Alice in Wonderland in Words of One Syllable/Chapter 12


CHAPTER XII.

AL-ICE ON THE STAND.

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"Here!" cried Al-ice, but she quite for-got how large she had grown in the last few min-utes, and jumped up in such haste that the edge of her skirt tipped the ju-ry box and turned them all out on the heads of the crowd be-low; and there they lay sprawl-ing a-bout, which made her think of a globe of gold-fish which she had up-set the week be-fore.

"Oh, I beg your par-don!" she said, and picked them up and put them backed in the ju-ry box as fast as she could.

"The tri-al can not go on," said the King in a grave voice, "till all the men are back in place—all," he said with great force and looked hard at Al-ice.

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She looked at the ju-ry box and saw that in her haste she had put the Liz-ard in head first and the poor thing was wav-ing its tail in the air, but could not move. She soon got it out and put it right; "not that it mat-ters much," she thought; "I should think it would be quite as much use in the tri-al one way up as the oth-er."

As soon as their slates and pen-cils had been hand-ed back to them, the ju-ry set to work to write out an ac-count of their fall, all but the Liz-ard, who seem-ed too weak to write, but sat and gazed up in-to the roof of the court.

"What do you know of this case?" the King asked Al-ice.

"Not one thing," said Al-ice.

"Not one thing, at all?" asked the King.

"Not one thing, at all," said Al-ice.

"Write that down," the King said to the ju-ry.

The King sat for some time and wrote in his note-book, then he called out, "Si-lence!" and read from his book, "Rule For-ty-two. Each one more than a mile high to leave the court."

All looked at Al-ice.

"I'm not a mile high," said Al-ice.

"You are," said the King.

"Not far from two miles high," add-ed the Queen.

"Well, I shan't go," said Al-ice, "for I know that's a new rule you have just made."

"It's the first rule in the book," said the King.

"Then it ought to be Rule One," said Al-ice.

The King turned pale and shut his note-book at once.

"The ju-ry can now take the case," he said in a weak voice.

"There's more to come yet, please your ma-jes-ty," said the White Rab-bit, as he jumped up; "this thing has just been picked up."

"What's in it?" asked the Queen.

"I haven't read it yet," said the White Rab-bit, "but it seems to be a note from the Knave of Hearts to some one."

"Whose name is on it?" said one of the ju-rors.

"There's no name on it," said the White Rab-bit; he looked at it with more care as he spoke, and add-ed, "it isn't a note at all; it's a set of rhymes."

"Please your ma-jes-ty," said the Knave, "I didn't write it, and they can't prove that I did; there's no name signed at the end."

"If you didn't sign it," said the King, "that makes your case worse. You must have meant some harm or you'd have signed your name like an hon-est man."

All clapped their hands at this as it was the first smart thing the King had said that day.

"That proves his guilt," said the Queen.

"It does not prove a thing," said Al-ice, "Why you don't so much as know what the rhymes are."

"Read them," said the King.

"Where shall I be-gin, your ma-jes-ty?" the White Rab-bit asked.

"Why at the first verse, of course," the King said look-ing quite grave, "and go on till you come to the end; then stop."

The White Rab-bit read:

"They told me you had been to her,
And spoke of me to him:
She gave me a good name, in-deed,
But said I could not swim.

"He sent them word that I had gone
(We know it to be true):
If she should push the mat-ter on
What would be-come of you?

"I gave her one, they gave him two,
You gave us three, or more;
They all came back from him to you,
Though they were mine be-fore.

"My no-tion was, she liked him best,
(Be-fore she had this fit)
This must be kept from all the rest
But him and you and it."

"That's the best thing we've heard yet," said the King, rub-bing his hands as if much pleased; "so now let the ju-ry——"

"If one of you can tell what it means," said Al-ice (she had grown so large by this time that she had no fear of the King) "I should be glad to hear it. I don't think there's a grain of sense in it."

The ju-ry all wrote down on their slates, "She doesn't think there's a grain of sense in it." But no one tried to tell what it meant.

"If there's no sense in it," said the King, "that saves a world of work, you know, as we needn't try to find it. And yet I don't know," he went on, as he spread out the rhymes on his knee, and looked at them with one eye: "I seem to find some sense in them—'said I could not swim'—you can't swim, can you?" he added, turn-ing to the Knave.

The Knave shook his head with a sigh. "Do I look like it?" he said. (Which it was plain he did not, as he was made of card board.)

"All right, so far," said the King, and he went on: "'We know it to be true'—that's the ju-ry, of course—'I gave her one, they gave him two'—that must be what he did with the tarts, you know——"

"But it goes on, 'they all came back from him to you,'" said Al-ice.

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"Why, there they are," said the King, point-ing to the tarts. "Isn't that as clear as can be? Then it goes on, 'before she had this fit'—you don't have fits, my dear, I think?" he said to the Queen.

"No! no!" said the Queen in a great rage, throw-ing an ink-stand at the Liz-ard as she spoke.

"Then the words don't fit you," he said, and looked round the court with a smile. But no one spoke. "It's a pun," he added in a fierce tone, then all the court laughed.

"Let the ju-ry now bring in their verdict," the King said.

"No! no!" said the Queen. "Sen-tence first—then the ver-dict."

"Such stuff!" said Al-ice out loud. "Of course the ju-ry must make——"

"Hold your tongue!" screamed the Queen.

"I won't!" said Al-ice.

"Off with her head!" shout-ed the Queen at the top of her voice. No one moved.

"Who cares for you?" said Al-ice. (She had grown to her full size by this time.) "You are noth-ing but a pack of cards!"

At this the whole pack rose up in the air and flew down up-on her; she gave a lit-tle scream and tried to beat them off—and found her-self ly-ing on the bank with her head in the lap of her sis-ter, who was brush-ing a-way some dead leaves that had fluttered down from the trees on to her face.

"Wake up, Al-ice dear," said her sis-ter; "why what a long sleep you have had!"

"Oh, I've had such a strange dream!" said Al-ice, and then she told her sis-ter as well as she could all these strange things that you have just read a-bout; and when she came to the end of it, her sis-ter kissed her and said: "It was a strange dream, dear, I'm sure; but run now in to your tea; it's get-ting late."

So Al-ice got up and ran off, think-ing while she ran, as well she might, what a won-der-ful dream it had been.