'The face is what one goes by, generally,' Alice remarked in a thoughtful tone.
'That's just what I complain of,' said Humpty Dumpty. 'Your face is the same as everybody has—the two eyes, so—' (marking their places in the air with this thumb) 'nose in the middle, mouth under. It's always the same. Now if you had the two eyes on the same side of the nose, for instance—or the mouth at the top—that would be SOME help.'
'It wouldn't look nice,' Alice objected. But Humpty Dumpty only shut his eyes and said 'Wait till you've tried.'
Alice waited a minute to see if he would speak again, but as he never opened his eyes or took any further notice of her, she said 'Good-bye!' once more, and, getting no answer to this, she quietly walked away: but she couldn't help saying to herself as she went, 'Of all the unsatisfactory—' (she repeated this aloud, as it was a great comfort to have such a long word to say) 'of all the unsatisfactory people I EVER met—' She never finished the sentence, for at this moment a heavy crash shook the forest from end to end.
CHAPTER VII. The Lion and the Unicorn
The next moment soldiers came running through the wood, at first in twos and threes, then ten or twenty together, and at last in such crowds that they seemed to fill the whole forest. Alice got behind a tree, for fear of being run over, and watched them go by.
She thought that in all her life she had never seen soldiers so uncertain on their feet: they were always tripping over something or other, and whenever one went down, several more always fell over him, so that the ground was soon covered with little heaps of men.
Then came the horses. Having four feet, these managed rather better than the foot-soldiers: but even THEY stumbled now and then; and it seemed to be a regular rule that, whenever a horse stumbled the rider fell off instantly. The confusion got worse every moment, and Alice was very glad to get out of the wood into an open place, where she found the White King seated on the ground, busily writing in his memorandum-book.
'I've sent them all!' the King cried in a tone of delight, on seeing Alice. 'Did you happen to meet any soldiers, my dear, as you came through the wood?'
'Yes, I did,' said Alice: 'several thousand, I should think.'
'Four thousand two hundred and seven, that's the exact number,' the King said, referring to his book. 'I couldn't send all the horses, you know, because two of them are wanted in the game. And I haven't sent the two Messengers, either. They're both gone to the town. Just look along the road, and tell me if you can see either of them.'
'I see nobody on the road,' said Alice.
'I only wish I had such eyes,' the King remarked in a fretful tone. 'To be able to see Nobody! And at that distance, too! Why, it's as much as I can do to see real people, by this light!'
All this was lost on Alice, who was still looking intently along the road, shading her eyes with one hand. 'I see somebody now!' she exclaimed at last. 'But he's coming very slowly—and what curious attitudes he goes into!' (For the messenger kept skipping up and down, and wriggling like an eel, as he came along, with his great hands spread out like fans on each side.)
'Not at all,' said the King. 'He's an Anglo-Saxon Messenger—and those are Anglo-Saxon attitudes. He only does them when he's happy. His name is Haigha.' (He pronounced it so as to rhyme with 'mayor.')
'I love my love with an H,' Alice couldn't help beginning, 'because he is Happy. I hate him with an H, because he is Hideous. I fed him with—with—with Ham-sandwiches and Hay. His name is Haigha, and he lives—'
'He lives on the Hill,' the King remarked simply, without the least idea that he was joining in the game, while Alice was still hesitating for the name of a town beginning with H. 'The other Messenger's called Hatta. I must have TWO, you know—to come and go. One to come, and one to go.'
'I beg your pardon?' said Alice.
'It isn't respectable to beg,' said the King.
'I only meant that I didn't understand,' said Alice. 'Why one to come and one to go?'
'Didn't I tell you?' the King repeated impatiently. 'I must have Two—to fetch and carry. One to fetch, and one to carry.'
At this moment the Messenger arrived: he was far too much out of breath to say a word, and could only wave his hands about, and make the most fearful faces at the poor King.
'This young lady loves you with an H,' the King said, introducing Alice in the hope of turning off the Messenger's attention from himself—but it was no use—the Anglo-Saxon attitudes only got more extraordinary every moment, while the great eyes rolled wildly from side to side.
'You alarm me!' said the King. 'I feel faint—Give me a ham sandwich!'
On which the Messenger, to Alice's great amusement, opened a bag that hung round his neck, and handed a sandwich to the King, who devoured it greedily.
'Another sandwich!' said the King.
'There's nothing but hay left now,' the Messenger said, peeping into the bag.
'Hay, then,' the King murmured in a faint whisper.
Alice was glad to see that it revived him a good deal. 'There's nothing like eating hay when you're faint,' he remarked to her, as he munched away.
'I should think throwing cold water over you would be better,' Alice suggested: 'or some sal-volatile.'
'I didn't say there was nothing BETTER,' the King replied. 'I said there was nothing LIKE it.' Which Alice did not venture to deny.
'Who did you pass on the road?' the King went on, holding out his hand to the Messenger for some more hay.
'Nobody,' said the Messenger.
'Quite right,' said the King: 'this young lady saw him too. So of course Nobody walks slower than you.'
'I do my best,' the Messenger said in a sulky tone. 'I'm sure nobody walks much faster than I do!'
'He can't do that,' said the King, 'or else he'd have been here first. However, now you've got your breath, you may tell us what's happened in the town.'
'I'll whisper it,' said the Messenger, putting his hands to his mouth in the shape of a trumpet, and stooping so as to get close to the King's ear. Alice was sorry for this, as she wanted to hear the news too. However, instead of whispering, he simply shouted at the top of his voice 'They're at it again!'
'Do you call THAT a whisper?' cried the poor King, jumping up and shaking himself. 'If you do such a thing again, I'll have you buttered! It went through and through my head like an earthquake!'
'It would have to be a very tiny earthquake!' thought Alice. 'Who are at it again?' she ventured to ask.
'Why the Lion and the Unicorn, of course,' said the King.
'Fighting for the crown?'
'Yes, to be sure,' said the King: 'and the best of the joke is, that it's MY crown all the while! Let's run and see them.' And they trotted off, Alice repeating to herself, as she ran, the words of the old song:—
'The Lion and the Unicorn were fighting for the crown: The Lion beat the Unicorn all round the town. Some gave them white bread, some gave them brown; Some gave them plum-cake and drummed them out of town.'
'Does—the one—that wins—get the crown?' she asked, as well as she could, for the run was putting her quite out of breath.
'Dear me, no!' said the King. 'What an idea!'
'Would you—be good enough,' Alice panted out, after running a little further, 'to stop a minute—just to get—one's breath again?'
'I'm GOOD enough,' the King said, 'only I'm not strong enough. You see, a minute goes by so fearfully quick. You might as well try to stop a Bandersnatch!'
Alice had no more breath for talking, so they trotted on in silence, till they came in sight of a great crowd, in the middle of which the Lion and Unicorn were fighting. They were in such a cloud of dust, that at first Alice could not make out which was which: but she soon managed to distinguish the Unicorn by his horn.
They placed themselves close to where Hatta, the other messenger, was standing watching the fight, with a cup of tea in one hand and a piece of bread-and-butter in the other.
