Instead of going back to the elevator, she led them around to a little entryway and opened the door. They found themselves standing in a little yard, right on a street full of people. People were everywhere! There were grownups and children and dogs and birds and even some pigs (they had bows tied around their necks and were very adorable).
“What is the festival for?” asked Roger.
“It is to celebrate all of the birthdays this month.”
“So you have a birthday festival every month?” asked Mavis.
“Even cooler!” said Roger.
They walked down the road together, listening to the bright tinkling music and the sound of everyone talking and laughing. They looked at the cheery grey streamers that hung from the cane poles and the lanterns with black polka dots. And the kites! Everyone seemed to be flying a kite. There were butterflies and and dragonflies and giant manta rays and eagles and even a geiko, all swooping on the wind and casting friendly shadows on the ground. Some of the kites were very small, no bigger than dinner plates. But some of them were so big that several grownups were holding on to several strings, laughing and joking about being carried off to Earth.
“Are you hungry?” asked Agatha.
“Yes!” they cried.
So they stopped at a little cart and Agatha ordered something that sounded weird and looked even weirder. Neither of them had ever eaten grey food before, and for a moment they both considered politely changing their minds and telling Agatha that they weren’t hungry, after all. But then they realized that what they were holding was giving off the most amazing of smells. Then they had to take a great, big bite. “This is amazing!” said Mavis. “It’s sort of like a cinnamon roll!”
“It’s a special pastry, made just for the birthday festival.”
“Hello, Lady Agatha!” called a group of children as they ran past.
“Hello!” she laughed.
They wandered through the streets for a while, Agatha leading the way. After a few blocks they came out of the city proper and found themselves standing in view of the sea. It looked nothing like our sea, with its grey waters and black undercurrents. It looked icy and a little frightening. But there were also plumes of white foam that seemed to be enjoying themselves, patting at the shore and then skittering back out across the face of the ocean.
“Look at the boats,” said Roger. There were dozens and dozens of them, all scampering about in the bay, their sails going up and down and little people running back and forth on their deck.
“Do you like boats?” asked Agatha.
“YES!” said Mavis and Roger together.
“Then let’s go down to the pier,” said Agatha.
Of course neither of them objected, so they went down the steps cut into the shore, and out on the pier. It was truly dizzying trying to turn about and see all of the boats; boats with square sails and dragons on their prows, long lean boats that were fronted by maidens with flowing hair, boats with decks so high up they looked like skyscrapers. Some of their hulls were painted in swirls and scales and scallops, and some of them were draped in flags. Agatha led them straight to a little boat--not a tiny boat, but one that was much smaller than the other ocean liners--and called down to the captain. “Hello, Honora!”
The captain waved at them, a smile lighting up her face. “Hello, Lady Agatha! Are you seeking a vessel?!”
“Could you take us out so we can see the show?”
“It would be my pleasure!”
And so they climbed down into Honora’s boat and settled onto the padded benches. Roger was fascinated, because he could not hear a motor, and the sails were all furled, and yet their vessel taxied slowly away from the pier and toward the open water. “Watch as it gets dark,” said Agatha, and so they did, their smiles stretching from one ear to the other and the wind blowing their hair back.
There was a sound in the distance, like the first kernel of popcorn bursting in the bag. And suddenly the sky was full of light, full of glorious buttery yellow fireworks. They popped and hissed and the biggest sent sparks raining into the sea. They were roses and orchids and butterflies, dogs and horses and dragons, suns and moons and stars. Mavis and Roger sat with their mouths open, the lights reflected in their rapturous eyes.