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“But that’s just as bad,” protested Milo.
“You mean just as good,” corrected the Humbug. “Things which are equally bad are also equally good. Try to look at the bright side of things.”
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“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.”
“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.
“In this box are all the words I know,” he said. “Most of them you will never need, some you will use constantly, but with them you may ask all the questions which have never been answered and answer all the questions which have never been asked. All the great books of the past and all the ones yet to come are made with these words. With them there is no obstacle you cannot overcome. All you must learn to do is to use them well and in the right places.”
“You’re on the Island of Conclusions.”
“But how did we get here?” asked Milo.
“You jumped, of course,” explained Canby. “That’s the way most everyone gets here. It’s really quite simple: every time you decide something without having a good reason, you jump to Conclusions whether you like it or not. It’s such an easy trip to make that I’ve been here hundreds of times.”
“But this is such an unpleasant looking place,” Milo remarked.
“Yes, that’s true,” admitted Canby; “it does look much better from a distance.”