'He's only just out of prison, and he hadn't finished his tea when he was sent in,' Haigha whispered to Alice: 'and they only give them oyster-shells in there—so you see he's very hungry and thirsty. How are you, dear child?' he went on, putting his arm affectionately round Hatta's neck.
Hatta looked round and nodded, and went on with his bread and butter.
'Were you happy in prison, dear child?' said Haigha.
Hatta looked round once more, and this time a tear or two trickled down his cheek: but not a word would he say.
'Speak, can't you!' Haigha cried impatiently. But Hatta only munched away, and drank some more tea.
'Speak, won't you!' cried the King. 'How are they getting on with the fight?'
Hatta made a desperate effort, and swallowed a large piece of bread-and-butter. 'They're getting on very well,' he said in a choking voice: 'each of them has been down about eighty-seven times.'
'Then I suppose they'll soon bring the white bread and the brown?' Alice ventured to remark.
'It's waiting for 'em now,' said Hatta: 'this is a bit of it as I'm eating.'
There was a pause in the fight just then, and the Lion and the Unicorn sat down, panting, while the King called out 'Ten minutes allowed for refreshments!' Haigha and Hatta set to work at once, carrying rough trays of white and brown bread. Alice took a piece to taste, but it was VERY dry.
'I don't think they'll fight any more to-day,' the King said to Hatta: 'go and order the drums to begin.' And Hatta went bounding away like a grasshopper.
For a minute or two Alice stood silent, watching him. Suddenly she brightened up. 'Look, look!' she cried, pointing eagerly. 'There's the White Queen running across the country! She came flying out of the wood over yonder—How fast those Queens CAN run!'
'There's some enemy after her, no doubt,' the King said, without even looking round. 'That wood's full of them.'
'But aren't you going to run and help her?' Alice asked, very much surprised at his taking it so quietly.
'No use, no use!' said the King. 'She runs so fearfully quick. You might as well try to catch a Bandersnatch! But I'll make a memorandum about her, if you like—She's a dear good creature,' he repeated softly to himself, as he opened his memorandum-book. 'Do you spell "creature" with a double "e"?'
At this moment the Unicorn sauntered by them, with his hands in his pockets. 'I had the best of it this time?' he said to the King, just glancing at him as he passed.
'A little—a little,' the King replied, rather nervously. 'You shouldn't have run him through with your horn, you know.'
'It didn't hurt him,' the Unicorn said carelessly, and he was going on, when his eye happened to fall upon Alice: he turned round rather instantly, and stood for some time looking at her with an air of the deepest disgust.
'What—is—this?' he said at last.
'This is a child!' Haigha replied eagerly, coming in front of Alice to introduce her, and spreading out both his hands towards her in an Anglo-Saxon attitude. 'We only found it to-day. It's as large as life, and twice as natural!'
'I always thought they were fabulous monsters!' said the Unicorn. 'Is it alive?'
'It can talk,' said Haigha, solemnly.
The Unicorn looked dreamily at Alice, and said 'Talk, child.'
Alice could not help her lips curling up into a smile as she began: 'Do you know, I always thought Unicorns were fabulous monsters, too! I never saw one alive before!'
'Well, now that we HAVE seen each other,' said the Unicorn, 'if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you. Is that a bargain?'
'Yes, if you like,' said Alice.
'Come, fetch out the plum-cake, old man!' the Unicorn went on, turning from her to the King. 'None of your brown bread for me!'
'Certainly—certainly!' the King muttered, and beckoned to Haigha. 'Open the bag!' he whispered. 'Quick! Not that one—that's full of hay!'
Haigha took a large cake out of the bag, and gave it to Alice to hold, while he got out a dish and carving-knife. How they all came out of it Alice couldn't guess. It was just like a conjuring-trick, she thought.
The Lion had joined them while this was going on: he looked very tired and sleepy, and his eyes were half shut. 'What's this!' he said, blinking lazily at Alice, and speaking in a deep hollow tone that sounded like the tolling of a great bell.
'Ah, what IS it, now?' the Unicorn cried eagerly. 'You'll never guess! I couldn't.'
The Lion looked at Alice wearily. 'Are you animal—vegetable—or mineral?' he said, yawning at every other word.
'It's a fabulous monster!' the Unicorn cried out, before Alice could reply.
'Then hand round the plum-cake, Monster,' the Lion said, lying down and putting his chin on this paws. 'And sit down, both of you,' (to the King and the Unicorn): 'fair play with the cake, you know!'
The King was evidently very uncomfortable at having to sit down between the two great creatures; but there was no other place for him.
'What a fight we might have for the crown, NOW!' the Unicorn said, looking slyly up at the crown, which the poor King was nearly shaking off his head, he trembled so much.
'I should win easy,' said the Lion.
'I'm not so sure of that,' said the Unicorn.
'Why, I beat you all round the town, you chicken!' the Lion replied angrily, half getting up as he spoke.
Here the King interrupted, to prevent the quarrel going on: he was very nervous, and his voice quite quivered. 'All round the town?' he said. 'That's a good long way. Did you go by the old bridge, or the market-place? You get the best view by the old bridge.'
'I'm sure I don't know,' the Lion growled out as he lay down again. 'There was too much dust to see anything. What a time the Monster is, cutting up that cake!'
Alice had seated herself on the bank of a little brook, with the great dish on her knees, and was sawing away diligently with the knife. 'It's very provoking!' she said, in reply to the Lion (she was getting quite used to being called 'the Monster'). 'I've cut several slices already, but they always join on again!'
'You don't know how to manage Looking-glass cakes,' the Unicorn remarked. 'Hand it round first, and cut it afterwards.'
This sounded nonsense, but Alice very obediently got up, and carried the dish round, and the cake divided itself into three pieces as she did so. 'NOW cut it up,' said the Lion, as she returned to her place with the empty dish.
'I say, this isn't fair!' cried the Unicorn, as Alice sat with the knife in her hand, very much puzzled how to begin. 'The Monster has given the Lion twice as much as me!'
'She's kept none for herself, anyhow,' said the Lion. 'Do you like plum-cake, Monster?'
But before Alice could answer him, the drums began.
Where the noise came from, she couldn't make out: the air seemed full of it, and it rang through and through her head till she felt quite deafened. She started to her feet and sprang across the little brook in her terror,
* * * * * * *
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* * * * * * *
and had just time to see the Lion and the Unicorn rise to their feet, with angry looks at being interrupted in their feast, before she dropped to her knees, and put her hands over her ears, vainly trying to shut out the dreadful uproar.
'If THAT doesn't "drum them out of town,"' she thought to herself, 'nothing ever will!'
CHAPTER VIII. 'It's my own Invention'
After a while the noise seemed gradually to die away, till all was dead silence, and Alice lifted up her head in some alarm. There was no one to be seen, and her first thought was that she must have been dreaming about the Lion and the Unicorn and those queer Anglo-Saxon Messengers. However, there was the great dish still lying at her feet, on which she had tried to cut the plum-cake, 'So I wasn't dreaming, after all,' she said to herself, 'unless—unless we're all part of the same dream. Only I do hope it's MY dream, and not the Red King's! I don't like belonging to another person's dream,' she went on in a rather complaining tone: 'I've a great mind to go and wake him, and see what happens!'
