It wasn’t until the class had pressed their hands to the canyon walls and had them come away coated with pastel dust that they realized the true nature of the gully.

“It’s chalk,” Agnes said. “It’s all chalk, must be millions of pieces, every color of the rainbow. It’s not the light giving those colors, at all!”

“Of course a teacher would dream up a canyon of chalk,” John muttered, idly pressing chalky handprints onto his uniform jacket. “What’s next, a forest of pointers?”

One of the younger children squeaked in surprise nearby; they had inadvertently pried a piece of chalk out of the canyon wall and caused a collapse, with a landslide developing out of a thousand thousand colorful tubes.

“This place could collapse at any moment,” said Erik. “We need to move through and keep the little ones hands to themselves What was it the rhyme said?”

“Past hills of paper and deserts of slate, through fragile canyons to meet the gate.”

“Right. The only way out is through,” Erik said.

“And when we’ve finished, Teacher needs to take a vacation,” Agnes added. “No one should dream about chalk canyons unless they live in Dover.”

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