Dorothy and her traveling companions camp for the night after visiting the Fuddles, and we get to see the Wonderful Wizard do some actual wizarding. Agent Diggs is evidently a quick study, for in just a year of Glinda's tutoring he has mastered some pretty impressive magic.
He's still a humbug at heart, though. His feats of real sorcery are done with all the stagecraft of his old stage illusions. Borrowing a pair of ordinary handkerchiefs from Aunt Em and the Shaggy Man he creates two large and well-furnished tents for the party. Then he sets Dorothy to watching an empty kettle over the fire -- which, when opened again, proves to contain enough food for a hearty dinner.
Dorothy also reverts to old habits: she wanders away from camp and gets lost, accompanied by Billina and Toto. As usual, she encounters more wacky wayside tribes.
First she gets captured by the Spoon Brigade, an armed troop of spoons who guard the little Kingdom of Utensia. Utensia is inhabited living kitchen utensils, under the lackadaisical rule of King Kleaver. Dorothy's visit to Utensia is a hurricane of kitchen-based wordplay as she is put on trial. This section is definitely intended as a bit of "bonus material" for adults reading the book to children, and some of the puns are really very funny. It reminds me of the trial scene at the end of Alice In Wonderland. Eventually Baum runs out of jokes and the King decides to discharge Dorothy from his court. She'd rather resign, and the spoons escort her back out of Utensia.
From Utensia the lost trio wander to the town of Bunbury, which turns out to be inhabited by living pastry. The houses are made of crackers and breadsticks, Understandably, the Bunburyites are very nervous about the arrival of three hungry outsiders. Dorothy is reasonable, and contents herself with eating part of a waffle fence and a broken wheelbarrow made of "nabiscos" (which was a brand of crackers sold by the new Nabisco company in 1901). The bun people, like the utensils, are incorrigible punsters.
While Dorothy can get by eating domestic junk, Toto has less restraint and devours four of the citizens of Bunbury. The trio hurry away from Bunbury, followed by the angry cries of its people.
Their final stop is the town of Bunnybury, which is nearby and doubtless causes much confusion to the Oz postal service in these pre-ZIP Code days. Bunnybury is populated by sentient, civilized rabbits. Toto and Billina are not allowed into the walled rabbit town, but Dorothy has a safe-conduct letter from Ozma which gets her past the gatekeeper. He magically reduces her to rabbit size (another Alice echo!) and takes her to meet the King of Bunnybury. The King explains that he and his people are another product of Glinda's magic. She gave the rabbits their civilization and intelligence.
She creates intelligent species for fun.
The King isn't happy, though. He misses his old simple life as an ordinary forest bunny. He complains endlessly about the burdens of life in a marble palace, and the bothersome responsibilities of ruling a village of intelligent rabbits. Dorothy offers to ask Glinda to transform him back into a wild rabbit again, and the King eagerly accepts.
Except . . . he does like his fine clothes, and hopes Glinda will allow him to keep them when she changes him back. He also has some favorite pieces of furniture he'd like to take to his forest burrow. And the royal dance troupe is very entertaining; and he enjoys the protection of his brave royal guards; and the royal jugglers are without peer . . .
Just as Dorothy is about to leave, the King changes his mind. He'll remain as ruler of Bunnybury. But his visitor takes the opportunity to squeeze him a little: she insists that he give up all his whining and complaining. The King agrees, and Dorothy leaves Bunnybury and returns to her normal size.
I suspect Mr. Baum was getting in a gentle dig at people who always long for the "good old days" when life was simpler. What's amusing, of course, is that he was writing in 1910, which many people nowadays consider the halcyon "good old days" before the apocalypse of World War I and the century of conflict that followed.
Looking back to the Golden Age is inevitable for humans. Consider: when you're little, you live in a world where all your needs are taken care of by powerful, wise elders. As you grow older, you have to do more for yourself and you discover flaws in your elders' power and wisdom. When you're an adult you're completely on your own, and you live in a world run by people your own age, just as foolish and ignorant as you are. Obviously things were better in the past.
Meanwhile . . . General Guph reports back to King Roquat, all puffed up with the success of his diplomatic mission. The King is somewhat alarmed by the allies Guph has recruited. The Growleywogs and Whimsies are bad enough, but the Phanfasms are downright scary.
Guph brushes his fears aside, and here we see why Roquat is the King. He has obviously read his Machiavelli. Borrowed forces aren't as good as your own, and a powerful ally may become an oppressor. Guph is too wrapped up in his dreams of military glory to consider the larger picture.
Still, Roquat is impressed and decides to go ahead with the venture. He's willing to let his allies plunder Oz themselves, but he wants to take Ozma and Dorothy for his own captives. He's going to turn them into ornaments for his underground Liberace palace. After what we've seen of the Growleywogs, Whimsies, and Phanfasms, this is actually a little reassuring. Spending an eternity as a tchotchke has got to be better than whatever they might come up with.
But the Nome King hasn't reckoned with the intelligence-gathering capabilities of Ozma's government. The lovely Girl Ruler uses her Magic Picture to spy on Roquat, and discovers his plan to dig a tunnel under the desert.
At this point, one would expect her to get Glinda on the horn and assemble some kind of pre-emptive strike force. An Ozian "Dirty Dozen" perhaps: Tiktok, Jinjur, the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Woodman, and maybe some of Glinda's lovely girl mercenaries for backup. Eggs, explosions, pithy one-liners, and a climactic showdown in the tunnel as the timer ticks down to zero . . .
Nope. Ozma's gone all Neville Chamberlain:
"Then she dismissed from her mind further thought of the tunnel, for that time, and began to wonder if Aunt Em would not be happy as Royal Mender of the Stockings of the Ruler of Oz. Ozma wore few holes in her stockings; still, they sometimes needed mending. Aunt Em ought to be able to do that very nicely."
The legions of Hell are on the march and she's thinking about stockings? Help us, Jinjur, you're our only hope!
Next time: the tension increases!