At this moment her thoughts were interrupted by a loud shouting of 'Ahoy! Ahoy! Check!' and a Knight dressed in crimson armour came galloping down upon her, brandishing a great club. Just as he reached her, the horse stopped suddenly: 'You're my prisoner!' the Knight cried, as he tumbled off his horse.
Startled as she was, Alice was more frightened for him than for herself at the moment, and watched him with some anxiety as he mounted again. As soon as he was comfortably in the saddle, he began once more 'You're my—' but here another voice broke in 'Ahoy! Ahoy! Check!' and Alice looked round in some surprise for the new enemy.
This time it was a White Knight. He drew up at Alice's side, and tumbled off his horse just as the Red Knight had done: then he got on again, and the two Knights sat and looked at each other for some time without speaking. Alice looked from one to the other in some bewilderment.
'She's MY prisoner, you know!' the Red Knight said at last.
'Yes, but then I came and rescued her!' the White Knight replied.
'Well, we must fight for her, then,' said the Red Knight, as he took up his helmet (which hung from the saddle, and was something the shape of a horse's head), and put it on.
'You will observe the Rules of Battle, of course?' the White Knight remarked, putting on his helmet too.
'I always do,' said the Red Knight, and they began banging away at each other with such fury that Alice got behind a tree to be out of the way of the blows.
'I wonder, now, what the Rules of Battle are,' she said to herself, as she watched the fight, timidly peeping out from her hiding-place: 'one Rule seems to be, that if one Knight hits the other, he knocks him off his horse, and if he misses, he tumbles off himself—and another Rule seems to be that they hold their clubs with their arms, as if they were Punch and Judy—What a noise they make when they tumble! Just like a whole set of fire-irons falling into the fender! And how quiet the horses are! They let them get on and off them just as if they were tables!'
Another Rule of Battle, that Alice had not noticed, seemed to be that they always fell on their heads, and the battle ended with their both falling off in this way, side by side: when they got up again, they shook hands, and then the Red Knight mounted and galloped off.
'It was a glorious victory, wasn't it?' said the White Knight, as he came up panting.
'I don't know,' Alice said doubtfully. 'I don't want to be anybody's prisoner. I want to be a Queen.'
'So you will, when you've crossed the next brook,' said the White Knight. 'I'll see you safe to the end of the wood—and then I must go back, you know. That's the end of my move.'
'Thank you very much,' said Alice. 'May I help you off with your helmet?' It was evidently more than he could manage by himself; however, she managed to shake him out of it at last.
'Now one can breathe more easily,' said the Knight, putting back his shaggy hair with both hands, and turning his gentle face and large mild eyes to Alice. She thought she had never seen such a strange-looking soldier in all her life.
He was dressed in tin armour, which seemed to fit him very badly, and he had a queer-shaped little deal box fastened across his shoulder, upside-down, and with the lid hanging open. Alice looked at it with great curiosity.
'I see you're admiring my little box.' the Knight said in a friendly tone. 'It's my own invention—to keep clothes and sandwiches in. You see I carry it upside-down, so that the rain can't get in.'
'But the things can get OUT,' Alice gently remarked. 'Do you know the lid's open?'
'I didn't know it,' the Knight said, a shade of vexation passing over his face. 'Then all the things must have fallen out! And the box is no use without them.' He unfastened it as he spoke, and was just going to throw it into the bushes, when a sudden thought seemed to strike him, and he hung it carefully on a tree. 'Can you guess why I did that?' he said to Alice.
Alice shook her head.
'In hopes some bees may make a nest in it—then I should get the honey.'
'But you've got a bee-hive—or something like one—fastened to the saddle,' said Alice.
'Yes, it's a very good bee-hive,' the Knight said in a discontented tone, 'one of the best kind. But not a single bee has come near it yet. And the other thing is a mouse-trap. I suppose the mice keep the bees out—or the bees keep the mice out, I don't know which.'
'I was wondering what the mouse-trap was for,' said Alice. 'It isn't very likely there would be any mice on the horse's back.'
'Not very likely, perhaps,' said the Knight: 'but if they DO come, I don't choose to have them running all about.'
'You see,' he went on after a pause, 'it's as well to be provided for EVERYTHING. That's the reason the horse has all those anklets round his feet.'
'But what are they for?' Alice asked in a tone of great curiosity.
'To guard against the bites of sharks,' the Knight replied. 'It's an invention of my own. And now help me on. I'll go with you to the end of the wood—What's the dish for?'
'It's meant for plum-cake,' said Alice.
'We'd better take it with us,' the Knight said. 'It'll come in handy if we find any plum-cake. Help me to get it into this bag.'
This took a very long time to manage, though Alice held the bag open very carefully, because the Knight was so VERY awkward in putting in the dish: the first two or three times that he tried he fell in himself instead. 'It's rather a tight fit, you see,' he said, as they got it in a last; 'There are so many candlesticks in the bag.' And he hung it to the saddle, which was already loaded with bunches of carrots, and fire-irons, and many other things.
'I hope you've got your hair well fastened on?' he continued, as they set off.
'Only in the usual way,' Alice said, smiling.
'That's hardly enough,' he said, anxiously. 'You see the wind is so VERY strong here. It's as strong as soup.'
'Have you invented a plan for keeping the hair from being blown off?' Alice enquired.
'Not yet,' said the Knight. 'But I've got a plan for keeping it from FALLING off.'
'I should like to hear it, very much.'
'First you take an upright stick,' said the Knight. 'Then you make your hair creep up it, like a fruit-tree. Now the reason hair falls off is because it hangs DOWN—things never fall UPWARDS, you know. It's a plan of my own invention. You may try it if you like.'
It didn't sound a comfortable plan, Alice thought, and for a few minutes she walked on in silence, puzzling over the idea, and every now and then stopping to help the poor Knight, who certainly was NOT a good rider.
Whenever the horse stopped (which it did very often), he fell off in front; and whenever it went on again (which it generally did rather suddenly), he fell off behind. Otherwise he kept on pretty well, except that he had a habit of now and then falling off sideways; and as he generally did this on the side on which Alice was walking, she soon found that it was the best plan not to walk QUITE close to the horse.
'I'm afraid you've not had much practice in riding,' she ventured to say, as she was helping him up from his fifth tumble.
The Knight looked very much surprised, and a little offended at the remark. 'What makes you say that?' he asked, as he scrambled back into the saddle, keeping hold of Alice's hair with one hand, to save himself from falling over on the other side.
'Because people don't fall off quite so often, when they've had much practice.'
'I've had plenty of practice,' the Knight said very gravely: 'plenty of practice!'
Alice could think of nothing better to say than 'Indeed?' but she said it as heartily as she could. They went on a little way in silence after this, the Knight with his eyes shut, muttering to himself, and Alice watching anxiously for the next tumble.
