Alice in Wonderland in Words of One Syllable/Chapter 7

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CHAPTER VII.

A MAD TEA-PARTY.

There was a ta-ble set out, in the shade of the trees in front of the house, and the March Hare and the Hat-ter were at tea; a Dor-mouse sat be-tween them, but it seemed to have gone to sleep.

The ta-ble was a long one, but the three were all crowd-ed at one cor-ner of it. "No room! No room!" they cried out as soon as they saw Al-ice. "There's plen-ty of room," she said, and sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.

"Have some wine," the March Hare said in a kind tone.

Al-ice looked all round the ta-ble, but there was not a thing on it but tea. "I don't see the wine," she said.

"There isn't an-y," said the March Hare.

"Then it wasn't po-lite of you to ask me to have wine," said Al-ice.

"It wasn't po-lite of you to sit down when no one had asked you to have a seat," said the March Hare.

"I didn't know it was your ta-ble," said Al-ice; "it's laid for more than three."

"Your hair wants cut-ting," said the Hat-ter. He had looked hard at Al-ice for some time, and this was his first speech.

"You should learn not to speak to a guest like that," said Al-ice; "it is ve-ry rude."

The Hat-ter stretched his eyes quite wide at this; but all he said was, "Why is a rav-en like a desk?"

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"Come, we shall have some fun now," thought Al-ice. "I think I can guess that," she added out loud.

"Do you mean that you think you can find out the an-swer to it?" asked the March Hare.

"I do," said Al-ice.

"Then you should say what you mean," the March Hare went on.

"I do," Al-ice said; "at least—at least I mean what I say—that's the same thing, you know."

"Not the same thing a bit!" said the Hat-ter. "Why, you might just as well say, '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 Dor-mouse, who seemed to be talk-ing in his sleep, "that 'I breathe when I sleep' is the same thing as 'I sleep when I breathe'!"

"It is the same with you," said the Hat-ter.

No one spoke for some time, while Al-ice tried to think of all she knew of rav-ens and desks, which wasn't much.

The Hat-ter was the first to speak. "What day of the month is it?" he said, turn-ing to Al-ice. He had his watch in his hand, looked at it and shook it now and then while he held it to his ear.

Al-ice thought a-while, and said, "The fourth."

"Two days wrong!" sighed the Hat-ter. "I told you but-ter wouldn't suit this watch," he add-ed with a scowl as he looked at the March Hare.

"It was the best but-ter," the March Hare said.

"Yes, but some crumbs must have got in," the Hat-ter growled; "you shouldn't have put it in with the bread-knife."

The March Hare took the watch and looked at it; then dipped it in-to his cup of tea and looked at it a-gain; but all he could think to say was, "it was the best but-ter, you know."

"Oh, what a fun-ny watch!" said Al-ice. "It tells the day of the month and doesn't tell what o'clock it is!"

"Why should it?" growled the Hat-ter.

"Does your watch tell what year it is?"

"Of course not," said Al-ice, "but there's no need that it should, since it stays the same year such a long time."

"Which is just the case with mine," said the Hat-ter; which seemed to Al-ice to have no sense in it at all.

"I don't quite know what you mean," she said.

"The Dor-mouse has gone to sleep, once more," said the Hat-ter, and he poured some hot tea on the tip of its nose.

The Dor-mouse shook its head, and said with its eyes still closed, "Of course, of course; just what I want-ed to say my-self."

"Have you guessed the rid-dle yet?" the Hat-ter asked, turn-ing to Al-ice.

"No, I give it up," she said. "What's the an-swer?"

"I do not know at all," said the Hat-ter.

"Nor I," said the March Hare.

Al-ice sighed. "I think you might do bet-ter with the time than to waste it, by ask-ing rid-dles that have no an-swers."

"If you knew Time as well as I do, you wouldn't say 'waste it.' It's him."

"I don't know what you mean," Al-ice said.

"Of course you don't!" said the Hat-ter with a toss of his head. "I dare say you nev-er e-ven spoke to Time."

"May-be not," she said, "but I know I have to beat time when I learn to sing."

"Oh! that's it," said the Hat-ter. "He won't stand beat-ing. Now if you kept on good terms with him, he would do an-y-thing you liked with the clock. Say it was nine o'clock, just time to go to school; you'd have but to give a hint to Time, and round goes the clock! Half-past one, time for lunch."

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"I wish it was," the March Hare said to it-self.

"That would be grand, I'm sure," said Al-ice: "but then—I shouldn't be hun-gry for it, you know."

"Not at first, per-haps, but you could keep it to half-past one as long as you liked," said the Hat-ter.

"Is that the way you do?" asked Al-ice.

The Hat-ter shook his head and sighed. "Not I," he said. "Time and I fell out last March. It was at the great con-cert giv-en by the Queen of Hearts and I had to sing:

'Twin-kle, twin-kle, lit-tle bat!
How I wonder what you're at!'

You know the song, per-haps?"

"I've heard some-thing like it," said Alice.

"It goes on, you know," the Hat-ter said, "in this way:

'Up a-bove the world you fly,
Like a tea-tray in the sky,
Twin-kle, twin-kle——'"

Here the Dor-mouse shook it-self and sang in its sleep, "twin-kle, twin-kle, twin-kle, twin-kle——" and went on so long that they had to pinch it to make it stop.

"Well, while I sang the first verse," the Hat-ter went on, "the Queen bawled out 'See how he mur-ders the time! Off with his head!' And ev-er since that, he won't do a thing I ask! It's al-ways six o'clock now."

A bright thought came in-to Al-ice's head. "Is that why so man-y tea things are put out here?" she asked.

"Yes, that's it," said the Hat-ter with a sigh: "it's al-ways tea-time, and we've no time to wash the things."

"Then you keep mov-ing round, I guess," said Al-ice.

"Just so," said the Hat-ter; "as the things get used up."

"But when you come to the place where you started, what do you do then?" Al-ice dared to ask.

"I'm tired of this," yawned the March Hare. "I vote you tell us a tale."

"I fear I don't know one," said Al-ice.

"I want a clean cup," spoke up the Hat-ter.

He moved on as he spoke, and the Dor-mouse moved in-to his place; the March Hare moved in-to the Dor-mouse's place and Al-ice, none too well pleased, took the place of the March Hare. The Hat-ter was the on-ly one to get an-y good from the change; and Al-ice was a good deal worse off, as the March Hare had up-set the milk-jug in-to his plate.

"Now, for your sto-ry," the March Hare said to Al-ice.

"I'm sure I don't know,"—Alice be-gan, "I—I don't think—"

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"Then you shouldn't talk," said the Hat-ter.

This was more than Al-ice could stand; so she got up and walked off, and though she looked back once or twice and half hoped they would call af-ter her, they didn't seem to know that she was gone. The last time she saw them, they were trying to put the poor Dor-mouse head first in-to the tea-pot.

"Well, I'll not go there a-gain," said Al-ice as she picked her way through the wood. "It's the dull-est tea-par-ty I was ev-er at in all my life."

As Al-ice said this, she saw that one of the trees had a door that led right in-to it. "That's strange!" she thought; "but I haven't seen a thing to-day that isn't strange. I think I may as well go in at once." And in she went.

Once more she found her-self in a long hall, and close to the lit-tle glass stand. She took up the lit-tle key and un-locked the door that led to the gar-den. Then she set to work to eat some of the mush-room which she still had with her. When she was a-bout a foot high, she went through the door and walked down the lit-tle hall; then—she found herself, at last, in the love-ly garden, where she had seen the bright blooms and the cool foun-tains.