The Phantom Tollbooth

by Norton Juster, illustrated by Jules Feiffer

Copyright 1961.


The Island of Conclusions

The shore line was peaceful and flat, and the calm sea bumped it playfully along the sandy beach. In the distance a beautiful island covered with palm trees and flowers beckoned invitingly from the sparkling water.

"Nothing can possibly go wrong now," cried the Humbug happily, and as soon as he'd said it he leaped from the car, as if stuck by a pin, and sailed all the way to the little island.

"And we'll have plenty of time,'' answered Tock, who hadn't noticed that the bug was missing--and he, too, suddenly leaped into the air and disappeared.

"It certainly couldn't be a nicer day," agreed Milo, who was too busy looking at the road to see that the others had gone. And in a split second he was gone also.

He landed next to Tock and the terrified Humbug on the tiny island, which now looked completely different. Instead of palms and flowers, there were only rocks and the twisted stumps of long-dead trees. It certainly didn't seem like the same place they had seen from the road.

"Pardon me," said Milo to the first man who happened by; "can you tell me where I am?"

"To be sure," said Canby; "you're on the Island of Conclusions. Make yourself at home. You're apt to be here for some time."

"But how did we get here?" asked Milo, who was still a bit puzzled by being there at all.

"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."

As he spoke, at least eight or nine more people sailed onto the island from every direction possible.

"Well, I'm going to jump right back," announced the Humbug, who took two or three practice bends, leaped as far as he could, and landed in a heap two feet away.

"That won't do at all," scolded Canby, helping him to his feet. "You can never jump away from Conclusions. Getting back is not so easy. That's why we're so terribly crowded here."