The proper name of Lewis Carroll was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, and he was born at Daresbury, England, on January 27, 1832. Educated at Rugby and at Christchurch, Oxford, he specialised in mathematical subjects. Elected a student of his college, he became a mathematical lecturer in 1855, continuing in that occupation until 1881. His fame rests on the children’s classic, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” issued in 1865, which has been translated into many languages. No modern fairy-tale has approached it in popularity. The charms of the book are its unstrained humour and its childlike fancy, held in check by the discretion of a particularly clear and analytical mind. Though it seems strange that an authority on Euclid and logic should have been the inventor of so diverting and irresponsible a tale, if we examine his story critically we shall see that only a logical mind could have derived so much genuine humour from a deliberate attack on reason, in which a considerable element of fun arises from efforts to reconcile the irreconcilable. The book has probably been read as much by grown-ups as by young people, and no work of humour is more heartily to be commended as a banisher of care. The original illustrations by Sir John Tenniel are almost as famous as the book itself.
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I.–What Happened Down the Rabbit-Hole
Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do; once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, “and what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversations?”
So she was considering in her own mind (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very sleepy and stupid) whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her.
There was nothing so very remarkable in that; nor did Alice think it so very much out of the way to hear the Rabbit say to himself: “Oh, dear! Oh, dear! I shall be too late!” But when the Rabbit actually took a watch out of his waistcoat pocket, and looked at it, and then hurried on, Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat pocket or a watch to take out of it, and, burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after him, and was just in time to see him pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.
In another moment down went Alice after him, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.
The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down what seemed to be a very deep well.
Either the well was very deep or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her, and to wonder what was going to happen next.
“Well,” thought Alice to herself, “after such a fall as this, I shall think nothing of tumbling downstairs.”
Down, down, down. Would the fall never come to an end? “I wonder if I shall fall right through the earth? How funny it’ll seem to come out among the people that walk with their heads downwards! The Antipathies, I think” (she was rather glad there was no one listening this time, as it didn’t sound at all the right word).
Down, down, down. Then suddenly, thump! thump! down she came upon a heap of sticks and dry leaves, and the fall was over.
Alice was not a bit hurt, and she jumped up on to her feet in a moment. She looked up, but it was all dark overhead; before her was another long passage, and the White Rabbit was still in sight, hurrying down it. There was not a moment to be lost. Away went Alice like the wind, and was just in time to hear him say, as he turned a corner, “Oh, my ears and whiskers, how late it is getting!” She was close behind him when she turned the corner, but the Rabbit was no longer to be seen. She found herself in a long narrow hall, which was lit up by lamps hanging from the roof.
In the hall she came upon a little three-legged table, all made of solid glass. There was nothing on it but a tiny golden key, and Alice’s first idea was that this might belong to one of the doors of the hall; but, alas! either the locks were too large, or the key was too small, for, at any rate, it would not open any of them. However, on the second time round, she came upon a low curtain she had not noticed before, and behind it was a little door about fifteen inches high. She tried the little golden key in the lock, and, to her great delight, it fitted.
Alice opened the door, and found that it led into a small passage, not much larger than a rat-hole. She knelt down and looked along the passage into the loveliest garden you ever saw. How she longed to get out of that dark hall, and wander about among those beds of bright flowers and those cool fountains, but she could not even get her head through the doorway.
There seemed to be no use in waiting near the little door, so she went back to the table, half hoping she might find another key on it, or at any rate, a book of rules for shutting people up like telescopes. This time she found a little bottle on it (“which certainly was not here before,” said Alice), and tied round the neck of the bottle was a paper label, with the words DRINK ME beautifully printed on it in large letters. Alice tasted it, and very soon finished it off.
“What a curious feeling!” said Alice. “I must be shutting up like a telescope.”
And so it was, indeed; she was now only ten inches high, and her face brightened up at the thought that she was now the right size for going through the little door into that lovely garden…. But, alas for poor Alice, when she got to the door she found she had forgotten the little golden key, and when she went back to the table for it she found she could not possibly reach it.
Soon her eye fell on a little glass box that was lying under the table. She opened it, and found in it a very small cake, on which the words EAT ME were beautifully marked in currants.
She very soon finished off the cake.
“Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice (she was so much surprised that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English). “Now I’m opening out like the largest telescope that ever was. Good-by feet!” (for when she looked down at her feet they seemed to be almost out of sight, they were getting so far off). “Oh, my poor little feet! I wonder who will put on your shoes and stockings for you now, dears?”
