On a warm summer's day little Cornelia was playing with her dolls at her favorite spot, underneath the shady branches of a large plum tree at one corner of the long, grassy yard. Several thick clumps of iris made this an inviting nook, and Cornelia liked to imagine that the petals were fairy wings. She hummed to herself happily as she placed her dolls around the sturdy trunk of the friendly plum tree. Someone had left a mirror on the grass, and when Cornelia reached for it, she noticed a beautiful band of rainbow colors along the beveled edge.
"Oh," exclaimed Cornelia wonderingly, "how did that happen?" Picking up the mirror, she moved it back and forth, and discovered that a sunbeam flashed the colors on the mirror's edge. Cornelia sat and looked at the mirror in her hand, still wondering about the tiny rainbow that appeared and disappeared as she moved it, when a tinkling little laugh came floating through the air. Then she heard a musical voice saying:
"We'll tell you if you will play a game with us."
On hearing the small voice, Cornelia was the most surprised little girl you ever saw. Her mouth was like an O and her brown eyes were like two smaller o's. She stared and stared at the tiny figure who stood before her. She knew it must be one of the fairy folk, but she could hardly believe her eyes.
Finally she managed to ask, "Who are you?"
"I," replied the little being," am the queen of the Color Fairies.
And so she was, for a dainty little crown rested upon her head and a tiny golden wand was in one hand.
"I didn't know there were any Color Fairies," said Cornelia, feeling more at ease now.
"Oh yes," smiled the Fairy Queen, " we are a very great number. though people seldom see us. But they see the work we do all over the wide world."
"What kind of work?" asked Cornelia eagerly. This time chorus, of unseen tinkling voices sang out the answer:
"You see" explained the Fairy Queen" "we mix the colors that go into flowers, fruit, and everything you see about you. Everywhere we go, thin of ways to make the world a more beautiful and colorful place in which to live. Would you like to see something of this?"
"Oh I'd love to" replied Cornelia, clapping her hands in glee.
"Good!" said the Fairy Queen." Then we'll begin our game. But first let me explain how the rainbow is formed. Sunlight is pure white light to your eyes, but it is really made up of seven different colors. When the pure white light is divided, as it happened on the mirror, and as it happens in the sky after a rain, then you can see each color separately, forming the band of seven colors. We combine these in various ways to form the many tints and shades you see all about you." Then, waving her wand, she said, "Come, Red and Blue, we will begin our game."
Instantly a fairy all dressed in blue, and another all in red, appeared, each making a little bow to the Queen and to Cornelia. Then Red stepped in front of Blue, and the color was purple.
"What have you seen of that color?" asked the Fairy Queen of Cornelia.
"Oh, I know — violets and iris and grapes and plums," came her quick answer.
"Yes, that 's right," replied the Color Queen. "Now I'll call on Yellow. Mr. Yellow, Mr. Yellow, you re a very cheery fellow."
"Here I am, here I am," responded a gleeful voice as a little figure all dressed in sunny yellow appeared.
"Oh," spoke up Cornelia, "you are the color of sunshine and lemons and buttercups."
"What a funny combination! But you're right, Miss King, you're right," he finished with a little tinkling laugh.
"Why, how did you know my name I" said Cornelia, looking surprised.
"Oh, we are wise, we are wise, though not so very big in size," answered Mr. Yellow, twirling on his tiny toes.
Then what do you suppose Yellow did? He stood in front of Red, and now the color was — "Orange!" exclaimed Cornelia. "You're the color of an orange now."
"Color of carrots and pumpkins, too. Now I'll step in front of Blue."
"Now you are as green as grass" Cornelia said.
"And trees and many vegetables are green as you know," added the Fairy Queen. "I hope you have enjoyed this little game and at the same time learned something about colors."
"Oh, yes, thank you, I have!" exclaimed Cornelia.
"Will you come again and show me more about colors?"
"Indeed we will," responded the Fairy Queen graciously. " But now we must bid you good-bye, for we have many places to visit and many things to do. I must see that all of our little helpers are doing their work properly in carrying out my purpose, which, as you now know, is to make the world a more beautiful and colorful place in which to live."
Cornelia started to speak again, but before she could say anything, the little beings had vanished. Had she been dreaming? No. Cornelia had been wide-awake, and besides, the Fairy Queen had promised to come again and teach her about the wonderful world of color. She looked about her and saw the mirror again. Picking it up she thought, "Now I know where these pretty colors come from."