A large rose-tree stood near
the entrance of the garden: the
roses growing on it were white,
but there were three gardeners
at it, busily painting them red.
Alice thought this a very curious
thing, and she went nearer to
watch them, and just as she came
up to them she heard one of them
say, `Look out now, Five! Don't
go splashing paint over me like
`I couldn't help it,' said
Five, in a sulky tone; `Seven
jogged my elbow.'
On which Seven looked up and
said, `That's right, Five! Always
lay the blame on others!'
`YOU'D better not talk!' said
Five. `I heard the Queen say
only yesterday you deserved to
`What for?' said the one who
had spoken first.
`That's none of YOUR business,
Two!' said Seven.
`Yes, it IS his business!'
said Five, `and I'll tell him--it
was for bringing the cook tulip-roots
instead of onions.'
Seven flung down his brush,
and had just begun `Well, of
all the unjust things--' when
his eye chanced to fall upon
Alice, as she stood watching
them, and he checked himself
suddenly: the others looked round
also, and all of them bowed low.
`Would you tell me,' said Alice,
a little timidly, `why you are
painting those roses?'
Five and Seven said nothing,
but looked at Two. Two began
in a low voice, `Why the fact
is, you see, Miss, this here
ought to have been a RED rose-tree,
and we put a white one in by
mistake; and if the Queen was
to find it out, we should all
have our heads cut off, you know.
So you see, Miss, we're doing
our best, afore she comes, to--'
At this moment Five, who had
been anxiously looking across
the garden, called out `The Queen!
The Queen!' and the three gardeners
instantly threw themselves flat
upon their faces. There was a
sound of many footsteps, and
Alice looked round, eager to
see the Queen.
First came ten soldiers carrying
clubs; these were all shaped
like the three gardeners, oblong
and flat, with their hands and
feet at the corners: next the
ten courtiers; these were ornamented
all over with diamonds, and walked
two and two, as the soldiers
did. After these came the royal
children; there were ten of them,
and the little dears came jumping
merrily along hand in hand, in
couples: they were all ornamented
with hearts. Next came the guests,
mostly Kings and Queens, and
among them Alice recognised the
White Rabbit: it was talking
in a hurried nervous manner,
smiling at everything that was
said, and went by without noticing
her. Then followed the Knave
of Hearts, carrying the King's
crown on a crimson velvet cushion;
and, last of all this grand procession,
came THE KING AND QUEEN OF HEARTS.
Alice was rather doubtful whether
she ought not to lie down on
her face like the three gardeners,
but she could not remember every
having heard of such a rule at
processions; `and besides, what
would be the use of a procession,'
thought she, `if people had all
to lie down upon their faces,
so that they couldn't see it?'
So she stood still where she
was, and waited.
When the procession came opposite
to Alice, they all stopped and
looked at her, and the Queen
said severely `Who is this?'
She said it to the Knave of Hearts,
who only bowed and smiled in
`Idiot!' said the Queen, tossing
her head impatiently; and, turning
to Alice, she went on, `What's
your name, child?'
`My name is Alice, so please
your Majesty,' said Alice very
politely; but she added, to herself,
`Why, they're only a pack of
cards, after all. I needn't be
afraid of them!'
`And who are THESE?' said the
Queen, pointing to the three
gardeners who were lying round
the rosetree; for, you see, as
they were lying on their faces,
and the pattern on their backs
was the same as the rest of the
pack, she could not tell whether
they were gardeners, or soldiers,
or courtiers, or three of her
`How should I know?' said Alice,
surprised at her own courage.
`It's no business of MINE.'
The Queen turned crimson with
fury, and, after glaring at her
for a moment like a wild beast,
screamed `Off with her head!
`Nonsense!' said Alice, very
loudly and decidedly, and the
Queen was silent.
The King laid his hand upon
her arm, and timidly said `Consider,
my dear: she is only a child!'
The Queen turned angrily away
from him, and said to the Knave
`Turn them over!'
The Knave did so, very carefully,
with one foot.
`Get up!' said the Queen, in
a shrill, loud voice, and the
three gardeners instantly jumped
up, and began bowing to the King,
the Queen, the royal children,
and everybody else.