Just at this moment her head struck against the roof of the hall; in fact, she was now more than nine feet high, and she at once took up the little golden key, and hurried off to the garden door.
Poor Alice! It was as much as she could do, lying down on one side, to look through into the garden with one eye; but to get through was more hopeless than ever. She sat down and began to cry again, shedding gallons of tears, until there was a large pool all round her, about four inches deep, and reaching half down the hall.
After a time she heard a little pattering of feet in the distance, and she hastily dried her eyes to see what was coming. It was the White Rabbit returning, splendidly dressed, with a pair of white kid gloves in one hand and a large fan in the other. He came trotting along in a great hurry, muttering to himself as he came, “Oh, the Duchess! the Duchess! Or, won’t she be savage if I’ve kept her waiting!”
Alice felt so desperate that she was ready to ask help of anyone; so, when the Rabbit came near her, she began, in a timid voice: “If you please, sir—-“
The Rabbit started violently, dropped the gloves and the fan, and scurried away into the darkness as hard as he could go.
Alice took up the fan and gloves, and, as the hall was very hot, she kept fanning herself all the time she went on talking.
“Dear, dear! How queer everything is to-day! How puzzling it all is! I’ll try if I know all the things I used to know. Let me see: four times five is twelve, and four times six is thirteen, and four times seven is–oh, dear, I shall never get to twenty at that rate!” But presently on looking down at her hands, she was surprised to see that she had put on one of the rabbit’s little white kid gloves while she was talking.
“How can I have done that?” she thought. “I must be growing small again.”
She got up and went to the table to measure herself by it, and found that, as nearly as she could guess, she was now about two feet high, and was going on shrinking rapidly. She soon found out that the cause of this was the fan she was holding, and she dropped it hastily, just in time to save herself from shrinking away altogether. Now she hastened to the little door, but alas, it was shut again. “I declare it’s too bad, that it is!” she said aloud, and just as she spoke her foot slipped, and in another moment, splash! she was up to her chin in salt water. It was the pool of tears she had wept when she was nine feet high!
II.–The Pool of Tears and the Animals’ Party
Just then she heard something splashing about in the pool a little way off, and she swam nearer to make out what it was. At first she thought it must be a walrus or hippopotamus, but then she remembered how small she was now, and she soon made out that it was only a mouse that had slipped in like herself.
“Would it be of any use, now,” thought Alice, “to speak to this mouse? Everything is so out-of-the-way down here that I should think very likely it can talk; at any rate, there’s no harm in trying.” So she began, “O Mouse, do you know the way out of this pool? I am very tired of swimming about here. O Mouse.” The Mouse looked at her rather inquisitively, and seemed to her to wink with one of its little eyes, but it said nothing.
“Perhaps it doesn’t understand English,” thought Alice; “I daresay it’s a French mouse, come over with William the Conqueror.” So she began again, “ou est ma chatte?” which was the first sentence in her French lesson book. The Mouse gave a sudden leap out of the water, and seemed to quiver all over with fright. “Oh, I beg your pardon!” cried Alice hastily, afraid that she had hurt the poor animal’s feeling. “I quite forgot you don’t like cats.”
“Not like cats!” cried the Mouse, in a shrill, passionate voice. “Would you like cats if you were me?” The Mouse was swimming away from her as hard as it could go. So she called softly after it.
“Mouse dear! Do come back again, and we won’t talk about cats, or dogs either, if you don’t like them!” When the Mouse heard this, it turned round and swam slowly back to her; its face was quite pale (with passion, Alice thought), and it said in a low, trembling voice, “Let us get to the shore, and I’ll tell you my history, and you’ll understand why it is I hate cats and dogs.”
It was high time to go, for the pool was getting quite crowded with the birds and animals that had fallen into it; there were a duck and a dodo, a lory and an eaglet, and other curious creatures. Alice led the way, and the whole party swam to the shore.
A very queer-looking party of dripping birds and animals now gathered on the bank of the Pool of Tears; but they were not so queer as their talk. First the Mouse, who was quite a person of authority among them, tried to dry them by telling them frightfully dry stories from history. But Alice confessed she was as wet as ever after she had listened to the bits of English history; so the Dodo proposed a Caucus race. They all started off when they liked, and stopped when they liked. The Dodo said everybody had won, and Alice had to give the prizes. Luckily she had some sweets, which were not wet, and there was just one for each of them, but none for herself. The party were anxious she, too, should have a prize, and as she happened to have a thimble, the Dodo commanded her to hand it to him, and then, with great ceremony, the Dodo presented it to her, saying, “We beg your acceptance of this elegant thimble,” and they all cheered.
