L>Alice"s Adventures in Wonderland -- Chapter VIIPrevious chapter: Pig and PepperCHAPTER VII A Mad Tea-Party There was a table set out under a tree in front of the house,and the March Hare and the Hatter were having tea at it: aDormouse was sitting between them, fast asleep, and the other twowere using it as a cushion, resting their elbows on it, and talkingover its head. `Very uncomfortable for the Dormouse," thought Alice;`only, as it"s asleep, I suppose it doesn"t mind." The table was a large one, but the three were all crowdedtogether at one corner of it: `No room! No room!" they criedout when they saw Alice coming. `There"s plenty of room!" saidAlice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at oneend of the table.Mad Tea Party `Have some wine," the March Hare said in an encouraging tone. Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on itbut tea. `I don"t see any wine," she remarked. `There isn"t any," said the March Hare. `Then it wasn"t very civil of you to offer it," said Aliceangrily. `It wasn"t very civil of you to sit down without beinginvited," said the March Hare. `I didn"t know it was your table," said Alice; `it"s laid for agreat many more than three." `Your hair wants cutting," said the Hatter. He had beenlooking at Alice for some time with great curiosity, and this washis first speech. `You should learn not to make personal remarks," Alice saidwith some severity; `it"s very rude." The Hatter opened his eyes very wide on hearing this; but allhe said was, `Why is a raven like a writing-desk?" `Come, we shall have some fun now!" thought Alice. `I"m gladthey"ve begun asking riddles.--I believe I can guess that," sheadded aloud. `Do you mean that you think you can find out the answer to it?"said the March Hare. `Exactly so," said Alice. `Then you should say what you mean," the March Hare went on. `I do," Alice hastily replied; `at least--at least I mean whatI say--that"s the same thing, you know." `Not the same thing a bit!" said the Hatter. `You might justas well say that "I see what I eat" is the same thing as "I eatwhat I see"!"Hatter engaging in rhetoric `You might just as well say," added the March Hare, `that "Ilike what I get" is the same thing as "I get what I like"!" `You might just as well say," added the Dormouse, who seemed tobe talking in his sleep, `that "I breathe when I sleep" is thesame thing as "I sleep when I breathe"!" `It is the same thing with you," said the Hatter, and here theconversation dropped, and the party sat silent for a minute,while Alice thought over all she could remember about ravens andwriting-desks, which wasn"t much. The Hatter was the first to break the silence. `What day ofthe month is it?" he said, turning to Alice: he had taken hiswatch out of his pocket, and was looking at it uneasily, shakingit every now and then, and holding it to his ear. Alice considered a little, and then said `The fourth." `Two days wrong!" sighed the Hatter. `I told you butterwouldn"t suit the works!" he added looking angrily at the MarchHare. `It was the best butter," the March Hare meekly replied. `Yes, but some crumbs must have got in as well," the Hattergrumbled: `you shouldn"t have put it in with the bread-knife." The March Hare took the watch and looked at it gloomily: thenhe dipped it into his cup of tea, and looked at it again: but hecould think of nothing better to say than his first remark, `Itwas the best butter, you know." Alice had been looking over his shoulder with some curiosity.`What a funny watch!" she remarked. `It tells the day of themonth, and doesn"t tell what o"clock it is!" `Why should it?" muttered the Hatter. `Does your watch tellyou what year it is?" `Of course not," Alice replied very readily: `but that"sbecause it stays the same year for such a long time together." `Which is just the case with mine," said the Hatter. Alice felt dreadfully puzzled. The Hatter"s remark seemed tohave no sort of meaning in it, and yet it was certainly English.`I don"t quite understand you," she said, as politely as shecould. `The Dormouse is asleep again," said the Hatter, and he poureda little hot tea upon its nose. The Dormouse shook its head impatiently, and said, withoutopening its eyes, `Of course, of course; just what I was going toremark myself." `Have you guessed the riddle yet?" the Hatter said, turning toAlice again. `No, I give it up," Alice replied: `what"s the answer?" `I haven"t the slightest idea," said the Hatter. `Nor I," said the March Hare. Alice sighed wearily. `I think you might do something betterwith the time," she said, `than waste it in asking riddles thathave no answers." `If you knew Time as well as I do," said the Hatter, `youwouldn"t talk about wasting it. It"s him." `I don"t know what you mean," said Alice. `Of course you don"t!" the Hatter said, tossing his headcontemptuously. `I dare say you never even spoke to Time!" `Perhaps not," Alice cautiously replied: `but I know I have tobeat time when I learn music." `Ah! that accounts for it," said the Hatter. `He won"t standbeating. Now, if you only kept on good terms with him, he"d doalmost anything you liked with the clock. For instance, supposeit were nine o"clock in the morning, just time to begin lessons:you"d only have to whisper a hint to Time, and round goes theclock in a twinkling! Half-past one, time for dinner!" (`I only wish it was," the March Hare said to itself in awhisper.) `That would be grand, certainly," said Alice thoughtfully:`but then--I shouldn"t be hungry for it, you know." `Not at first, perhaps," said the Hatter: `but you could keepit to half-past one as long as you liked." `Is that the way you manage?" Alice asked. The Hatter shook his head mournfully. `Not I!" he replied.