“BALDERDASH!” shouted a booming voice. And from around the wagon stepped a large beetlelike insect dressed in a lavish coat, striped pants, checked vest, spats, and a derby hat. “Let me repeat - BALDERDASH!” he shouted again, swinging his cane and clicking his heels in mid-air. “Come now, don’t be ill-mannered. Isn’t someone going to introduce me to the little boy?”
“This,” said the bee with complete disdain, “is the Humbug. A very dislikeable fellow.”
“NONSENSE! Everyone loves a Humbug,” shouted the Humbug. “As I was saying to the king just the other day—”
“You’ve never met the king,” accused the bee angrily. Then, turning to Milo, he said, “Don’t believe a thing this old fraud says.”
“BOSH!” replied the Humbug. “We’re an old and noble family, honorable to the core — Insertiums Humbugium — if I may use the Latin. Why, we fought in the crusades with Richard the Lion Heart, crossed the Atlantic with Columbus, blazed trails with the pioneers, and today many members of the family hold prominent government positions throughout the world. History is full of Humbugs.”
“A very pretty speech — s-p-e-e-c-h,” sneered the bee. “Now why don’t you go away? I was just advising the lad of the important of proper spelling.”
“BAH!” said the bug, putting an arm around Milo. “As soon as you learn to spell one word, they ask you to spell another. You can never catch up — so why bother? Take my advice, my boy, and forget about it. As my great-great-great-grandfather George Washington Humbug used to say—”
“You, sir,” shouted the bee very excitedly, “are an impostor — i-m-p-o-s-t-e-r —who can’t even spell his own name.”
“A slavish concern for the composition of words is the sign of a bankrupt intellect,” roared the Humbug, waving his cane furiously.
Milo didn’t have any idea what this meant, but it seemed to infuriate the Spelling Bee, who flew down and knocked off the Humbug’s hat with his wing.
The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster
Any chance the follow-up will be the ‘bollocks’ supercut?
This was such an overload of humbug that my favorite became the silent movie version.
I’m biased but I like the bits with the puppets.
I liked the part where the guy said “humbug”.
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