Pipkin and the Rainbow
by Veronica Morley Hubert
Dedicated to Rachael Hubert and Michael Twigg
In a far-off land, not far from yesterday, but way beyond tomorrow, are the vales and woodlands of the elves. Now, elves are smallish beings, so far as people go, but not at all small for elves. And Pipkin was a smallish being, so far as elves go, but not at all small for Pipkin. And Pipkin had a mother and a father, and a baby sister who all loved him, and that was very fine, as fine a thing as any elf could ask for. And so Pipkin's mother was happy. And Pipkin's father was happy. And Pipkin's baby sister was very happy. And Pipkin was happy. Mostly, he was happy. Sometimes little bits of sadness crept in between the happy bits. But Pipkin's mother said "That is life, but life is good. Life can be very good, if you give it time."
Pipkin was sad because he lost things. Like socks. He tried very hard, but soon he had a of pile socks in his dresser drawer. One red sock. One orange sock. One yellow sock. One green sock. One light blue sock. One dark blue sock. One purple sock. And not a single pair of socks the same colour to wear. Pipkin was so sad he almost cried, when he showed his mother the socks. His mother hugged him, and said, "We have a problem, but it is just a small problem, and we can solve it together. The socks are very colourful, but once you lose one, the other is useless." "I could wear two different coloured socks!" said Pipkin. Then he thought, no. "My friends and teacher would think I didn't know colours. I don't like that idea." His mother said, "What if all your socks were exactly the same? Even the same colour!" "That," said Pipkin, "is a wonderful idea. I wish I had a brain like you!" Well, Pipkin's mother didn't quite know what to say, and that was unusual, because she was a very wise elf. So she said, "Your brain is a very good brain, and we love you just as you are." And they went to the elven clothier, who magicked Pipkin seven pairs of purple socks, because that was Pipkin's favourite colour. And when they got home, Pipkin's father fastened all the different coloured socks onto a wooden arch, and put it on the wall of Pipkin's room. "There you go, Pipkin. Whenever we find something of yours, we will put it in your rainbow. If you want to put something down, and can't remember where it goes, put it in your rainbow, until you remember. It will be a rainbow full of treasures!" And he laughed, and hugged Pipkin. And Pipkin laughed, too.
But Pipkin still wanted a better brain, because the other things he lost a lot were ideas. Other young elves could count to ten, or twenty, or a hundred, and they never seemed to lose any numbers. Pipkin lost numbers all the time. Other young elves could say the alphabet without even singing. Pipkin had to sing all the time, and he still lost letters. And when he practiced something, so he could get better at it, Pipkin was sure that doing the same thing over and over ought to feel the same. But it didn't. It felt different.
That day, after school, the other elves asked him to join their elven games, but Pipkin didn't feel like it. He couldn't remember all the rules anyway, he thought, and felt very sad. So he sat down at his favourite place, on the rock behind his house, looking down the hill into the valley. It began to rain, a very gentle, misty rain, while the summer sun was still shining. And as he gazed down the valley, faint colours formed in the mist. Slowly and softly, a rainbow floated out of the mist. Pipkin's mother came out, and asked Pipkin what he was doing. "I'm watching the magic," said Pipkin. Well, elves know magic very well, so Pipkin's mother hugged him, and said, "A rainbow is very beautiful, but it is science, not magic." "It looks like magic," said Pipkin. "Where do the colours come from?" "The drops of water split the light from the sun into all the different colours" she replied. "I don't understand," said Pipkin sadly. "Why isn't there always a rainbow when it rains? It's hardly ever really dark. And why are the colours so nice and neat? The drops of rain are everywhere; why aren't there colours everywhere? And why is the rainbow in a line? Drops of rain are round. Why aren't rainbows round?" and Pipkin shook his head sadly. But then he saw his mother looking hard at the rainbow. Next she looked at Pipkin, and started to laugh. "Pipkin," she said, "I thought I knew how a rainbow worked. But you showed me I didn't really know at all. Pipkin, your brain may find it hard to do some of the things my brain finds easy, and if I could fix that, I would. Your brain is still a very good brain. The rainbow *is* magic. And so are you!"
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