Alice in Wonderland in Words of One Syllable/Chapter 11


CHAPTER XI.

WHO STOLE THE TARTS?

The King and Queen of Hearts were seat-ed on their throne when Al-ice and the Gry-phon came up, with a great crowd a-bout them. There were all sorts of small birds and beasts, as well as the whole pack of cards. The Knave stood in front of them in chains, with a sol-dier on each side to guard him; and near the King was the White Rab-bit, with a trum-pet in one hand and a roll of pa-per in the other. In the mid-dle of the court was a ta-ble with a large dish of tarts on it. They looked so good that it made Al-ice feel as if she would like to eat some of them. "I wish they'd get the tri-al done," she thought, "and hand round the pies!" But there seemed no chance of this, so to pass the time a-way she looked round at the strange things a-bout her.

This was the first time Al-ice had been in a court of this kind, and she was quite pleased to find that she knew the names of most things she saw there. "That's the judge," she thought, "I know him by his great wig."

The judge, by the way, was the King, and as he wore his crown on top of his wig, he looked quite ill at ease.

"And that's the ju-ry box," thought Al-ice, "and those twelve things" (she had to say "things," you see, for some of them were beasts and some were birds), "I guess are the ju-rors." She said this last word two or three times as she was proud that she knew it; for she was right when she thought that few girls of her age would have known what it all meant.

The twelve ju-rors all wrote on slates.

"What can they have to write now?" Al-ice asked the Gry-phon, in a low tone. "The tri-al has not be-gun yet."

"They're put-ting down their names," the Gry-phon said, "for fear they should for-get them."

"Stu-pid things!" Al-ice said in a loud voice, but stopped at once, for the White Rab-bit cried out, "Si-lence in court!" and the King looked round to make out who spoke.

Al-ice could see quite well that the ju-rors all wrote down "stu-pid things!" on their slates, she could e-ven make out that one of them didn't know how to spell "stu-pid" and that he asked the one by his side to tell him, "A nice mud-dle their slates will be in by the time the tri-al's ended," thought Al-ice.

One of the ju-rors had a pen-cil that squeaked as he wrote. This, of course, Al-ice could not stand, so she went round near him, and soon found a chance to get it from him. This she did in such a way that the poor ju-ror (it was Bill, the Liz-ard) could not make out at all where it was, so he wrote with one fin-ger for the rest of the day. Of course, this was of no use, as it left no mark on the slate.

"Read the charge!" said the King.

On this the White Rab-bit blew three blasts on the trum-pet, and then from the pa-per in his hand read:

"The Queen of Hearts, she made some tarts,
All on a sum-mer day:
The Knave of Hearts, he stole those tarts,
And took them quite a-way!"

"The ju-ry will now take the case," said the King.

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"Not yet, not yet!" the Rab-bit said in haste. "There is a great deal else to come first."

"Call the first wit-ness," said the King, and the White Rab-bit blew three blasts on the trum-pet, and called out, "First wit-ness."

The first to come was the Hat-ter. He came in with a tea cup in one hand and a piece of bread and but-ter in the oth-er.

"I beg par-don, your ma-jes-ty," he said, "but I had to bring these in, as I was not quite through with my tea when I was sent for."

"You ought to have been through," said the King. "When did you be-gin?"

The Hat-ter looked at the March Hare, who had just come in-to court, arm in arm with the Dor-mouse. "Fourth of March, I think it was," he said.

"Fifth," said the March Hare.

"Sixth," add-ed the Dor-mouse.

"Write that down," said the King to the ju-ry, and they wrote down all three dates on their slates, and then added them up and changed the sum to shil-lings and pence.

"Take off your hat," the King said to the Hat-ter.

"It isn't mine," said the Hat-ter.

"Stole it!" cried the King, as he turned to the jury, who at once wrote it down.

"I keep them to sell," the Hat-ter added. "I've none of my own. I'm a hat-ter."

Here the Queen put on her eye-glass-es and stared hard at the Hat-ter, who turned pale with fright.

"Tell what you know of this case," said the King; "and don't be nerv-ous, or I'll have your head off on the spot."

