ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND
The Mock Turtle's Story
- You can't think you 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 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 upon 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
- How fond she is of finding morals in things! - Alice thought to
- I dare say you're wondering why I don't put my arm round your
waist, - the Duchess said after a pause: - the reason is, that I'm
doubtful about the temper of your flamingo. Shall I try the experiment?
- HE might bite, - Alice cautiously replied, not feeling at all
anxious to have the experiment tried.
- Very true, - said the Duchess: - flamingoes and mustard both bite.
And the moral of that is - Birds of a feather flock together.
- Only mustard isn't a bird, - Alice remarked.
- Right, as usual, - said the Duchess: - what a clear way you have of
- It's a mineral, I THINK, - said Alice.
- Of course it is, - said the Duchess, who seemed ready to agree to
everything that Alice said; - there's a large mustard-mine near here. And
the moral of that is - The more there is of mine, the less there is of
- Oh, I know! - exclaimed Alice, who had not attended to this last
remark, - it's a vegetable. It doesn't look like one, but it is.
- I quite agree with you, - said the Duchess; - and the moral of that
is - Be what you would seem to be - or if you'd like it put more simply -
Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to
others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what
you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.
- I think I should understand that better, - Alice said very
politely, - if I had it written down: but I can't quite follow it as you
- That's nothing to what I could say if I chose, - the Duchess
replied, in a pleased tone.
- Pray don't trouble yourself to say it any longer than that, - said
- Oh, don't talk about trouble! - said the Duchess. - I make you a
present of everything I've said as yet.
- A cheap sort of present! - thought Alice. - I'm glad they don't
give birthday presents like that! - But she did not venture to say it out
- Thinking again? - the Duchess asked, with another dig of her sharp
- I've a right to think - said Alice sharply, for she was beginning
to feel a little worried.
- Just about as much right, - said the Duchess, - as pigs have to
fly; and the m
But here, to Alice's great surprise, the Duchess's voice died away,
even in the middle of her favourite word - moral, - and the arm that was
linked into hers began to tremble. Alice looked up, and there stood the
Queen in front of them, with her arms folded, frowning like a
- A fine day, your Majesty! - the Duchess began in a low, weak voice.
- Now, I give you fair warning, - shouted the Queen, stamping on the
ground as she spoke; - either you or your head must be off, and that in
about half no time! Take your choice!
The Duchess took her choice, and was gone in a moment. - Let's go on
with the game, - the Queen said to Alice; and Alice was too much
frightened to say a word, but slowly followed her back to the
The other guests had taken advantage of the Queen's absence, and were
resting in the shade: however, the moment they saw her, they hurried back
to the game, the Queen merely remarking that a moment's delay would cost
them their lives.
All the time they were playing the Queen never left off quarrelling
with the other players, and shouting - Off with his head! - or - Off with
her head! - Those whom she sentenced were taken into custody by the
soldiers, who of course had to leave off being arches to do this, so that
by the end of half an hour or so there were no arches left, and all the
players, except the King, the Queen, and Alice, were in custody and under
sentence of execution.
Then the Queen left off, quite out of breath, and 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, - said Alice. - Come
on, then, - said the Queen, - and he shall tell you his history,
As they walked off together, Alice heard the King say in a low voice,
to the company generally, - You are all pardoned. - - Come, THAT'S a good
thing! - she said to herself, for she had felt quite unhappy at the number
of executions the Queen had ordered.
They very soon came upon a Gryphon, lying fast asleep in the sun. (IF
you don't know what a Gryphon is, look at the picture.) - 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
did not quite like the look of the creature, but on the whole she thought
it would be quite as safe to stay with it as to go after that savage
Queen: so she waited.
The Gryphon sat up and rubbed its eyes: then it watched the Queen
till she was out of sight: then it chuckled. - What fun! - said the
Gryphon, half to itself, half to Alice.
- What IS the fun? - said Alice.
- Why, SHE, - said the Gryphon. - It's all her fancy, that: they
never executes nobody, you know. Come on!
