"What I'd like to know," said a can-opener, in a shrill voice, "is why the little girl came to our forest anyhow and why she intruded upon Captain Dipp--who ought to be called Dippy--and who she is, and where she came from, and where she is going, and why and wherefore and therefore and when."
"I'm sorry to see, Sir Jabber," remarked the King to the can-opener, "that you have such a prying disposition. As a matter of fact, all the things you mention are none of our business."
Having said this the King relighted his pipe, which had gone out.
"Tell me, please, what IS our business?" inquired a potato-masher, winking at Dorothy somewhat impertinently. "I'm fond of little girls, myself, and it seems to me she has as much right to wander in the forest as we have."
"Who accuses the little girl, anyway?" inquired a rolling-pin. "What has she done?"
"I don't know," said the King. "What has she done, Captain Dipp?"
"That's the trouble, your Majesty. She hasn't done anything," replied the Captain.
"What do you want me to do?" asked Dorothy.
This question seemed to puzzle them all. Finally, a chafingdish, exclaimed irritably:
"If no one can throw any light on this subject you must excuse me if I go out."
At this, a big kitchen fork pricked up its ears and said in a tiny voice:
"Let's hear from Judge Sifter."
"That's proper," returned the King.
So Judge Sifter turned around slowly several times and then said:
"We have nothing against the girl except the stove-hearth upon which she sits. Therefore I order her instantly discharged."
"Discharged!" cried Dorothy. "Why, I never was discharged in my life, and I don't intend to be. If it's all the same to you, I'll resign."
"It's all the same," declared the King. "You are free--you and your companions--and may go wherever you like."
"Thank you," said the little girl. "But haven't you anything to eat in your kingdom? I'm hungry."
"Go into the woods and pick blackberries," advised the King, lying down upon his back again and preparing to go to sleep. "There isn't a morsel to eat in all Utensia, that I know of."
So Dorothy jumped up and said:
"Come on, Toto and Billina. If we can't find the camp, we may find some blackberries."
The utensils drew back and allowed them to pass without protest, although Captain Dipp marched the Spoon Brigade in close order after them until they had reached the edge of the clearing.
There the spoons halted; but Dorothy and her companions entered the forest again and began searching diligently for a way back to the camp, that they might rejoin their party.
17. How They Came to Bunbury
Wandering through the woods, without knowing where you are going or what adventure you are about to meet next, is not as pleasant as one might think. The woods are always beautiful and impressive, and if you are not worried or hungry you may enjoy them immensely; but Dorothy was worried and hungry that morning, so she paid little attention to the beauties of the forest, and hurried along as fast as she could go. She tried to keep in one direction and not circle around, but she was not at all sure that the direction she had chosen would lead her to the camp.
By and by, to her great joy, she came upon a path. It ran to the right and to the left, being lost in the trees in both directions, and just before her, upon a big oak, were fastened two signs, with arms pointing both ways. One sign read:
TAKE THE OTHER ROAD TO BUNBURY
and the second sign read:
TAKE THE OTHER ROAD TO BUNNYBURY
"Well!" exclaimed Billina, eyeing the signs, "this looks as if we were getting back to civilization again."
"I'm not sure about the civil'zation, dear," replied the little girl; "but it looks as if we might get SOMEWHERE, and that's a big relief, anyhow."
"Which path shall we take?" inquired the Yellow Hen.
Dorothy stared at the signs thoughtfully.
"Bunbury sounds like something to eat," she said. "Let's go there."
"It's all the same to me," replied Billina.