They were indeed a queer-looking
party that assembled on the bank--the
birds with draggled feathers,
the animals with their fur clinging
close to them, and all dripping
wet, cross, and uncomfortable.
The first question of course
was, how to get dry again: they
had a consultation about this,
and after a few minutes it seemed
quite natural to Alice to find
herself talking familiarly with
them, as if she had known them
all her life. Indeed, she had
quite a long argument with the
Lory, who at last turned sulky,
and would only say, `I am older
than you, and must know better';
and this Alice would not allow
without knowing how old it was,
and, as the Lory positively refused
to tell its age, there was no
more to be said.
At last the Mouse, who seemed
to be a person of authority among
them, called out, `Sit down,
all of you, and listen to me!
I'LL soon make you dry enough!'
They all sat down at once, in
a large ring, with the Mouse
in the middle. Alice kept her
eyes anxiously fixed on it, for
she felt sure she would catch
a bad cold if she did not get
dry very soon.
the Mouse with an important
air, `are you all
ready? This is the driest thing
I know. Silence all round, if
you please! "William the Conqueror,
whose cause was favoured by the
pope, was soon submitted to by
the English, who wanted leaders,
and had been of late much accustomed
to usurpation and conquest. Edwin
and Morcar, the earls of Mercia
`Ugh!' said the Lory, with a
`I beg your pardon!' said the
Mouse, frowning, but very politely:
`Did you speak?'
`Not I!' said the Lory hastily.
`I thought you
did,' said the Mouse. `--I
proceed. "Edwin and
Morcar, the earls of Mercia and
Northumbria, declared for him:
and even Stigand, the patriotic
archbishop of Canterbury, found
`Found WHAT?' said the Duck.
the Mouse replied rather crossly:
`of course you
know what "it" means.'
`I know what "it" means
well enough, when I find a
said the Duck: `it 's generally
a frog or a worm. The question
is, what did the archbishop find?'
The Mouse did
not notice this question, but
on, `"--found it advisable to
go with Edgar Atheling to meet
William and offer him the crown.
William's conduct at first was
moderate. But the insolence of
his Normans--" How are you getting
on now, my dear?' it continued,
turning to Alice as it spoke.
`As wet as ever,' said Alice
in a melancholy tone: `it doesn't
seem to dry me at all.'
`In that case,' said the Dodo
solemnly, rising to its feet,
`I move that the meeting adjourn,
for the immediate adoption of
more energetic remedies--'
`Speak English!' said the Eaglet.
`I don't know the meaning of
half those long words, and, what's
more, I don't believe you do
either!' And the Eaglet bent
down its head to hide a smile:
some of the other birds tittered
`What I was going to say,' said
the Dodo in an offended tone,
`was, that the best thing to
get us dry would be a Caucus-race.'
`What IS a Caucus-race?' said
Alice; not that she wanted much
to know, but the Dodo had paused
as if it thought that SOMEBODY
ought to speak, and no one else
seemed inclined to say anything.
`Why,' said the Dodo, `the best
way to explain it is to do it.'
(And, as you might like to try
the thing yourself, some winter
day, I will tell you how the
Dodo managed it.)
First it marked out a race-course,
in a sort of circle, (`the exact
shape doesn't matter,' it said,)
and then all the party were placed
along the course, here and there.
There was no `One, two, three,
and away,' but they began running
when they liked, and left off
when they liked, so that it was
not easy to know when the race
was over. However, when they
had been running half an hour
or so, and were quite dry again,
the Dodo suddenly called out
`The race is over!' and they
all crowded round it, panting,
and asking, `But who has won?'
This question the Dodo could
not answer without a great deal
of thought, and it sat for a
long time with one finger pressed
upon its forehead (the position
in which you usually see Shakespeare,
in the pictures of him), while
the rest waited in silence. At
last the Dodo said, `EVERYBODY
has won, and all must have prizes.'
`But who is to give the prizes?'
quite a chorus of voices asked.
`Why, SHE, of course,' said
the Dodo, pointing to Alice with
one finger; and the whole party
at once crowded round her, calling
out in a confused way, ` Prizes!
Alice had no idea what to do,
and in despair she put her hand
in her pocket, and pulled out
a box of comfits, (luckily the
salt water had not got into it),
and handed them round as prizes.
