There must have been from six to eight dozen spoons in the Brigade, and they marched away in the shape of a hollow square, with Dorothy, Billina and Toto in the center of the square. Before they had gone very far Toto knocked over one of the spoons by wagging his tail, and then the Captain of the Spoons told the little dog to be more careful, or he would be punished. So Toto was careful, and the Spoon Brigade moved along with astonishing swiftness, while Dorothy really had to walk fast to keep up with it.
By and by they left the woods and entered a big clearing, in which was the Kingdom of Utensia.
Standing all around the clearing were a good many cookstoves, ranges and grills, of all sizes and shapes, and besides these there were several kitchen cabinets and cupboards and a few kitchen tables. These things were crowded with utensils of all sorts: frying pans, sauce pans, kettles, forks, knives, basting and soup spoons, nutmeg graters, sifters, colanders, meat saws, flat irons, rolling pins and many other things of a like nature.
When the Spoon Brigade appeared with the prisoners a wild shout arose and many of the utensils hopped off their stoves or their benches and ran crowding around Dorothy and the hen and the dog.
"Stand back!" cried the Captain, sternly, and he led his captives through the curious throng until they came before a big range that stood in the center of the clearing. Beside this range was a butcher block upon which lay a great cleaver with a keen edge. It rested upon the flat of its back, its legs were crossed and it was smoking a long pipe.
"Wake up, your Majesty," said the Captain. "Here are prisoners."
Hearing this, King Kleaver sat up and looked at Dorothy sharply.
"Gristle and fat!" he cried. "Where did this girl come from?"
"I found her in the forest and brought her here a prisoner," replied the Captain.
"Why did you do that?" inquired the King, puffing his pipe lazily.
"To create some excitement," the Captain answered. "It is so quiet here that we are all getting rusty for want of amusement. For my part, I prefer to see stirring times."
"Naturally," returned the cleaver, with a nod. "I have always said, Captain, without a bit of irony, that you are a sterling officer and a solid citizen, bowled and polished to a degree. But what do you expect me to do with these prisoners?"
"That is for you to decide," declared the Captain. "You are the King."
"To be sure; to be sure," muttered the cleaver, musingly. "As you say, we have had dull times since the steel and grindstone eloped and left us. Command my Counselors and the Royal Courtiers to attend me, as well as the High Priest and the Judge. We'll then decide what can be done."
The Captain saluted and retired and Dorothy sat down on an overturned kettle and asked:
"Have you anything to eat in your kingdom?"
"Here! Get up! Get off from me!" cried a faint voice, at which his Majesty the cleaver said:
"Excuse me, but you're sitting on my friend the Ten-quart Kettle."
Dorothy at once arose, and the kettle turned right side up and looked at her reproachfully.
"I'm a friend of the King, so no one dares sit on me," said he.
"I'd prefer a chair, anyway," she replied.
"Sit on that hearth," commanded the King.
So Dorothy sat on the hearth-shelf of the big range, and the subjects of Utensia began to gather around in a large and inquisitive throng. Toto lay at Dorothy's feet and Billina flew upon the range, which had no fire in it, and perched there as comfortably as she could.
When all the Counselors and Courtiers had assembled--and these seemed to include most of the inhabitants of the kingdom--the King rapped on the block for order and said:
"Friends and Fellow Utensils! Our worthy Commander of the Spoon Brigade, Captain Dipp, has captured the three prisoners you see before you and brought them here for--for--I don't know what for. So I ask your advice how to act in this matter, and what fate I should mete out to these captives. Judge Sifter, stand on my right. It is your business to sift this affair to the bottom. High Priest Colender, stand on my left and see that no one testifies falsely in this matter."
As these two officials took their places, Dorothy asked:
"Why is the colander the High Priest?"
"He's the holiest thing we have in the kingdom," replied King Kleaver.
"Except me," said a sieve. "I'm the whole thing when it comes to holes."
"What we need," remarked the King, rebukingly, "is a wireless sieve. I must speak to Marconi about it. These old-fashioned sieves talk too much. Now, it is the duty of the King's Counselors to counsel the King at all times of emergency, so I beg you to speak out and advise me what to do with these prisoners."
"I demand that they be killed several times, until they are dead!" shouted a pepperbox, hopping around very excitedly.
"Compose yourself, Mr. Paprica," advised the King. "Your remarks are piquant and highly-seasoned, but you need a scattering of commonsense. It is only necessary to kill a person once to make him dead; but I do not see that it is necessary to kill this little girl at all."
"I don't, either," said Dorothy.
"Pardon me, but you are not expected to advise me in this matter," replied King Kleaver.
"Why not?" asked Dorothy.
"You might be prejudiced in your own favor, and so mislead us," he said. "Now then, good subjects, who speaks next?"
The Emerald City of Oz -by- L. Frank BaumBottom Content goes here. Wikipedia content requires these links..... Wikipedia content is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.