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  • Chapter IX. The Mock Turtle's Story

  • 'You can't think how glad I am to see you

  • again, you dear old thing!' said the

  • Duchess, as she tucked her arm

  • affectionately into Alice's, and they

  • walked off together.

  • Alice was very glad to find her in such a

  • pleasant temper, and thought to herself

  • that perhaps it was only the pepper that

  • had made her so savage when they met in the

  • kitchen.

  • 'When I'M a Duchess,' she said to herself,

  • (not in a very hopeful tone though), 'I

  • won't have any pepper in my kitchen AT ALL.

  • Soup does very well without--Maybe it's

  • always pepper that makes people hot-

  • tempered,' she went on, very much pleased

  • at having found out a new kind of rule,

  • 'and vinegar that makes them sour--and

  • camomile that makes them bitter--and--and

  • barley-sugar and such things that make

  • children sweet-tempered.

  • I only wish people knew that: then they

  • wouldn't be so stingy about it, you know--'

  • She had quite forgotten the Duchess by this

  • time, and was a little startled when she

  • heard her voice close to her ear.

  • 'You're thinking about something, my dear,

  • and that makes you forget to talk.

  • I can't tell you just now what the moral of

  • that is, but I shall remember it in a bit.'

  • 'Perhaps it hasn't one,' Alice ventured to

  • remark.

  • 'Tut, tut, child!' said the Duchess.

  • 'Everything's got a moral, if only you can

  • find it.'

  • And she squeezed herself up closer to

  • Alice's side as she spoke.

  • Alice did not much like keeping so close to

  • her: first, because the Duchess was VERY

  • ugly; and secondly, because she was exactly

  • the right height to rest her chin upon

  • Alice's shoulder, and it was an

  • uncomfortably sharp chin.

  • However, she did not like to be rude, so

  • she bore it as well as she could.

  • 'The game's going on rather better now,'

  • she said, by way of keeping up the

  • conversation a little.

  • ''Tis so,' said the Duchess: 'and the moral

  • of that is--"Oh, 'tis love, 'tis love, that

  • makes the world go round!"'

  • 'Somebody said,' Alice whispered, 'that

  • it's done by everybody minding their own

  • business!'

  • 'Ah, well!

  • It means much the same thing,' said the

  • Duchess, digging her sharp little chin into

  • Alice's shoulder as she added, 'and the

  • moral of THAT is--"Take care of the sense,

  • and the sounds will take care of

  • themselves."'

  • 'How fond she is of finding morals in

  • things!'

  • Alice thought to herself.

  • 'I dare say you're wondering why I don't

  • put my arm round your waist,' the Duchess

  • said after a pause: 'the reason is, that

  • I'm doubtful about the temper of your

  • flamingo.

  • Shall I try the experiment?'

  • 'HE might bite,' Alice cautiously replied,

  • not feeling at all anxious to have the

  • experiment tried.

  • 'Very true,' said the Duchess: 'flamingoes

  • and mustard both bite.

  • And the moral of that is--"Birds of a

  • feather flock together."'

  • 'Only mustard isn't a bird,' Alice

  • remarked.

  • 'Right, as usual,' said the Duchess: 'what

  • a clear way you have of putting things!'

  • 'It's a mineral, I THINK,' said Alice.

  • 'Of course it is,' said the Duchess, who

  • seemed ready to agree to everything that

  • Alice said; 'there's a large mustard-mine

  • near here.

  • And the moral of that is--"The more there

  • is of mine, the less there is of yours."'

  • 'Oh, I know!' exclaimed Alice, who had not

  • attended to this last remark, 'it's a

  • vegetable.

  • It doesn't look like one, but it is.'

  • 'I quite agree with you,' said the Duchess;

  • 'and the moral of that is--"Be what you

  • would seem to be"--or if you'd like it put

  • more simply--"Never imagine yourself not to

  • be otherwise than what it might appear to

  • others that what you were or might have

  • been was not otherwise than what you had

  • been would have appeared to them to be

  • otherwise."'

  • 'I think I should understand that better,'

  • Alice said very politely, 'if I had it

  • written down: but I can't quite follow it

  • as you say it.'

  • 'That's nothing to what I could say if I

  • chose,' the Duchess replied, in a pleased

  • tone.

  • 'Pray don't trouble yourself to say it any

  • longer than that,' said Alice.

  • 'Oh, don't talk about trouble!' said the

  • Duchess.

  • 'I make you a present of everything I've

  • said as yet.'

  • 'A cheap sort of present!' thought Alice.

  • 'I'm glad they don't give birthday presents

  • like that!'

  • But she did not venture to say it out loud.

  • 'Thinking again?' the Duchess asked, with

  • another dig of her sharp little chin.

  • 'I've a right to think,' said Alice

  • sharply, for she was beginning to feel a

  • little worried.

  • 'Just about as much right,' said the

  • Duchess, 'as pigs have to fly; and the m--'

  • But here, to Alice's great surprise, the

  • Duchess's voice died away, even in the

  • middle of her favourite word 'moral,' and

  • the arm that was linked into hers began to

  • tremble.