`Leave off that!' screamed
the Queen. `You make me giddy.'
And then, turning to the rose-tree,
she went on, `What HAVE you been
`May it please your Majesty,'
said Two, in a very humble tone,
going down on one knee as he
spoke, `we were trying--'
`I see!' said the Queen, who
had meanwhile been examining
the roses. `Off with their heads!'
and the procession moved on,
three of the soldiers remaining
behind to execute the unfortunate
gardeners, who ran to Alice for
`You shan't be beheaded!' said
Alice, and she put them into
a large flower-pot that stood
near. The three soldiers wandered
about for a minute or two, looking
for them, and then quietly marched
off after the others.
`Are their heads off?' shouted
`Their heads are gone, if it
please your Majesty!' the soldiers
shouted in reply.
`That's right!' shouted the
Queen. `Can you play croquet?'
The soldiers were silent, and
looked at Alice, as the question
was evidently meant for her.
`Yes!' shouted Alice.
`Come on, then!' roared the
Queen, and Alice joined the procession,
wondering very much what would
`It's--it's a very fine day!'
said a timid voice at her side.
She was walking by the White
Rabbit, who was peeping anxiously
into her face.
`Very,' said Alice: `--where's
`Hush! Hush!' said the Rabbit
in a low, hurried tone. He looked
anxiously over his shoulder as
he spoke, and then raised himself
upon tiptoe, put his mouth close
to her ear, and whispered `She's
under sentence of execution.'
`What for?' said Alice.
`Did you say "What a pity!"?'
the Rabbit asked.
`No, I didn't,'
said Alice: `I don't think
it's at all a
pity. I said "What for?"'
`She boxed the Queen's ears--'
the Rabbit began. Alice gave
a little scream of laughter.
`Oh, hush!' the Rabbit whispered
in a frightened tone. `The Queen
will hear you! You see, she came
rather late, and the Queen said--'
`Get to your places!' shouted
the Queen in a voice of thunder,
and people began running about
in all directions, tumbling up
against each other; however,
they got settled down in a minute
or two, and the game began. Alice
thought she had never seen such
a curious croquet-ground in her
life; it was all ridges and furrows;
the balls were live hedgehogs,
the mallets live flamingoes,
and the soldiers had to double
themselves up and to stand on
their hands and feet, to make
The chief difficulty Alice
found at first was in managing
her flamingo: she succeeded in
getting its body tucked away,
comfortably enough, under her
arm, with its legs hanging down,
but generally, just as she had
got its neck nicely straightened
out, and was going to give the
hedgehog a blow with its head,
it WOULD twist itself round and
look up in her face, with such
a puzzled expression that she
could not help bursting out laughing:
and when she had got its head
down, and was going to begin
again, it was very provoking
to find that the hedgehog had
unrolled itself, and was in the
act of crawling away: besides
all this, there was generally
a ridge or furrow in the way
wherever she wanted to send the
hedgehog to, and, as the doubled-up
soldiers were always getting
up and walking off to other parts
of the ground, Alice soon came
to the conclusion that it was
a very difficult game indeed.
The players all played at once
without waiting for turns, quarrelling
all the while, and fighting for
the hedgehogs; and in a very
short time the Queen was in a
furious passion, and went stamping
about, and shouting `Off with
his head!' or `Off with her head!'
about once in a minute.
Alice began to feel very uneasy:
to be sure, she had not as yet
had any dispute with the Queen,
but she knew that it might happen
any minute, `and then,' thought
she, `what would become of me?
They're dreadfully fond of beheading
people here; the great wonder
is, that there's any one left
She was looking about for some
way of escape, and wondering
whether she could get away without
being seen, when she noticed
a curious appearance in the air:
it puzzled her very much at first,
but, after watching it a minute
or two, she made it out to be
a grin, and she said to herself
`It's the Cheshire Cat: now I
shall have somebody to talk to.'