Of course, Alice thought this all very absurd; but they were dry now, and began eating their sweets. Then the Mouse began to tell Alice its history, and to explain why it hated C and D–for it was afraid to say cats and dogs. But she soon offended the Mouse, first by mistaking its “long and sad tale” for a “long tail,” and next by thinking it meant “knot” when it said “not,” so that it went off in a huff. Then when she mentioned Dinah to the others, and told them that was the name of her cat, the birds got uneasy, and one by one the whole party gradually went off and left her all alone. Just when she was beginning to cry, she heard a pattering of little feet, and half thought it might be the Mouse coming back to finish its story.
It was the White Rabbit, trotting slowly back again, and looking anxiously about as he went, as if he had lost something and she heard him muttering to himself, “The Duchess! The Duchess! Oh, my dear paws! Oh, my fur and whiskers! She’ll get me executed, as sure as ferrets are ferrets! Where can I have dropped them, I wonder?”
Very soon the Rabbit noticed Alice, and called out to her in an angry tone, “Why, Mary Ann, what are you doing out here? Run home this moment, and fetch me a pair of gloves and a fan. Quick, now!”
“He took me for his housemaid,” she said to herself as she ran. “How surprised he’ll be when he finds out who I am! But I’d better take him his fan and gloves–that is, if I can find them.” As she said this, she came upon a neat little house, on the door of which was a bright brass plate with the name W. RABBIT engraved upon it. Inside the house she had a strange adventure, for she tried what the result of drinking from a bottle she found in the room would be, and grew so large that the house could hardly hold her. The White Rabbit and some of his friends, including Bill, the Lizard, threw a lot of little pebbles through the window, and these turned into tiny cakes. So Alice ate some and was delighted to find that she began shrinking directly. As soon as she was small enough to get through the door, she ran out of the house, and found quite a crowd of little animals and birds waiting outside. The poor Lizard, Bill, was in the middle, being held up by two guinea-pigs, who were giving it something out of a bottle. They all made a rush at Alice the moment she appeared but she ran off as hard as she could, and soon found herself safe in a thick wood.
III.–The Adventures in the Wood
Once in the wood, she was anxious to get back to her right size again, and then to get into that lovely garden. But how? Peeping over a mushroom, she beheld a large blue caterpillar sitting on the top with its arms folded, quietly smoking a long hookah, and taking not the smallest notice of her or of anything else. At length, in a sleepy sort of way, it began talking to her, and she told it what she wanted so much–to grow to her right size again.
“I should like to be a little longer,” she said. “Three inches is such a wretched height to be.”
“It is a very good height indeed,” said the Caterpillar angrily, rearing itself upright as it spoke (it was exactly three inches high).
“But I’m not used to it,” pleaded poor Alice in a piteous tone. And she thought to herself, “I wish the creatures wouldn’t be so easily offended.”
“You’ll get used to it in time,” said the Caterpillar; and it put the hookah into its mouth and began smoking again.
This time Alice waited patiently until it chose to speak again. In a minute or two the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth and yawned once or twice, and shook itself. Then it got down off the mushroom, and crawled away into the grass, merely remarking as it went, “One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter.”
“One side of what? The other side of what?” thought Alice to herself.
“Of the mushroom,” said the Caterpillar, just as if she had asked it aloud and in another moment it was out of sight.
Alice remained looking thoughtfully at the mushroom for a minute, trying to make out which were the two sides of it and as it was perfectly round, she found this a very difficult question. However, at last she stretched her arms round it as far as they would go, and broke off a bit of the edge with each hand.
“And now which is which?” she said to herself, and nibbled a little of the right-hand bit to try the effect. The next moment she felt a violent blow underneath her chin; it had struck her foot!
She was a good deal frightened by this very sudden change, but she felt that there was no time to be lost, as she was shrinking rapidly, so she set to work at once to eat some of the other bit. Her chin was pressed so closely against her foot that there was hardly room to open her mouth; but she did it at last, and managed to swallow a morsel of the left-hand bit.
