Chapter 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. She had picked up enough bugs and insects from the moss as she went along to satisfy her own hunger, but the hen knew Dorothy could not eat bugs; nor could Toto.
The path to Bunbury seemed little traveled, but it was distinct enough and ran through the trees in a zigzag course until it finally led them to an open space filled with the queerest houses Dorothy had ever seen. They were all made of crackers laid out in tiny squares, and were of many pretty and ornamental shapes, having balconies and porches with posts of bread-sticks and roofs shingled with wafer-crackers.
There were walks of bread-crusts leading from house to house and forming streets, and the place seemed to have many inhabitants.
When Dorothy, followed by Billina and Toto, entered the place, they found people walking the streets or assembled in groups talking together, or sitting upon the porches and balconies.
And what funny people they were!
Men, women and children were all made of buns and bread. Some were thin and others fat; some were white, some light brown and some very dark of complexion. A few of the buns, which seemed to form the more important class of the people, were neatly frosted. Some had raisins for eyes and currant buttons on their clothes; others had eyes of cloves and legs of stick cinnamon, and many wore hats and bonnets frosted pink and green.
There was something of a commotion in Bunbury when the strangers suddenly appeared among them. Women caught up their children and hurried into their houses, shutting the cracker doors carefully behind them. Some men ran so hastily that they tumbled over one another, while others, more brave, assembled in a group and faced the intruders defiantly.
Dorothy at once realized that she must act with caution in order not to frighten these shy people, who were evidently unused to the presence of strangers. There was a delightful fragrant odor of fresh bread in the town, and this made the little girl more hungry than ever. She told Toto and Billina to stay back while she slowly advanced toward the group that stood silently awaiting her.
"You must 'scuse me for coming unexpected," she said, softly, "but I really didn't know I was coming here until I arrived. I was lost in the woods, you know, and I'm as hungry as anything."
"Hungry!" they murmured, in a horrified chorus.
"Yes; I haven't had anything to eat since last night's supper," she exclaimed. "Are there any eatables in Bunbury?"
They looked at one another undecidedly, and then one portly bun man, who seemed a person of consequence, stepped forward and said:
"Little girl, to be frank with you, we are all eatables. Everything in Bunbury is eatable to ravenous human creatures like you. But it is to escape being eaten and destroyed that we have secluded ourselves in this out-of-the-way place, and there is neither right nor justice in your coming here to feed upon us."
Dorothy looked at him longingly.
"You're bread, aren't you?" she asked.
"Yes; bread and butter. The butter is inside me, so it won't melt and run. I do the running myself."
At this joke all the others burst into a chorus of laughter, and Dorothy thought they couldn't be much afraid if they could laugh like that.
"Couldn't I eat something besides people?" she asked. "Couldn't I eat just one house, or a side-walk or something? I wouldn't mind much what it was, you know."
"This is not a public bakery, child," replied the man, sternly. "It's private property."
"I know Mr.--Mr.--"
"My name is C. Bunn, Esquire," said the man. "'C' stands for Cinnamon, and this place is called after my family, which is the most aristocratic in the town."
"Oh, I don't know about that," objected another of the queer people. "The Grahams and the Browns and Whites are all excellent families, and there is none better of their kind. I'm a Boston Brown, myself."
"I admit you are all desirable citizens," said Mr. Bunn rather stiffly; "but the fact remains that our town is called Bunbury."
"'Scuse me," interrupted Dorothy; "but I'm getting hungrier every minute. Now, if you're polite and kind, as I'm sure you ought to be, you'll let me eat SOMETHING. There's so much to eat here that you will never miss it."
Then a big, puffed-up man, of a delicate brown color, stepped forward and said:
"I think it would be a shame to send this child away hungry, especially as she agrees to eat whatever we can spare and not touch our people."
"So do I, Pop," replied a Roll who stood near.
"What, then, do you suggest, Mr. Over?" inquired Mr. Bunn.
"Why, I'll let her eat my back fence, if she wants to. It's made of waffles, and they're very crisp and nice."
"She may also eat my wheelbarrow," added a pleasant looking Muffin. "It's made of nabiscos with a zuzu wheel."
"Very good; very good," remarked Mr. Bunn. "That is certainly very kind of you. Go with Pop Over and Mr. Muffin, little girl, and they will feed you."
"Thank you very much," said Dorothy, gratefully. "May I bring my dog Toto, and the Yellow Hen? They're hungry, too."
"Will you make them behave?" asked the Muffin.
"Of course," promised Dorothy.
"Then come along," said Pop Over.
So Dorothy and Billina and Toto walked up the street and the people seemed no longer to be at all afraid of them. Mr. Muffin's house came first, and as his wheelbarrow stood in the front yard the little girl ate that first. It didn't seem very fresh, but she was so hungry that she was not particular. Toto ate some, too, while Billina picked up the crumbs.
While the strangers were engaged in eating, many of the people came and stood in the street curiously watching them. Dorothy noticed six roguish looking brown children standing all in a row, and she asked:
"Who are you, little ones?"
"We're the Graham Gems," replied one; "and we're all twins."
"I wonder if your mother could spare one or two of you?" asked Billina, who decided that they were fresh baked; but at this dangerous question the six little gems ran away as fast as they could go.
"You musn't say such things, Billina," said Dorothy, reprovingly. "Now let's go into Pop Over's back yard and get the waffles."
