Billina had been rather suspicious of dogs, and Toto had had an idea that it was every dog's duty to chase a hen on sight. But Dorothy had talked to them and scolded them for not being agreeable to one another until they grew better acquainted and became friends.
I won't say they loved each other dearly, but at least they had stopped quarreling and now managed to get on together very well.
The day was growing lighter every minute and driving the black shadows out of the forest; so Dorothy found it very pleasant walking under the trees. She went some distance in one direction, but not finding a path, presently turned in a different direction. There was no path here, either, although she advanced quite a way into the forest, winding here and there among the trees and peering through the bushes in an endeavor to find some beaten track.
"I think we'd better go back," suggested the Yellow Hen, after a time. "The people will all be up by this time and breakfast will be ready."
"Very well," agreed Dorothy. "Let's see--the camp must be over this way."
She had probably made a mistake about that, for after they had gone far enough to have reached the camp they still found themselves in the thick of the woods. So the little girl stopped short and looked around her, and Toto glanced up into her face with his bright little eyes and wagged his tail as if he knew something was wrong. He couldn't tell much about direction himself, because he had spent his time prowling among the bushes and running here and there; nor had Billina paid much attention to where they were going, being interested in picking bugs from the moss as they passed along. The Yellow Hen now turned one eye up toward the little girl and asked:
"Have you forgotten where the camp is, Dorothy?"
"Yes," she admitted; "have you, Billina?"
"I didn't try to remember," returned Billina. "I'd no idea you would get lost, Dorothy."
"It's the thing we don't expect, Billina, that usually happens," observed the girl, thoughtfully. "But it's no use standing here. Let's go in that direction," pointing a finger at random. "It may be we'll get out of the forest over there."
So on they went again, but this way the trees were closer together, and the vines were so tangled that often they tripped Dorothy up.
Suddenly a voice cried sharply:
At first, Dorothy could see nothing, although she looked around very carefully. But Billina exclaimed:
"Well, I declare!"
"What is it?" asked the little girl: for Toto began barking at something, and following his gaze she discovered what it was.
A row of spoons had surrounded the three, and these spoons stood straight up on their handles and carried swords and muskets. Their faces were outlined in the polished bowls and they looked very stern and severe.
Dorothy laughed at the queer things.
"Who are you?" she asked.
"We're the Spoon Brigade," said one.
"In the service of his Majesty King Kleaver," said another.
"And you are our prisoners," said a third.
Dorothy sat down on an old stump and looked at them, her eyes twinkling with amusement.
"What would happen," she inquired, "if I should set my dog on your Brigade?"
"He would die," replied one of the spoons, sharply. "One shot from our deadly muskets would kill him, big as he is."
"Don't risk it, Dorothy," advised the Yellow Hen. "Remember this is a fairy country, yet none of us three happens to be a fairy."
Dorothy grew sober at this.
"P'raps you're right, Billina," she answered. "But how funny it is, to be captured by a lot of spoons!"
"I do not see anything very funny about it," declared a spoon. "We're the regular military brigade of the kingdom."
"What kingdom?" she asked.
"Utensia," said he.
"I never heard of it before," asserted Dorothy. Then she added thoughtfully, "I don't believe Ozma ever heard of Utensia, either. Tell me, are you not subjects of Ozma of Oz?"
"We have never heard of her," retorted a spoon. "We are subjects of King Kleaver, and obey only his orders, which are to bring all prisoners to him as soon as they are captured.