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Chapter 12 Alice’s Evidence

  • “Here!” cried Alice, quite forgetting in the flurry of the moment how larg_he had grown in the last few minutes, and she jumped up in such a hurry tha_he tipped over the jury-box with the edge of her skirt, upsetting all th_urymen on to the heads of the crowd below, and there they lay sprawlin_bout, reminding her very much of a globe of gold-fish she had accidentall_pset the week before.
  • “Oh, I beg your pardon!” she exclaimed in a tone of great dismay, and bega_icking them up again as quickly as she could, for the accident of the gold- fish kept running in her head, and she had a vague sort of idea that they mus_e collected at once and put back into the jury-box, or they would die.
  • “The trial cannot proceed,” said the King, in a very grave voice, “until al_he jurymen are back in their proper places—all,” he repeated with grea_mphasis, looking hard at Alice as he said so.
  • Alice looked at the jury-box, and saw that, in her haste, she had put th_izard in head downwards, and the poor little thing was waving its tail abou_n a melancholy way, being quite unable to move. She soon got it out again, and put it right; “not that it signifies much,” she said to herself; “I shoul_hink it would be quite as much use in the trial one way up as the other.”
  • As soon as the jury had a little recovered from the shock of being upset, an_heir slates and pencils had been found and handed back to them, they set t_ork very diligently to write out a history of the accident, all except th_izard, who seemed too much overcome to do anything but sit with its mout_pen, gazing up into the roof of the court.
  • “What do you know about this business?” the King said to Alice.
  • “Nothing,” said Alice.
  • “Nothing whatever?” persisted the King.
  • “Nothing whatever,” said Alice.
  • “That’s very important,” the King said, turning to the jury. They were jus_eginning to write this down on their slates, when the White Rabbi_nterrupted: “Unimportant, your Majesty means, of course,” he said, in a ver_espectful tone, but frowning and making faces at him as he spoke.
  • “Unimportant, of course, I meant,” the King hastily said, and went on t_imself in an under-tone, “important—unimportant—unimportant—important——” a_f he were trying which word sounded best.
  • Some of the jury wrote it down “important,” and some “unimportant.” Alic_ould see this, as she was near enough to look over their slates; “but i_oesn’t matter a bit,” she thought to herself.
  • At this moment the King, who had been for some time busily writing in hi_ote-book, called out “Silence!”, and read out from his book, “Rule Forty-two.
  • All persons more than a mile high to leave the court.”
  • Everybody looked at Alice.
  • “I’m not a mile high,” said Alice.
  • “You are,” said the King.
  • “Nearly two miles high,” added the Queen.
  • “Well, I sha’n’t go, at any rate,” said Alice: “besides, that’s not a regula_ule: you invented it just now.”
  • “It’s the oldest rule in the book,” said the King.
  • “Then it ought to be Number One,” said Alice.
  • The King turned pale, and shut his note-book hastily. “Consider your verdict,” he said to the jury, in a low trembling voice.
  • “There’s more evidence to come yet, please your Majesty,” said the Whit_abbit, jumping up in a great hurry: “this paper has just been picked up.”
  • “What’s in it?” said the Queen.
  • “I haven’t opened it yet,” said the White Rabbit; “but it seems to be _etter, written by the prisoner to—to somebody.”
  • “It must have been that,” said the King, “unless it was written to nobody, which isn’t usual, you know.”
  • “Who is it directed to?” said one of the jurymen.
  • “It isn’t directed at all,” said the White Rabbit: “in fact, there’s nothin_ritten on the outside.” He unfolded the paper as he spoke, and added “I_sn’t a letter, after all: it’s a set of verses.”
  • “Are they in the prisoner’s handwriting?” asked another of the jurymen.
  • “No, they’re not,” said the White Rabbit, “and that’s the queerest thing abou_t.” (The jury all looked puzzled.)
  • “He must have imitated somebody else’s hand,” said the King. (The jury al_rightened up again.)
  • “Please your Majesty,” said the Knave, “I didn’t write it, and they ca’n’_rove that I did: there’s no name signed at the end.”
  • “If you didn’t sign it,” said the King, “that only makes the matter worse. Yo_ust have meant some mischief, or else you’d have signed your name like a_onest man.”
  • There was a general clapping of hands at this: it was the first really cleve_hing the King had said that day.
  • “That proves his guilt, of course,” said the Queen: “so, off with——.”
  • “It doesn’t prove anything of the sort!” said Alice. “Why, you don’t even kno_hat they’re about!”
  • “Read them,” said the King.
  • The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. “Where shall I begin, please you_ajesty?” he asked.
  • “Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till yo_ome to the end: then stop.”
  • There was dead silence in the court, whilst the White Rabbit read out thes_erses:—
  • “They told me you had been to her,
  • And mentioned me to him:
  • She gave me a good character,
  • But said I could not swim.
  • He sent them word I had not gone
  • (We know it to be true):
  • If she should push the matter on,
  • What would become of you?
  • I gave her one, they gave him two,
  • You gave us three or more;
  • They all returned from him to you,
  • Though they were mine before.
  • If I or she should chance to be
  • Involved in this affair,
  • He trusts to you to set them free,
  • Exactly as we were.
  • My notion was that you had been
  • (Before she had this fit)
  • An obstacle that came between
  • Him, and ourselves, and it.
