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Chapter 7 The Lion and the Unicorn

  • The next moment soldiers came running through the wood, at first in twos an_hrees, then ten or twenty together, and at last in such crowds that the_eemed to fill the whole forest. Alice got behind a tree, for fear of bein_un over, and watched them go by.
  • She thought that in all her life she had never seen soldiers so uncertain o_heir feet: they were always tripping over something or other, and wheneve_ne went down, several more always fell over him, so that the ground was soo_overed with little heaps of men.
  • Then came the horses. Having four feet, these managed rather better than th_oot-soldiers: but even THEY stumbled now and then; and it seemed to be _egular rule that, whenever a horse stumbled the rider fell off instantly. Th_onfusion got worse every moment, and Alice was very glad to get out of th_ood into an open place, where she found the White King seated on the ground, busily writing in his memorandum-book.
  • 'I've sent them all!' the King cried in a tone of delight, on seeing Alice.
  • 'Did you happen to meet any soldiers, my dear, as you came through the wood?'
  • 'Yes, I did,' said Alice: 'several thousand, I should think.'
  • 'Four thousand two hundred and seven, that's the exact number,' the King said, referring to his book. 'I couldn't send all the horses, you know, because tw_f them are wanted in the game. And I haven't sent the two Messengers, either.
  • They're both gone to the town. Just look along the road, and tell me if yo_an see either of them.'
  • 'I see nobody on the road,' said Alice.
  • 'I only wish _I_ had such eyes,' the King remarked in a fretful tone. 'To b_ble to see Nobody! And at that distance, too! Why, it's as much as _I_ can d_o see real people, by this light!'
  • All this was lost on Alice, who was still looking intently along the road, shading her eyes with one hand. 'I see somebody now!' she exclaimed at last.
  • 'But he's coming very slowly—and what curious attitudes he goes into!' (Fo_he messenger kept skipping up and down, and wriggling like an eel, as he cam_long, with his great hands spread out like fans on each side.)
  • 'Not at all,' said the King. 'He's an Anglo-Saxon Messenger— and those ar_nglo-Saxon attitudes. He only does them when he's happy. His name is Haigha.'
  • (He pronounced it so as to rhyme with 'mayor.')
  • 'I love my love with an H,' Alice couldn't help beginning, 'because he i_appy. I hate him with an H, because he is Hideous. I fed him with—with—wit_am-sandwiches and Hay. His name is Haigha, and he lives—'
  • 'He lives on the Hill,' the King remarked simply, without the least idea tha_e was joining in the game, while Alice was still hesitating for the name of _own beginning with H. 'The other Messenger's called Hatta. I must have TWO, you know—to come and go. One to come, and one to go.'
  • 'I beg your pardon?' said Alice.
  • 'It isn't respectable to beg,' said the King.
  • 'I only meant that I didn't understand,' said Alice. 'Why one to come and on_o go?'
  • 'Didn't I tell you?' the King repeated impatiently. 'I must have Two—to fetc_nd carry. One to fetch, and one to carry.'
  • At this moment the Messenger arrived: he was far too much out of breath to sa_ word, and could only wave his hands about, and make the most fearful face_t the poor King.
  • 'This young lady loves you with an H,' the King said, introducing Alice in th_ope of turning off the Messenger's attention from himself—but it was n_se—the Anglo-Saxon attitudes only got more extraordinary every moment, whil_he great eyes rolled wildly from side to side.
  • 'You alarm me!' said the King. 'I feel faint—Give me a ham sandwich!'
  • On which the Messenger, to Alice's great amusement, opened a bag that hun_ound his neck, and handed a sandwich to the King, who devoured it greedily.
  • 'Another sandwich!' said the King.
  • 'There's nothing but hay left now,' the Messenger said, peeping into the bag.
  • 'Hay, then,' the King murmured in a faint whisper.
  • Alice was glad to see that it revived him a good deal. 'There's nothing lik_ating hay when you're faint,' he remarked to her, as he munched away.
  • 'I should think throwing cold water over you would be better,' Alic_uggested: 'or some sal-volatile.'
  • 'I didn't say there was nothing BETTER,' the King replied. 'I said there wa_othing LIKE it.' Which Alice did not venture to deny.
  • 'Who did you pass on the road?' the King went on, holding out his hand to th_essenger for some more hay.
  • 'Nobody,' said the Messenger.
  • 'Quite right,' said the King: 'this young lady saw him too. So of cours_obody walks slower than you.'
  • 'I do my best,' the Messenger said in a sulky tone. 'I'm sure nobody walk_uch faster than I do!'
  • 'He can't do that,' said the King, 'or else he'd have been here first.
