Once there were three tulip sisters, Lily, Rose, and Petunia. One fine summer day they decided to leave the bed and travel the world.
‘We wish to discover what lies beyond the path between the boulders,’ Lily announced to Mama and Papa Tulip.
‘But you can’t go,’ said Papa Tulip. ‘How will you walk?’
‘On our roots. It can’t be that hard,’ replied Lily.
‘There’s no need to walk on your roots, dears. I’ve hoped you would take your songs to the wide world for a long time, and I have made three pairs of wooden shoes for you to wear,’ said Mama Tulip.
‘Daisy!’ said Papa Tulip.
So the grateful and excited sisters marched off down the path between the boulders in their new wooden shoes. They sang as they went, the blend of their voices soothing into the most pleasant dreams a worried hare, a nervous squirrel, and a grumpy marmot they passed along the way. When they reached a small village, they passed straightaway to the main square and sang for the villagers gathered there. So sweet was their song that the people had to sit down, weep for happiness, and fall to sleep dreaming most pleasant dreams.
‘Oh, what may we offer you as thanks for your gift of song?’ asked the mayor when he awoke.
‘A sword!’ said Petunia.
‘No, no,’ said Lily. ‘A thimble filled with dew if it wouldn’t be too much trouble is all we desire.’
Refreshed with the thimble of dew, the sisters went on their way. They enchanted people in village after village, singing across the world. Their fame grew and grew until finally they sang in the opera house of a great city, where their performance was watched carefully by a man dressed all in yellow.
That night the tulips slept in a specially prepared plot in the municipal flower bed. They were awakened at dawn by a soft voice.
‘Tulips, won’t you help me? I am Lemon, called Lem, jester and magician to the Rainbow Queen,’ whispered the man dressed all in yellow. ‘Alas, my power, though it is great, cannot cure Her Majesty’s unsleeping sickness.’
‘Take us to your Queen,’ said Lily. ‘We will help her if we can.’
Lemon raised his arms, summoning clouds. He sliced the air in a flurry with his hands. Rain poured. He shut off the rain with a toss of his head. A rainbow stretched down to the municipal flower bed. Lemon led the tulips up the rainbow’s stairs to the rainbow palace high in the arc. Into the Great Hall he guided the tulip sisters. The wretched Rainbow Queen sat slumped on her throne. Clad in gorgeous rainbow silks, she glared with red-rimmed eyes at Lemon and the tulips.
‘What now?’ she snapped.
‘Sing,’ hissed Lemon to the tulips.
And so Lily, Petunia, and Rose twined their voices in perfect harmony and sang the Rainbow Queen to sleep. And after that, the tulip sisters lived on the rainbow forever and ever.