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Chapter IV, Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Part III
‘Then you’d better not fight today,’ 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 ‘Halfpast 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!’
Chapter V, Wool and Water. Part I
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 ‘breadandbutter, breadandbutter,’ 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 adressing,’ 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 adressing 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 today, at any rate.’
‘You couldn’t have it if you did want it,’ the Queen said. ‘The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday – but never jam-to-day.’
‘It must come sometimes to “jam-to-day,” Alice objected.
‘No, it can’t,’ said the Queen. ‘It’s jam every other day: today 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 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 steamengine, 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 today. 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 your age to begin with – how old are you?’
‘I’m seven and a half exactly.’
‘You needn’t say “exactly,”’ 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 beetter! Beetter! Beeeetter! Beeehh!’ 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 an old Sheep, sitting in an armchair 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.