There was exactly one a-piece
`But she must have a prize herself,
you know,' said the Mouse.
`Of course,' the Dodo replied
very gravely. `What else have
you got in your pocket?' he went
on, turning to Alice.
`Only a thimble,' said Alice
`Hand it over here,' said the
Then they all crowded round
her once more, while the Dodo
solemnly presented the thimble,
saying `We beg your acceptance
of this elegant thimble'; and,
when it had finished this short
speech, they all cheered.
Alice thought the whole thing
very absurd, but they all looked
so grave that she did not dare
to laugh; and, as she could not
think of anything to say, she
simply bowed, and took the thimble,
looking as solemn as she could.
The next thing was to eat the
comfits: this caused some noise
and confusion, as the large birds
complained that they could not
taste theirs, and the small ones
choked and had to be patted on
the back. However, it was over
at last, and they sat down again
in a ring, and begged the Mouse
to tell them something more.
`You promised to tell me your
history, you know,' said Alice,
`and why it is you hate--C and
D,' she added in a whisper, half
afraid that it would be offended
`Mine is a long and a sad tale!'
said the Mouse, turning to Alice,
`It IS a long tail, certainly,'
said Alice, looking down with
wonder at the Mouse's tail; `but
why do you call it sad?' And
she kept on puzzling about it
while the Mouse was speaking,
so that her idea of the tale
was something like this:--
`Fury said to
a mouse, That he met in the
house, "Let us
both go to law: I will prosecute
YOU. --Come, I'll take no denial;
We must have a trial: For really
this morning I've nothing to
do." Said the mouse to the cur, "Such
a trial, dear Sir, With no jury
or judge, would be wasting our
breath." "I'll be judge, I'll
be jury," Said cunning old Fury: "I'll
try the whole cause, and condemn
you to death."'
`You are not attending!' said
the Mouse to Alice severely.
`What are you thinking of?'
`I beg your pardon,' said Alice
very humbly: `you had got to
the fifth bend, I think?'
`I had NOT!' cried the Mouse,
sharply and very angrily.
`A knot!' said Alice, always
ready to make herself useful,
and looking anxiously about her.
`Oh, do let me help to undo it!'
`I shall do nothing of the sort,'
said the Mouse, getting up and
walking away . `You insult me
by talking such nonsense!'
`I didn't mean it!' pleaded
poor Alice. `But you're so easily
offended, you know!'
The Mouse only growled in reply.
`Please come back and finish
your story!' Alice called after
it; and the others all joined
in chorus, `Yes, please do!'
but the Mouse only shook its
head impatiently, and walked
a little quicker.
`What a pity it wouldn't stay!'
sighed the Lory, as soon as it
was quite out of sight; and an
old Crab took the opportunity
of saying to her daughter `Ah,
my dear! Let this be a lesson
to you never to lose YOUR temper!'
`Hold your tongue, Ma!' said
the young Crab, a little snappishly.
`You're enough to try the patience
of an oyster!'
`I wish I had our Dinah here,
I know I do!' said Alice aloud,
addressing nobody in particular.
`She'd soon fetch it back!'
`And who is Dinah, if I might
venture to ask the question?'
said the Lory.
Alice replied eagerly, for she
was always ready to talk about
her pet: `Dinah 's our cat. And
she's such a capital one for
catching mice you can't think!
And oh, I wish you could see
her after the birds! Why, she'll
eat a little bird as soon as
look at it!'
This speech caused a remarkable
sensation among the party. Some
of the birds hurried off at once:
one the old Magpie began wrapping
itself up very carefully, remarking,
`I really must be getting home;
the night-air doesn't suit my
throat! ' and a Canary called
out in a trembling voice to its
children, `Come away, my dears!
It's high time you were all in
bed!' On various pretexts they
all moved off, and Alice was
soon left alone.
`I wish I hadn't mentioned Dinah!'
she said to herself in a melancholy
tone. `Nobody seems to like her,
down here, and I'm sure she's
the best cat in the world! Oh,
my dear Dinah! I wonder if I
shall ever see you any more!'
And here poor Alice began to
cry again, for she felt very
lonely and low-spirited. In a
little while, however, she again
heard a little pattering of footsteps
in the distance, and she looked
up eagerly, half hoping that
the Mouse had changed his mind,
and was coming back to finish