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Chapter 9 The Mock Turtle’s Story

  • “You ca’n’t think how glad I am to see you again, you dear old thing!” sai_he Duchess, as she tucked her arm affectionately into Alice’s, and the_alked off together.
  • Alice was very glad to find her in such a pleasant temper, and thought t_erself that perhaps it was only the pepper that had made her so savage whe_hey met in the kitchen.
  • “When I’m a Duchess,” she said to herself (not in a very hopeful tone, though), “I wo’n’t have any pepper in my kitchen at all. Soup does very wel_ithout—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 tha_akes them sour—and camomile that makes them bitter—and—and barley-sugar an_uch 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 startle_hen she heard her voice close to her ear. “You’re thinking about something, my dear, and that makes you forget to talk. I ca’n’t tell you just now wha_he 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 yo_an find it.” And she squeezed herself up closer to Alice’s side as she spoke.
  • Alice did not much like her keeping so close to her: first, because th_uchess was very ugly; and secondly, because she was exactly the right heigh_o rest her chin upon Alice’s shoulder, and it was an uncomfortably shar_hin. However, she did not like to be rude: so she bore it as well as sh_ould.
  • “The game’s going on rather better now,” she said, by way of keeping up th_onversation a little.
  • “’Tis so,” said the Duchess: “and the moral of that is—‘Oh, ’tis love, ’ti_ove, that makes the world go round!’”
  • “Somebody said,” Alice whispered, “that it’s done by everybody minding thei_wn business!”
  • “Ah, well! It means much the same thing,” said the Duchess, digging her shar_ittle chin into Alice’s shoulder as she added “and the moral of that is—‘Tak_are 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,” th_uchess said, after a pause: “the reason is, that I’m doubtful about th_emper of your flamingo. Shall I try the experiment?”
  • “He might bite,” Alice cautiously replied, not feeling at all anxious to hav_he experiment tried.
  • “Very true,” said the Duchess: “flamingoes and mustard both bite. And th_oral 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 puttin_hings!”
  • “It’s a mineral, I think,” said Alice.
  • “Of course it is,” said the Duchess, who seemed ready to agree to everythin_hat Alice said; “there’s a large mustard-mine near here. And the moral o_hat 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’_ 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 wha_ou would seem to be’—or, if you’d like it put more simply—‘Never imagin_ourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what yo_ere or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would hav_ppeared to them to be otherwise.’”
  • “I think I should understand that better,” Alice said very politely, “if I ha_t written down: but I ca’n’t quite follow it as you say it.”
  • “That’s nothing to what I could say if I chose,” the Duchess replied, in _leased 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 o_verything 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 littl_hin.
  • “I’ve a right to think,” said Alice sharply, for she was beginning to feel _ittle worried.
  • “Just about as much right,” said the Duchess, “as pigs have to fly; and th_——”
  • But here, to Alice’s great surprise, the Duchess’s voice died away, even i_he middle of her favourite word “moral,” and the arm that was linked int_ers began to tremble. Alice looked up, and there stood the Queen in front o_hem, 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 a_he spoke; “either you or your head must be off, and that in about half n_ime! 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 muc_rightened 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 restin_n 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 th_ther players, and shouting “Off with his head!' or “Off with her head!” Thos_hom she sentenced were taken into custody by the soldiers, who of course ha_o leave off being arches to do this, so that, by the end of half an hour o_o, there were no arches left, and all the players, except the King, th_ueen, and Alice, were in custody and under sentence of execution.
  • Then the Queen left off, quite out of breath, and said to Alice, “Have yo_een 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 th_ompany generally, “You are all pardoned.” “Come, that’s a good thing!” sh_aid to herself, for she had felt quite unhappy at the number of execution_he Queen had ordered.
  • They very soon came upon a Gryphon, lying fast asleep in the sun. (If yo_on’t know what a Gryphon is, look at the picture.) “Up, lazy thing!” said th_ueen, “and take this young lady to see the Mock Turtle, and to hear hi_istory. I must go back and see after some executions I have ordered;” and sh_alked off, leaving Alice alone with the Gryphon. Alice did not quite like th_ook of the creature, but on the whole she thought it would be quite as saf_o 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 wa_ut 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 execute_obody, you know. Come on!”
  • “Everybody says ‘come on!’ here,” thought Alice, as she went slowly after it: “I never was so ordered about before, in all my life, never!”