  • Don’t let him know she liked them best,
  • For this must ever be
  • A secret, kept from all the rest,
  • Between yourself and me.”
  • “That’s the most important piece of evidence we’ve heard yet,” said the King, rubbing his hands; “so now let the jury——”
  • “If any one of them can explain it,” said Alice, (she had grown so large i_he last few minutes that she wasn't a bit afraid of interrupting him,) “I’l_ive him sixpence. I don't believe there’s an atom of meaning in it.”
  • The jury all wrote down, on their slates, “She doesn’t believe there’s an ato_f meaning in it,” but none of them attempted to explain the paper.
  • “If there’s no meaning in it,” said the King, “that saves a world of trouble, you know, as we needn’t try to find any. And yet I don’t know,” he went on, spreading out the verses on his knee, and looking at them with one eye; “_eem to see some meaning in them, after all. ‘—said I could not swim—’ yo_a’n’t swim, can you?” he added, turning to the Knave.
  • The Knave shook his head sadly. “Do I look like it?” he said. (Which h_ertainly did not, being made entirely of cardboard.)
  • “All right, so far,” said the King; and he went on muttering over the verse_o himself: “‘We know it to be true’—that’s the jury, of course—‘If she shoul_ush the matter on’—that must be the Queen—‘What would become of you?’—What, indeed!—‘I gave her one, they gave him two’—why, that must be what he did wit_he tarts, you know——”
  • “But it goes on ‘they all returned from him to you,’” said Alice.
  • “Why, there they are!” said the King triumphantly, pointing to the tarts o_he table. “Nothing can be clearer than that. Then again—‘before she had thi_it’—you never had fits, my dear, I think?” he said to the Queen.
  • “Never!” said the Queen, furiously, throwing an inkstand at the Lizard as sh_poke. (The unfortunate little Bill had left off writing on his slate with on_inger, as he found it made no mark; but he now hastily began again, using th_nk, that was trickling down his face, as long as it lasted.)
  • “Then the words don’t fit you,” said the King, looking round the court with _mile. There was a dead silence.
  • “It’s a pun!” the King added in an angry tone, and everybody laughed. “Let th_ury consider their verdict,” the King said, for about the twentieth time tha_ay.
  • “No, no!” said the Queen. “Sentence first—verdict afterwards.”
  • “Stuff and nonsense!” said Alice loudly. “The idea of having the sentenc_irst!”
  • “Hold your tongue!” said the Queen, turning purple.
  • “I wo’n’t!” said Alice.
  • “Off with her head!” the Queen shouted at the top of her voice. Nobody moved.
  • “Who cares for you?” said Alice (she had grown to her full size by this time).
  • “You’re nothing but a pack of cards!”
  • At this the whole pack rose up into the air, and came flying down upon her; she gave a little scream, half of fright and half of anger, and tried to bea_hem off, and found herself lying on the bank, with her head in the lap of he_ister, who was gently brushing away some dead leaves that had fluttered dow_rom the trees upon her face.
  • “Wake up, Alice dear!” said her sister; “Why, what a long sleep you’ve had!”
  • “Oh, I’ve had such a curious dream!” said Alice. And she told her sister, a_ell as she could remember them, all these strange Adventures of hers that yo_ave just been reading about; and, when she had finished, her sister kisse_er, and said, “It was a curious dream, dear, certainly; but now run in t_our tea: it’s getting late.” So Alice got up and ran off, thinking while sh_an, as well she might, what a wonderful dream it had been.
  • But her sister sat still just as she left her, leaning her head on her hand, watching the setting sun, and thinking of little Alice and all her wonderfu_dventures, till she too began dreaming after a fashion, and this was he_ream:—
  • First, she dreamed about little Alice herself: once again the tiny hands wer_lasped upon her knee, and the bright eager eyes were looking up into hers—sh_ould hear the very tones of her voice, and see that queer little toss of he_ead to keep back the wandering hair that would always get into her eyes—an_till as she listened, or seemed to listen, the whole place around her becam_live the strange creatures of her little sister’s dream.
  • The long grass rustled at her feet as the White Rabbit hurried by—th_rightened Mouse splashed his way through the neighbouring pool—she could hea_he rattle of the teacups as the March Hare and his friends shared thei_ever-ending meal, and the shrill voice of the Queen ordering off he_nfortunate guests to execution—once more the pig-baby was sneezing on th_uchess’s knee, while plates and dishes crashed around it—once more the shrie_f the Gryphon, the squeaking of the Lizard’s slate-pencil, and the choking o_he suppressed guinea-pigs, filled the air, mixed up with the distant sob o_he miserable Mock Turtle.
  • So she sat on, with closed eyes, and half believed herself in Wonderland, though she knew she had but to open them again, and all would change to dul_eality—the grass would be only rustling in the wind, and the pool rippling t_he waving of the reeds—the rattling teacups would change to tinkling sheep- bells, and the Queen’s shrill cries to the voice of the shepherd boy—and th_neeze of the baby, the shriek of the Gryphon, and all the other queer noises, would change (she knew) to the confused clamour of the busy farm-yard—whil_he lowing of the cattle in the distance would take the place of the Moc_urtle’s heavy sobs.
  • Lastly, she pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, i_he after-time, be herself a grown woman; and how she would keep, through al_er riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood; and how sh_ould gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright an_ager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland o_ong ago; and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find _leasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and th_appy summer days.