`We quarrelled last March--just before he went mad, you know--"(pointing with his tea spoon at the March Hare,) `--it was at thegreat concert given by the Queen of Hearts, and I had to sing "Twinkle, twinkle, little bat! How I wonder what you"re at!"You know the song, perhaps?" `I"ve heard something like it," said Alice. `It goes on, you know," the Hatter continued, `in this way:-- "Up above the world you fly, Like a tea-tray in the sky. Twinkle, twinkle--""Here the Dormouse shook itself, and began singing in its sleep`Twinkle, twinkle, twinkle, twinkle--" and went on so long thatthey had to pinch it to make it stop. `Well, I"d hardly finished the first verse," said the Hatter,`when the Queen jumped up and bawled out, "He"s murdering thetime! Off with his head!"" `How dreadfully savage!" exclaimed Alice. `And ever since that," the Hatter went on in a mournful tone,`he won"t do a thing I ask! It"s always six o"clock now." A bright idea came into Alice"s head. `Is that the reason somany tea-things are put out here?" she asked. `Yes, that"s it," said the Hatter with a sigh: `it"s alwaystea-time, and we"ve no time to wash the things between whiles." `Then you keep moving round, I suppose?" said Alice. `Exactly so," said the Hatter: `as the things get used up." `But what happens when you come to the beginning again?" Aliceventured to ask. `Suppose we change the subject," the March Hare interrupted,yawning. `I"m getting tired of this. I vote the young ladytells us a story." `I"m afraid I don"t know one," said Alice, rather alarmed atthe proposal. `Then the Dormouse shall!" they both cried. `Wake up,Dormouse!" And they pinched it on both sides at once. The Dormouse slowly opened his eyes. `I wasn"t asleep," hesaid in a hoarse, feeble voice: `I heard every word you fellowswere saying." `Tell us a story!" said the March Hare. `Yes, please do!" pleaded Alice. `And be quick about it," added the Hatter, `or you"ll be asleepagain before it"s done." `Once upon a time there were three little sisters," theDormouse began in a great hurry; `and their names were Elsie,Lacie, and Tillie; and they lived at the bottom of a well--" `What did they live on?" said Alice, who always took a greatinterest in questions of eating and drinking. `They lived on treacle," said the Dormouse, after thinking aminute or two. `They couldn"t have done that, you know," Alice gentlyremarked; `they"d have been ill." `So they were," said the Dormouse; `very ill." Alice tried to fancy to herself what such an extraordinary waysof living would be like, but it puzzled her too much, so she wenton: `But why did they live at the bottom of a well?" `Take some more tea," the March Hare said to Alice, veryearnestly. `I"ve had nothing yet," Alice replied in an offended tone, `soI can"t take more." `You mean you can"t take less," said the Hatter: `it"s veryeasy to take more than nothing." `Nobody asked your opinion," said Alice. `Who"s making personal remarks now?" the Hatter askedtriumphantly. Alice did not quite know what to say to this: so she helpedherself to some tea and bread-and-butter, and then turned to theDormouse, and repeated her question. `Why did they live at thebottom of a well?" The Dormouse again took a minute or two to think about it, andthen said, `It was a treacle-well." `There"s no such thing!" Alice was beginning very angrily, butthe Hatter and the March Hare went `Sh! sh!" and the Dormousesulkily remarked, `If you can"t be civil, you"d better finish thestory for yourself." `No, please go on!" Alice said very humbly; `I won"t interruptagain. I dare say there may be one." `One, indeed!" said the Dormouse indignantly. However, heconsented to go on. `And so these three little sisters--theywere learning to draw, you know--" `What did they draw?" said Alice, quite forgetting her promise. `Treacle," said the Dormouse, without considering at all thistime. `I want a clean cup," interrupted the Hatter: `let"s all moveone place on." He moved on as he spoke, and the Dormouse followed him: theMarch Hare moved into the Dormouse"s place, and Alice ratherunwillingly took the place of the March Hare. The Hatter was theonly one who got any advantage from the change: and Alice was agood deal worse off than before, as the March Hare had just upsetthe milk-jug into his plate. Alice did not wish to offend the Dormouse again, so she beganvery cautiously: `But I don"t understand. Where did they drawthe treacle from?" `You can draw water out of a water-well," said the Hatter; `soI should think you could draw treacle out of a treacle-well--eh,stupid?" `But they were in the well," Alice said to the Dormouse, notchoosing to notice this last remark. `Of course they were", said the Dormouse; `--well in." This answer so confused poor Alice, that she let the Dormousego on for some time without interrupting it. `They were learning to draw," the Dormouse went on, yawning andrubbing its eyes, for it was getting very sleepy; `and they drewall manner of things--everything that begins with an M--" `Why with an M?" said Alice. `Why not?" said the March Hare. Alice was silent. The Dormouse had closed its eyes by this time, and was goingoff into a doze; but, on being pinched by the Hatter, it woke upagain with a little shriek, and went on: `--that begins with anM, such as mouse-traps, and the moon, and memory, and muchness--you know you say things are "much of a muchness"--did you eversee such a thing as a drawing of a muchness?" `Really, now you ask me," said Alice, very much confused, `Idon"t think--" `Then you shouldn"t talk," said the Hatter. This piece of rudeness was more than Alice could bear: she gotup in great disgust, and walked off; the Dormouse fell asleepinstantly, and neither of the others took the least notice of hergoing, though she looked back once or twice, half hoping thatthey would call after her: the last time she saw them, they weretrying to put the Dormouse into the teapot.Hatter and Hare dunking Dormouse `At any rate I"ll never go there again!" said Alice as shepicked her way through the wood. `It"s the stupidest tea-party Iever was at in all my life!" Just as she said this, she noticed that one of the trees had adoor leading right into it. `That"s very curious!" she thought.`But everything"s curious today. I think I may as well go in at once."And in she went. Once more she found herself in the long hall, and close to thelittle glass table.
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`Now, I"ll manage better this time,"she said to herself, and began by taking the little golden key,and unlocking the door that led into the garden. Then she wentto work nibbling at the mushroom (she had kept a piece of itin her pocket) till she was about a foot high: then she walked downthe little passage: and then--she found herself at last in thebeautiful garden, among the bright flower-beds and the cool fountains.Next chapter: The Queen"s Croquet-Ground