'The great art of riding,' the Knight suddenly began in a loud voice, waving his right arm as he spoke, 'is to keep—' Here the sentence ended as suddenly as it had begun, as the Knight fell heavily on the top of his head exactly in the path where Alice was walking. She was quite frightened this time, and said in an anxious tone, as she picked him up, 'I hope no bones are broken?'
'None to speak of,' the Knight said, as if he didn't mind breaking two or three of them. 'The great art of riding, as I was saying, is—to keep your balance properly. Like this, you know—'
He let go the bridle, and stretched out both his arms to show Alice what he meant, and this time he fell flat on his back, right under the horse's feet.
'Plenty of practice!' he went on repeating, all the time that Alice was getting him on his feet again. 'Plenty of practice!'
'It's too ridiculous!' cried Alice, losing all her patience this time. 'You ought to have a wooden horse on wheels, that you ought!'
'Does that kind go smoothly?' the Knight asked in a tone of great interest, clasping his arms round the horse's neck as he spoke, just in time to save himself from tumbling off again.
'Much more smoothly than a live horse,' Alice said, with a little scream of laughter, in spite of all she could do to prevent it.
'I'll get one,' the Knight said thoughtfully to himself. 'One or two—several.'
There was a short silence after this, and then the Knight went on again. 'I'm a great hand at inventing things. Now, I daresay you noticed, that last time you picked me up, that I was looking rather thoughtful?'
'You WERE a little grave,' said Alice.
'Well, just then I was inventing a new way of getting over a gate—would you like to hear it?'
'Very much indeed,' Alice said politely.
'I'll tell you how I came to think of it,' said the Knight. 'You see, I said to myself, "The only difficulty is with the feet: the HEAD is high enough already." Now, first I put my head on the top of the gate—then I stand on my head—then the feet are high enough, you see—then I'm over, you see.'
'Yes, I suppose you'd be over when that was done,' Alice said thoughtfully: 'but don't you think it would be rather hard?'
'I haven't tried it yet,' the Knight said, gravely: 'so I can't tell for certain—but I'm afraid it WOULD be a little hard.'
He looked so vexed at the idea, that Alice changed the subject hastily. 'What a curious helmet you've got!' she said cheerfully. 'Is that your invention too?'
The Knight looked down proudly at his helmet, which hung from the saddle. 'Yes,' he said, 'but I've invented a better one than that—like a sugar loaf. When I used to wear it, if I fell off the horse, it always touched the ground directly. So I had a VERY little way to fall, you see—But there WAS the danger of falling INTO it, to be sure. That happened to me once—and the worst of it was, before I could get out again, the other White Knight came and put it on. He thought it was his own helmet.'
The knight looked so solemn about it that Alice did not dare to laugh. 'I'm afraid you must have hurt him,' she said in a trembling voice, 'being on the top of his head.'
'I had to kick him, of course,' the Knight said, very seriously. 'And then he took the helmet off again—but it took hours and hours to get me out. I was as fast as—as lightning, you know.'
'But that's a different kind of fastness,' Alice objected.
The Knight shook his head. 'It was all kinds of fastness with me, I can assure you!' he said. He raised his hands in some excitement as he said this, and instantly rolled out of the saddle, and fell headlong into a deep ditch.
Alice ran to the side of the ditch to look for him. She was rather startled by the fall, as for some time he had kept on very well, and she was afraid that he really WAS hurt this time. However, though she could see nothing but the soles of his feet, she was much relieved to hear that he was talking on in his usual tone. 'All kinds of fastness,' he repeated: 'but it was careless of him to put another man's helmet on—with the man in it, too.'
'How CAN you go on talking so quietly, head downwards?' Alice asked, as she dragged him out by the feet, and laid him in a heap on the bank.
The Knight looked surprised at the question. 'What does it matter where my body happens to be?' he said. 'My mind goes on working all the same. In fact, the more head downwards I am, the more I keep inventing new things.'
'Now the cleverest thing of the sort that I ever did,' he went on after a pause, 'was inventing a new pudding during the meat-course.'
'In time to have it cooked for the next course?' said Alice. 'Well, not the NEXT course,' the Knight said in a slow thoughtful tone: 'no, certainly not the next COURSE.'
'Then it would have to be the next day. I suppose you wouldn't have two pudding-courses in one dinner?'
'Well, not the NEXT day,' the Knight repeated as before: 'not the next DAY. In fact,' he went on, holding his head down, and his voice getting lower and lower, 'I don't believe that pudding ever WAS cooked! In fact, I don't believe that pudding ever WILL be cooked! And yet it was a very clever pudding to invent.'
'What did you mean it to be made of?' Alice asked, hoping to cheer him up, for the poor Knight seemed quite low-spirited about it.
'It began with blotting paper,' the Knight answered with a groan.
'That wouldn't be very nice, I'm afraid—'
'Not very nice ALONE,' he interrupted, quite eagerly: 'but you've no idea what a difference it makes mixing it with other things—such as gunpowder and sealing-wax. And here I must leave you.' They had just come to the end of the wood.
Alice could only look puzzled: she was thinking of the pudding.
'You are sad,' the Knight said in an anxious tone: 'let me sing you a song to comfort you.'
'Is it very long?' Alice asked, for she had heard a good deal of poetry that day.
'It's long,' said the Knight, 'but very, VERY beautiful. Everybody that hears me sing it—either it brings the TEARS into their eyes, or else—'
'Or else what?' said Alice, for the Knight had made a sudden pause.
'Or else it doesn't, you know. The name of the song is called "HADDOCKS' EYES."'
'Oh, that's the name of the song, is it?' Alice said, trying to feel interested.
'No, you don't understand,' the Knight said, looking a little vexed. 'That's what the name is CALLED. The name really IS "THE AGED AGED MAN."'
'Then I ought to have said "That's what the SONG is called"?' Alice corrected herself.
'No, you oughtn't: that's quite another thing! The SONG is called "WAYS AND MEANS": but that's only what it's CALLED, you know!'
'Well, what IS the song, then?' said Alice, who was by this time completely bewildered.
'I was coming to that,' the Knight said. 'The song really IS "A-SITTING ON A GATE": and the tune's my own invention.'
So saying, he stopped his horse and let the reins fall on its neck: then, slowly beating time with one hand, and with a faint smile lighting up his gentle foolish face, as if he enjoyed the music of his song, he began.
Of all the strange things that Alice saw in her journey Through The Looking-Glass, this was the one that she always remembered most clearly. Years afterwards she could bring the whole scene back again, as if it had been only yesterday—the mild blue eyes and kindly smile of the Knight—the setting sun gleaming through his hair, and shining on his armour in a blaze of light that quite dazzled her—the horse quietly moving about, with the reins hanging loose on his neck, cropping the grass at her feet—and the black shadows of the forest behind—all this she took in like a picture, as, with one hand shading her eyes, she leant against a tree, watching the strange pair, and listening, in a half dream, to the melancholy music of the song.