The next minute she had grown so tall that her neck rose like a stalk out of a sea of green leaves, and these green leaves were the trees of the wood. But, by nibbling bits of mushroom, she at last succeeded in bringing herself down to her usual height. But, oh dear, in order to get into the first house she saw, she had to eat some more of the mushroom from her right hand and bring herself down to nine inches. Outside the house she saw the Fish-footmen and the Frog-footmen with invitations from the Queen to the Duchess, asking her to play croquet. The Duchess lived in the house, and a terrible noise was going on inside, and when the door was opened a plate came crashing out. But Alice got in at last, and found a strange state of things. The Duchess and her cook were quarrelling because there was too much pepper in the soup. The cook threw everything she could lay hands on at the Duchess, and nearly knocked the baby’s nose off with a saucepan.
The Duchess had the baby in her lap, and tossed it about ridiculously, finally throwing it in the most heartless way to Alice. She took it out of doors, and behold, it turned into a little pig, jumped out of her arms, and ran away into the wood.
“If it had grown up,” she said, “it would have made a dreadfully ugly child; but it makes rather a handsome pig, I think.”
She was a little startled now by seeing the Cheshire Cat–which she had first seen in the house of the Duchess–sitting on a bough of a tree. The Cat only grinned when it saw Alice. It looked good-natured, she thought; still it had verylong claws and a great many teeth, so she felt that it ought to be treated with respect.
“Cheshire Puss,” she said, “what sort of people live about here?”
“In that direction,” the Cat said, waving its right paw round, “lives a Hatter; and in that direction”–waving the other paw–“lives a March Hare. Visit either you like; they’re both mad.”
She had not gone very far before she came in sight of the house of the March Hare. She thought it must be the right house, because the chimneys were shaped like ears and the roof was thatched with fur. It was so large a house that she did not like to go nearer till she had nibbled some more of the left-hand bit of mushroom, and raised herself to about two feet high; even then she walked up towards it rather timidly, saying to herself, “Suppose it should be raving mad after all. I almost wish I’d gone to see the Hatter instead.”
IV.–Alice at the Mad Tea Party
There was a table set out under a tree in front of the house, and the March Hare and the Hatter were having tea at it; a Dormouse was sitting between them fast asleep, and the other two were using it as a cushion, resting their elbows on it, and talking over its head.
The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner.
“No room! No room!” they cried out when they saw Alice coming.
“There’s plenty of room!” said Alice indignantly. And she sat down in a large armchair at one end of the table.
“What day of the month is it?” asked the Hatter, turning to Alice.
He had taken his watch out of his pocket and was looking at it uneasily, shaking it every now and then, and holding it to his ear.
Alice considered a little, and said, “The fourth.”
“Two days wrong,” sighed the Hatter. “I told you butter wouldn’t suit the works,” he added, looking angrily at the March Hare.
“It was the best butter,” the March Hare meekly replied.
“But some crumbs must have got in as well,” the Hatter grumbled. “You shouldn’t have put it in with the bread-knife.”
The March Hare took the watch and looked at it gloomily, then he dipped it into his cup of tea, and looked at it again, but he could think of nothing better to say than “It was the best butter, you know.”
“It’s always tea-time with us here,” explained the Hatter, “and we’ve no time to wash the things between whiles.”
“Then you keep moving round, I suppose?” said Alice.
“Exactly so,” said the Hatter; “as the things get used up.”
“But when you come to the beginning again?” Alice ventured to ask.
“Suppose we change the subject,” the March Hare interrupted, yawning. “I vote the young lady tells us a story.”
“I’m afraid I don’t know one,” said Alice, rather alarmed at the proposal.
“Then the Dormouse shall!” they both cried. “Wake up the Dormouse!” And they pinched it on both sides at once.
The Dormouse slowly opened its eyes. “I wasn’t asleep,” it said, in a hoarse, feeble voice. “I heard every word you fellows were saying.”
“Tell us a story,” said the March Hare.
“Yes, please do!” pleaded Alice.
“And be quick about it,” added the Hatter, “or you’ll be asleep again before it’s done.”
“Once upon a time there were three little sisters,” the Dormouse began in a great hurry, “and their names were Elsie, Lacie, and Tillie and they lived at the bottom of a well—-“
“What did they live on?” said Alice, who always took a great interest in questions of eating and drinking.
“They lived on treacle,” said the Dormouse, after thinking a minute or two.
“They couldn’t have done that, you know,” Alice gently remarked, “they’d have been ill.”
