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Chapter VII, The Lion and The Unicorn. Part II
‘Then I suppose they’ll soon bring the white bread and the brown?’ Alice ventured to remark.
‘It’s waiting for ‘em now,’ said Hatta; ‘this is a bit of it as I’m eating.’
There was a pause in the fight just then, and the Lion and the Unicorn sat down, panting, while the King called out ‘Ten minutes allowed for refreshments!’ Haigha and Hatta set to work at once, carrying round trays of white and brown bread. Alice took a piece to taste, but it was very dry.
‘I don’t think they’ll fight any more today,’ the King said to Hatta: ‘go and order the drums to begin.’ And Hatta went bounding away like a grasshopper.
For a minute or two Alice stood silent, watching him. Suddenly she brightened up. ‘Look, look!’ she cried, pointing eagerly. ‘There’s the White Queen running across the country! She came flying out of the wood over yonder – – How fast those Queens can run!’
‘There’s some enemy after her, no doubt,’ the King said, without even looking round. ‘That wood’s full of them.’
‘But aren’t you going to run and help her?’ Alice asked, very much surprised at his taking it so quietly.
‘No use, no use!’ said the King. ‘She runs so fearfully quick. You might as well try to catch a Bandersnatch! But I’ll make a memorandum about her, if you like – – She’s a dear good creature,’ he repeated softly to himself, as he opened his memorandum-book. ‘Do you spell “creature” with a double “e”?’
At this moment the Unicorn sauntered by them, with his hands in his pockets. ‘I had the best of it this time?’ he said to the King, just glancing at him as he passed.
‘A little – a little,’ the King replied, rather nervously. ‘You shouldn’t have run him through with your horn, you know.’
‘It didn’t hurt him,’ the Unicorn said carelessly, and he was going on, when his eye happened to fall upon Alice: he turned round rather instantly, and stood for some time looking at her with an air of the deepest disgust.
‘What – is – this?’ he said at last.
‘This is a child!’ Haigha replied eagerly, coming in front of Alice to introduce her, and spreading out both his hands towards her in an AngloSaxon attitude. ‘We only found it today. It’s as large as life, and twice as natural!’
‘I always thought they were fabulous monsters!’ said the Unicorn. ‘Is it alive?’
‘It can talk,’ said Haigha solemnly.
The Unicorn looked dreamily at Alice, and said ‘Talk, child.’
Alice could not help her lips curling up into a smile as she began: ‘Do you know, I always thought Unicorns were fabulous monsters, too? I never saw one alive before!’
‘Well, now that we have seen each other,’ said the Unicorn, ‘if you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you. Is that a bargain?’
‘Yes, if you like,’ said Alice.
‘Come, fetch out the plum-cake, old man!’ the Unicorn went on, turning from her to the King. ‘None of your brown bread for me!’
‘Certainly – certainly!’ the King muttered, and beckoned to Haigha. ‘Open the bag!’ he whispered. ‘Quick! Not that one – that’s full of hay!’
Haigha took a large cake out of the bag, and gave it to Alice to hold, while he got out a dish and carvingknife. How they all came out of it Alice couldn’t guess. It was just like a conjuring-trick, she thought.
The Lion had joined them while this was going on: he looked very tired and sleepy, and his eyes were half shut. ‘What’s this!’ he said, blinking lazily at Alice, and speaking in a deep hollow tone that sounded like the tolling of a great bell.
‘Ah, what is it, now?’ the Unicorn cried eagerly. ‘You’ll never guess! I couldn’t.’
The Lion looked at Alice wearily. ‘Are you animal – vegetable – or mineral?’ he said, yawning at every other word.
‘It’s a fabulous monster!’ the Unicorn cried out, before Alice could reply.
‘Then hand round the plum-cake, Monster,’ the Lion said, lying down and putting his chin on his paws. ‘And sit down, both of you,’ (to the King and the Unicorn): ‘fair play with the cake, you know!’
The King was evidently very uncomfortable at having to sit down between the two great creatures; but there was no other place for him.
‘What a fight we might have for the crown, now!’ the Unicorn said, looking slyly up at the crown, which the poor King was nearly shaking off his head, he trembled so much.
‘I should win easy,’ said the Lion.
‘I’m not so sure of that,’ said the Unicorn.
‘Why, I beat you all round the town, you chicken!’ the Lion replied angrily, half getting up as he spoke.
Here the King interrupted, to prevent the quarrel going on: he was very nervous, and his voice quite quivered. ‘All round the town?’ he said. ‘That’s a good long way. Did you go by the old bridge, or the marketplace? You get the best view by the old bridge.’
‘I’m sure I don’t know,’ the Lion growled out as he lay down again. ‘There was too much dust to see anything. What a time the Monster is, cutting up that cake!’
Alice had seated herself on the bank of a little brook, with the great dish on her knees, and was sawing away diligently with the knife. ‘It’s very provoking!’ she said, in reply to the Lion (she was getting quite used to being called ‘the Monster’). ‘I’ve cut several slices already, but they always join on again!’
‘You don’t know how to manage Lookingglass cakes,’ the Unicorn remarked. ‘Hand it round first, and cut it afterwards.’
This sounded nonsense, but Alice very obediently got up, and carried the dish round, and the cake divided itself into three pieces as she did so. ‘Now cut it up,’ said the Lion, as she returned to her place with the empty dish.
‘I say, this isn’t fair!’ cried the Unicorn, as Alice sat with the knife in her hand, very much puzzled how to begin. ‘The Monster has given the Lion twice as much as me!’
‘She’s kept none for herself, anyhow,’ said the Lion. ‘Do you like plum-cake, Monster?’
But before Alice could answer him, the drums began.