'But the tune ISN'T his own invention,' she said to herself: 'it's "I GIVE THEE ALL, I CAN NO MORE."' She stood and listened very attentively, but no tears came into her eyes.
'I'll tell thee everything I can; There's little to relate. I saw an aged aged man, A-sitting on a gate. "Who are you, aged man?" I said, "and how is it you live?" And his answer trickled through my head Like water through a sieve.
He said "I look for butterflies That sleep among the wheat: I make them into mutton-pies, And sell them in the street. I sell them unto men," he said, "Who sail on stormy seas; And that's the way I get my bread— A trifle, if you please."
But I was thinking of a plan To dye one's whiskers green, And always use so large a fan That they could not be seen. So, having no reply to give To what the old man said, I cried, "Come, tell me how you live!" And thumped him on the head.
His accents mild took up the tale: He said "I go my ways, And when I find a mountain-rill, I set it in a blaze; And thence they make a stuff they call Rolands' Macassar Oil— Yet twopence-halfpenny is all They give me for my toil."
But I was thinking of a way To feed oneself on batter, And so go on from day to day Getting a little fatter. I shook him well from side to side, Until his face was blue: "Come, tell me how you live," I cried, "And what it is you do!"
He said "I hunt for haddocks' eyes Among the heather bright, And work them into waistcoat-buttons In the silent night. And these I do not sell for gold Or coin of silvery shine But for a copper halfpenny, And that will purchase nine.
"I sometimes dig for buttered rolls, Or set limed twigs for crabs; I sometimes search the grassy knolls For wheels of Hansom-cabs. And that's the way" (he gave a wink) "By which I get my wealth— And very gladly will I drink Your Honour's noble health."
I heard him then, for I had just Completed my design To keep the Menai bridge from rust By boiling it in wine. I thanked him much for telling me The way he got his wealth, But chiefly for his wish that he Might drink my noble health.
And now, if e'er by chance I put My fingers into glue Or madly squeeze a right-hand foot Into a left-hand shoe, Or if I drop upon my toe A very heavy weight, I weep, for it reminds me so, Of that old man I used to know—
Whose look was mild, whose speech was slow, Whose hair was whiter than the snow, Whose face was very like a crow, With eyes, like cinders, all aglow, Who seemed distracted with his woe, Who rocked his body to and fro, And muttered mumblingly and low, As if his mouth were full of dough, Who snorted like a buffalo— That summer evening, long ago, A-sitting on a gate.'
As the Knight sang the last words of the ballad, he gathered up the reins, and turned his horse's head along the road by which they had come. 'You've only a few yards to go,' he said, 'down the hill and over that little brook, and then you'll be a Queen—But you'll stay and see me off first?' he added as Alice turned with an eager look in the direction to which he pointed. 'I shan't be long. You'll wait and wave your handkerchief when I get to that turn in the road? I think it'll encourage me, you see.'
'Of course I'll wait,' said Alice: 'and thank you very much for coming so far—and for the song—I liked it very much.'
'I hope so,' the Knight said doubtfully: 'but you didn't cry so much as I thought you would.'
So they shook hands, and then the Knight rode slowly away into the forest. 'It won't take long to see him OFF, I expect,' Alice said to herself, as she stood watching him. 'There he goes! Right on his head as usual! However, he gets on again pretty easily—that comes of having so many things hung round the horse—' So she went on talking to herself, as she watched the horse walking leisurely along the road, and the Knight tumbling off, first on one side and then on the other. After the fourth or fifth tumble he reached the turn, and then she waved her handkerchief to him, and waited till he was out of sight.
'I hope it encouraged him,' she said, as she turned to run down the hill: 'and now for the last brook, and to be a Queen! How grand it sounds!' A very few steps brought her to the edge of the brook. 'The Eighth Square at last!' she cried as she bounded across,
* * * * * * *
* * * * * *
* * * * * * *
and threw herself down to rest on a lawn as soft as moss, with little flower-beds dotted about it here and there. 'Oh, how glad I am to get here! And what IS this on my head?' she exclaimed in a tone of dismay, as she put her hands up to something very heavy, and fitted tight all round her head.
'But how CAN it have got there without my knowing it?' she said to herself, as she lifted it off, and set it on her lap to make out what it could possibly be.
It was a golden crown.
CHAPTER IX. Queen Alice
'Well, this IS grand!' said Alice. 'I never expected I should be a Queen so soon—and I'll tell you what it is, your majesty,' she went on in a severe tone (she was always rather fond of scolding herself), 'it'll never do for you to be lolling about on the grass like that! Queens have to be dignified, you know!'
So she got up and walked about—rather stiffly just at first, as she was afraid that the crown might come off: but she comforted herself with the thought that there was nobody to see her, 'and if I really am a Queen,' she said as she sat down again, 'I shall be able to manage it quite well in time.'
Everything was happening so oddly that she didn't feel a bit surprised at finding the Red Queen and the White Queen sitting close to her, one on each side: she would have liked very much to ask them how they came there, but she feared it would not be quite civil. However, there would be no harm, she thought, in asking if the game was over. 'Please, would you tell me—' she began, looking timidly at the Red Queen.
'Speak when you're spoken to!' The Queen sharply interrupted her.
'But if everybody obeyed that rule,' said Alice, who was always ready for a little argument, 'and if you only spoke when you were spoken to, and the other person always waited for YOU to begin, you see nobody would ever say anything, so that—'
'Ridiculous!' cried the Queen. 'Why, don't you see, child—' here she broke off with a frown, and, after thinking for a minute, suddenly changed the subject of the conversation. 'What do you mean by "If you really are a Queen"? What right have you to call yourself so? You can't be a Queen, you know, till you've passed the proper examination. And the sooner we begin it, the better.'
'I only said "if"!' poor Alice pleaded in a piteous tone.
The two Queens looked at each other, and the Red Queen remarked, with a little shudder, 'She SAYS she only said "if"—'
'But she said a great deal more than that!' the White Queen moaned, wringing her hands. 'Oh, ever so much more than that!'
'So you did, you know,' the Red Queen said to Alice. 'Always speak the truth—think before you speak—and write it down afterwards.'
'I'm sure I didn't mean—' Alice was beginning, but the Red Queen interrupted her impatiently.
'That's just what I complain of! You SHOULD have meant! What do you suppose is the use of child without any meaning? Even a joke should have some meaning—and a child's more important than a joke, I hope. You couldn't deny that, even if you tried with both hands.'
'I don't deny things with my HANDS,' Alice objected.
'Nobody said you did,' said the Red Queen. 'I said you couldn't if you tried.'
'She's in that state of mind,' said the White Queen, 'that she wants to deny SOMETHING—only she doesn't know what to deny!'
'A nasty, vicious temper,' the Red Queen remarked; and then there was an uncomfortable silence for a minute or two.
The Red Queen broke the silence by saying to the White Queen, 'I invite you to Alice's dinner-party this afternoon.'
The White Queen smiled feebly, and said 'And I invite YOU.'
'I didn't know I was to have a party at all,' said Alice; 'but if there is to be one, I think I ought to invite the guests.'
