THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
They were standing under a tree, each with an arm round the other's neck, and Alice knew which was which in a moment, because one of them had `DUM' embroidered on his collar, and the other `DEE.' `I suppose they've each got "TWEEDLE" round at the back of the collar,' she said to herself.
They stood so still that she quite forgot they were alive, and she was just looking round to see if the word "TWEEDLE" was written at the back of each collar, when she was startled by a voice coming from the one marked `DUM.'
`If you think we're wax-works,' he said, `you ought to pay, you know. Wax-works weren't made to be looked at for nothing, Nohow!'
`Contrariwise,' added the one marked `DEE,' `if you think we're alive, you ought to speak.'
`I'm sure I'm very sorry,' was all Alice could say; for the words of the old song kept ringing through her head like the ticking of a clock, and she could hardly help saying them out loud:
`I know what you're thinking about,' said Tweedledum: `but it isn't so, nohow.'
`Contrariwise,' continued Tweedledee, `if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic.'
`I was thinking,' Alice said very politely, `which is the best way out of this wood: it's getting so dark. Would you tell me, please?'
But the little men only looked at each other and grinned.
They looked so exactly like a couple of great schoolboys, that Alice couldn't help pointing her finger at Tweedledum, and saying `First Boy!'
`Nohow!' Tweedledum cried out briskly, and shut his mouth up again with a snap.
`Next Boy!' said Alice, passing on to Tweedledee, though she felt quite certain he would only shout out "Contrariwise!' and so he did.
`You've been wrong!' cried Tweedledum. `The first thing in a visit is to say "How d'ye do?" and shake hands!' And here the two brothers gave each other a hug, and then they held out the two hands that were free, to shake hands with her.
Alice did not like shaking hands with either of them first, for fear of hurting the other one's feelings; so, as the best way out of the difficulty, she took hold of both hands at once: the next moment they were dancing found in a ring. This seemed quite natural (she remembered afterwards), and she was not even surprised to hear music playing: it seemed to come from the tree under which they were dancing, and it was done (as well as she could make it out) by the branches rubbing one across the other, like fiddles and fiddle-sticks.
`But it certainly was funny,' (Alice said afterwards, when she was telling her sister the history of all this,) `to find myself singing "Here we go round the mulberry bush." I don't know when I began it, but somehow I felt as if I'd been singing it a long long time!'
The other two dancers were fat, and very soon out of breath. `Four times round is enough for one dance,' Tweedledum panted out, and they left off dancing as suddenly as they had begun: the music stopped at the same moment.
Then they let go of Alice's hands, and stood looking at her for a minute: there was a rather awkward pause, as Alice didn't know how to begin a conversation with people she had just been dancing with. `It would never do to say "How d'ye do?" now,' she said to herself: `we seem to have got beyond that, somehow!'
`I hope you're not much tired?' she said at last.
`Nohow. And thank you very much for asking,' said Tweedledum.
`So much obliged!' added Tweedledee. `You like poetry?'
`Ye-es. pretty well -- some poetry,' Alice said doubtfully. `Would you tell me which road leads out of the wood?'
`What shall I repeat to her?' said Tweedledee, looking round at Tweedledum with great solemn eyes, and not noticing Alice's question.
`"The Walrus and the Carpenter" is the longest,' Tweedledum replied, giving his brother an affectionate hug.
Tweedledee began instantly:
`The sun was shining -- '
Here Alice ventured to interrupt him. `If it's very long,' she said, as politely as she could, `would you please tell me first which road -- '
Tweedledee smiled gently, and began again:
`I like the Walrus best,' said Alice: `because you see he was a little sorry for the poor oysters.'
`He ate more than the Carpenter, though,' said Tweedledee. `You see he held his handkerchief in front, so that the Carpenter couldn't count how many he took: contrariwise.'
`That was mean!' Alice said indignantly. `Then I like the Carpenter best -- if he didn't eat so many as the Walrus.'
`But he ate as many as he could get,' said Tweedledum.
This was a puzzler. After a pause, Alice began, `Well! They were both very unpleasant characters -- ' Here she checked herself in some alarm, at hearing something that sounded to her like the puffing of a large steam-engine in the wood near them, thought she feared it was more likely to be a wild beast. `Are there any lions or tigers about here?' she asked timidly.
`It's only the Red King snoring,' said Tweedledee.
`Come and look at him!' the brothers cried, and they each took one of Alice's hands, and led her up to where the King was sleeping.
`Isn't he a lovely sight?" said Tweedledum.
Alice couldn't say honestly that he was. He had a tall red night-cap on, with a tassel, and he was lying crumpled up into a sort of untidy heap, and snoring loud -- `fit to snore his head off!' as Tweedledum remarked.
`I'm afraid he'll catch cold with lying on the damp grass,' said Alice, who was a very thoughtful little girl.
`He's dreaming now,' said Tweedledee: `and what do you think he's dreaming about?'
