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Chapter 5 Wool and Water

  • She caught the shawl as she spoke, and looked about for the owner: in anothe_oment the White Queen came running wildly through the wood, with both arm_tretched out wide, as if she were flying, and Alice very civilly went to mee_er with the shawl.
  • 'I'm very glad I happened to be in the way,' Alice said, as she helped her t_ut on her shawl again.
  • The White Queen only looked at her in a helpless frightened sort of way, an_ept repeating something in a whisper to herself that sounded like 'bread-and- butter, bread-and-butter,' and Alice felt that if there was to be an_onversation at all, she must manage it herself. So she began rather timidly:
  • 'Am I addressing the White Queen?'
  • 'Well, yes, if you call that a-dressing,' The Queen said. 'It isn't MY notio_f the thing, at all.'
  • Alice thought it would never do to have an argument at the very beginning o_heir conversation, so she smiled and said, 'If your Majesty will only tell m_he right way to begin, I'll do it as well as I can.'
  • 'But I don't want it done at all!' groaned the poor Queen. 'I've bee_-dressing myself for the last two hours.'
  • It would have been all the better, as it seemed to Alice, if she had got som_ne else to dress her, she was so dreadfully untidy. 'Every single thing'_rooked,' Alice thought to herself, 'and she's all over pins!—may I put you_hawl straight for you?' she added aloud.
  • 'I don't know what's the matter with it!' the Queen said, in a melanchol_oice. 'It's out of temper, I think. I've pinned it here, and I've pinned i_here, but there's no pleasing it!'
  • 'It CAN'T go straight, you know, if you pin it all on one side,' Alice said, as she gently put it right for her; 'and, dear me, what a state your hair i_n!'
  • 'The brush has got entangled in it!' the Queen said with a sigh. 'And I los_he comb yesterday.'
  • Alice carefully released the brush, and did her best to get the hair int_rder. 'Come, you look rather better now!' she said, after altering most o_he pins. 'But really you should have a lady's maid!'
  • 'I'm sure I'll take you with pleasure!' the Queen said. 'Twopence a week, an_am every other day.'
  • Alice couldn't help laughing, as she said, 'I don't want you to hire ME—and _on't care for jam.'
  • 'It's very good jam,' said the Queen.
  • 'Well, I don't want any TO-DAY, at any rate.'
  • 'You couldn't have it if you DID want it,' the Queen said. 'The rule is, ja_o-morrow and jam yesterday—but never jam to-day.'
  • 'It MUST come sometimes to "jam to-day,"' Alice objected.
  • 'No, it can't,' said the Queen. 'It's jam every OTHER day: to-day isn't an_THER day, you know.'
  • 'I don't understand you,' said Alice. 'It's dreadfully confusing!'
  • 'That's the effect of living backwards,' the Queen said kindly: 'it alway_akes one a little giddy at first—'
  • 'Living backwards!' Alice repeated in great astonishment. 'I never heard o_uch a thing!'
  • '—but there's one great advantage in it, that one's memory works both ways.'
  • 'I'm sure MINE only works one way.' Alice remarked. 'I can't remember thing_efore they happen.'
  • 'It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,' the Queen remarked.
  • 'What sort of things do YOU remember best?' Alice ventured to ask.
  • 'Oh, things that happened the week after next,' the Queen replied in _areless tone. 'For instance, now,' she went on, sticking a large piece o_laster [band-aid] on her finger as she spoke, 'there's the King's Messenger.
  • He's in prison now, being punished: and the trial doesn't even begin till nex_ednesday: and of course the crime comes last of all.'
  • 'Suppose he never commits the crime?' said Alice.
  • 'That would be all the better, wouldn't it?' the Queen said, as she bound th_laster round her finger with a bit of ribbon.
  • Alice felt there was no denying THAT. 'Of course it would be all the better,'
  • she said: 'but it wouldn't be all the better his being punished.'
  • 'You're wrong THERE, at any rate,' said the Queen: 'were YOU ever punished?'
  • 'Only for faults,' said Alice.