'We gave you the opportunity of doing it,' the Red Queen remarked: 'but I daresay you've not had many lessons in manners yet?'
'Manners are not taught in lessons,' said Alice. 'Lessons teach you to do sums, and things of that sort.'
'And you do Addition?' the White Queen asked. 'What's one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one?'
'I don't know,' said Alice. 'I lost count.'
'She can't do Addition,' the Red Queen interrupted. 'Can you do Subtraction? Take nine from eight.'
'Nine from eight I can't, you know,' Alice replied very readily: 'but—'
'She can't do Subtraction,' said the White Queen. 'Can you do Division? Divide a loaf by a knife—what's the answer to that?'
'I suppose—' Alice was beginning, but the Red Queen answered for her. 'Bread-and-butter, of course. Try another Subtraction sum. Take a bone from a dog: what remains?'
Alice considered. 'The bone wouldn't remain, of course, if I took it—and the dog wouldn't remain; it would come to bite me—and I'm sure I shouldn't remain!'
'Then you think nothing would remain?' said the Red Queen.
'I think that's the answer.'
'Wrong, as usual,' said the Red Queen: 'the dog's temper would remain.'
'But I don't see how—'
'Why, look here!' the Red Queen cried. 'The dog would lose its temper, wouldn't it?'
'Perhaps it would,' Alice replied cautiously.
'Then if the dog went away, its temper would remain!' the Queen exclaimed triumphantly.
Alice said, as gravely as she could, 'They might go different ways.' But she couldn't help thinking to herself, 'What dreadful nonsense we ARE talking!'
'She can't do sums a BIT!' the Queens said together, with great emphasis.
'Can YOU do sums?' Alice said, turning suddenly on the White Queen, for she didn't like being found fault with so much.
The Queen gasped and shut her eyes. 'I can do Addition, if you give me time—but I can do Subtraction, under ANY circumstances!'
'Of course you know your A B C?' said the Red Queen.
'To be sure I do.' said Alice.
'So do I,' the White Queen whispered: 'we'll often say it over together, dear. And I'll tell you a secret—I can read words of one letter! Isn't THAT grand! However, don't be discouraged. You'll come to it in time.'
Here the Red Queen began again. 'Can you answer useful questions?' she said. 'How is bread made?'
'I know THAT!' Alice cried eagerly. 'You take some flour—'
'Where do you pick the flower?' the White Queen asked. 'In a garden, or in the hedges?'
'Well, it isn't PICKED at all,' Alice explained: 'it's GROUND—'
'How many acres of ground?' said the White Queen. 'You mustn't leave out so many things.'
'Fan her head!' the Red Queen anxiously interrupted. 'She'll be feverish after so much thinking.' So they set to work and fanned her with bunches of leaves, till she had to beg them to leave off, it blew her hair about so.
'She's all right again now,' said the Red Queen. 'Do you know Languages? What's the French for fiddle-de-dee?'
'Fiddle-de-dee's not English,' Alice replied gravely.
'Who ever said it was?' said the Red Queen.
Alice thought she saw a way out of the difficulty this time. 'If you'll tell me what language "fiddle-de-dee" is, I'll tell you the French for it!' she exclaimed triumphantly.
But the Red Queen drew herself up rather stiffly, and said 'Queens never make bargains.'
'I wish Queens never asked questions,' Alice thought to herself.
'Don't let us quarrel,' the White Queen said in an anxious tone. 'What is the cause of lightning?'
'The cause of lightning,' Alice said very decidedly, for she felt quite certain about this, 'is the thunder—no, no!' she hastily corrected herself. 'I meant the other way.'
'It's too late to correct it,' said the Red Queen: 'when you've once said a thing, that fixes it, and you must take the consequences.'
'Which reminds me—' the White Queen said, looking down and nervously clasping and unclasping her hands, 'we had SUCH a thunderstorm last Tuesday—I mean one of the last set of Tuesdays, you know.'
Alice was puzzled. 'In OUR country,' she remarked, 'there's only one day at a time.'
The Red Queen said, 'That's a poor thin way of doing things. Now HERE, we mostly have days and nights two or three at a time, and sometimes in the winter we take as many as five nights together—for warmth, you know.'
'Are five nights warmer than one night, then?' Alice ventured to ask.
'Five times as warm, of course.'
'But they should be five times as COLD, by the same rule—'
'Just so!' cried the Red Queen. 'Five times as warm, AND five times as cold—just as I'm five times as rich as you are, AND five times as clever!'
Alice sighed and gave it up. 'It's exactly like a riddle with no answer!' she thought.
'Humpty Dumpty saw it too,' the White Queen went on in a low voice, more as if she were talking to herself. 'He came to the door with a corkscrew in his hand—'
'What did he want?' said the Red Queen.
'He said he WOULD come in,' the White Queen went on, 'because he was looking for a hippopotamus. Now, as it happened, there wasn't such a thing in the house, that morning.'
'Is there generally?' Alice asked in an astonished tone.
'Well, only on Thursdays,' said the Queen.
'I know what he came for,' said Alice: 'he wanted to punish the fish, because—'
Here the White Queen began again. 'It was SUCH a thunderstorm, you can't think!' ('She NEVER could, you know,' said the Red Queen.) 'And part of the roof came off, and ever so much thunder got in—and it went rolling round the room in great lumps—and knocking over the tables and things—till I was so frightened, I couldn't remember my own name!'
Alice thought to herself, 'I never should TRY to remember my name in the middle of an accident! Where would be the use of it?' but she did not say this aloud, for fear of hurting the poor Queen's feeling.
'Your Majesty must excuse her,' the Red Queen said to Alice, taking one of the White Queen's hands in her own, and gently stroking it: 'she means well, but she can't help saying foolish things, as a general rule.'
The White Queen looked timidly at Alice, who felt she OUGHT to say something kind, but really couldn't think of anything at the moment.
'She never was really well brought up,' the Red Queen went on: 'but it's amazing how good-tempered she is! Pat her on the head, and see how pleased she'll be!' But this was more than Alice had courage to do.
'A little kindness—and putting her hair in papers—would do wonders with her—'
The White Queen gave a deep sigh, and laid her head on Alice's shoulder. 'I AM so sleepy?' she moaned.
'She's tired, poor thing!' said the Red Queen. 'Smooth her hair—lend her your nightcap—and sing her a soothing lullaby.'
'I haven't got a nightcap with me,' said Alice, as she tried to obey the first direction: 'and I don't know any soothing lullabies.'
'I must do it myself, then,' said the Red Queen, and she began:
'Hush-a-by lady, in Alice's lap! Till the feast's ready, we've time for a nap: When the feast's over, we'll go to the ball— Red Queen, and White Queen, and Alice, and all!
'And now you know the words,' she added, as she put her head down on Alice's other shoulder, 'just sing it through to ME. I'm getting sleepy, too.' In another moment both Queens were fast asleep, and snoring loud.
