I said 'What for?'"
"She boxed the Queen's ears--" the Rabbit began. Alice gave a little scream of laughter. "Oh, hush!" the Rabbit whispered in a frightened tone. "The Queen will hear you! You see she came rather late, and the Queen said--"
"Get to your places!" shouted the Queen in a voice of thunder, and people began running about in all directions, tumbling up against each other: however, they got settled down in a minute or two, and the game began.
Alice thought she had never seen such a curious croquet-ground in her life: it was all ridges and furrows: the croquet balls were live hedgehogs, and the mallets live flamingoes, and the soldiers had to double themselves up and stand on their hands and feet, to make the arches.
The chief difficulty Alice found at first was in managing her flamingo: she succeeded in getting its body tucked away comfortably enough under her arm, with its legs hanging down, but generally, just as she had got its neck nicely straightened out, and was going to give the hedgehog a blow with its head, it _would_ twist itself round and look up in her face, with such a puzzled expression that she could not help bursting out laughing; and, when she had got its head down, and was going to begin again, it was very provoking to find that the hedgehog had unrolled itself, and was in the act of crawling away: besides all this, there was generally a ridge or a furrow in the way wherever she wanted to send the hedgehog to, and, as the doubled-up soldiers were always getting up and walking off to other parts of the ground, Alice soon came to the conclusion that it was a very difficult game indeed.
The players all played at once, without waiting for turns, quarrelling all the while, and fighting for the hedgehogs; and in a very short time the Queen was in a furious passion, and went stamping about and shouting, "Off with his head!" or "Off with her head!" about once in a minute.
Alice began to feel very uneasy: to be sure she had not as yet had any dispute with the Queen, but she knew that it might happen any minute, "and then," thought she, "what would become of me? They're dreadfully fond of beheading people here: the great wonder is that there's any one left alive!"
She was looking about for some way of escape, and wondering whether she could get away without being seen when she noticed a curious appearance in the air: it puzzled her very much at first, but after watching it a minute or two she made it out to be a grin, and she said to herself, "It's the Cheshire-Cat: now I shall have somebody to talk to."
"How are you getting on?" said the Cat, as soon as there was mouth enough for it to speak with.
Alice waited till the eyes appeared, and then nodded. "It's no use speaking to it," she thought, "till its ears have come, or at least one of them." In another minute the whole head appeared, and then Alice put down her flamingo, and began an account of the game, feeling very glad she had some one to listen to her. The Cat seemed to think that there was enough of it now in sight, and no more of it appeared.
"I don't think they play at all fairly," Alice began, in rather a complaining tone, "and they all quarrel so dreadfully one can't hear one's self speak--and they don't seem to have any rules in particular: at least, if there are, nobody attends to them--and you've no idea how confusing it is all the things being alive: for instance, there's the arch I've got to go through next walking about at the other end of the ground--and I should have croqueted the Queen's hedgehog just now, only it ran away when it saw mine coming!"
"How do you like the Queen?" said the Cat in a low voice.
"Not at all," said Alice: "she's so extremely--" Just then she noticed that the Queen was close behind her, listening: so she went on "--likely to win, that it's hardly worth while finishing the game."
The Queen smiled and passed on.
"Who _are_ you talking to?" said the King, coming up to Alice, and looking at the Cat's head with great curiosity.
"It's a friend of mine--a Cheshire-Cat," said Alice: "allow me to introduce it."
"I don't like the look of it at all," said the King: "however, it may kiss my hand, if it likes."
"I'd rather not," the Cat remarked.
"Don't be impertinent," said the King, "and don't look at me like that!" He got behind Alice as he spoke.
"A cat may look at a king," said Alice. "I've read that in some book, but I don't remember where."
"Well, it must be removed," said the King very decidedly; and he called to the Queen, who was passing at the moment, "My dear! I wish you would have this Cat removed!"
The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small. "Off with his head!" she said without even looking round.
"I'll fetch the executioner myself," said the King eagerly, and he hurried off.