Alice said `Nobody can guess that.'
`Why, about you!' Tweedledee exclaimed, clapping his hands triumphantly. `And if he left off dreaming about you, where do you suppose you'd be?'
`Where I am now, of course,' said Alice.
`Not you!' Tweedledee retorted contemptuously. `You'd be nowhere. Why, you're only a sort of thing in his dream!'
`If that there King was to wake,' added Tweedledum, `you'd go out -- bang! -- just like a candle!'
`I shouldn't!' Alice exclaimed indignantly. `Besides, if I'M only a sort of thing in his dream, what are you, I should like to know?'
`Ditto' said Tweedledum.
`Ditto, ditto' cried Tweedledee.
He shouted this so loud that Alice couldn't help saying, `Hush!
You'll be waking him, I'm afraid, if you make so much noise.'
`Well, it no use your talking about waking him,' said Tweedledum, `when you're only one of the things in his dream. You know very well you're not real.'
`I am real!' said Alice and began to cry.
`You won't make yourself a bit realler by crying,' Tweedledee remarked: `there's nothing to cry about.'
`If I wasn't real,' Alice said -- half-laughing though her tears, it all seemed so ridiculous -- `I shouldn't be able to cry.'
`I hope you don't suppose those are real tears?' Tweedledum interrupted in a tone of great contempt.
`I know they're talking nonsense,' Alice thought to herself: `and it's foolish to cry about it.' So she brushed away her tears, and went on as cheerfully as she could. `At any rate I'd better be getting out of the wood, for really it's coming on very dark. Do you think it's going to rain?'
Tweedledum spread a large umbrella over himself and his brother, and looked up into it. `No, I don't think it is,' he said: `at least -- not under here. Nohow.'
`But it may rain outside?'
`It may -- if it chooses,' said Tweedledee: `we've no objection. Contrariwise.'
`Selfish things!' thought Alice, and she was just going to say `Good-night' and leave them, when Tweedledum sprang out from under the umbrella and seized her by the wrist.
`Do you see that?' he said, in a voice choking with passion, and his eyes grew large and yellow all in a moment, as he pointed with a trembling finger at a small white thing lying under the tree.
`It's only a rattle,' Alice said, after a careful examination of the little white thing. `Not a rattle snake, you know,' she added hastily, thinking that he was frightened: only an old rattle -- quite old and broken.'
`I knew it was!' cried Tweedledum, beginning to stamp about wildly and tear his hair. `It's spoilt, of course!' Here he looked at Tweedledee, who immediately sat down on the ground, and tried to hide himself under the umbrella.
Alice laid her hand upon his arm, and said in a soothing tone, `You needn't be so angry about an old rattle.'
`But it isn't old!' Tweedledum cried, in a greater fury than ever. `It's new, I tell you -- I bought it yesterday -- my nice NEW RATTLE!' and his voice rose to a perfect scream.
All this time Tweedledee was trying his best to fold up the umbrella, with himself in it: which was such an extraordinary thing to do, that it quite took off Alice's attention from the angry brother. But he couldn't quite succeed, and it ended in his rolling over, bundled up in the umbrella, with only his head out: and there he lay, opening and shutting his mouth and his large eyes -- 'looking more like a fish than anything else,' Alice thought.
`Of course you agree to have a battle?' Tweedledum said in a calmer tone.
`I suppose so,' the other sulkily replied, as he crawled out of the umbrella: `only she must help us to dress up, you know.'
So the two brothers went off hand-in-hand into the wood, and returned in a minute with their arms full of things -- such as bolsters, blankets, hearth-rugs, table-cloths, dish-covers and coal-scuttles. `I hope you're a good hand a pinning and tying strings?' Tweedledum remarked. `Every one of these things has got to go on, somehow or other.'
Alice said afterwards she had never seen such a fuss made about anything in all her life -- the way those two bustled about -- and the quantity of things they put on -- and the trouble they gave her in tying strings and fastening buttons -- `Really they'll be more like bundles of old clothes that anything else, by the time they're ready!' she said to herself, as he arranged a bolster round the neck of Tweedledee, `to keep his head from being cut off,' as he said.
`You know,' he added very gravely, `it's one of the most serious things that can possibly happen to one in a battle -- to get one's head cut off.'
Alice laughed loud: but she managed to turn it into a cough, for fear of hurting his feelings.
`Do I look very pale?' said Tweedledum, coming up to have his helmet tied on. (He called it a helmet, though it certainly looked much more like a saucepan.)
`Well -- yes -- a little,' Alice replied gently.
`I'm very brave generally,' he went on in a low voice: `only to-day I happen to have a headache.'
`And I've got a toothache!' said Tweedledee, who had overheard the remark. `I'm far worse off than you!'
`Then you'd better not fight to-day,' said Alice, thinking it a good opportunity to make peace.