'What AM I to do?' exclaimed Alice, looking about in great perplexity, as first one round head, and then the other, rolled down from her shoulder, and lay like a heavy lump in her lap. 'I don't think it EVER happened before, that any one had to take care of two Queens asleep at once! No, not in all the History of England—it couldn't, you know, because there never was more than one Queen at a time. Do wake up, you heavy things!' she went on in an impatient tone; but there was no answer but a gentle snoring.
The snoring got more distinct every minute, and sounded more like a tune: at last she could even make out the words, and she listened so eagerly that, when the two great heads vanished from her lap, she hardly missed them.
She was standing before an arched doorway over which were the words QUEEN ALICE in large letters, and on each side of the arch there was a bell-handle; one was marked 'Visitors' Bell,' and the other 'Servants' Bell.'
'I'll wait till the song's over,' thought Alice, 'and then I'll ring—the—WHICH bell must I ring?' she went on, very much puzzled by the names. 'I'm not a visitor, and I'm not a servant. There OUGHT to be one marked "Queen," you know—'
Just then the door opened a little way, and a creature with a long beak put its head out for a moment and said 'No admittance till the week after next!' and shut the door again with a bang.
Alice knocked and rang in vain for a long time, but at last, a very old Frog, who was sitting under a tree, got up and hobbled slowly towards her: he was dressed in bright yellow, and had enormous boots on.
'What is it, now?' the Frog said in a deep hoarse whisper.
Alice turned round, ready to find fault with anybody. 'Where's the servant whose business it is to answer the door?' she began angrily.
'Which door?' said the Frog.
Alice almost stamped with irritation at the slow drawl in which he spoke. 'THIS door, of course!'
The Frog looked at the door with his large dull eyes for a minute: then he went nearer and rubbed it with his thumb, as if he were trying whether the paint would come off; then he looked at Alice.
'To answer the door?' he said. 'What's it been asking of?' He was so hoarse that Alice could scarcely hear him.
'I don't know what you mean,' she said.
'I talks English, doesn't I?' the Frog went on. 'Or are you deaf? What did it ask you?'
'Nothing!' Alice said impatiently. 'I've been knocking at it!'
'Shouldn't do that—shouldn't do that—' the Frog muttered. 'Vexes it, you know.' Then he went up and gave the door a kick with one of his great feet. 'You let IT alone,' he panted out, as he hobbled back to his tree, 'and it'll let YOU alone, you know.'
At this moment the door was flung open, and a shrill voice was heard singing:
'To the Looking-Glass world it was Alice that said, "I've a sceptre in hand, I've a crown on my head; Let the Looking-Glass creatures, whatever they be, Come and dine with the Red Queen, the White Queen, and me."'
And hundreds of voices joined in the chorus:
'Then fill up the glasses as quick as you can, And sprinkle the table with buttons and bran: Put cats in the coffee, and mice in the tea— And welcome Queen Alice with thirty-times-three!'
Then followed a confused noise of cheering, and Alice thought to herself, 'Thirty times three makes ninety. I wonder if any one's counting?' In a minute there was silence again, and the same shrill voice sang another verse;
'"O Looking-Glass creatures," quoth Alice, "draw near! 'Tis an honour to see me, a favour to hear: 'Tis a privilege high to have dinner and tea Along with the Red Queen, the White Queen, and me!"'
Then came the chorus again:—
'Then fill up the glasses with treacle and ink, Or anything else that is pleasant to drink: Mix sand with the cider, and wool with the wine— And welcome Queen Alice with ninety-times-nine!'
'Ninety times nine!' Alice repeated in despair, 'Oh, that'll never be done! I'd better go in at once—' and there was a dead silence the moment she appeared.
Alice glanced nervously along the table, as she walked up the large hall, and noticed that there were about fifty guests, of all kinds: some were animals, some birds, and there were even a few flowers among them. 'I'm glad they've come without waiting to be asked,' she thought: 'I should never have known who were the right people to invite!'
There were three chairs at the head of the table; the Red and White Queens had already taken two of them, but the middle one was empty. Alice sat down in it, rather uncomfortable in the silence, and longing for some one to speak.
At last the Red Queen began. 'You've missed the soup and fish,' she said. 'Put on the joint!' And the waiters set a leg of mutton before Alice, who looked at it rather anxiously, as she had never had to carve a joint before.
'You look a little shy; let me introduce you to that leg of mutton,' said the Red Queen. 'Alice—Mutton; Mutton—Alice.' The leg of mutton got up in the dish and made a little bow to Alice; and Alice returned the bow, not knowing whether to be frightened or amused.
'May I give you a slice?' she said, taking up the knife and fork, and looking from one Queen to the other.
'Certainly not,' the Red Queen said, very decidedly: 'it isn't etiquette to cut any one you've been introduced to. Remove the joint!' And the waiters carried it off, and brought a large plum-pudding in its place.
'I won't be introduced to the pudding, please,' Alice said rather hastily, 'or we shall get no dinner at all. May I give you some?'
But the Red Queen looked sulky, and growled 'Pudding—Alice; Alice—Pudding. Remove the pudding!' and the waiters took it away so quickly that Alice couldn't return its bow.
However, she didn't see why the Red Queen should be the only one to give orders, so, as an experiment, she called out 'Waiter! Bring back the pudding!' and there it was again in a moment like a conjuring-trick. It was so large that she couldn't help feeling a LITTLE shy with it, as she had been with the mutton; however, she conquered her shyness by a great effort and cut a slice and handed it to the Red Queen.
'What impertinence!' said the Pudding. 'I wonder how you'd like it, if I were to cut a slice out of YOU, you creature!'
It spoke in a thick, suety sort of voice, and Alice hadn't a word to say in reply: she could only sit and look at it and gasp.
'Make a remark,' said the Red Queen: 'it's ridiculous to leave all the conversation to the pudding!'
'Do you know, I've had such a quantity of poetry repeated to me to-day,' Alice began, a little frightened at finding that, the moment she opened her lips, there was dead silence, and all eyes were fixed upon her; 'and it's a very curious thing, I think—every poem was about fishes in some way. Do you know why they're so fond of fishes, all about here?'
She spoke to the Red Queen, whose answer was a little wide of the mark. 'As to fishes,' she said, very slowly and solemnly, putting her mouth close to Alice's ear, 'her White Majesty knows a lovely riddle—all in poetry—all about fishes. Shall she repeat it?'
'Her Red Majesty's very kind to mention it,' the White Queen murmured into Alice's other ear, in a voice like the cooing of a pigeon. 'It would be SUCH a treat! May I?'
'Please do,' Alice said very politely.
The White Queen laughed with delight, and stroked Alice's cheek. Then she began:
'"First, the fish must be caught." That is easy: a baby, I think, could have caught it. "Next, the fish must be bought." That is easy: a penny, I think, would have bought it.
"Now cook me the fish!" That is easy, and will not take more than a minute. "Let it lie in a dish!" That is easy, because it already is in it.
"Bring it here! Let me sup!" It is easy to set such a dish on the table. "Take the dish-cover up!" Ah, THAT is so hard that I fear I'm unable!