Alice thought she might as well go back and see how the game was going on, as she heard the Queen's voice in the distance, screaming with passion. She had already heard her sentence three of the players to be executed for having missed their turns, and she did not like the look of things at all, as the game was in such confusion that she never knew whether it was her turn or not. So she went off in search of her hedgehog.
The hedgehog was engaged in a fight with another hedgehog, which seemed to Alice an excellent opportunity for croqueting one of them with the other: the only difficulty was, that her flamingo was gone across to the other side of the garden, where Alice could see it trying in a helpless sort of way to fly up into a tree.
By the time she had caught the flamingo and brought it back, the fight was over, and both the hedgehogs were out of sight: "but it doesn't matter much," thought Alice, "as all the arches are gone from this side of the ground." So she tucked it away under her arm, that it might not escape again, and went back to have a little more conversation with her friend.
When she got back to the Cheshire-Cat, she was surprised to find quite a large crowd collected round it: there was a dispute going on between the executioner, the King, and the Queen, who were all talking at once, while all the rest were quite silent, and looked very uncomfortable.
The moment Alice appeared, she was appealed to by all three to settle the question, and they repeated their arguments to her, though, as they all spoke at once, she found it very hard to make out exactly what they said.
The executioner's argument was, that you couldn't cut off a head unless there was a body to cut it off from: that he had never had to do such a thing before, and he wasn't going to begin at _his_ time of life.
The King's argument was that anything that had a head could be beheaded, and that you weren't to talk nonsense.
The Queen's argument was that, if something wasn't done about it in less than no time, she'd have everybody executed, all round. (It was this last remark that had made the whole party look so grave and anxious.)
Alice could think of nothing else to say but "It belongs to the Duchess: you'd better ask _her_ about it."
"She's in prison," the Queen said to the executioner: "fetch her here." And the executioner went off like an arrow.
The Cat's head began fading away the moment he was gone, and, by the time he had come back with the Duchess, it had entirely disappeared: so the King and the executioner ran wildly up and down, looking for it, while the rest of the party went back to the game.
THE MOCK TURTLE'S STORY
By Lewis Carroll
"You can't think how glad I am to see you, again, you dear old thing!"
said the Duchess, as she tucked her arm affectionately into Alice's, and they walked off together.
Alice was very glad to find her in such a pleasant temper, and thought to herself that perhaps it was only the pepper that had made her so savage when they met in the kitchen.
"When _I'm_ a Duchess," she said to herself (not in a very hopeful tone, though), "I won't have any pepper in my kitchen _at all_. Soup does very well without--Maybe it's always pepper that makes people hot-tempered," she went on, very much pleased at having found out a new kind of rule, "and vinegar that makes them sour--and camomile that makes them bitter--and--and barley-sugar and such things that make children sweet-tempered. I only wish people knew _that_: then they wouldn't be so stingy about it, you know--"
She had quite forgotten the Duchess by this time, and was a little startled when she heard her voice close to her ear. "You're thinking about something, my dear, and that makes you forget to talk. I can't tell you just now what the moral of that is, but I shall remember it in a bit."
"Perhaps it hasn't one," Alice ventured to remark.
"Tut, tut, child!" said the Duchess. "Everything's got a moral, if only you can find it." And she squeezed herself up closer to Alice's side as she spoke.
Alice did not much like her keeping so close to her: first, because the Duchess was _very_ ugly; and secondly, because she was exactly the right height to rest her chin on Alice's shoulder, and it was an uncomfortably sharp chin. However, she did not like to be rude: so she bore it as well as she could.
"The game's going on rather better now," she said, by way of keeping up the conversation a little.
"'Tis so," said the Duchess: "and the moral of that is--'Oh, 'tis love, 'tis love, that makes the world go round!'"
"Somebody said," Alice whispered, "that it's done by everybody minding their own business!"
"Ah, well! It means much the same thing," said the Duchess, digging her sharp little chin into Alice's shoulder as she added, "and the moral of that is--'Take care of the sense, and the sounds will take care of themselves.'"
"How fond she is of finding morals in things!" Alice thought to herself.