he emerged into a deep blue sky above a sea of puffy cotton wool. Startled by the sudden glare of the sun in his eyes, Arthur lost his grip and started to fall. Oh No! He was just opening his mouth to scream when; Crash – he hit the ground, and the air rushed out of his lungs in a Whoosh!
It took a few moments before a surprised Arthur recovered enough to stand and look around him. He had expected to see the cornfield and the scarecrow laughing at him. But instead, he saw a landscape of tall blue corn and purple trees. Blue corn! Purple Trees! Where was he?
He looked around for the rainbow, thinking to quickly climb back down and run home, but it was no longer there. He was alone and in a very strange place. Suddenly he caught a movement out of the corner of his eye, but when he spun around, it was only the branches of a purple tree bending in the breeze. With tears welling in his eyes, Arthur sank to the ground and put his head in his hands. He had so wanted to catch the rainbow, but all he wanted right now was to feel his mum’s arm around him.
So wrapped up was he in feeling sorry for himself that he didn’t see the lowermost branches of the tree reaching out towards him until it was too late. With a sudden crack, a branch curled around Arthur’s waist and started to drag him towards the trunk of the tree.
“Help, help,” screamed Arthur, but there was no-one there to his cries. He tried to pull his arms free and reach the penknife he kept in his trouser pocket, hoping to saw his way free. But it was no good. The tree had him in a tight grip, and all the time, more branches and even roots were wrapping themselves around him. At the heart of the tree, he could now see a giant mouth waiting to swallow him up. Arthur was doomed!
Just as it seemed that all was lost, there came a mighty battle roar. “By the power of the Dagda. Release the child,” and suddenly someone was by Arthur’s side, slashing at the roots and branches with a gleaming broadsword. The tree tried to fight back, but wood is no match for steel, and swiftly the terrified boy found himself lifted in the air and slung over the shoulder of his rescuer. It was all too much, and Arthur passed out.
When he came to, he found himself lying by a campfire on the bank of a gently flowing river. On the other side of the fire sat the biggest man Arthur had ever seen. He had always thought of his own father as being big, but this man was massive.
“Who…Who are you? Where am I?” asked the boy in a shaky voice.
The man stood up. He had long fair hair and was dressed in a sleeveless light brown woollen tunic that came down to just above his thighs. Below this, he wore loose cotton trousers of a darker brown, the legs of which were bound from knee to ankles in strips of cloth. From a leather belt about his waist, hung a wicked-looking hand-axe on one hip and a long knife on the other. But what caught Arthur’s eye, was the huge sword that now rested in a sheath upon his back.
“My friends call me Tomer,” said the man, smiling. “What’s your name?”
The man’s voice was deep but gentle, and Arthur sensed that he was a friend. But his mother had always warned him never to trust strangers no matter how friendly they might seem, so he answered cautiously.
“My name is Arthur. Where am I, and what is that thing?
Tomer smiled again, crow’s feet wrinkling the corners of his eyes. “What, no thanks for your rescuer?”
Arthur started to make his apologies, but Tomer waved them away with a grin. “It’s no matter. I am only glad that I was nearby when you called. Don’t you know better than to go near a Crusher Tree?”
“I’m sorry. Honest, I am. But I am new here, wherever here is. I didn’t know.”
“Well, you know now,” said Tome in a firm, but kindly voice, for he could see that the boy was severely shaken. “I think we’d better get you home. Which way is it?”
“Down the rainbow.”
“Down the rainbow!” This time Tomer did raise his voice. “Are you making fun of me, boy?”
“No, no. It’s true,” protested Arthur, and he proceeded to tell his story about how he had wanted to climb a rainbow and how the scarecrow had shown him how to catch it.
“All I want now is to find my way back home,” he finished lamely, trying to still the quiver in his bottom lip.
Tomer had listened to Arthur’s story with disbelief, but now he felt decidedly awkward. After all, he was a farmer, not a nursemaid. He fidgeted uncomfortably from foot to foot for a few moments before declaring.
“In that case, I think I should take you back with me to Gwen. She’ll know what to do.”
With that decided, he helped Arthur to his feet and the two of them set off along the riverbank towards the cottage where Tomer said he and Gwen lived.