Where the noise came from, she couldn’t make out: the air seemed full of it, and it rang through and through her head till she felt quite deafened. She started to her feet and sprang across the little brook in her terror,
and had just time to see the Lion and the Unicorn rise to their feet, with angry looks at being interrupted in their feast, before she dropped to her knees, and put her hands over her ears, vainly trying to shut out the dreadful uproar.
‘If that doesn’t “drum them out of town,”’ she thought to herself, ‘nothing ever will!’
Chapter VIII, ‘It’s My Own Invention’. Part I
After a while the noise seemed gradually to die away, till all was dead silence, and Alice lifted up her head in some alarm. There was no one to be seen, and her first thought was that she must have been dreaming about the Lion and the Unicorn and those queer AngloSaxon Messengers. However, there was the great dish still lying at her feet, on which she had tried to cut the plum-cake, ‘So I wasn’t dreaming, after all,’ she said to herself, ‘unless – unless we’re all part of the same dream. Only I do hope it’s my dream, and not the Red King’s! I don’t like belonging to another person’s dream,’ she went on in a rather complaining tone: ‘I’ve a great mind to go and wake him, and see what happens!’
At this moment her thoughts were interrupted by a loud shouting of ‘Ahoy! Ahoy! Check! ’ and a Knight, dressed in crimson armour, came galloping down upon her, brandishing a great club. Just as he reached her, the horse stopped suddenly: ‘You’re my prisoner!’ the Knight cried, as he tumbled off his horse.
Startled as she was, Alice was more frightened for him than for herself at the moment, and watched him with some anxiety as he mounted again. As soon as he was comfortably in the saddle, he began once more ‘You’re my–’ but here another voice broke in ‘Ahoy! Ahoy! Check!’ and Alice looked round in some surprise for the new enemy.
This time it was a White Knight. He drew up at Alice’s side, and tumbled off his horse just as the Red Knight had done: then he got on again, and the two Knights sat and looked at each other for some time without speaking. Alice looked from one to the other in some bewilderment.
‘She’s my prisoner, you know!’ the Red Knight said at last.
‘Yes, but then I came and rescued her!’ the White Knight replied.
‘Well, we must fight for her, then,’ said the Red Knight, as he took up his helmet (which hung from the saddle, and was something the shape of a horse’s head) and put it on.
‘You will observe the Rules of Battle, of course?’ the White Knight remarked, putting on his helmet too.
‘I always do,’ said the Red Knight, and they began banging away at each other with such fury that Alice got behind a tree to be out of the way of the blows.
‘I wonder, now, what the Rules of Battle are,’ she said to herself, as she watched the fight, timidly peeping out from her hidingplace: ‘One Rule seems to be, that if one Knight hits the other, he knocks him off his horse; and if he misses, he tumbles off himself – and another Rule seems to be that they hold their clubs with their arms, as if they were Punch and Judy – What a noise they make when they tumble! Just like a whole set of fireirons falling into the fender! And how quiet the horses are! They let them get on and off them just as if they were tables!’
Another Rule of Battle, that Alice had not noticed, seemed to be that they always fell on their heads; and the battle ended with their both falling off in this way, side by side. When they got up again, they shook hands, and then the Red Knight mounted and galloped off.
‘It was a glorious victory, wasn’t it?’ said the White Knight, as he came up panting.
‘I don’t know,’ Alice said doubtfully. ‘I don’t want to be anybody’s prisoner. I want to be a Queen.’
‘So you will, when you’ve crossed the next brook,’ said the White Knight. ‘I’ll see you safe to the end of the wood – and then I must go back, you know. That’s the end of my move.’
‘Thank you very much,’ said Alice. ‘May I help you off with your helmet?’ It was evidently more than he could manage by himself: however, she managed to shake him out of it at last.
‘Now one can breathe more easily,’ said the Knight, putting back his shaggy hair with both hands, and turning his gentle face and large mild eyes to Alice. She thought she had never seen such a strange-looking soldier in all her life.
He was dressed in tin armour, which seemed to fit him very badly, and he had a queershaped little deal box fastened across his shoulder, upsidedown, and with the lid hanging open. Alice looked at it with great curiosity.
‘I see you’re admiring my little box,’ the Knight said in a friendly tone. ‘It’s my own invention – to keep clothes and sandwiches in. You see I carry it upsidedown, so that the rain can’t get in.’
‘But the things can get out,’ Alice gently remarked. ‘Do you know the lid’s open?’
‘I didn’t know it,’ the Knight said, a shade of vexation passing over his face. ‘Then all the things much have fallen out! And the box is no use without them.’ He unfastened it as he spoke, and was just going to throw it into the bushes, when a sudden thought seemed to strike him, and he hung it carefully on a tree. ‘Can you guess why I did that?’ he said to Alice.
Alice shook her head.
‘In hopes some bees may make a nest in it – then I should get the honey.’
‘But you’ve got a beehive – or something like one – fastened to the saddle,’ said Alice.
‘Yes, it’s a very good beehive,’ the Knight said in a discontented tone, ‘one of the best kind. But not a single bee has come near it yet. And the other thing is a mousetrap. I suppose the mice keep the bees out – or the bees keep the mice out, I don’t know which.’
‘I was wondering what the mousetrap was for,’ said Alice. ‘It isn’t very likely there would be any mice on the horse’s back.’
‘Not very likely, perhaps,’ said the Knight; ‘but, if they do come, I don’t choose to have them running all about.’
‘You see,’ he went on after a pause, ‘it’s as well to be provided for everything. That’s the reason the horse has all those anklets round his feet.’
‘But what are they for?’ Alice asked in a tone of great curiosity.
‘To guard against the bites of sharks,’ the Knight replied. ‘It’s an invention of my own. And now help me on. I’ll go with you to the end of the wood – What’s that dish for?’
‘It’s meant for plum-cake,’ said Alice.