`We must have a bit of a fight, but I don't care about going on long,' said Tweedledum. `What's the time now?'
Tweedledee looked at his watch, and said `Half-past four.'
`Let's fight till six, and then have dinner,' said Tweedledum.
`Very well,' the other said, rather sadly: `and she can watch us -- only you'd better not come very close,' he added: `I generally hit everything I can see -- when I get really excited.'
`And I hit everything within reach,' cried Tweedledum, `whether I can see it or not!'
Alice laughed. `You must hit the trees pretty often, I should think,' she said.
Tweedledum looked round him with a satisfied smile. I don't suppose,' he said, `there'll be a tree left standing, for ever so far round, by the time we've finished!'
`And all about a rattle!' said Alice, still hoping to make them a little ashamed of fighting for such a trifle.
`I shouldn't have minded it so much,' said Tweedledum, `if it hadn't been a new one.'
`I wish the monstrous crow would come!' though Alice.
`There's only one sword, you know,' Tweedledum said to his brother: `but you can have the umbrella -- it's quite as sharp. Only we must begin quick. It's getting as dark as it can.'
`And darker.' said Tweedledee.
It was getting dark so suddenly that Alice thought there must be a thunderstorm coming on. `What a thick black cloud that is!' she said. `And how fast it comes! Why, I do believe it's got wings!'
`It's the crow!' Tweedledum cried out in a shrill voice of alarm: and the two brothers took to their heels and were out of sight in a moment.
Alice ran a little way into the wood, and stopped under a large tree. `It can never get at me here,' she thought: `it's far too large to squeeze itself in among the trees. But I wish it wouldn't flap its wings so -- it make quite a hurricane in the wood -- here's somebody's shawl being blown away!'
She caught the shawl as she spoke, and looked about for the owner: in another moment the White Queen came running wildly through the wood, with both arms stretched out wide, as if she were flying, and Alice very civilly went to meet her with the shawl.
`I'm very glad I happened to be in the way,' Alice said, as she helped her to put on her shawl again.
The While Queen only looked at her in a helpless frightened sort of way, and kept repeating something in a whisper to herself that sounded like `bread-and-butter, bread-and-butter,' and Alice felt that if there was to be any conversation at all, she must manage it herself. So she began rather timidly: `Am I addressing the White Queen?'
`Well, yes, if you call that a-dressing,' The Queen said. `It isn't my notion of the thing, at all."
Alice thought it would never do to have an argument at the very beginning of their conversation, so she smiled and said, `If your Majesty will only tell me the right way to begin, I'll do it as well as I can.'
`But I don't want it done at all!' groaned the poor Queen. `I've been a-dressing myself for the last two hours.'
It would have been all the better, as it seemed to Alice, if she had got some one else to dress her, she was so dreadfully untidy. `Every single thing's crooked,' Alice thought to herself, `and she's all over pins! -- may I put your shawl straight for you?' she added aloud.
`I don't know what's the matter with it!' the Queen said, in a melancholy voice. `It's out of temper, I think. I've pinned it here, and I've pinned it there, but there's no pleasing it!'
`It can't go straight, you know, if you pin it all on one side,' Alice said, as she gently put it right for her; `and, dear me, what a state your hair is in!'
`The brush has got entangled in it!' the Queen said with a sigh. `And I lost the comb yesterday.'
Alice carefully released the brush, and did her best to get the hair into order. `Come, you look rather better now!' she said, after altering most of the pins. `But really you should have a lady's maid!'
`I'm sure I'll take you with pleasure!' the Queen said. `Twopence a week, and jam every other day.'
Alice couldn't help laughing, as she said, `I don't want you to hire me -- and I don't care for jam.'
`It's very good jam,' said the Queen.
`Well, I don't want any to-day, at any rate.'
`You couldn't have it if you did want it,' the Queen said. `The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday -- but never jam to-day.'
`It must come sometimes to "jam do-day,"' Alice objected.
`No, it can't,' said the Queen. `It's jam every other day: to-day isn't any other day, you know.'
`I don't understand you,' said Alice. `It's dreadfully confusing!'
`That's the effect of living backwards,' the Queen said kindly:
`it always makes one a little giddy at first --
`Living backwards!' Alice repeated in great astonishment. `I never heard of such a thing!'
` -- but there's one great advantage in it, that one's memory works both ways.'
`I'm sure mine only works one way.' Alice remarked. `I can't remember things before they happen.'
`It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,' the Queen remarked.
`What sort of things do you remember best?' Alice ventured to ask.
`Oh, things that happened the week after next,' the Queen replied in a careless tone. `For instance, now,' she went on, sticking a large piece of plaster [band-aid] on her finger as she spoke, `there's the King's Messenger. He's in prison now, being punished: and the trial doesn't even begin till next Wednesday: and of course the crime comes last of all.'
`Suppose he never commits the crime?' said Alice.
