“Why, my cabinet members can do all sorts of things. The duke here can make mountains out of molehills. The minister splits hairs. The count makes hay while the sun shines. The earl leaves no stone unturned. And the undersecretary,” he finished ominously, “hangs by a thread.”

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More from The Phantom Tollbooth

“A slavish concern for the composition of words is the sign of a bankrupt intellect,” roared the Humbug, waving his cane furiously.

“Good,” said the judge, rapping his gavel three times. “I always have trouble remembering the long ones. How about ‘I am’? That’s the shortest sentence I know.”

“SILENCE,” suggested the King. “Now, young man, what can you do to entertain us? Sing songs? Tell stories? Compose sonnets? Juggle plates? Do tumbling tricks? Which is it?”
“I can’t do any of those things,” admitted Milo.
“What an ordinary little boy,” commented the king.

“Dig in,” said the king, poking Milo with his elbow and looking disapprovingly at his plate. “I can’t say that I think much of your choice.”
“I didn’t know that I was going to have to eat my words,” objected Milo.
“Of course, of course, everyone here does,” the king grunted. “You should have made a tastier speech.”

“They’re very tasty,” explained the Humbug, “but they don’t always agree with you. Here’s one that’s very good.” He handed it to Milo and, through the icing and nuts, Milo saw that it said “THE EARTH IS FLAT.”
“People swallowed that one for years,” commented the Spelling Bee, “but it’s not very popular these days– d-a-y-s.” He picked up a long one that stated “THE MOON IS MADE OF GREEN CHEESE” and hungrily bit off the part that said “CHEESE.” “Now THERE’s a half-baked idea,” he said, smiling.