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Reading is the
fountain of wisdom.



by Lewis Carroll

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Alice's Evidence

`Here!' cried Alice, quite forgetting in the flurry of the

moment how large she had grown in the last few minutes, and she

jumped up in such a hurry that she tipped over the jury-box with

the edge of her skirt, upsetting all the jurymen on to the heads

of the crowd below, and there they lay sprawling about, reminding

her very much of a globe of goldfish she had accidentally upset

the week before.

`Oh, I BEG your pardon!' she exclaimed in a tone of great

dismay, and began picking them up again as quickly as she could,

for the accident of the goldfish kept running in her head, and

she had a vague sort of idea that they must be collected at once

and put back into the jury-box, or they would die.

`The trial cannot proceed,' said the King in a very grave

voice, `until all the jurymen are back in their proper places--

ALL,' he repeated with great emphasis, looking hard at Alice as

he said do.

Alice looked at the jury-box, and saw that, in her haste, she

had put the Lizard in head downwards, and the poor little thing

was waving its tail about in a melancholy way, being quite unable

to move. She soon got it out again, and put it right; `not that

it signifies much,' she said to herself; `I should think it

would be QUITE as much use in the trial one way up as the other.'

As soon as the jury had a little recovered from the shock of

being upset, and their slates and pencils had been found and

handed back to them, they set to work very diligently to write

out a history of the accident, all except the Lizard, who seemed

too much overcome to do anything but sit with its mouth open,

gazing up into the roof of the court.

`What do you know about this business?' the King said to Alice.

`Nothing,' said Alice.

`Nothing WHATEVER?' persisted the King.

`Nothing whatever,' said Alice.

`That's very important,' the King said, turning to the jury.

They were just beginning to write this down on their slates, when

the White Rabbit interrupted: `UNimportant, your Majesty means,

of course,' he said in a very respectful tone, but frowning and

making faces at him as he spoke.

`UNimportant, of course, I meant,' the King hastily said, and

went on to himself in an undertone, `important--unimportant--

unimportant--important--' as if he were trying which word sounded best.

Some of the jury wrote it down `important,' and some

`unimportant.' Alice could see this, as she was near enough to

look over their slates; `but it doesn't matter a bit,' she thought to herself.

At this moment the King, who had been for some time busily

writing in his note-book, cackled out `Silence!' and read out

from his book, `Rule Forty-two. ALL PERSONS MORE THAN A MILE


Everybody looked at Alice.

`I'M not a mile high,' said Alice.

`You are,' said the King.

`Nearly two miles high,' added the Queen.

`Well, I shan't go, at any rate,' said Alice: `besides,

that's not a regular rule: you invented it just now.'

`It's the oldest rule in the book,' said the King.

`Then it ought to be Number One,' said Alice.

The King turned pale, and shut his note-book hastily.

`Consider your verdict,' he said to the jury, in a low, trembling voice.

`There's more evidence to come yet, please your Majesty,' said

the White Rabbit, jumping up in a great hurry; `this paper has

just been picked up.'

`What's in it?' said the Queen.

`I haven't opened it yet,' said the White Rabbit, `but it seems

to be a letter, written by the prisoner to--to somebody.'

`It must have been that,' said the King, `unless it was

written to nobody, which isn't usual, you know.'

`Who is it directed to?' said one of the jurymen.

`It isn't directed at all,' said the White Rabbit; `in fact,

there's nothing written on the OUTSIDE.' He unfolded the paper

as he spoke, and added `It isn't a letter, after all: it's a set of verses.'

`Are they in the prisoner's handwriting?' asked another of the jurymen.

`No, they're not,' said the White Rabbit, `and that's the

queerest thing about it.' (The jury all looked puzzled.)

`He must have imitated somebody else's hand,' said the King.

(The jury all brightened up again.)

`Please your Majesty,' said the Knave, `I didn't write it, and

they can't prove I did: there's no name signed at the end.'

`If you didn't sign it,' said the King, `that only makes the

matter worse. You MUST have meant some mischief, or else you'd

have signed your name like an honest man.'

There was a general clapping of hands at this: it was the

first really clever thing the King had said that day.