“So they were very ill.”
Alice helped herself to some tea and bread and butter, and then turned to the Dormouse and repeated her question, “Why did they live at the bottom of the well?”
The Dormouse again took a minute or two to think about it, and then said, “It was a treacle-well.”
“There’s no such thing,” Alice was beginning very angrily, but the Hatter and the March Hare went “Sh! sh!”
“I want a clean cup,” interrupted the Hatter. “Let’s all move one place on.” He moved on as he spoke, and the Dormouse followed him; the March Hare moved into the Dormouse’s place, and Alice rather unwillingly took the place of the March Hare.
“They were learning to draw,” the Dormouse went on, yawning and rubbing its eyes, for it was getting very sleepy, “and they drew all manner of things–everything that begins with an M—-“
“Why with an M?” said Alice.
“Why not?” said the March Hare.
The Dormouse had closed its eyes by this time, and was going off into a doze; but, on being pinched by the Hatter, it woke up again with a little shriek, and went on, “—-that begins with an M, such as mouse-traps, and the moon, and memory, and muchness–you know you say things are ‘much of a muchness’–did you ever see such a thing as a drawing of a muchness?”
“Really, now you ask me,” said Alice, confused, “I don’t think—-“
“Then you shouldn’t talk,” said the Hatter.
This piece of rudeness was more than Alice could bear; she got up in disgust, and walked off. The Dormouse fell asleep instantly, and neither of the others took the least notice of her going, though she looked back once or twice, half hoping that they would call after her.
The last time she saw them, they were trying to put the Dormouse into the teapot.
V.–The Mock Turtle’s Story and the Lobster Quadrille
Alice got into the beautiful garden at last, but she had to nibble a bit of the mushroom again to bring herself down to twelve inches after she had got the golden key, so as to get through the little door. It was a lovely garden, and in it was the Queen’s croquet-ground. The Queen of Hearts was very fond of ordering heads to be cut off. “Off with his head!” was her favourite phrase whenever anybody displeased her. She asked Alice to play croquet with her, but they had no rules; they had live flamingoes for mallets, and the soldiers had to stand on their hands and feet to form the hoops. It was extremely awkward, especially as the balls were hedgehogs, who sometimes rolled away without being hit. The Queen had a great quarrel with the Duchess, and wanted to have her head off.
Alice found the state of affairs in the lovely garden not at all so beautiful as she had expected. But after the game of croquet, the Queen said to Alice, “Have you seen the Mock Turtle yet?”
“No,” said Alice. “I don’t even know what a mock turtle is.”
“It’s the thing mock turtle soup is made from,” said the Queen.
“I never saw one or heard of one.”
“Come on, then,” said the Queen, “and he shall tell you his history.”
They very soon came upon a gryphon, lying fast asleep in the sun.
“Up, lazy thing!” said the Queen; “and take this young lady to see the Mock Turtle, and to hear his history. I must go back and see after some executions I have ordered.” And she walked off, leaving Alice alone with the Gryphon.
Alice and the Gryphon had not gone far before they saw the Mock Turtle in the distance, sitting sad and lonely on a little ledge of rock, and, as they came nearer, Alice could hear him sighing as if his heart would break.
So they went up to the Mock Turtle, who looked at them with large eyes full of tears.
“This here young lady,” said the Gryphon, “she wants for to know your history.”
“Once,” said the Mock Turtle at last, with a deep sigh, “I was a real turtle. When we were little, we went to school in the sea. The master was an old turtle. We had the best of educations. Reeling and Writhing, of course, to begin with, and then the different branches of Arithmetic–Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision.”
“I never heard of ‘Uglification,'” Alice ventured to say. “What is it?”
The Gryphon lifted up both its paws in surprise.
“Never heard of uglifying!” it exclaimed. “You know what to beautify is, I suppose?”
“Yes,” said Alice doubtfully, “it means to–make–anything–prettier.”
“Well, then,” the Gryphon went on, “if you don’t know what to uglify is, you are a simpleton.”
Alice did not feel encouraged to ask any more questions about it, so she turned to the Mock Turtle, and said, “What else had you to learn?”
“Well, there was Mystery,” the Mock Turtle replied, counting out the subjects on his flappers–“Mystery, ancient and modern, with Seaography; then Drawling–the Drawing-master was an old conger-eel, that used to come once a week; he taught us Drawling, Stretching, and Fainting in Coils. The Classical master taught Laughing and Grief, they used to say.”