  • 'And you were all the better for it, I know!' the Queen said triumphantly.
  • 'Yes, but then I HAD done the things I was punished for,' said Alice: 'tha_akes all the difference.'
  • 'But if you HADN'T done them,' the Queen said, 'that would have been bette_till; better, and better, and better!' Her voice went higher with each
  • 'better,' till it got quite to a squeak at last.
  • Alice was just beginning to say 'There's a mistake somewhere—,' when the Quee_egan screaming so loud that she had to leave the sentence unfinished. 'Oh, oh, oh!' shouted the Queen, shaking her hand about as if she wanted to shak_t off. 'My finger's bleeding! Oh, oh, oh, oh!'
  • Her screams were so exactly like the whistle of a steam-engine, that Alice ha_o hold both her hands over her ears.
  • 'What IS the matter?' she said, as soon as there was a chance of makin_erself heard. 'Have you pricked your finger?'
  • 'I haven't pricked it YET,' the Queen said, 'but I soon shall— oh, oh, oh!'
  • 'When do you expect to do it?' Alice asked, feeling very much inclined t_augh.
  • 'When I fasten my shawl again,' the poor Queen groaned out: 'the brooch wil_ome undone directly. Oh, oh!' As she said the words the brooch flew open, an_he Queen clutched wildly at it, and tried to clasp it again.
  • 'Take care!' cried Alice. 'You're holding it all crooked!' And she caught a_he brooch; but it was too late: the pin had slipped, and the Queen ha_ricked her finger.
  • 'That accounts for the bleeding, you see,' she said to Alice with a smile.
  • 'Now you understand the way things happen here.'
  • 'But why don't you scream now?' Alice asked, holding her hands ready to pu_ver her ears again.
  • 'Why, I've done all the screaming already,' said the Queen. 'What would be th_ood of having it all over again?'
  • By this time it was getting light. 'The crow must have flown away, I think,'
  • said Alice: 'I'm so glad it's gone. I thought it was the night coming on.'
  • 'I wish _I_ could manage to be glad!' the Queen said. 'Only I never ca_emember the rule. You must be very happy, living in this wood, and being gla_henever you like!'
  • 'Only it is so VERY lonely here!' Alice said in a melancholy voice; and at th_hought of her loneliness two large tears came rolling down her cheeks.
  • 'Oh, don't go on like that!' cried the poor Queen, wringing her hands i_espair. 'Consider what a great girl you are. Consider what a long way you'v_ome to-day. Consider what o'clock it is. Consider anything, only don't cry!'
  • Alice could not help laughing at this, even in the midst of her tears. 'Ca_OU keep from crying by considering things?' she asked.
  • 'That's the way it's done,' the Queen said with great decision: 'nobody can d_wo things at once, you know. Let's consider your age to begin with—how ol_re you?'
  • 'I'm seven and a half exactly.'
  • 'You needn't say "exactually,"' the Queen remarked: 'I can believe it withou_hat. Now I'll give YOU something to believe. I'm just one hundred and one, five months and a day.'
  • 'I can't believe THAT!' said Alice.
  • 'Can't you?' the Queen said in a pitying tone. 'Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.'
  • Alice laughed. 'There's no use trying,' she said: 'one CAN'T believ_mpossible things.'
  • 'I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. 'When I was you_ge, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed a_any as six impossible things before breakfast. There goes the shawl again!'
  • The brooch had come undone as she spoke, and a sudden gust of wind blew th_ueen's shawl across a little brook. The Queen spread out her arms again, an_ent flying after it, and this time she succeeded in catching it for herself.
  • 'I've got it!' she cried in a triumphant tone. 'Now you shall see me pin it o_gain, all by myself!'
  • 'Then I hope your finger is better now?' Alice said very politely, as sh_rossed the little brook after the Queen.
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  • 'Oh, much better!' cried the Queen, her voice rising to a squeak as she wen_n. 'Much be-etter! Be-etter! Be-e-e-etter! Be-e-ehh!' The last word ended i_ long bleat, so like a sheep that Alice quite started.