`That would be all the better wouldn't it?' the Queen said, as she bound the plaster round her finger with a bit of ribbon.
Alice felt there was no denying that. `Of course it would be all the better,' she said: `but it wouldn't be all the better his being punished.'
`You're wrong there, at any rate,' said the Queen: `were you ever punished?'
`Only for faults,' said Alice.
`And you were all the better for it, I know!' the Queen said triumphantly.
`Yes, but then I had done the things I was punished for,' said Alice: `that makes all the difference.'
`But if you hadn't done them,' the Queen said, `that would have been better still; better, and better, and better!' Her voice went higher with each `better,' till it got quite to a squeak at last.
Alice was just beginning to say `There's a mistake somewhere-,' ** when the Queen began screaming so loud that she had to leave the sentence unfinished. `Oh, oh, oh!' shouted the Queen, shaking her hand about as if she wanted to shake it off. `My finger's bleeding! Oh, oh, oh, oh!'
Her screams were so exactly like the whistle of a steam-engine, that Alice had to hold both her hands over her ears.
`What is the matter?' she said, as soon as there was a chance of making herself heard. `Have you pricked your finger?'
`I haven't pricked it yet,' the Queen said, `but I soon shall - - oh, oh, oh!'
`When do you expect to do it?' Alice asked, feeling very much inclined to laugh.
`When I fasten my shawl again,' the poor Queen groaned out: `the brooch will come undone directly. Oh, oh!' As she said the words the brooch flew open, and the Queen clutched wildly at it, and tried to clasp it again.
`Take care!' cried Alice. `You're holding it all crooked!' And she caught at the brooch; but it was too late: the pin had slipped, and the Queen had pricked her finger.
`That accounts for the bleeding, you see,' she said to Alice with a smile. `Now you understand the way things happen here.'
`But why don't you scream now?' Alice asked, holding her hands ready to put over her ears again.
`Why, I've done all the screaming already,' said the Queen. `What would be the good of having it all over again?'
By this time it was getting light. `The crow must have flown away, I think,' said Alice: `I'm so glad it's gone. I thought it was the night coming on.'
`I wish I could manage to be glad!' the Queen said. `Only I never can remember the rule. You must be very happy, living in this wood, and being glad whenever you like!'
`Only it is so very lonely here!' Alice said in a melancholy voice; and at the thought of her loneliness two large tears came rolling down her cheeks.
`Oh, don't go on like that!' cried the poor Queen, wringing her hands in despair. `Consider what a great girl you are. Consider what a long way you've come to-day. Consider what o'clock it is.
Consider anything, only don't cry!'
Alice could not help laughing at this, even in the midst of her tears. `Can you keep from crying by considering things?' she asked.
`That's the way it's done,' the Queen said with great decision:
`nobody can do two things at once, you know. Let's consider you age to begin with -- how old are you?'
`I`m seven and a half exactly.'
`You needn't say "exactually,"' the Queen remarked: `I can believe it without that. Now I'll give you something to believe.
I'm just one hundred and one, five months and a day.'
`I can't believe that!' said Alice.
`Can't you?' the Queen said in a pitying tone. `Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.'
Alice laughed. `There's not use trying,' she said: `one can't believe impossible things.'
`I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. `When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. There goes the shawl again!'
The brooch had come undone as she spoke, and a sudden gust of wind blew the Queen's shawl across a little brook. The Queen spread out her arms again, and went flying after it, and this time she succeeded in catching it for herself. `I've got!' she cried in a triumphant tone. `Now you shall see me pin it on again, all by myself!'
`Then I hope your finger is better now?' Alice said very politely, as she crossed the little brook after the Queen.
`Oh, much better!' cried the Queen, her voice rising to a squeak as she went on. `Much be-etter! Be-etter! Be-e-e-etter!
Be-e-ehh!' The last word ended in a long bleat, so like a sheep that Alice quite started.
She looked at the Queen, who seemed to have suddenly wrapped herself up in wool. Alice rubbed her eyes, and looked again. She couldn't make out what had happened at all. Was she in a shop? And was that really - was it really a sheep that was sitting on the other side of the counter? Rub as she could, she could make nothing more of it: she was in a little dark shop, leaning with her elbows on the counter, and opposite to her was a old Sheep, sitting in an arm-chair knitting, and every now and then leaving off to look at her through a great pair of spectacles.
`What is it you want to buy?' the Sheep said at last, looking up for a moment from her knitting.
`I don't quite know yet,' Alice said, very gently. I should like to look all round me first, if I might.'
`You may look in front of you, and on both sides, if you like,' said the Sheep: `but you can't look all round you -- unless you've got eyes at the back of your head.'
But these, as it happened, Alice had not got: so she contented herself with turning round, looking at the shelves as she came to them.
The shop seemed to be full of all manner of curious things -- but the oddest part of it all was, that whenever she looked hard at any shelf, to make out exactly what it had on it, that particular shelf was always quite empty: though the others round it were crowded as full as they could hold.