"I sort of hate to let that fence go," remarked Mr. Over, nervously, as they walked toward his house. "The neighbors back of us are Soda Biscuits, and I don't care to mix with them."
"But I'm hungry yet," declared the girl. "That wheelbarrow wasn't very big."
"I've got a shortcake piano, but none of my family can play on it," he said, reflectively. "Suppose you eat that."
"All right," said Dorothy; "I don't mind. Anything to be accommodating."
So Mr. Over led her into the house, where she ate the piano, which was of an excellent flavor.
"Is there anything to drink here?" she asked.
"Yes; I've a milk pump and a water pump; which will you have?" he asked.
"I guess I'll try 'em both," said Dorothy.
So Mr. Over called to his wife, who brought into the yard a pail made of some kind of baked dough, and Dorothy pumped the pail full of cool, sweet milk and drank it eagerly.
The wife of Pop Over was several shades darker than her husband.
"Aren't you overdone?" the little girl asked her.
"No indeed," answered the woman. "I'm neither overdone nor done over; I'm just Mrs. Over, and I'm the President of the Bunbury Breakfast Band."
Dorothy thanked them for their hospitality and went away. At the gate Mr. Cinnamon Bunn met her and said he would show her around the town. "We have some very interesting inhabitants," he remarked, walking stiffly beside her on his stick-cinnamon legs; "and all of us who are in good health are well bred. If you are no longer hungry we will call upon a few of the most important citizens."
Toto and Billina followed behind them, behaving very well, and a little way down the street they came to a handsome residence where Aunt Sally Lunn lived. The old lady was glad to meet the little girl and gave her a slice of white bread and butter which had been used as a door-mat. It was almost fresh and tasted better than anything Dorothy had eaten in the town.
"Where do you get the butter?" she inquired.
"We dig it out of the ground, which, as you may have observed, is all flour and meal," replied Mr. Bunn. "There is a butter mine just at the opposite side of the village. The trees which you see here are all doughleanders and doughderas, and in the season we get quite a crop of dough-nuts off them."
"I should think the flour would blow around and get into your eyes," said Dorothy.
"No," said he; "we are bothered with cracker dust sometimes, but never with flour."
Then he took her to see Johnny Cake, a cheerful old gentleman who lived near by.
"I suppose you've heard of me," said old Johnny, with an air of pride. "I'm a great favorite all over the world."
"Aren't you rather yellow?" asked Dorothy, looking at him critically.
"Maybe, child. But don't think I'm bilious, for I was never in better health in my life," replied the old gentleman. "If anything ailed me, I'd willingly acknowledge the corn."
"Johnny's a trifle stale," said Mr. Bunn, as they went away; "but he's a good mixer and never gets cross-grained. I will now take you to call upon some of my own relatives." They visited the Sugar Bunns, the Currant Bunns and the Spanish Bunns, the latter having a decidedly foreign appearance. Then they saw the French Rolls, who were very polite to them, and made a brief call upon the Parker H. Rolls, who seemed a bit proud and overbearing.
"But they're not as stuck up as the Frosted Jumbles," declared Mr. Bunn, "who are people I really can't abide. I don't like to be suspicious or talk scandal, but sometimes I think the Jumbles have too much baking powder in them."
Just then a dreadful scream was heard, and Dorothy turned hastily around to find a scene of great excitement a little way down the street. The people were crowding around Toto and throwing at him everything they could find at hand. They pelted the little dog with hard-tack, crackers, and even articles of furniture which were hard baked and heavy enough for missiles.
Toto howeled a little as the assortment of bake stuff struck him; but he stood still, with head bowed and tail between his legs, until Dorothy ran up and inquired what the matter was.
"Matter!" cried a rye loafer, indignantly, "why the horrid beast has eaten three of our dear Crumpets, and is now devouring a Salt-rising Biscuit!"
"Oh, Toto! How could you?" exclaimed Dorothy, much distressed.
Toto's mouth was full of his salt-rising victim; so he only whined and wagged his tail. But Billina, who had flown to the top of a cracker house to be in a safe place, called out:
"Don't blame him, Dorothy; the Crumpets dared him to do it."
"Yes, and you pecked out the eyes of a Raisin Bunn--one of our best citizens!" shouted a bread pudding, shaking its fist at the Yellow Hen.
"What's that! What's that?" wailed Mr. Cinnamon Bunn, who had now joined them. "Oh, what a misfortune--what a terrible misfortune!"
"See here," said Dorothy, determined to defend her pets, "I think we've treated you all pretty well, seeing you're eatables an' reg'lar food for us. I've been kind to you and eaten your old wheelbarrows and pianos and rubbish, an' not said a word. But Toto and Billina can't be 'spected to go hungry when the town's full of good things they like to eat, 'cause they can't understand your stingy ways as I do."
"You must leave here at once!" said Mr. Bunn, sternly.
"Suppose we won't go?" said Dorothy, who was now much provoked.
"Then," said he, "we will put you into the great ovens where we are made, and bake you."
Dorothy gazed around and saw threatening looks upon the faces of all. She had not noticed any ovens in the town, but they might be there, nevertheless, for some of the inhabitants seemed very fresh. So she decided to go, and calling to Toto and Billina to follow her she marched up the street with as much dignity as possible, considering that she was followed by the hoots and cries of the buns and biscuits and other bake stuff.