`How are you getting on?' said
the Cat, as soon as there was
mouth enough for it to speak
Alice waited till the eyes
appeared, and then nodded. `It's
no use speaking to it,' she thought,
`till its ears have come, or
at least one of them.' In another
minute the whole head appeared,
and then Alice put down her flamingo,
and began an account of the game,
feeling very glad she had someone
to listen to her. The Cat seemed
to think that there was enough
of it now in sight, and no more
of it appeared.
`I don't think they play at
all fairly,' Alice began, in
rather a complaining tone, `and
they all quarrel so dreadfully
one can't hear oneself speak--and
they don't seem to have any rules
in particular; at least, if there
are, nobody attends to them--and
you've no idea how confusing
it is all the things being alive;
for instance, there's the arch
I've got to go through next walking
about at the other end of the
ground--and I should have croqueted
the Queen's hedgehog just now,
only it ran away when it saw
`How do you like the Queen?'
said the Cat in a low voice.
`Not at all,' said Alice: `she's
so extremely--' Just then she
noticed that the Queen was close
behind her, listening: so she
went on, `--likely to win, that
it's hardly worth while finishing
The Queen smiled and passed
`Who ARE you talking to?' said
the King, going up to Alice,
and looking at the Cat's head
with great curiosity.
`It's a friend of mine--a Cheshire
Cat,' said Alice: `allow me to
`I don't like the look of it
at all,' said the King: `however,
it may kiss my hand if it likes.'
`I'd rather not,' the Cat remarked.
`Don't be impertinent,' said
the King, `and don't look at
me like that!' He got behind
Alice as he spoke.
`A cat may look at a king,'
said Alice. `I've read that in
some book, but I don't remember
`Well, it must be removed,'
said the King very decidedly,
and he called the Queen, who
was passing at the moment, `My
dear! I wish you would have this
The Queen had only one way
of settling all difficulties,
great or small. `Off with his
head!' she said, without even
`I'll fetch the executioner
myself,' said the King eagerly,
and he hurried off.
Alice thought she might as
well go back, and see how the
game was going on, as she heard
the Queen's voice in the distance,
screaming with passion. She had
already heard her sentence three
of the players to be executed
for having missed their turns,
and she did not like the look
of things at all, as the game
was in such confusion that she
never knew whether it was her
turn or not. So she went in search
of her hedgehog.
The hedgehog was engaged in
a fight with another hedgehog,
which seemed to Alice an excellent
opportunity for croqueting one
of them with the other: the only
difficulty was, that her flamingo
was gone across to the other
side of the garden, where Alice
could see it trying in a helpless
sort of way to fly up into a
By the time she had caught
the flamingo and brought it back,
the fight was over, and both
the hedgehogs were out of sight:
`but it doesn't matter much,'
thought Alice, `as all the arches
are gone from this side of the
ground.' So she tucked it away
under her arm, that it might
not escape again, and went back
for a little more conversation
with her friend.
When she got back to the Cheshire
Cat, she was surprised to find
quite a large crowd collected
round it: there was a dispute
going on between the executioner,
the King, and the Queen, who
were all talking at once, while
all the rest were quite silent,
and looked very uncomfortable.
The moment Alice appeared,
she was appealed to by all three
to settle the question, and they
repeated their arguments to her,
though, as they all spoke at
once, she found it very hard
indeed to make out exactly what
The executioner's argument
was, that you couldn't cut off
a head unless there was a body
to cut it off from: that he had
never had to do such a thing
before, and he wasn't going to
begin at HIS time of life.
The King's argument was, that
anything that had a head could
be beheaded, and that you weren't
to talk nonsense.
The Queen's argument was, that
if something wasn't done about
it in less than no time she'd
have everybody executed, all
round. (It was this last remark
that had made the whole party
look so grave and anxious.)
Alice could think of nothing
else to say but `It belongs to
the Duchess: you'd better ask
HER about it.'
`She's in prison,' the Queen
said to the executioner: `fetch
her here.' And the executioner
went off like an arrow.
The Cat's head began fading
away the moment he was gone,
and, by the time he had come
back with the Dutchess, it had
entirely disappeared; so the
King and the executioner ran
wildly up and down looking for
it, while the rest of the party
went back to the game.