  • Alice looked up, and there stood the Queen

  • in front of them, with her arms folded,

  • frowning like a thunderstorm.

  • 'A fine day, your Majesty!' the Duchess

  • began in a low, weak voice.

  • 'Now, I give you fair warning,' shouted the

  • Queen, stamping on the ground as she spoke;

  • 'either you or your head must be off, and

  • that in about half no time!

  • Take your choice!'

  • The Duchess took her choice, and was gone

  • in a moment.

  • 'Let's go on with the game,' the Queen said

  • to Alice; and Alice was too much frightened

  • to say a word, but slowly followed her back

  • to the croquet-ground.

  • The other guests had taken advantage of the

  • Queen's absence, and were resting in the

  • shade: however, the moment they saw her,

  • they hurried back to the game, the Queen

  • merely remarking that a moment's delay

  • would cost them their lives.

  • All the time they were playing the Queen

  • never left off quarrelling with the other

  • players, and shouting 'Off with his head!'

  • or 'Off with her head!'

  • Those whom she sentenced were taken into

  • custody by the soldiers, who of course had

  • to leave off being arches to do this, so

  • that by the end of half an hour or so there

  • were no arches left, and all the players,

  • except the King, the Queen, and Alice, were

  • in custody and under sentence of execution.

  • Then the Queen left off, quite out of

  • breath, and said to Alice, 'Have you seen

  • the Mock Turtle yet?'

  • 'No,' said Alice.

  • 'I don't even know what a Mock Turtle is.'

  • 'It's the thing Mock Turtle Soup is made

  • from,' said the Queen.

  • 'I never saw one, or heard of one,' said

  • Alice.

  • 'Come on, then,' said the Queen, 'and he

  • shall tell you his history,'

  • As they walked off together, Alice heard

  • the King say in a low voice, to the company

  • generally, 'You are all pardoned.'

  • 'Come, THAT'S a good thing!' she said to

  • herself, for she had felt quite unhappy at

  • the number of executions the Queen had

  • ordered.

  • They very soon came upon a Gryphon, lying

  • fast asleep in the sun.

  • (IF you don't know what a Gryphon is, look

  • at the picture.)

  • 'Up, lazy thing!' said the Queen, 'and take

  • this young lady to see the Mock Turtle, and

  • to hear his history.

  • I must go back and see after some

  • executions I have ordered'; and she walked

  • off, leaving Alice alone with the Gryphon.

  • Alice did not quite like the look of the

  • creature, but on the whole she thought it

  • would be quite as safe to stay with it as

  • to go after that savage Queen: so she

  • waited.

  • The Gryphon sat up and rubbed its eyes:

  • then it watched the Queen till she was out

  • of sight: then it chuckled.

  • 'What fun!' said the Gryphon, half to

  • itself, half to Alice.

  • 'What IS the fun?' said Alice.

  • 'Why, SHE,' said the Gryphon.

  • 'It's all her fancy, that: they never

  • executes nobody, you know.

  • Come on!'

  • 'Everybody says "come on!" here,' thought

  • Alice, as she went slowly after it: 'I

  • never was so ordered about in all my life,

  • never!'

  • They had not gone far before they saw the

  • Mock Turtle in the distance, sitting sad

  • and lonely on a little ledge of rock, and,

  • as they came nearer, Alice could hear him

  • sighing as if his heart would break.

  • She pitied him deeply.

  • 'What is his sorrow?' she asked the

  • Gryphon, and the Gryphon answered, very

  • nearly in the same words as before, 'It's

  • all his fancy, that: he hasn't got no

  • sorrow, you know.

  • Come on!'

  • So they went up to the Mock Turtle, who

  • looked at them with large eyes full of

  • tears, but said nothing.

  • 'This here young lady,' said the Gryphon,

  • 'she wants for to know your history, she

  • do.'

  • 'I'll tell it her,' said the Mock Turtle in

  • a deep, hollow tone: 'sit down, both of

  • you, and don't speak a word till I've

  • finished.'

  • So they sat down, and nobody spoke for some

  • minutes.

  • Alice thought to herself, 'I don't see how

  • he can EVEN finish, if he doesn't begin.'

  • But she waited patiently.

  • 'Once,' said the Mock Turtle at last, with

  • a deep sigh, 'I was a real Turtle.'

  • These words were followed by a very long

  • silence, broken only by an occasional

  • exclamation of 'Hjckrrh!' from the Gryphon,

  • and the constant heavy sobbing of the Mock

  • Turtle.

  • Alice was very nearly getting up and

  • saying, 'Thank you, sir, for your

  • interesting story,' but she could not help

  • thinking there MUST be more to come, so she

  • sat still and said nothing.

  • 'When we were little,' the Mock Turtle went

  • on at last, more calmly, though still

  • sobbing a little now and then, 'we went to

  • school in the sea.