- Everybody says - come on! - here, - thought Alice, as she went
slowly after it: - I never was so ordered about in all my life, never!
They 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. She
pitied him deeply. - What is his sorrow? - she asked the Gryphon, and the
Gryphon answered, very nearly in the same words as before, - It's all his
fancy, that: he hasn't got no sorrow, you know. Come on!
So they went up to the Mock Turtle, who looked at them with large
eyes full of tears, but said nothing.
- This here young lady, - said the Gryphon, - she wants for to know
your history, she do.
- I'll tell it her, - said the Mock Turtle in a deep, hollow tone: -
sit down, both of you, and don't speak a word till I've finished. So they
sat down, and nobody spoke for some minutes. Alice thought to herself, - I
don't see how he can EVEN finish, if he doesn't begin. - But she waited
- Once, - said the Mock Turtle at last, with a deep sigh, - I was a
These words were followed by a very long silence, broken only by an
occasional exclamation of - Hjckrrh! - from the Gryphon, and the constant
heavy sobbing of the Mock Turtle. Alice was very nearly getting up and
saying, - Thank you, sir, for your interesting story, but she could not
help thinking there MUST be more to come, so she sat still and said
- When we were little, - the Mock Turtle went on at last, more
calmly, though still sobbing a little now and then, - we went to school in
the sea. The master was an old Turtle - we used to call him Tortoise
- Why did you call him Tortoise, if he wasn't one? - Alice asked.
- We called him Tortoise because he taught us, - said the Mock Turtle
angrily: - really you are very dull!
- You ought to be ashamed of yourself for asking such a simple
question, - added the Gryphon; and then they both sat silent and looked at
poor Alice, who felt ready to sink into the earth. At last the Gryphon
said to the Mock Turtle, - Drive on, old fellow! Don't be all day about
it! - and he went on in these words:
- Yes, we went to school in the sea, though you mayn't believe it
- I never said I didn't! - interrupted Alice.
- You did, - said the Mock Turtle.
- Hold your tongue! - added the Gryphon, before Alice could speak
again. The Mock Turtle went on.
- We had the best of educations - in fact, we went to school every
- I'VE been to a day-school, too, - said Alice; - you needn't be so
proud as all that.
- With extras? - asked the Mock Turtle a little anxiously.
- Yes, - said Alice, - we learned French and music.
- And washing? - said the Mock Turtle.
- Certainly not! - said Alice indignantly.
- Ah! then yours wasn't a really good school, - said the Mock Turtle
in a tone of great relief. - Now at OURS they had at the end of the bill,
- French, music, AND WASHING - extra.
- You couldn't have wanted it much, - said Alice; - living at the
bottom of the sea.
- I couldn't afford to learn it. - said the Mock Turtle with a sigh.
- I only took the regular course. - What was that? - inquired Alice. -
Reeling and Writhing, of course, to begin with, - the Mock Turtle replied;
- and then the different branches of Arithmetic-Ambition, Distraction,
Uglification, and Derision.
- I never heard of - Uglification, - Alice ventured to say. - What is
The Gryphon lifted up both its paws in surprise. - What! Never heard
of uglifying! - it exclaimed. - You know what to beautify is, I suppose?
- Yes, - said Alice doubtfully: - it means - to - make - anything
- 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 off
the subjects on his flappers, - Mystery, ancient and modern, with
Seaography: then Drawling - the Drawling-master was an old conger-eel,
that used to come once a week: HE taught us Drawling, Stretching, and
Fainting in Coils.
- What was THAT like? - said Alice.
- Well, I can't show it you myself, - the Mock Turtle said: - I'm too
stiff. And the Gryphon never learnt it.
- Hadn't time, - said the Gryphon: - I went to the Classics master,
though. He was an old crab, HE was.
- I never went to him, - the Mock Turtle said with a sigh: - he
taught Laughing and Grief, they used to say.
- So he did, so he did, - said the Gryphon, sighing in his turn; and
both creatures hid their faces in their paws.
- 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 now.
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