`Things flow about so here!' she said at last in a plaintive tone, after she had spent a minute or so in vainly pursuing a large bright thing, that looked sometimes like a doll and sometimes like a work-box, and was always in the shelf next above the one she was looking at. `And this one is the most provoking of all -- but I'll tell you what -- ' she added, as a sudden thought struck her, `I'll follow it up to the very top shelf of all. It'll puzzle it to go through the ceiling, I expect!'
But even this plan failed: the `thing' went through the ceiling as quietly as possible, as if it were quite used to it.
`Are you a child or a teetotum?' the Sheep said, as she took up another pair of needles. `You'll make me giddy soon, if you go on turning round like that.' She was now working with fourteen pairs at once, and Alice couldn't help looking at her in great astonishment.
`How can she knit with so many?' the puzzled child thought to herself. `She gets more and more like a porcupine every minute!'
`Can you row?' the Sheep asked, handing her a pair of knitting- needles as she spoke.
`Yes, a little -- but not on land -- and not with needles -- ' Alice was beginning to say, when suddenly the needles turned into oars in her hands, and she found they were in a little boat, gliding along between banks: so there was nothing for it but to do her best.
`Feather!' cried the Sheep, as she took up another pair of needles.
This didn't sound like a remark that needed any answer, so Alice said nothing, but pulled away. There was something very queer about the water, she thought, as every now and then the oars got fast in it, and would hardly come out again.
`Feather! Feather!' the Sheep cried again, taking more needles. `You'll be catching a crab directly.'
`A dear little crab!' thought Alice. `I should like that.'
`Didn't you hear me say "Feather"?' the Sheep cried angrily, taking up quite a bunch of needles.
`Indeed I did,' said Alice: `you've said it very often -- and very loud. Please, where are the crabs?'
`In the water, of course!' said the Sheep, sticking some of the needles into her hair, as her hands were full. `Feather, I say!'
`why do you say "feather" so often?' Alice asked at last, rather vexed. 'I'm not a bird!'
`You are,` said the Sheet: `you're a little goose.'
This offended Alice a little, so there was no more conversation for a minute or two, while the boat glided gently on, sometimes among beds of weeds (which made the oars stick fast in the water, worse then ever), and sometimes under trees, but always with the same tall river-banks frowning over their heads.
`Oh, please! There are some scented rushes!' Alice cried in a sudden transport of delight. `There really are -- and such beauties!'
`You needn't say "please" to me about `em' the Sheep said, without looking up from her knitting: `I didn't put `em there, and I'm not going to take `em away.'
`No, but I meant -- please, may we wait and pick some?' Alice pleaded. `If you don't mind stopping the boat for a minute.'
`How am I to stop it?' said the Sheep. `If you leave off rowing, it'll stop of itself.
So the boat was left to drift down the stream as it would, till it glided gently in among the waving rushes. And then the little sleeves were carefully rolled up, and the little arms were plunged in elbow-deep to get the rushes a good long way down before breaking them off -- and for a while Alice forgot all about the Sheep and the knitting, as she bent over the side of the boat, with just the ends of her tangled hair dipping into the water -- while with bright eager eyes she caught at one bunch after another of the darling scented rushes.
`I only hope the boat won't tipple over!' she said to herself. Oh, what a lovely one! Only I couldn't quite reach it.' `And it certainly did seem a little provoking ( `almost as if it happened on purpose,' she thought) that, though she managed to pick plenty of beautiful rushes as the boat glided by, there was always a more lovely one that she couldn't reach.
`The prettiest are always further!' she said at last, with a sigh at the obstinacy of the rushes in growing so far off, as, with flushed cheeks and dripping hair and hands, she scrambled back into her place, and began to arrange her new-found treasures.
What mattered it to her just than that the rushes had begun to fade, and to lose all their scent and beauty, from the very moment that she picked them? Even real scented rushes, you know, last only a very little while -- and these, being dream-rushes, melted away almost like snow, as they lay in heaps at her feet -- but Alice hardly noticed this, there were so many other curious things to think about.
They hadn't gone much farther before the blade of one of the oars got fast in the water and wouldn't come out again (so Alice explained it afterwards), and the consequence was that the handle of it caught her under the chin, and, in spite of a series of little shrieks of `Oh, oh, oh!' from poor Alice, it swept her straight off the seat, and down among the heap of rushes.
However, she wasn't hurt, and was soon up again: the Sheep went on with her knitting all the while, just as if nothing had happened. `That was a nice crab you caught!' she remarked, as Alice got back into her place, very much relieved to find herself still in the boat.
`Was it? I didn't see it,' Said Alice, peeping cautiously over the side of the boat into the dark water. `I wish it hadn't let go -- I should so like to see a little crab to take home with me!' But the Sheep only laughed scornfully, and went on with her knitting.
`Are there many crabs here?' said Alice.