  • She looked at the Queen, who seemed to have suddenly wrapped herself up i_ool. Alice rubbed her eyes, and looked again. She couldn't make out what ha_appened at all. Was she in a shop? And was that really—was it really a SHEE_hat was sitting on the other side of the counter? Rub as she could, she coul_ake nothing more of it: she was in a little dark shop, leaning with he_lbows on the counter, and opposite to her was an old Sheep, sitting in a_rm-chair knitting, and every now and then leaving off to look at her throug_ great pair of spectacles.
  • 'What is it you want to buy?' the Sheep said at last, looking up for a momen_rom her knitting.
  • 'I don't QUITE know yet,' Alice said, very gently. 'I should like to look al_ound me first, if I might.'
  • 'You may look in front of you, and on both sides, if you like,' said th_heep: 'but you can't look ALL round you—unless you've got eyes at the back o_our head.'
  • But these, as it happened, Alice had NOT got: so she contented herself wit_urning round, looking at the shelves as she came to them.
  • The shop seemed to be full of all manner of curious things— but the oddes_art of it all was, that whenever she looked hard at any shelf, to make ou_xactly what it had on it, that particular shelf was always quite empty: though the others round it were crowded as full as they could hold.
  • 'Things flow about so here!' she said at last in a plaintive tone, after sh_ad spent a minute or so in vainly pursuing a large bright thing, that looke_ometimes like a doll and sometimes like a work-box, and was always in th_helf next above the one she was looking at. 'And this one is the mos_rovoking of all—but I'll tell you what—' she added, as a sudden though_truck her, 'I'll follow it up to the very top shelf of all. It'll puzzle i_o go through the ceiling, I expect!'
  • But even this plan failed: the 'thing' went through the ceiling as quietly a_ossible, as if it were quite used to it.
  • 'Are you a child or a teetotum?' the Sheep said, as she took up another pai_f needles. 'You'll make me giddy soon, if you go on turning round like that.'
  • She was now working with fourteen pairs at once, and Alice couldn't hel_ooking at her in great astonishment.
  • 'How CAN she knit with so many?' the puzzled child thought to herself. 'Sh_ets more and more like a porcupine every minute!'
  • 'Can you row?' the Sheep asked, handing her a pair of knitting- needles as sh_poke.
  • 'Yes, a little—but not on land—and not with needles—' Alice was beginning t_ay, when suddenly the needles turned into oars in her hands, and she foun_hey were in a little boat, gliding along between banks: so there was nothin_or it but to do her best.
  • 'Feather!' cried the Sheep, as she took up another pair of needles.
  • This didn't sound like a remark that needed any answer, so Alice said nothing, but pulled away. There was something very queer about the water, she thought, as every now and then the oars got fast in it, and would hardly come ou_gain.
  • 'Feather! Feather!' the Sheep cried again, taking more needles. 'You'll b_atching a crab directly.'
  • 'A dear little crab!' thought Alice. 'I should like that.'
  • 'Didn't you hear me say "Feather"?' the Sheep cried angrily, taking up quite _unch of needles.
  • 'Indeed I did,' said Alice: 'you've said it very often—and very loud. Please, where ARE the crabs?'
  • 'In the water, of course!' said the Sheep, sticking some of the needles int_er hair, as her hands were full. 'Feather, I say!'
  • 'WHY do you say "feather" so often?' Alice asked at last, rather vexed. 'I'_ot a bird!'
  • 'You are,' said the Sheep: 'you're a little goose.'
  • This offended Alice a little, so there was no more conversation for a minut_r two, while the boat glided gently on, sometimes among beds of weeds (whic_ade the oars stick fast in the water, worse then ever), and sometimes unde_rees, but always with the same tall river-banks frowning over their heads.
  • 'Oh, please! There are some scented rushes!' Alice cried in a sudden transpor_f delight. 'There really are—and SUCH beauties!'
  • 'You needn't say "please" to ME about 'em' the Sheep said, without looking u_rom her knitting: 'I didn't put 'em there, and I'm not going to take 'e_way.'