  • However, now you've got your breath, you may tell us what's happened in th_own.'
  • 'I'll whisper it,' said the Messenger, putting his hands to his mouth in th_hape of a trumpet, and stooping so as to get close to the King's ear. Alic_as sorry for this, as she wanted to hear the news too. However, instead o_hispering, he simply shouted at the top of his voice 'They're at it again!'
  • 'Do you call THAT a whisper?' cried the poor King, jumping up and shakin_imself. 'If you do such a thing again, I'll have you buttered! It wen_hrough and through my head like an earthquake!'
  • 'It would have to be a very tiny earthquake!' thought Alice. 'Who are at i_gain?' she ventured to ask.
  • 'Why the Lion and the Unicorn, of course,' said the King.
  • 'Fighting for the crown?'
  • 'Yes, to be sure,' said the King: 'and the best of the joke is, that it's M_rown all the while! Let's run and see them.' And they trotted off, Alic_epeating to herself, as she ran, the words of the old song:—
  • 'The Lion and the Unicorn were fighting for the crown:
  • The Lion beat the Unicorn all round the town.
  • Some gave them white bread, some gave them brown;
  • Some gave them plum-cake and drummed them out of town.'
  • 'Does—the one—that wins—get the crown?' she asked, as well as she could, fo_he run was putting her quite out of breath.
  • 'Dear me, no!' said the King. 'What an idea!'
  • 'Would you—be good enough,' Alice panted out, after running a little further,
  • 'to stop a minute—just to get—one's breath again?'
  • 'I'm GOOD enough,' the King said, 'only I'm not strong enough. You see, _inute goes by so fearfully quick. You might as well try to stop _andersnatch!'
  • Alice had no more breath for talking, so they trotted on in silence, till the_ame in sight of a great crowd, in the middle of which the Lion and Unicor_ere fighting. They were in such a cloud of dust, that at first Alice coul_ot make out which was which: but she soon managed to distinguish the Unicor_y his horn.
  • They placed themselves close to where Hatta, the other messenger, was standin_atching the fight, with a cup of tea in one hand and a piece of bread-and- butter in the other.
  • 'He's only just out of prison, and he hadn't finished his tea when he was sen_n,' Haigha whispered to Alice: 'and they only give them oyster-shells i_here—so you see he's very hungry and thirsty. How are you, dear child?' h_ent on, putting his arm affectionately round Hatta's neck.
  • Hatta looked round and nodded, and went on with his bread and butter.
  • 'Were you happy in prison, dear child?' said Haigha.
  • Hatta looked round once more, and this time a tear or two trickled down hi_heek: but not a word would he say.
  • 'Speak, can't you!' Haigha cried impatiently. But Hatta only munched away, an_rank some more tea.
  • 'Speak, won't you!' cried the King. 'How are they getting on with the fight?'
  • Hatta made a desperate effort, and swallowed a large piece of bread-and- butter. 'They're getting on very well,' he said in a choking voice: 'each o_hem has been down about eighty-seven times.'
  • 'Then I suppose they'll soon bring the white bread and the brown?' Alic_entured to remark.
  • 'It's waiting for 'em now,' said Hatta: 'this is a bit of it as I'm eating.'
  • There was a pause in the fight just then, and the Lion and the Unicorn sa_own, panting, while the King called out 'Ten minutes allowed fo_efreshments!' Haigha and Hatta set to work at once, carrying rough trays o_hite and brown bread. Alice took a piece to taste, but it was VERY dry.
  • 'I don't think they'll fight any more to-day,' the King said to Hatta: 'go an_rder the drums to begin.' And Hatta went bounding away like a grasshopper.
  • For a minute or two Alice stood silent, watching him. Suddenly she brightene_p. 'Look, look!' she cried, pointing eagerly. 'There's the White Quee_unning across the country! She came flying out of the wood over yonder—Ho_ast those Queens CAN run!'
  • 'There's some enemy after her, no doubt,' the King said, without even lookin_ound. 'That wood's full of them.'
  • 'But aren't you going to run and help her?' Alice asked, very much surprise_t his taking it so quietly.
  • 'No use, no use!' said the King. 'She runs so fearfully quick. You might a_ell try to catch a Bandersnatch! But I'll make a memorandum about her, if yo_ike—She's a dear good creature,' he repeated softly to himself, as he opene_is memorandum-book. 'Do you spell "creature" with a double "e"?'
  • At this moment the Unicorn sauntered by them, with his hands in his pockets.
  • 'I had the best of it this time?' he said to the King, just glancing at him a_e passed.
  • 'A little—a little,' the King replied, rather nervously. 'You shouldn't hav_un him through with your horn, you know.'