“And how many hours a day did you do lessons?” said Alice, in a hurry to change the subject.
“Ten hours the first day,” said the Mock Turtle; “nine the next, and so on.”
“What a curious plan!” exclaimed Alice.
“That’s the reason they’re called lessons,” the Gryphon remarked; “because they lessen from day to day.”
This was quite a new idea to Alice, and she thought it over a little before she made her next remark. “Then the eleventh day must have been a holiday?”
“Of course it was,” said the Mock Turtle.
“And how did you manage on the twelfth?” Alice went on eagerly.
“That’s enough about lessons,” the Gryphon interrupted, in a very decided tone. “Tell her something about the games.”
The Mock Turtle sighed deeply, and drew the back of one flapper across his eyes.
“Would you like to see a little of a Lobster Quadrille?” said he to Alice.
“Very much indeed,” said Alice.
“Let’s try the first figure,” said the Mock Turtle to the Gryphon. “We can do without lobsters, you know. Which shall sing?”
“Oh, you sing!” said the Gryphon. “I’ve forgotten the words.”
So they began solemnly dancing round and round Alice, every now and then treading on her toes when they passed too close, and waving their fore-paws to mark the time while the Mock Turtle sang this, very slowly and sadly.
“Will you walk a little faster?” said a whiting to a snail,
“There’s a porpoise close behind us, and he’s treading on my tail.
See how eagerly the lobsters and the turtles all advance!
They are waiting on the shingle–will you come and join the dance?
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance?
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, won’t you join the dance?”
“Now, come, let’s hear some of your adventures,” said the Gryphon to Alice, after the dance.
“I could tell you my adventures, beginning from this morning,” said Alice, a little timidly, “but it’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”
“Explain all that,” said the Mock Turtle.
“No, no; the adventure first!” said the Gryphon impatiently. “Explanations take such a dreadful time.”
So Alice began telling them her adventures from the time when she first saw the White Rabbit. After a while a cry of “The Trial’s beginning!” was heard in the distance.
“Come on!” cried the Gryphon. And, taking Alice by the hand, it hurried off.
“What trial is it?” Alice panted, as she ran, but the Gryphon only answered, “Come on!” and ran the faster.
VI.–The Trial of the Knave of Hearts
The King and Queen of Hearts were seated on their throne when they arrived, with a great crowd assembled about them–all sorts of little birds and beasts, as well as the whole pack of cards. The Knave was standing before them, in chains, with a soldier on each side to guard him; and near the King was the White Rabbit, with a trumpet in one hand, and a scroll of parchment in the other. In the very middle of the court was a table, with a large dish of tarts upon it. They looked so good that it made Alice quite hungry to look at them. “I wish they’d get the trial done,” she thought, “and hand round the refreshments.” But there seemed to be no chance of this, so she began looking at everything about her to pass away the time.
“Silence in the court!” cried the Rabbit.
“Herald, read the accusation!” said the King.
On this the White Rabbit blew three blasts on the trumpet, and then unrolled the parchment scroll, and read as follows.
The Queen of Hearts, she made some tarts,
All on a summer’s day;
The Knave of Hearts, he stole those tarts,
And took them quite away.
“Consider your verdict,” the King said to the jury.
“Not yet, not yet!” the Rabbit hastily interrupted. “There’s a great deal to come before that!”
“Call the first witness,” said the King and the White Rabbit blew three blasts on the trumpet, and called out, “First witness!”
The first witness was the Hatter. He came in with a teacup in one hand and a piece of bread-and-butter in the other. “I beg pardon, your Majesty,” he began, “for bringing these in; but I hadn’t quite finished my tea when I was sent for.”
“Take off your hat,” the King said to the Hatter.
“It isn’t mine,” said the Hatter.
“Stolen!” the King exclaimed, turning to the jury, who instantly made a memorandum of the fact.
“I keep them to sell,” the Hatter added as an explanation; “I’ve none of my own. I’m a hatter.”
Here the Queen put on her spectacles, and began staring hard at the Hatter, who turned pale and fidgeted.
“Give your evidence,” said the King, “and don’t be nervous, or I’ll have you executed on the spot.”
This did not seem to encourage the witness at all; he kept shifting from one foot to the other, looking uneasily at the Queen, and in his confusion he bit a large piece out of his teacup instead of the bread-and-butter.
