Alice's Adventures in Cambridge/I

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The Infection Meeting

ALICE was just about to enter one of the tempting little shops with purple socks and ties in the window, when she saw the White Rabbit hurrying across a mud puddle. She ran after him, and caught him just as he reached a curbstone.

"Please—" she began.

But the White Rabbit did not even turn his head.

"No, I haven't any pennies," he said.

"But I wanted to know—" said Alice.

"Oh, it's you, is it?" the White Rabbit said, turning round blowing a huge cloud of smoke from his pipe into Alice's face. "Well, come on."

"Where?" asked Alice.

"To the Infection Meeting, of course," said the White Rabbit, starting off at a rapid pace.

"But I don't want to be infected," Alice said, as she ran after him. "I've had the

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mumps once, and the measles, and so many other things."

"Ah! But you haven't had probation yet," said the White Rabbit, "and you'll catch it sure if you don't go to your Infection Meetings. I'm a Sophomore, and I ought to know. Come on."

"Who will give it to me?" asked Alice, feeling a little alarmed.

"The Queen, of course. Come on."

Alice didn't like being ordered around in this way, but she followed the White Rabbit,
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who led her to a room filled with animals of all kinds sitting on benches. At one end of the room was a platform where a large frog sat behind a desk. He was a very young-looking frog, Alice thought, but he looked so severe that she sat down quietly beside the White Rabbit.

The frog, after looking more severe than ever, suddenly began to write very fast on a blackboard behind him. Alice tried to make out what he was writing, but it seemed to be chiefly nonsense. It ran something like this:

"If, other things being equal, the level
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of prices should rise, and thus falling create a demand and supply with, and as which, would you consider this a division of labor? If so, when, and in what capacity? If not, why not, and under what circumstances?"

As soon as he had finished, all the other animals produced paper from nowhere in particular, and begin to scribble as fast as they could. Alice noticed the Lizard, who was sitting in the front row, was the only one who wrote anything original. All the others copied from his paper, and crowded round him so closely that Alice was afraid the poor little creature would be smothered. Meanwhile the frog looked at the ceiling. "He couldn't look anywhere else, the poor thing," thought Alice; "his eyes are on the top of his head."

About two seconds had passed when the frog called out "Time!" and began to gather up the papers. When he had collected them all, he took them to his desk and began to mark them. He marked the first one A, the second one B, and so on down to F, when he began over again with A. All this time he kept his eyes tight shut. "So he will be sure to be impartial," the White Rabbit explained to Alice.

After the marking was finished, the frog handed the papers back to their owners. The White Rabbit, who had written nothing at all, had a large A on his paper. The Lizard, however, had an F on his.

"A," said the White Rabbit to Alice, "means I wrote an excellent paper."

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"But you wrote nothing," objected Alice.

"Nothing succeeds like success," said the White Rabbit, and hurried away, leaving Alice a little puzzled.

Meanwhile all the animals except the frog had disappeared.

"Would you mind telling me," began Alice, feeling that there ought to be some conversation, "why you—"

"Certainly not," said the frog, handing her a book. "I think you will find this a very able exposition of the subject."

Alice opened the book, and finding it to be poetry, she read the first piece through.


'T was taussig, and the bushnell hart
Did byron hurlbut in the rand,
All barrett was the wendell (Bart.)
And the charles t. cope-land.

Beware the Münsterberg, my son!
'T will read your mind—you bet it can!
Beware the Grandgent bird, and shun
The frisky Merriman.

He took his bursar sword in hand:
Long time his neilson foe he sought—
So rested he by the bernbaum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in coolidge thought he stood,
The Münsterberg, with eyes of flame,
Came spalding through the perry wood,
And babbit as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The bursar blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He santayanad back.

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And has thou slain the Münsterberg?
Come to my arms, my bierwirth boy!
O Kittredge day! Allard! Bôcher!
He schofield in his joy.

'T was taussig, and the bushnell hart
Did byron hurlbut in the rand,
All barrett was the wendell (Bart.)
And the charles t. cope-land.

"It's all very interesting," said Alice, after she had finished, "but I don't quite understand it."

"You will absorb it after awhile," said the frog, as he got up and walked away, "if you have the faculty."