  • 'No, but I meant—please, may we wait and pick some?' Alice pleaded. 'If yo_on't mind stopping the boat for a minute.'
  • 'How am _I_ to stop it?' said the Sheep. 'If you leave off rowing, it'll sto_f itself.'
  • So the boat was left to drift down the stream as it would, till it glide_ently in among the waving rushes. And then the little sleeves were carefull_olled up, and the little arms were plunged in elbow-deep to get the rushes _ood long way down before breaking them off—and for a while Alice forgot al_bout the Sheep and the knitting, as she bent over the side of the boat, wit_ust the ends of her tangled hair dipping into the water—while with brigh_ager eyes she caught at one bunch after another of the darling scente_ushes.
  • 'I only hope the boat won't tipple over!' she said to herself. Oh, WHAT _ovely one! Only I couldn't quite reach it.' 'And it certainly DID seem _ittle provoking ('almost as if it happened on purpose,' she thought) that, though she managed to pick plenty of beautiful rushes as the boat glided by, there was always a more lovely one that she couldn't reach.
  • 'The prettiest are always further!' she said at last, with a sigh at th_bstinacy of the rushes in growing so far off, as, with flushed cheeks an_ripping hair and hands, she scrambled back into her place, and began t_rrange her new-found treasures.
  • What mattered it to her just then that the rushes had begun to fade, and t_ose all their scent and beauty, from the very moment that she picked them?
  • Even real scented rushes, you know, last only a very little while—and these, being dream-rushes, melted away almost like snow, as they lay in heaps at he_eet— but Alice hardly noticed this, there were so many other curious thing_o think about.
  • They hadn't gone much farther before the blade of one of the oars got fast i_he water and WOULDN'T come out again (so Alice explained it afterwards), an_he consequence was that the handle of it caught her under the chin, and, i_pite of a series of little shrieks of 'Oh, oh, oh!' from poor Alice, it swep_er straight off the seat, and down among the heap of rushes.
  • However, she wasn't hurt, and was soon up again: the Sheep went on with he_nitting all the while, just as if nothing had happened. 'That was a nice cra_ou caught!' she remarked, as Alice got back into her place, very muc_elieved to find herself still in the boat.
  • 'Was it? I didn't see it,' Said Alice, peeping cautiously over the side of th_oat into the dark water. 'I wish it hadn't let go—I should so like to see _ittle crab to take home with me!' But the Sheep only laughed scornfully, an_ent on with her knitting.
  • 'Are there many crabs here?' said Alice.
  • 'Crabs, and all sorts of things,' said the Sheep: 'plenty of choice, only mak_p your mind. Now, what DO you want to buy?'
  • 'To buy!' Alice echoed in a tone that was half astonished and hal_rightened—for the oars, and the boat, and the river, had vanished all in _oment, and she was back again in the little dark shop.
  • 'I should like to buy an egg, please,' she said timidly. 'How do you sel_hem?'
  • 'Fivepence farthing for one—Twopence for two,' the Sheep replied.
  • 'Then two are cheaper than one?' Alice said in a surprised tone, taking ou_er purse.
  • 'Only you MUST eat them both, if you buy two,' said the Sheep.
  • 'Then I'll have ONE, please,' said Alice, as she put the money down on th_ounter. For she thought to herself, 'They mightn't be at all nice, you know.'
  • The Sheep took the money, and put it away in a box: then she said 'I never pu_hings into people's hands—that would never do—you must get it for yourself.'
  • And so saying, she went off to the other end of the shop, and set the eg_pright on a shelf.
  • 'I wonder WHY it wouldn't do?' thought Alice, as she groped her way among th_ables and chairs, for the shop was very dark towards the end. 'The egg seem_o get further away the more I walk towards it. Let me see, is this a chair?
  • Why, it's got branches, I declare! How very odd to find trees growing here!
  • And actually here's a little brook! Well, this is the very queerest shop _ver saw!'
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  • So she went on, wondering more and more at every step, as everything turne_nto a tree the moment she came up to it, and she quite expected the egg to d_he same.