  • They had not gone far before they saw the Mock Turtle in the distance, sittin_ad and lonely on a little ledge of rock, and, as they came nearer, Alic_ould 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, ver_early in the same words as before, “It’s all his fancy, that: he hasn’t go_o sorrow, you know. Come on!”
  • So they went up to the Mock Turtle, who looked at them with large eyes full o_ears, 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 ever finish, if he doesn’t begin.” But she waite_atiently.
  • “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 occasiona_xclamation of “Hjckrrh!” from the Gryphon, and the constant heavy sobbing o_he 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 b_ore to come, so she sat still and said nothing.
  • “When we were little,” the Mock Turtle went on at last, more calmly, thoug_till sobbing a little now and then, “we went to school in the sea. The maste_as an old Turtle—we used to call him Tortoise——”
  • “Why did you call him Tortoise, if he wasn’t one?” Alice asked.
  • “We called him Tortoise because he taught us,” said the Mock Turtle angrily.
  • “Really you are very dull!”
  • “You ought to be ashamed of yourself for asking such a simple question,” adde_he Gryphon; and then they both sat silent and looked at poor Alice, who fel_eady to sink into the earth. At last the Gryphon said to the Mock Turtle “Drive on, old fellow! Don’t be all day about it!”, and he went on in thes_ords:—
  • “Yes, we went to school in the sea, though you mayn’t believe it——”
  • “I never said I didn’t!” interrupted Alice.
  • “You did,” said the Mock Turtle.
  • “Hold your tongue!” added the Gryphon, before Alice could speak again. Th_ock Turtle went on.
  • “We had the best of educations—in fact, we went to school every day——”
  • “I’ve been to a day-school, too,” said Alice; “you needn’t be so proud as al_hat.”
  • “With extras?” asked the Mock Turtle, a little anxiously.
  • “Yes,” said Alice, “we learned French and music.”
  • “And washing?” said the Mock Turtle.
  • “Certainly not!” said Alice indignantly.
  • “Ah! then yours wasn’t a really good school,” said the Mock Turtle in a ton_f great relief. “Now, at ours, they had at the end of the bill, ‘French, music, and washing—extra.’”
  • “You couldn’t have wanted it much,” said Alice; “living at the bottom of th_ea.”
  • “I couldn’t afford to learn it,” said the Mock Turtle with a sigh. “I onl_ook the regular course.”
  • “What was that?” inquired Alice.
  • “Reeling and Writhing, of course, to begin with,” the Mock Turtle replied; “and then the different branches of Arithmetic—Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision.”
  • “I never heard of ‘Uglification,’” Alice ventured to say. “What is it?”
  • The Gryphon lifted up both its paws in surprise. “What! Never heard o_glifying!” it exclaimed. “You know what to beautify is, I suppose?”
  • “Yes,” said Alice doubtfully: “it means—to—make—anything—prettier.”
  • “Well, then,” the Gryphon went on, “if you don’t know what to uglify is, yo_re a simpleton.”
  • Alice did not feel encouraged to ask any more questions about it: so sh_urned to the Mock Turtle, and said “What else had you to learn?”
  • “Well, there was Mystery,” the Mock Turtle replied, counting off the subject_n his flappers,—“Mystery, ancient and modern, with Seaography: the_rawling—the Drawling-master was an old conger-eel, that used to come once _eek: he taught us Drawling, Stretching, and Fainting in Coils.”
  • “What was that like?” said Alice.
  • “Well, I ca’n’t show it you myself,” the Mock Turtle said: “I’m too stiff. An_he Gryphon never learnt it.”
  • “Hadn’t time,” said the Gryphon: “I went to the Classical master, though. H_as an old crab, he was.”
  • “I never went to him,” the Mock Turtle said with a sigh. “He taught Laughin_nd Grief, they used to say.”
  • “So he did, so he did,” said the Gryphon, sighing in his turn; and bot_reatures hid their faces in their paws.
  • “And how many hours a day did you do lessons?” said Alice, in a hurry t_hange the subject.
  • “Ten hours the first day,” said the Mock Turtle: “nine the next, and so on.”
  • “What a curious plan!” exclaimed Alice.
  • “That’s the reason they’re called lessons,” the Gryphon remarked: “becaus_hey lessen from day to day.”
  • This was quite a new idea to Alice, and she thought it over a little befor_he made her next remark. “Then the eleventh day must have been a holiday?”
  • “Of course it was,” said the Mock Turtle.
  • “And how did you manage on the twelfth?” Alice went on eagerly.
  • “That’s enough about lessons,” the Gryphon interrupted in a very decided tone.
  • “Tell her something about the games now.”