`Crabs, and all sorts of things,' said the Sheep: `plenty of choice, only make up your mind. Now, what do you want to buy?'
`To buy!' Alice echoes in a tone that was half astonished and half frightened -- for the oars, and the boat, and the river, had vanished all in a moment, and she was back again in the little dark shop.
`I should like to buy an egg, please,' she said timidly. `How do you sell them?'
`Fivepence farthing for one -- Twopence for two,' the Sheep replied.
`Then two are cheaper than one?' Alice said in a surprised tone, taking out her purse.
`Only you must eat them both, if you buy two,' said the Sheep.
`Then I'll have one, please,' said Alice, as she put the money down on the counter. For she thought to herself, `They mightn't be at all nice, you know.'
The Sheep took the money, and put it away in a box: then she said `I never put things into people's hands -- that would never do -- you must get it for yourself.' And so saying, she went off to the other end of the shop, and set the egg upright on a shelf.
`I wonder why it wouldn't do?' thought Alice, as she groped her way among the tables and chairs, for the shop was very dark towards the end. `The egg seems to get further away the more I walk towards it. Let me see, is this a chair? Why, it's got branches, I declare! How very odd to find trees growing here! And actually here's a little brook! Well, this is the very queerest shop I ever saw!'
So she went on, wondering more and more at every step, as everything turned into a tree the moment she came up to it, and she quite expected the egg to do the same.
However, the egg only got larger and larger, and more and more human: when she had come within a few yards of it, she saw that it had eyes and a nose and mouth; and when she had come close to it, she saw clearly that it was HUMPTY DUMPTY himself. `It can't be anybody else!' she said to herself. `I'm as certain of it, as if his name were written all over his face.'
It might have been written a hundred times, easily, on that enormous face. Humpty Dumpty was sitting with his legs crossed, like a Turk, on the top of a high wall -- such a narrow one that Alice quite wondered how he could keep his balance -- and, as his eyes were steadily fixed in the opposite direction, and he didn't take the least notice of her, she thought he must be a stuffed figure after all.
`And how exactly like an egg he is!' she said aloud, standing with her hands ready to catch him, for she was every moment expecting him to fall.
`It's very provoking,' Humpty Dumpty said after a long silence, looking away from Alice as he spoke, `to be called an egg -- very!'
`I said you looked like an egg, Sir,' Alice gently explained. `And some eggs are very pretty, you know, she added, hoping to turn her remark into a sort of a compliment.
`Some people,' said Humpty Dumpty, looking away from her as usual, `have no more sense than a baby!'
Alice didn't know what to say to this: it wasn't at all like conversation, she thought, as he never said anything to her; in fact, his last remark was evidently addressed to a tree -- so she stood and softly repeated to herself: --
`That last line is much too long for the poetry,' she added, almost out loud, forgetting that Humpty Dumpty would hear her.
`Don't stand there chattering to yourself like that,' Humpty Dumpty said, looking at her for the first time,' but tell me your name and your business.'
`My name is Alice, but -- '
`It's a stupid name enough!' Humpty Dumpty interrupted impatiently. `What does it mean?'
`must a name mean something?' Alice asked doubtfully.
`Of course it must,' Humpty Dumpty said with a sort laugh: `my name means the shape I am -- and a good handsome shape it is, too. With a name like your, you might be any shape, almost.'
`Why do you sit out here all alone?' said Alice, not wishing to begin an argument.
`Why, because there's nobody with me!' cried Humpty Dumpty. `Did you think I didn't know the answer to that? Ask another.'
`Don't you think you'd be safer down on the ground?' Alice went on, not with any idea of making another riddle, but simply in her good-natured anxiety for the queer creature. `That wall is so very narrow!'
`What tremendously easy riddles you ask!' Humpty Dumpty growled out. `Of course I don't think so! Why, if ever I did fall off - - which there's no chance of -- but if I did -- ' Here he pursed his lips and looked so solemn and grand that Alice could hardly help laughing. `If I did fall,' he went on, `The King has promised me -- ah, you may turn pale, if you like! You didn't think I was going to say that, did you? The King has promised me -- with his very own mouth -- to -- to -- '
`To send all his horses and all his men,' Alice interrupted, rather unwisely.
`Now I declare that's too bad!' Humpty Dumpty cried, breaking into a sudden passion. `You've been listening at doors -- and behind trees -- and sown chimneys -- or you couldn't have known it!'
`I haven't, indeed!' Alice said very gently. `It's in a book.'
`Ah, well! They may write such things in a book,' Humpty Dumpty said in a calmer tone. `That's what you call a History of England, that is. Now, take a good look at me! I'm one that has spoken to a King, I am: mayhap you'll never see such another: and to show you I'm not proud, you may shake hands with me!' And he grinned almost from ear to ear, as he leant forwards (and as nearly as possible fell of the wall in doing so) and offered Alice his hand. She watched him a little anxiously as she took it. `If he smiled much more, the ends of his mouth might meet behind,' she thought: `and then I don't know what would happen to his head! I'm afraid it would come off!'