  • 'It didn't hurt him,' the Unicorn said carelessly, and he was going on, whe_is eye happened to fall upon Alice: he turned round rather instantly, an_tood for some time looking at her with an air of the deepest disgust.
  • 'What—is—this?' he said at last.
  • 'This is a child!' Haigha replied eagerly, coming in front of Alice t_ntroduce her, and spreading out both his hands towards her in an Anglo-Saxo_ttitude. 'We only found it to-day. It's as large as life, and twice a_atural!'
  • 'I always thought they were fabulous monsters!' said the Unicorn. 'Is i_live?'
  • 'It can talk,' said Haigha, solemnly.
  • The Unicorn looked dreamily at Alice, and said 'Talk, child.'
  • Alice could not help her lips curling up into a smile as she began: 'Do yo_now, I always thought Unicorns were fabulous monsters, too! I never saw on_live before!'
  • 'Well, now that we HAVE seen each other,' said the Unicorn, 'if you'll believ_n me, I'll believe in you. Is that a bargain?'
  • 'Yes, if you like,' said Alice.
  • 'Come, fetch out the plum-cake, old man!' the Unicorn went on, turning fro_er to the King. 'None of your brown bread for me!'
  • 'Certainly—certainly!' the King muttered, and beckoned to Haigha. 'Open th_ag!' he whispered. 'Quick! Not that one— that's full of hay!'
  • Haigha took a large cake out of the bag, and gave it to Alice to hold, whil_e got out a dish and carving-knife. How they all came out of it Alic_ouldn't guess. It was just like a conjuring-trick, she thought.
  • The Lion had joined them while this was going on: he looked very tired an_leepy, and his eyes were half shut. 'What's this!' he said, blinking lazil_t Alice, and speaking in a deep hollow tone that sounded like the tolling o_ great bell.
  • 'Ah, what IS it, now?' the Unicorn cried eagerly. 'You'll never guess! _I_ouldn't.'
  • The Lion looked at Alice wearily. 'Are you animal—vegetable —or mineral?' h_aid, yawning at every other word.
  • 'It's a fabulous monster!' the Unicorn cried out, before Alice could reply.
  • 'Then hand round the plum-cake, Monster,' the Lion said, lying down an_utting his chin on this paws. 'And sit down, both of you,' (to the King an_he Unicorn): 'fair play with the cake, you know!'
  • The King was evidently very uncomfortable at having to sit down between th_wo great creatures; but there was no other place for him.
  • 'What a fight we might have for the crown, NOW!' the Unicorn said, lookin_lyly up at the crown, which the poor King was nearly shaking off his head, h_rembled so much.
  • 'I should win easy,' said the Lion.
  • 'I'm not so sure of that,' said the Unicorn.
  • 'Why, I beat you all round the town, you chicken!' the Lion replied angrily, half getting up as he spoke.
  • Here the King interrupted, to prevent the quarrel going on: he was ver_ervous, and his voice quite quivered. 'All round the town?' he said. 'That'_ good long way. Did you go by the old bridge, or the market-place? You ge_he best view by the old bridge.'
  • 'I'm sure I don't know,' the Lion growled out as he lay down again. 'There wa_oo much dust to see anything. What a time the Monster is, cutting up tha_ake!'
  • Alice had seated herself on the bank of a little brook, with the great dish o_er knees, and was sawing away diligently with the knife. 'It's ver_rovoking!' she said, in reply to the Lion (she was getting quite used t_eing called 'the Monster'). 'I've cut several slices already, but they alway_oin on again!'
  • 'You don't know how to manage Looking-glass cakes,' the Unicorn remarked.
  • 'Hand it round first, and cut it afterwards.'
  • This sounded nonsense, but Alice very obediently got up, and carried the dis_ound, and the cake divided itself into three pieces as she did so. 'NOW cu_t up,' said the Lion, as she returned to her place with the empty dish.
  • 'I say, this isn't fair!' cried the Unicorn, as Alice sat with the knife i_er hand, very much puzzled how to begin. 'The Monster has given the Lio_wice as much as me!'
  • 'She's kept none for herself, anyhow,' said the Lion. 'Do you like plum-cake, Monster?'
  • But before Alice could answer him, the drums began.
  • Where the noise came from, she couldn't make out: the air seemed full of it, and it rang through and through her head till she felt quite deafened. Sh_tarted to her feet and sprang across the little brook in her terror,
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  • and had just time to see the Lion and the Unicorn rise to their feet, wit_ngry looks at being interrupted in their feast, before she dropped to he_nees, and put her hands over her ears, vainly trying to shut out the dreadfu_proar.
  • 'If THAT doesn't "drum them out of town,"' she thought to herself, 'nothin_ver will!'