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ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND Lewis Carroll

CHAPTER VII

                         A 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 the talking over its head.
     - Very uncomfortable for the Dormouse, - thought Alice;  -  only,  as
it's asleep, I suppose it doesn't mind.
     The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at
one corner of it: - 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 arm-chair at one end of the table.
     - Have some wine, - the March Hare said in an encouraging tone. Alice
looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea. - I don't
see any wine, - she remarked.
     - There isn't any, - said the March Hare.
     - Then it wasn't very civil of you to offer it, - said Alice angrily.
     - It wasn't very civil of you to sit down without being invited, said
the March Hare.
     - I didn't know it was YOUR table, - said Alice; - it's  laid  for  a
great many more than three.
     - Your hair wants cutting, - said the Hatter. He had been looking  at
Alice for some time with great curiosity, and this was his first speech.
     - You should learn not to make personal remarks, -  Alice  said  with
some severity; - it's very rude.
     The Hatter opened his eyes very wide on hearing this; but all he SAID
was, - Why is a raven like a writing-desk?
     - Come, we shall have some fun now!  -  thought  Alice.  -  I'm  glad
they've begun asking riddles. - I believe I can guess that,  -  she  added
aloud.
     - Do you mean that you think you can find out the answer to it?  said
the March Hare.
     - Exactly so, - said Alice.
     - Then you should say what you mean, - the March Hare went on.
     - I do, - Alice hastily replied; - at least - at least I mean what  I
say - that's the same thing, you know.
     - Not the same thing a bit! - said the Hatter. - You  might  just  as
well say that - I see what I eat - is the same thing as - I eat what I see
- !
     - You might just as well say, - added the March Hare, - that - I like
what I get - is the same thing as - I get what I like - !
     - You might just as well say, - added the Dormouse, who seemed to  be
talking in his sleep, - that - I breathe when I sleep - is the same  thing
as - I sleep when I breathe - !
     - It IS the same thing with you, - said  the  Hatter,  and  here  the
conversation dropped, and the party sat silent for a minute,  while  Alice
thought over all she could remember about ravens and writing-desks,  which
wasn't much.
     The Hatter was the first to break the silence.  -  What  day  of  the
month is it? - he said, 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 then 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.
     - Yes, 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 his first remark, - It was the BEST  butter,
you know.
     Alice had been looking over his shoulder with some curiosity. -  What
a funny watch! - she remarked. - It  tells  the  day  of  the  month,  and
doesn't tell what o'clock it is!
     - Why should it? - muttered the Hatter. - Does YOUR  watch  tell  you
what year it is?
     - Of course not, - Alice replied very readily: - but  that's  because
it stays the same year for such a long time together.
     - Which is just the case with MINE, - said  the  Hatter.  Alice  felt
dreadfully puzzled. The Hatter's remark seemed to have no sort of  meaning
in it, and yet it was certainly English. - I don't quite understand you, -
she said, as politely as she could.
     - The Dormouse is asleep again, - said the Hatter, and  he  poured  a
little hot tea upon its nose.
     The Dormouse shook its head impatiently, and  said,  without  opening
its eyes, - Of course, of course; just what I was going to remark myself.
     - Have you guessed the riddle yet? -  the  Hatter  said,  turning  to
Alice again.
     - No, I give it up, - Alice replied: - that's the answer?
     - I haven't the slightest idea, - said the Hatter.
     - Nor I, - said the March Hare. Alice sighed wearily. - I  think  you
might do something better with the time, - she said, - than  waste  it  in
asking riddles that have no answers.
     - If you knew Time as well as I do, - said the Hatter, - you wouldn't
talk about wasting IT. It's HIM.
     - I don't know what you mean, - said Alice.
     -  Of  course  you  don't!  -  the  Hatter  said,  tossing  his  head
contemptuously. - I dare say you never even spoke to Time!
     - Perhaps not, - Alice cautiously replied: - but I  know  I  have  to
beat time when I learn music.
     - Ah! that accounts for it, - said  the  Hatter.  -  He  won't  stand
beating. Now, if you only kept on good terms  with  him,  he'd  do  almost
anything you liked with the clock. For  instance,  suppose  it  were  nine
o'clock in the morning, just time to begin lessons:  you'd  only  have  to
whisper a hint to Time, and round goes the clock in a twinkling! Half-past
one, time for dinner!
     ( - I only wish it was, - the March Hare said to itself in a whisper.
) - That would be grand, certainly, - said Alice thoughtfully: - but  then
- I shouldn't be hungry for it, you know.
     - Not at first, perhaps, - said the Hatter: - but you could  keep  it
to half-past one as long as you liked.
     - Is that the way YOU manage? - Alice asked.  The  Hatter  shook  his
head mournfully. - Not I! - he replied. - We quarrelled last March -  just
before HE went mad, you know - (pointing with his tea spoon at  the  March
Hare,) - it was at the great concert given by the Queen of Hearts,  and  I
had to sing
    
             - Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!    
            How I wonder what you're at!     
     You know the song, perhaps?
    