This did not seem to calm him at all, he shift-ed from one foot to the other and looked at the Queen, and in his fright he bit a large piece out of his tea-cup in place of the bread and but-ter.

Just then Al-ice felt a strange thrill, the cause of which she could not make out till she saw she had be-gun to grow a-gain.

"I wish you wouldn't squeeze so," said the Dor-mouse. "I haven't room to breathe."

"I can't help it," said Al-ice; "I'm grow-ing."

"You've no right to grow here," said the Dor-mouse.

"Don't talk such non-sense," said Al-ice. "You know you grow too."

"Yes, but not so fast as to squeeze the breath out of those who sit by me." He got up and crossed to the oth-er side of the court.

All this time the Queen had not left off star-ing at the Hat-ter, and just as the Dor-mouse crossed the court, she said to one of the men, "Bring me the list of those who sang in the last con-cert," on which the poor Hat-ter trembled so, that he shook both his shoes off.

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"Tell what you know of this case," the King called out a-gain, "or I'll have your head off, if you do shake."

"I'm a poor man, your ma-jes-ty," the Hat-ter be-gan in a weak voice, "and I hadn't but just be-gun my tea, not more than a week or so, and what with the bread and but-ter so thin—and the twink-ling of the tea——"

"The twink-ling of what?" asked the King.

"It be-gan with the tea," the Hat-ter said.

"Of course twink-ling be-gins with a T!" said the King. "Do you take me for a dunce? Go on!"

"I'm a poor man," the Hat-ter went on, "and most things twink-led af-ter that—but the March Hare said——"

"I didn't," said the March Hare in great haste.

"You did," said the Hat-ter.

"I de-ny it," said the March Hare.

"He de-nies it," said the King: "leave out that part."

"Well, I'm sure the Dor-mouse said——" the Hat-ter went on, with a look at the Dor-mouse to see if he would de-ny it too, but he was fast a-sleep.

"Then I cut some more bread and——"

"But what did the Dor-mouse say?" asked one of the ju-ry.

"That I can't tell," said the Hat-ter.

"You must tell or I'll have your head off," said the King.

The wretch-ed Hat-ter dropped his cup and bread, and went down on one knee.

"I'm a poor man," he be-gan.

"You're a poor speak-er," said the King.

Here one of the guin-ea pigs cheered, and one of the men seized him, thrust him in-to a bag which tied up with strings, and then sat up-on it.

"If that's all you know, you may stand down," the King said.

"I'm as low as I can get now," said the Hat-ter; "I'm on the floor as it is."

"Then you may sit down," the King said.

"I'd like to get through with my tea first," said the Hat-ter with a look at the Queen who still read the list in her hand.

"You may go," said the King, and the Hat-ter left the court in such haste that he did not e-ven wait to put his shoes on.

"And just take his head off out-side," the Queen add-ed to one of the sol-diers, but the Hat-ter was out of sight be-fore the man could get to the door.

"Call the next wit-ness," said the King.

The next to come was the Duch-ess' cook, and Al-ice guessed who it was by the way the peo-ple near the door sneezed all at once.

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"Tell what you know of this case," said the King.

"Shan't," said the cook.

The King looked at the White Rab-bit, who said in a low voice, "Your ma-jes-ty must make her tell."

"Well, if I must, I must," said the King with a sad look. He fold-ed his arms and frowned at the cook till his eyes were al-most out of sight, then asked in a stern voice, "What are tarts made of?"

"Pep-per, most-ly," said the cook.

"Sug-ar," said a weak voice near her.

"Catch that Dor-mouse," the Queen shrieked out. "Off with his head! Turn him out of court! Pinch him! Off with his head!"

The whole court ran here and there, get-ting the Dor-mouse turned out, and by the time this was done, the cook had gone.

"That's all right," said the King, as if he were glad to be rid of her. "Call the next," and he add-ed in a low tone to the Queen, "Now, my dear, you must take the next wit-ness in hand; it quite makes my head ache!"

Al-ice watched the White Rab-bit as he looked o-ver the list. She thought to her-self, "I want to see what the next witness will be like, for they haven't found out much yet."

Think, if you can, how she felt when the White Rab-bit read out, at the top of his shrill lit-tle voice, the name "Al-ice!"