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ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND Lewis Carroll

CHAPTER XII

                        Alice's Evidence    
    
     - 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  goldfish
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, for the  accident
of the goldfish kept running in her head, and she had a vague sort of idea
that they must be collected at once and put back  into  the  jury-box,  or
they would die.
     - The trial cannot proceed, - said the King in a very grave voice,  -
until all the jurymen are back in their proper places-ALL, -  he  repeated
with great emphasis, looking hard at Alice as he said do.
     Alice looked at the jury-box, and saw that, in her haste, she had put
the Lizard in head downwards, and the poor little  thing  was  waving  its
tail about in a melancholy way, being quite unable to move. She  soon  got
it out again, and put it right; - not that it signifies much, -  she  said
to herself; - I should think it would be QUITE as much use  in  the  trial
one way up as the other.
     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  of  the
court.
     - 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 as he
spoke.
     - UNimportant, 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.
     Some of the jury wrote it down - important, - and some - unimportant.
Alice could see this, as she was near enough to look over their slates;  -
but it doesn't matter a bit, - she thought to herself.
     At this moment the King, who had been for some time busily writing in
his note-book, cackled out - Silence! - and 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 note-book hastily. - Consider your verdict, - he said to  the
jury, in a low, trembling voice.
     - There's more evidence to come yet, please your Majesty, - said  the
White Rabbit, jumping up in a great hurry; -  this  paper  has  just  been
picked up.
     - What's in it? - said the Queen.
     - I haven't opened it yet, said the White Rabbit, - but it  seems  to
be a letter, written by the prisoner to - to somebody.
     - It must have been that, - said the King, - unless it was written to
nobody, which isn't usual, you know.
     - Who is it directed to? - said one of the jurymen.
     - It isn't directed at all, - said  the  White  Rabbit;  -  in  fact,
there's nothing written on the OUTSIDE. - He  unfolded  the  paper  as  he
spoke, and added - It isn't a letter, after all: it's a set of verses.
     - Are they in the prisoner's handwriting? -  asked  another  of  they
jurymen.
     - No, they're not, - said the White Rabbit, - and that's the queerest
thing about it. - (The jury all looked puzzled.)
     - He must have imitated somebody else's hand, - said the  King.  (The
jury all brightened up again.)
     - Please your Majesty, - said the Knave, - I  didn't  write  it,  and
they can't prove I did: there's no name signed at the end.
     - If you didn't sign it, - said the  King,  -  that  only  makes  the
matter worse. You MUST have meant some mischief, or else you'd have signed
your name like an honest man.
     There was a general clapping of hands  at  this:  it  was  the  first
really clever thing the King had said that day.
     - That PROVES his guilt, - said the Queen.
     - It proves nothing of the sort! - said Alice. - Why, you don't  even
know what they're about!
     - Read them, - said the King. The White Rabbit put on his spectacles.
- Where shall I begin, please your Majesty? - he asked.
     - Begin at the beginning, - the King said gravely, - and go  on  till
you come to the end: then stop.
     These were the verses the White Rabbit read:
    
         - They told me you had been to her,    
          And mentioned me to him:    
        She gave me a good character,    
          But said I could not swim.    
    
        He sent them word I had not gone    
          (We know it to be true):    
        If she should push the matter on,    
          What would become of you?    
    
        I gave her one, they gave him two,    
          You gave us three or more;    
        They all returned from him to you,    
          Though they were mine before.    
    
        If I or she should chance to be    
          Involved in this affair,    
        He trusts to you to set them free,    
          Exactly as we were.    
    
        My notion was that you had been    
          (Before she had this fit)    
        An obstacle that came between    
          Him, and ourselves, and it.    
    
        Don't let him know she liked them best,    
          For this must ever be    
        A secret, kept from all the rest,    
          Between yourself and me.     
    