     - I've heard something like it, - said Alice.
     - It goes on, you know, - the Hatter continued, - in this way:
    
             - Up above the world you fly,    
            Like a tea-tray in the sky.    
                    Twinkle, twinkle -      
    
     Here the Dormouse shook itself, and began singing in its sleep
     - Twinkle, twinkle, twinkle, twinkle - and went on so long that  they
had to pinch it to make it stop.
    
     - Well, I'd hardly finished the first verse, -  said  the  Hatter,  -
when the Queen jumped up and bawled out, - He's murdering  the  time!  Off
with his head!
     - How dreadfully savage! - exclaimed Alice.
     - And ever since that, - the Hatter went on in a mournful tone, -  he
won't do a thing I ask! It's always six o'clock now.
     A bright idea came into Alice's head. - Is that the  reason  so  many
tea-things are put out here? - she asked.
     - Yes, that's it, - said the  Hatter  with  a  sigh:  -  it's  always
tea-time, 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 what happens when you come to  the  beginning  again?  -  Alice
ventured to ask.
     - Suppose we change  the  subject,  -  the  March  Hare  interrupted,
yawning. - I'm getting tired of this. 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,  Dormouse!
And they pinched it on both sides at once.
     The Dormouse slowly opened his eyes. - I wasn't asleep, - he 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, - said the Dormouse; - VERY ill.
     Alice tried to fancy to herself what such an  extraordinary  ways  of
living would be like, but it puzzled her too much, so she went on:
     - But why did they live at the bottom of a well?  -  Take  some  more
tea, - the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly. -  I've  had  nothing
yet, - Alice replied in an offended tone, - so I can't take more.
     - You mean you can't take LESS, - said the Hatter: - it's  very  easy
to take MORE than nothing.
     - Nobody asked YOUR opinion, - said Alice.
     - Who's making personal remarks now? - the Hatter asked triumphantly.
Alice did not quite know what to say to this: so  she  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 a 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!  -  and  the  Dormouse  sulkily
remarked, - If you can't be civil,  you'd  better  finish  the  story  for
yourself.
     - No, please go on! - Alice said very humbly;  -  I  won't  interrupt
again. I dare say there may be ONE.
     - One, indeed! - said the Dormouse indignantly. However, he consented
to go on. - And so these three little sisters  -  they  were  learning  to
draw, you know
     - What did they draw? - said Alice, quite forgetting her promise.
     - Treacle, - said the Dormouse, without considering at all this time.
     - 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. The Hatter was  the  only  one  who  got  any
advantage from the change: and Alice  was  a  good  deal  worse  off  than
before, as the March Hare had just upset the milk-jug into his plate.
     Alice did not wish to offend the Dormouse again, so  she  began  very
cautiously: - But I don't understand. Where  did  they  draw  the  treacle
from?
     - You can draw water out of a water-well, - said the Hatter; -  so  I
should think you could draw treacle out of a treacle-well - eh, stupid?
     - But they were IN the well,  -  Alice  said  to  the  Dormouse,  not
choosing to notice this last remark.
     - Of course they were', said the Dormouse; - well in. This answer  so
confused poor Alice, that she let the Dormouse go on for some time without
interrupting it.
     - 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. Alice was silent. 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, very much 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 great  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.
     - At any rate I'll never go THERE again! - said Alice as  she  picked
her way through the wood. - It's the stupidest tea-party I ever was at  in
all my life!
     Just as she said this, she noticed that one of the trees had  a  door
leading right into it. -  That's  very  curious!  -  she  thought.  -  But
everything's curious today. I think I may as well go in at once. - And  in
she went.
     Once more she found herself in the long hall, and close to the little
glass table. - Now, I'll manage better this time, - she said  to  herself,
and began by taking the little golden key, and unlocking the door that led
into the garden. Then she wet to work nibbling at the  mushroom  (she  had
kept a piece of it in her pocked) till she was about a foot high: then she
walked down the little passage: and THEN - she found herself  at  last  in
the beautiful garden, among the bright flower-beds and the cool fountains.



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