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could keep it to half-past one as long as you liked."
“Is that the way you manage?” Alice asked.
The Hatter shook his head mournfully. "Not I,” he replied. “We quarreled last March--just before he went mad, you know” (pointing with his teaspoon at the March Hare). “It was at the great concert given by the Queen of Hearts, and I had to sing:
““Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!
How I wonder what you 're at!'
You know the song perhaps?”
“I've heard something like it,” said Alice.
“Up above the world you fly,
Here the Dormouse shook itself, and began singing in its sleep, “Twinkle, twinkle, twinkle, twinkle”—and went on so long that they had to pinch it to make it stop.
“Well, I'd hardly finished the first verse," said the Hatter, “when the Queen bawled out 'He's murdering the time! Off with his head!'”
“How dreadfully savage!” exclaimed Alice.
"he won't do a thing I ask! It's always six o'clock now.
A bright idea came into Alice's head. “Is that the reason so many tea things are put out here?” she asked.
“Yes, that's it,” said the Hatter with a sigh: “it's
always tea time, and we've no time to wash the things between whiles.”
“Then you keep moving round, I suppose?” said Alice.
"Exactly so," said the Hatter: “as the things get used up.”
“But when you come to the beginning again?” Alice ventured to ask.
Dôr'mouse, a small animal of the squirrel kind; civ'il (siv'il), polite; whiles (hwilz), times. STUDY HELPS
Where did this party take place, and who were present? Picture the scene at the time Alice approached.
How was Alice received?
What subjects are talked about? Why does Alice have trouble in keeping track of the conversation?
What riddle is Alice asked to guess?
“Suppose we change the subject,” the March Hare interrupted, yawning, “I'm getting tired of this. I vote the young lady tells us a story.”
“I'm afraid I don't know one,” said Alice, rather alarmed at the proposal.
“Then the Dormouse shall!” they both cried. “Wake up, Dormouse!” And they pinched it on both sides at once.
The Dormouse slowly opened his eyes. “I was n't asleep,” he said in a hoarse, feeble voice: “I heard every word you fellows were saying.”
“Tell us a story!” said the March Hare.
“And be quick about it,” added the Hatter, “or you 'll be sleep again before it 's done."
"Once upon a time there were three little sisters," the Dormouse began in a great hurry; "and their names were Elsie, Lacie, and Tillie: and they lived at the bottom of a
“What did they live on?” said Alice, who always took a great interest in questions of eating and drinking.
“They lived on treacle," said the Dormouse, after thinking a minute or two.
“They could n't have done that, you know,” Alice gently remarked: “they 'd have been ill.”'
“So they were,” said the Dormouse; “very ill.”
Alice tried a little to fancy to herself what such an extraordinary way of living would be like, but it puzzled her too much, so she went on: “But why did they live at the bottom of a well?”
“Take some more tea,” the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
“I've had nothing yet,” Alice replied in an offended tone, "so I can't take more.'
“You mean, you can't take less,” said the Hatter: "it's very easy to take more than nothing."
"Nobody asked your opinion,” said Alice.
“Who's making personal remarks now?” the Hatter asked triumphantly.
Alice did not quite know what to say to this: so she helped herself to some tea and bread and butter, and then
turned to the Dormouse, and repeated her question. “Why did they live at the bottom of a well?".
The Dormouse again took a minute or two to think about it, and then said, “It was a treacle well."
“There's no such thing!” Alice was beginning very angrily, but the Hatter and the March Hare went “Sh! sh!” and the Dormouse sulkily remarked, “If you can't be civil, you 'd better finish the story for yourself.”
“No, please go on!” Alice said very humbly: “I won't interrupt you again. I dare say there may be one.'
“One, indeed!” said the Dormouse indignantly. However, he consented to go on. "And so these three little sisters —they were learning to draw, you know"
“What did they draw?” said Alice, quite forgetting her promise.
“Treacle," said the Dormouse, without considering at all this time.
"I want a clean cup,” interrupted the Hatter: "let's all move one place on.”
He moved on as he spoke, and the Dormouse followed him: the March Hare moved into the Dormouse's place, and Alice rather unwillingly took the place of the March Hare. The Hatter was the only one who got any advantage from the change: and Alice was a good deal worse off than before, as the March Hare had just upset the milk jug into his plate.
Alice did not wish to offend the Dormouse again, so she began very cautiously: “But I don't understand. Where did they draw the treacle from?”
“You can draw water out of a water well,” said the
Hatter; "so I should think you could draw treacle out of a treacle well-eh, stupid?”
"But they were in the well,” Alice said to the Dormouse, not choosing to notice this last remark.
“Of course they were,” said the Dormouse, -"well in."
This answer so confused poor Alice, that she let the Dormouse go on for some time without interrupting it.
“They were learning to draw," the Dormouse went on, yawning and rubbing its eyes, for it was getting very sleepy; "and they drew all manner of things everything that begins with an M"
“Why with an M?” said Alice.
The Dormouse had closed its eyes by this time, and was going off into a doze, but, on being pinched by the Hatter, it woke up again with a little shriek, and went on: begins with an M, such as mousetraps, and the moon, and memory, and muchness — you know you say things are ‘much of a muchness' - did you ever see such a thing as a drawing of a muchness?"
"Really, now you ask me,” said Alice, very much confused, “I don't think”.
“Then you should n't talk," said the Hatter.
This piece of rudeness was more than Alice could bear: she got up in great disgust, and walked off: the Dormouse fell asleep instantly, and neither of the others took the least notice of her going, though she looked back once or twice, half hoping that they would call after her: the last time she saw them, they were trying to put the Dormouse into the teapot.