     - That's the most important piece of evidence we've heard yet, - said
the King, rubbing his hands; - so now let the jury
     - If any one of them can explain it, - said Alice, (she had grown  so
large in the last few minutes that she wasn't a bit afraid of interrupting
him,) - I'll give him sixpence. _I_  don't  believe  there's  an  atom  of
meaning in it.
     The jury all wrote down  on  their  slates,  -  SHE  doesn't  believe
there's an atom of meaning in it, - but none of them attempted to  explain
the paper.
     - If there's no meaning in it, - said the King, - that saves a  world
of trouble, you know, as we needn't try to find any. And yet I don't know,
- he went on, spreading out the verses on his knee, and  looking  at  them
with one eye; - I seem to see some meaning in them, after all.
     - SAID I COULD NOT SWIM - you  can't  swim,  can  you?  -  he  added,
turning to the Knave.
     The Knave shook his head sadly. - Do I  look  like  it?  -  he  said.
(Which he certainly did NOT, being made entirely of cardboard.)
     - All right, so far, - said the King, and he went on  muttering  over
the verses to himself: - WE KNOW IT TO BE  TRUE  -  that's  the  jury,  of
course - - I GAVE HER ONE, THEY GAVE HIM TWO - why, that must be  what  he
did with the tarts, you know
     - But, it goes on - THEY ALL RETURNED FROM HIM TO YOU, - said Alice.
     - Why, there they are! - said the King triumphantly, pointing to  the
tarts on the table. - Nothing can be  clearer  than  THAT.  Then  again  -
BEFORE SHE HAD THIS FIT - you never had fits, my dear, I think? - he  said
to the Queen.
     - Never! - said the Queen furiously,  throwing  an  inkstand  at  the
Lizard as she spoke. (The unfortunate little Bill had left off writing  on
his slate with one finger, as he found it made no mark; but he now hastily
began again, using the ink, that was trickling down his face, as  long  as
it lasted.)
     - Then the words don't FIT you, - said the King,  looking  round  the
court with a smile. There was a dead silence.
     - It's a pun! - the King added in an  offended  tone,  and  everybody
laughed, - Let the jury consider their verdict, - the King said, for about
the twentieth time that day.
     - 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, turning purple.
     - 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, half of fright and half of anger,  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 upon 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 these  strange  Adventures
of hers that you have just been reading about; 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.
     But her sister sat still just as she left her, leaning  her  head  on
her hand, watching the setting sun, and thinking of little Alice  and  all
her wonderful Adventures, till she too began dreaming after a fashion, and
this was her dream:
     First, she dreamed of little Alice herself, and once again  the  tiny
hands were clasped upon her knee, and the bright eager eyes  were  looking
up into hers - she could hear the very tones of her voice,  and  see  that
queer little toss of her head to keep back the wandering hair  that  WOULD
always get into her eyes - and still as she listened, or seemed to listen,
the whole place around her became  alive  the  strange  creatures  of  her
little sister's dream.
     The long grass rustled at her feet as the White Rabbit hurried  by  -
the frightened Mouse splashed his way through the neighbouring pool -  she
could hear the rattle of the teacups as the March  Hare  and  his  friends
shared their never-ending meal, and the shrill voice of the Queen ordering
off her unfortunate guests to execution  -  once  more  the  pig-baby  was
sneezing on the Duchess's knee, while plates and dishes crashed around  it
- once more the shriek of the  Gryphon,  the  squeaking  of  the  Lizard's
slate-pencil, and the choking of the suppressed  guinea-pigs,  filled  the
air, mixed up with the distant sobs of the miserable Mock Turtle.
     So she sat on,  with  closed  eyes,  and  half  believed  herself  in
Wonderland, though she knew she had but to open them again, and all  would
change to dull reality - the grass would be only rustling in the wind, and
the pool rippling to the waving of the reeds - the rattling teacups  would
change to tinkling sheepbells, and the Queen's shrill cries to  the  voice
of the shepherd boy - and the sneeze  of  the  baby,  the  shriek  of  the
Gryphon, and all thy other queer noises, would change (she  knew)  to  the
confused clamour of the busy farm-yard - while the lowing of the cattle in
the distance would take the place of the Mock Turtle's heavy sobs.
     Lastly, she pictured to herself how this same little sister  of  hers
would, in the after-time, be herself a grown  woman;  and  how  she  would
keep, through all her riper years, the simple  and  loving  heart  of  her
childhood: and how she would gather about her other little  children,  and
make THEIR eyes bright and eager with many a strange  tale,  perhaps  even
with the dream of Wonderland of long ago: and how she would feel with  all
their simple sorrows, and find  a  pleasure  in  all  their  simple  joys,
remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days.
    
                             THE END    



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