`Yes, all his horses and all his men,' Humpty Dumpty went on. `They'd pick me up again in a minute, they would! However, this conversation is going on a little too fast: let's go back to the last remark but one.'
`I'm afraid I can't quite remember it,' Alice said very politely.
`In that case we start fresh,' said Humpty Dumpty, `and it's my turn to choose a subject -- ' (`He talks about it just as if it was a game!' thought Alice.) `So here's a question for you. How old did you say you were?'
Alice made a short calculation, and said `Seven years and six months.'
`Wrong!' Humpty Dumpty exclaimed triumphantly. `You never said a word like it!'
`I though you meant "How old are you?"' Alice explained.
`If I'd meant that, I'd have said it,' said Humpty Dumpty.
Alice didn't want to begin another argument, so she said nothing.
`Seven years and six months!' Humpty Dumpty repeated thoughtfully. `An uncomfortable sort of age. Now if you'd asked my advice, I'd have said "Leave off at seven" -- but it's too late now.'
`I never ask advice about growing,' Alice said Indignantly.
`Too proud?' the other inquired.
Alice felt even more indignant at this suggestion. `I mean,' she said, `that one can't help growing older.'
`One can't, perhaps,' said Humpty Dumpty, `but two can. With proper assistance, you might have left off at seven.'
`What a beautiful belt you've got on!' Alice suddenly remarked.
(They had had quite enough of the subject of age, she thought: and if they really were to take turns in choosing subjects, it was her turn now.) `At least,' she corrected herself on second thoughts, `a beautiful cravat, I should have said -- no, a belt, I mean -- I beg your pardon!' she added in dismay, for Humpty Dumpty looked thoroughly offended, and she began to wish she hadn't chosen that subject. `If I only knew,' the thought to herself, 'which was neck and which was waist!'
Evidently Humpty Dumpty was very angry, though he said nothing for a minute or two. When he did speak again, it was in a deep growl.
`It is a -- most -- provoking -- thing,' he said at last, `when a person doesn't know a cravat from a belt!'
`I know it's very ignorant of me,' Alice said, in so humble a tone that Humpty Dumpty relented.
`It's a cravat, child, and a beautiful one, as you say. It's a present from the White King and Queen. There now!'
`Is it really?' said Alice, quite pleased to find that she had chosen a good subject, after all.
`They gave it me,' Humpty Dumpty continued thoughtfully, as he crossed one knee over the other and clasped his hands round it, `they gave it me -- for an un-birthday present.'
`I beg your pardon?' Alice said with a puzzled air.
`I'm not offended,' said Humpty Dumpty.
`I mean, what is and un-birthday present?'
`A present given when it isn't your birthday, of course.'
Alice considered a little. `I like birthday presents best,' she said at last.
`You don't know what you're talking about!' cried Humpty Dumpty. `How many days are there in a year?'
`Three hundred and sixty-five,' said Alice.
`And how many birthdays have you?'
`And if you take one from three hundred and sixty-five, what remains?'
`Three hundred and sixty-four, of course.'
Humpty Dumpty looked doubtful. `I'd rather see that done on paper,' he said.
Alice couldn't help smiling as she took out her memorandum- book, and worked the sum for him:
365 1 ___ 364 ___
Humpty Dumpty took the book, and looked at it carefully. `That seems to be done right -- ' he began.
`You're holding it upside down!' Alice interrupted.
`To be sure I was!' Humpty Dumpty said gaily, as she turned it round for him. `I thought it looked a little queer. As I was saying, that seems to be done right -- though I haven't time to look it over thoroughly just now -- and that shows that there are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents -- '
`Certainly,' said Alice.
`And only one for birthday presents, you know. There's glory for you!'
`I don't know what you mean by "glory,"' Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. `Of course you don't -- till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'
`But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument,"' Alice objected.
`When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'
`The question is,' said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
`The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master - - that's all.'
Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. `They've a temper, some of them -- particularly verbs, they're the proudest -- adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs -- however, I can manage the whole of them! Impenetrability! That's what I say!'
`Would you tell me, please,' said Alice `what that means?`
`Now you talk like a reasonable child,' said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. `I meant by "impenetrability" that we've had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you'd mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don't mean to stop here all the rest of your life.'
`That's a great deal to make one word mean,' Alice said in a thoughtful tone.
`When I make a word do a lot of work like that,' said Humpty Dumpty, `I always pay it extra.'
`Oh!' said Alice. She was too much puzzled to make any other remark.
`Ah, you should see `em come round me of a Saturday night,' Humpty Dumpty went on, wagging his head gravely from side to side: `for to get their wages, you know.'
(Alice didn't venture to ask what he paid them with; and so you see I can't tell you.)
