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ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND Lewis Carroll

CHAPTER IX

                     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
themselves.
     - How fond she is of finding morals in things!  -  Alice  thought  to
herself.
     - 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
putting things!
     - 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
yours.
     - 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
say it.
     - 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
Alice.
     - 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
loud.
     - Thinking again? - the Duchess asked, with another dig of her  sharp
little chin.
     - 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
thunderstorm.
     - 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
croquet-ground.
     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
patiently.
     - Once, - said the Mock Turtle at last, with a deep sigh, - I  was  a
real Turtle.
     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
nothing.
     - 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
day
     - 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
it?
     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
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  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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