Alice was not impressed when she discovering the word JUNK on the front of her hat.
“Does this mean you own me?” she asked Junker.
“Pretty much,” replied Junker looking somewhat smug.
“Well, I’m not happy about that. You said nothing about such a thing when you invited me down the rabbit hole.”
“You wouldn’t have come had I told you that.”
Alice-Mary was greatly offended that she had been tricked in such a way. “You are quite deceitful Junker,” she said her voice betraying her sadness at what had happened to her.
“What does all this mean?” she asked with tears in her eyes.
“You belong to me, and down here that means a lot as very few above grounds make it down here, they are much more perceptive than you.”
“I certainly won’t be a slave if that’s what you are implying, I’ve read about slaves in my books, and they have a horrid life.”
“It’s not all that bad,” said Junker, “ a lot of fetching and serving, cooking and washing, you’ll get the hang of it in no time.”
“I think Junker you are failing to understand one thing. I have never been a girl to do what’s expected of me. Just ask my mother, she’ll tell you I have a mind of my own.”
“But you have to do what I say, it’s in the rules.”
“Rules?” What rules?”
“The rules of the burrow. If you don’t follow the rules what will become of us all?” asked Junker beginning to think this girl might be harder work than he realised.
“But you see I am not of the burrow, and so those rules don’t apply to me,” answered Alice-Mary.
“They said this might happen. They advised me to stay away from the above ground, not worth the trouble they said to me, and I’m beginning to think they were right.” Now it was Junkers turn to look somewhat forlorn. Alice-Mary looked at him and saw in Junker the face of her dog, Rascal, who had the ability to show the most forlorn of faces whenever he felt attention on him was lacking.
“So where does that leave us, Junker, maybe you should return me to the surface and cut your losses, do you think?”
“Can’t do that, I’d be a laughing stock if I returned you. They’d say I couldn’t cut it and I can’t have that. There’s only one thing I can do.”
“And what would that be? asked Alice-Mary feeling more confident about her position.
“I’ll have to auction you off,” said Junker feeling more and more dejected.
“AUCTION ME!!!!! What sort of place is this?” cried Alice-Mary her voice reaching a few octaves she didn’t know she could reach.
“It’s what we do when Junk doesn’t work out. There are plenty of bidders; you’d go to a good place I can assure you. The well to do consider it a privilege having Junk in their households. All the best houses have one or two.”
“And what exactly does the Junk do?”
“Oh not much at all. Because they are considered as socially desirable, they mostly sit about and parade for their owners in front of guests to show off how well off they are. It’s a very special life you know.”
“This is insane Junker, I’m not having truck with that. Now get me out of here,” demanded Alice-Mary.
“Easier said than done,” wailed the now more forlorn and desperate Junker, “ to get out you have to confront the HUM, and no one likes that.”