`You seem very clever at explaining words, Sir,' said Alice. `Would you kindly tell me the meaning of the poem called "Jabberwocky"?'
`Let's hear it,' said Humpty Dumpty. `I can explain all the poems that were ever invented -- and a good many that haven't been invented just yet.'
This sounded very hopeful, so Alice repeated the first verse:
`That's enough to begin with,' Humpty Dumpty interrupted: `there are plenty of hard words there. "Brillig" means four o'clock in the afternoon -- the time when you begin broiling things for dinner.'
`That'll do very well,' said Alice: and "slithy"?'
`Well, "slithy" means "lithe and slimy." "Lithe" is the same as "active." You see it's like a portmanteau -- there are two meanings packed up into one word.'
`I see it now,' Alice remarked thoughtfully: `and what are "toves"?'
`Well, "toves" are something like badgers -- they're something like lizards -- and they're something like corkscrews.'
`They must be very curious looking creatures.'
`They are that,' said Humpty Dumpty: `also they make their nests under sun-dials -- also they live on cheese.'
`Andy what's the "gyre" and to "gimble"?'
`To "gyre" is to go round and round like a gyroscope. To "gimble" is to make holes like a gimblet.'
`And "the wabe" is the grass-plot round a sun-dial, I suppose?' said Alice, surprised at her own ingenuity.
`Of course it is. It's called "wabe," you know, because it goes a long way before it, and a long way behind it -- '
`And a long way beyond it on each side,' Alice added.
`Exactly so. Well, then, "mimsy" is "flimsy and miserable" (there's another portmanteau for you). And a "borogove" is a thing shabby-looking bird with its feathers sticking out all round -- something like a live mop.'
`And then "mome raths"?' said Alice. `I'm afraid I'm giving you a great deal of trouble.'
`Well, a "rath" is a sort of green pig: but "mome" I'm not certain about. I think it's short for "from home" -- meaning that they'd lost their way, you know.'
`And what does "outgrabe" mean?'
`Well, "outgribing" is something between bellowing and whistling, with a kind of sneeze in the middle: however, you'll hear it done, maybe -- down in the wood yonder -- and when you've once heard it you'll be quite content. Who's been repeating all that hard stuff to you?'
`I read it in a book,' said Alice. `But I had some poetry repeated to me, much easier than that, by -- Tweedledee, I think it was.'
`As to poetry, you know,' said Humpty Dumpty, stretching out one of his great hands, `I can repeat poetry as well as other folk, if it comes to that -- '
`Oh, it needn't come to that!' Alice hastily said, hoping to keep him from beginning.
`The piece I'm going to repeat,' he went on without noticing her remark,' was written entirely for your amusement.'
Alice felt that in that case she really ought to listen to it, so she sat down, and said `Thank you' rather sadly.
only I don't sing it,' he added, as an explanation.
`I see you don't,' said Alice.
`If you can see whether I'm singing or not, you're sharper eyes than most.' Humpty Dumpty remarked severely. Alice was silent.
`Thank you very much,' said Alice.
`I will, if I can remember it so long,' said Alice.
`You needn't go on making remarks like that,' Humpty Dumpty said: `they're not sensible, and they put me out.'
`I'm afraid I don't quite understand,' said Alice.
`It gets easier further on,' Humpty Dumpty replied.
Humpty Dumpty raised his voice almost to a scream as he repeated this verse, and Alice thought with a shudder, `I wouldn't have been the messenger for anything!'
There was a long pause.
`Is that all?' Alice timidly asked.
`That's all,' said Humpty Dumpty. Good-bye.'
This was rather sudden, Alice thought: but, after such a very strong hint that she ought to be going, she felt that it would hardly be civil to stay. So she got up, and held out her hand. `Good-bye, till we meet again!' she said as cheerfully as she could.
`I shouldn't know you again if we did meet,' Humpty Dumpty replied in a discontented tone, giving her one of his fingers to shake; `you're so exactly like other people.'
`The face is what one goes by, generally,' Alice remarked in a thoughtful tone.
`That`s just what I complain of,' said Humpty Dumpty. `Your face is that same as everybody has -- the two eyes, so -- ' (marking their places in the air with this thumb) `nose in the middle, mouth under. It's always the same. Now if you had the two eyes on the same side of the nose, for instance -- or the mouth at the top -- that would be some help.'
`It wouldn't look nice,' Alice objected. But Humpty Dumpty only shut his eyes and said `Wait till you've tried.'
Alice waited a minute to see if he would speak again, but as he never opened his eyes or took any further notice of her, she said `Good-bye!' once more, and, getting no answer to this, she quietly walked away: but she couldn't help saying to herself as she went, `Of all the unsatisfactory -- ' (she repeated this aloud, as it was a great comfort have such a long word to say) `of all the unsatisfactory people I ever met -- ' She never finished the sentence, for at this moment a heavy crash shook the forest from end to end.