"Blackberries," said Rose. "Does this mean we are near water?"
"It's not so good as ducks," said Lieutenant Smith. "There are some kinds of berries that flourish in the desert." His mouth quirked. "They say that fairies enchanted them. Apparently they are much less conspicuous than the giants."
"What isn't?" Rose looked about. "If there's a pond, I would guess it is over there." She pointed, and a butterfly flew upward, followed by two or three others. Sunlight gleamed through wings of rose and orange, as if they were stained glass. Moments later, a bird began to sing.
A bird sang, perched deep in the bushes, where it knew it was safe -- they were more thorny than roses or blackberries. There might be a pond about here, but the ground squished so underfoot that if so, it was engulfed with marsh. Ducks might find it easily, but not men.
Butterflies flew lightly about, blue and scarlet and dawn-colored in peach and orange. A child might think one a fairy. Jon scowled.
The trees left the pond in a patchwork of sunlight and shadow. Ducks swam placidly about, in and out of the light, and gleamed golden whenever the sunlight glinting from their feathers. Blackberries on the shore had fruit like tiny rubies of deepest red. Birds singing on the bough were brilliantly sapphire blue. Butterflies flamed like topazes.
"What is this?" said William. "Some fairy treasury?"
The blackberries stood about at the pond like the roses on the castle of a sleeping princess. Halley didn't think even a butterfly could fly between those thorns. A duck swam toward her with such intention that she wondered about the bird even before it waddled up onto the shore and stood up on hind legs, shedding a cloak of feathers to be a woman.
Ah, a duck maiden. She had read about them in fairy tales. Or had they only mentioned swan maidens? But she supposed it was close enough.
About the pond, the bushes had orange leaves and bright yellow berries, but otherwise could be taken for blackberries. The ducks bobbing in it were merely bright green, like new spring leaves -- at least, new leaves back on Earth. Birds trilled in the bushes, sheltered by the thorns, and their feathers were a very Earth-like brown.
He didn't know enough about butterflies to tell if their colors were off, but sometimes he had to blink and be sure that the bodies bearing the wings were not that humanoid, to pass as fairies.