Just at this moment Alice felt a very curious sensation, which puzzled her a good deal until she made out what it was. She was beginning to grow larger again, and she thought at first she would get up and leave the court; but on second thoughts she decided to remain where she was as long as there was room for her.
“I’m a poor man, your Majesty,” the Hatter began in a trembling voice, “and I hadn’t but just begun my tea–not above a week or so–and what with the bread-and-butter getting so thin–and the twinkling of the tea—-“
“The twinkling of what?” said the King.
“It began with the tea,” said the Hatter.
“Of course, twinkling begins with a T!” said the King sharply. “Do you take me for a dunce? Go on!”
“I’m a poor man,” the Hatter went on, “and most things twinkled after that–only the March Hare said—-“
“I didn’t!” the March Hare interrupted in a great hurry.
“You did!” said the Hatter.
“I deny it!” said the March Hare.
“He denies it,” said the King; “leave out that part. And if that’s all you know about it, you may go,” said the King; and the Hatter hurriedly left the court, without even waiting to put on his shoes. “–and just take his head off outside,” the Queen added to one of the officers; but the Hatter was out of sight before the officer could get to the door.
“Call the next witness!” said the King.
Alice watched the White Rabbit as he fumbled over the list, feeling very curious to see what the next witness would be like, “for they haven’t got much evidence yet,” she said to herself. Imagine her surprise when the White Rabbit read out, at the top of his shrill little voice, the name “Alice!”
“Here!” cried Alice, quite forgetting in the flurry of the moment how large she had grown in the last few minutes, and she jumped up in such a hurry that she tipped over the jury-box with the edge of her skirt, upsetting all the jurymen on to the heads of the crowd below, and there they lay sprawling about, reminding her very much of a globe of gold-fish she had accidentally upset the week before.
“Oh, I beg your pardon!” she exclaimed in a tone of great dismay, and began picking them up again as quickly as she could.
As soon as the jury had a little recovered from the shock of being upset, and their slates and pencils had been found and handed back to them, they set to work very diligently to write out a history of the accident, all except the Lizard, who seemed too much overcome to do anything but sit with its mouth open, gazing up into the roof.
“What do you know about this business?” the King said to Alice.
“Nothing,” said Alice.
“Nothing whatever?” persisted the King.
“Nothing whatever,” said Alice.
“That’s very important,” the King said, turning to the jury. They were just beginning to write this down on their slates, when the White Rabbit interrupted.
“Unimportant, your Majesty means, of course,” he said, in a very respectful tone, but frowning and making faces at him.
“Unnimportant, of course, I meant,” the King hastily said, and went on to himself in an undertone, “important–unimportant–unimportant–important—-” as if he were trying which word sounded best.
Presently the King, who had been for some time busily writing in his notebook, called out “Silence!” and he read out from his book, “Rule Forty-two. All persons more than a mile high to leave the court.”
Everybody looked at Alice.
“I’m not a mile high,” said Alice.
“You are,” said the King.
“Nearly two miles high,” added the Queen.
“Well, I shan’t go, at any rate,” said Alice. “Besides, that’s not a regular rule; you invented it just now.”
“It’s the oldest rule in the book,” said the King.
“Then it ought to be Number One,” said Alice.
The King turned pale, and shut his notebook hastily. “Consider your verdict,” he said to the jury, in a low, trembling voice.
“No, no!” said the Queen. “Sentence first–verdict afterwards.”
“Stuff and nonsense!” said Alice loudly. “The idea of having the sentence first!”
“Hold your tongue!” said the Queen.
“I won’t!” said Alice.
“Off with her head!” the Queen shouted at the top of her voice. Nobody moved.
“Who cares for you?” said Alice (she had grown to her full size by this time). “You’re nothing but a pack of cards!”
At this the whole pack rose up into the air, and came flying down upon her; she gave a little scream, and tried to beat them off, and found herself lying on the bank, with her head in the lap of her sister, who was gently brushing away some dead leaves that had fluttered down from the trees on her face.
“Wake up, Alice dear!” said her sister. “Why, what a long sleep you’ve had!”
“Oh, I’ve had such a curious dream!” said Alice; and she told her sister, as well as she could remember them, all her strange adventures; and when she had finished, her sister kissed her, and said, “It was a curious dream, dear, certainly. But now run in to your tea; it’s getting late.”
So Alice got up and ran off, thinking while she ran, as well she might, what a wonderful dream it had been.