For it holds it like glue— Holds the lid to the dish, while it lies in the middle: Which is easiest to do, Un-dish-cover the fish, or dishcover the riddle?'
'Take a minute to think about it, and then guess,' said the Red Queen. 'Meanwhile, we'll drink your health—Queen Alice's health!' she screamed at the top of her voice, and all the guests began drinking it directly, and very queerly they managed it: some of them put their glasses upon their heads like extinguishers, and drank all that trickled down their faces—others upset the decanters, and drank the wine as it ran off the edges of the table—and three of them (who looked like kangaroos) scrambled into the dish of roast mutton, and began eagerly lapping up the gravy, 'just like pigs in a trough!' thought Alice.
'You ought to return thanks in a neat speech,' the Red Queen said, frowning at Alice as she spoke.
'We must support you, you know,' the White Queen whispered, as Alice got up to do it, very obediently, but a little frightened.
'Thank you very much,' she whispered in reply, 'but I can do quite well without.'
'That wouldn't be at all the thing,' the Red Queen said very decidedly: so Alice tried to submit to it with a good grace.
('And they DID push so!' she said afterwards, when she was telling her sister the history of the feast. 'You would have thought they wanted to squeeze me flat!')
In fact it was rather difficult for her to keep in her place while she made her speech: the two Queens pushed her so, one on each side, that they nearly lifted her up into the air: 'I rise to return thanks—' Alice began: and she really DID rise as she spoke, several inches; but she got hold of the edge of the table, and managed to pull herself down again.
'Take care of yourself!' screamed the White Queen, seizing Alice's hair with both her hands. 'Something's going to happen!'
And then (as Alice afterwards described it) all sorts of things happened in a moment. The candles all grew up to the ceiling, looking something like a bed of rushes with fireworks at the top. As to the bottles, they each took a pair of plates, which they hastily fitted on as wings, and so, with forks for legs, went fluttering about in all directions: 'and very like birds they look,' Alice thought to herself, as well as she could in the dreadful confusion that was beginning.
At this moment she heard a hoarse laugh at her side, and turned to see what was the matter with the White Queen; but, instead of the Queen, there was the leg of mutton sitting in the chair. 'Here I am!' cried a voice from the soup tureen, and Alice turned again, just in time to see the Queen's broad good-natured face grinning at her for a moment over the edge of the tureen, before she disappeared into the soup.
There was not a moment to be lost. Already several of the guests were lying down in the dishes, and the soup ladle was walking up the table towards Alice's chair, and beckoning to her impatiently to get out of its way.
'I can't stand this any longer!' she cried as she jumped up and seized the table-cloth with both hands: one good pull, and plates, dishes, guests, and candles came crashing down together in a heap on the floor.
'And as for YOU,' she went on, turning fiercely upon the Red Queen, whom she considered as the cause of all the mischief—but the Queen was no longer at her side—she had suddenly dwindled down to the size of a little doll, and was now on the table, merrily running round and round after her own shawl, which was trailing behind her.
At any other time, Alice would have felt surprised at this, but she was far too much excited to be surprised at anything NOW. 'As for YOU,' she repeated, catching hold of the little creature in the very act of jumping over a bottle which had just lighted upon the table, 'I'll shake you into a kitten, that I will!'
CHAPTER X. Shaking
She took her off the table as she spoke, and shook her backwards and forwards with all her might.
The Red Queen made no resistance whatever; only her face grew very small, and her eyes got large and green: and still, as Alice went on shaking her, she kept on growing shorter—and fatter—and softer—and rounder—and—
CHAPTER XI. Waking
—and it really WAS a kitten, after all.
CHAPTER XII. Which Dreamed it?
'Your majesty shouldn't purr so loud,' Alice said, rubbing her eyes, and addressing the kitten, respectfully, yet with some severity. 'You woke me out of oh! such a nice dream! And you've been along with me, Kitty—all through the Looking-Glass world. Did you know it, dear?'
It is a very inconvenient habit of kittens (Alice had once made the remark) that, whatever you say to them, they ALWAYS purr. 'If they would only purr for "yes" and mew for "no," or any rule of that sort,' she had said, 'so that one could keep up a conversation! But how CAN you talk with a person if they always say the same thing?'
On this occasion the kitten only purred: and it was impossible to guess whether it meant 'yes' or 'no.'
So Alice hunted among the chessmen on the table till she had found the Red Queen: then she went down on her knees on the hearth-rug, and put the kitten and the Queen to look at each other. 'Now, Kitty!' she cried, clapping her hands triumphantly. 'Confess that was what you turned into!'
('But it wouldn't look at it,' she said, when she was explaining the thing afterwards to her sister: 'it turned away its head, and pretended not to see it: but it looked a LITTLE ashamed of itself, so I think it MUST have been the Red Queen.')
'Sit up a little more stiffly, dear!' Alice cried with a merry laugh. 'And curtsey while you're thinking what to—what to purr. It saves time, remember!' And she caught it up and gave it one little kiss, 'just in honour of having been a Red Queen.'
'Snowdrop, my pet!' she went on, looking over her shoulder at the White Kitten, which was still patiently undergoing its toilet, 'when WILL Dinah have finished with your White Majesty, I wonder? That must be the reason you were so untidy in my dream—Dinah! do you know that you're scrubbing a White Queen? Really, it's most disrespectful of you!
'And what did DINAH turn to, I wonder?' she prattled on, as she settled comfortably down, with one elbow in the rug, and her chin in her hand, to watch the kittens. 'Tell me, Dinah, did you turn to Humpty Dumpty? I THINK you did—however, you'd better not mention it to your friends just yet, for I'm not sure.
'By the way, Kitty, if only you'd been really with me in my dream, there was one thing you WOULD have enjoyed—I had such a quantity of poetry said to me, all about fishes! To-morrow morning you shall have a real treat. All the time you're eating your breakfast, I'll repeat "The Walrus and the Carpenter" to you; and then you can make believe it's oysters, dear!
'Now, Kitty, let's consider who it was that dreamed it all. This is a serious question, my dear, and you should NOT go on licking your paw like that—as if Dinah hadn't washed you this morning! You see, Kitty, it MUST have been either me or the Red King. He was part of my dream, of course—but then I was part of his dream, too! WAS it the Red King, Kitty? You were his wife, my dear, so you ought to know—Oh, Kitty, DO help to settle it! I'm sure your paw can wait!' But the provoking kitten only began on the other paw, and pretended it hadn't heard the question.
Which do YOU think it was?
A boat beneath a sunny sky, Lingering onward dreamily In an evening of July—
Children three that nestle near, Eager eye and willing ear, Pleased a simple tale to hear—
Long has paled that sunny sky: Echoes fade and memories die. Autumn frosts have slain July.
Still she haunts me, phantomwise, Alice moving under skies Never seen by waking eyes.
Children yet, the tale to hear, Eager eye and willing ear, Lovingly shall nestle near.
In a Wonderland they lie, Dreaming as the days go by, Dreaming as the summers die:
Ever drifting down the stream— Lingering in the golden gleam— Life, what is it but a dream?