`That PROVES his guilt,' said the Queen.

`It proves nothing of the sort!' said Alice. `Why, you don't

even know what they're about!'

`Read them,' said the King.

The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. `Where shall I begin,

please your Majesty?' he asked.

`Begin at the beginning,' the King said gravely, `and go on

till you come to the end: then stop.'

These were the verses the White Rabbit read:--

`They told me you had been to her,

And mentioned me to him:

She gave me a good character,

But said I could not swim.

He sent them word I had not gone

(We know it to be true):

If she should push the matter on,

What would become of you?

I gave her one, they gave him two,

You gave us three or more;

They all returned from him to you,

Though they were mine before.

If I or she should chance to be

Involved in this affair,

He trusts to you to set them free,

Exactly as we were.

My notion was that you had been

(Before she had this fit)

An obstacle that came between

Him, and ourselves, and it.

Don't let him know she liked them best,

For this must ever be

A secret, kept from all the rest,

Between yourself and me.'

`That's the most important piece of evidence we've heard yet,'

said the King, rubbing his hands; `so now let the jury--'

`If any one of them can explain it,' said Alice, (she had

grown so large in the last few minutes that she wasn't a bit

afraid of interrupting him,) `I'll give him sixpence. _I_ don't

believe there's an atom of meaning in it.'

The jury all wrote down on their slates, `SHE doesn't believe

there's an atom of meaning in it,' but none of them attempted to

explain the paper.

`If there's no meaning in it,' said the King, `that saves a

world of trouble, you know, as we needn't try to find any. And

yet I don't know,' he went on, spreading out the verses on his

knee, and looking at them with one eye; `I seem to see some

meaning in them, after all. "--SAID I COULD NOT SWIM--" you

can't swim, can you?' he added, turning to the Knave.

The Knave shook his head sadly. `Do I look like it?' he said.

(Which he certainly did NOT, being made entirely of cardboard.)

`All right, so far,' said the King, and he went on muttering

over the verses to himself: `"WE KNOW IT TO BE TRUE--" that's

the jury, of course-- "I GAVE HER ONE, THEY GAVE HIM TWO--" why,

that must be what he did with the tarts, you know--'

`But, it goes on "THEY ALL RETURNED FROM HIM TO YOU,"' said Alice.

`Why, there they are!' said the King triumphantly, pointing to

the tarts on the table. `Nothing can be clearer than THAT.

Then again--"BEFORE SHE HAD THIS FIT--" you never had fits, my

dear, I think?' he said to the Queen.

`Never!' said the Queen furiously, throwing an inkstand at the

Lizard as she spoke. (The unfortunate little Bill had left off

writing on his slate with one finger, as he found it made no

mark; but he now hastily began again, using the ink, that was

trickling down his face, as long as it lasted.)

`Then the words don't FIT you,' said the King, looking round

the court with a smile. There was a dead silence.

`It's a pun!' the King added in an offended tone, and

everybody laughed, `Let the jury consider their verdict,' the

King said, for about the twentieth time that day.

`No, no!' said the Queen. `Sentence first--verdict afterwards.'

`Stuff and nonsense!' said Alice loudly. `The idea of having

the sentence first!'

`Hold your tongue!' said the Queen, turning purple.

`I won't!' said Alice.

`Off with her head!' the Queen shouted at the top of her voice.

Nobody moved.

`Who cares for you?' said Alice, (she had grown to her full

size by this time.) `You're nothing but a pack of cards!'

At this the whole pack rose up into the air, and came flying

down upon her: she gave a little scream, half of fright and half

of anger, and tried to beat them off, and found herself lying on

the bank, with her head in the lap of her sister, who was gently

brushing away some dead leaves that had fluttered down from the

trees upon her face.

`Wake up, Alice dear!' said her sister; `Why, what a long sleep you've had!'

`Oh, I've had such a curious dream!' said Alice, and she told

her sister, as well as she could remember them, all these strange

Adventures of hers that you have just been reading about; and

when she had finished, her sister kissed her, and said, `It WAS a

curious dream, dear, certainly: but now run in to your tea; it's

getting late.' So Alice got up and ran off, thinking while she

ran, as well she might, what a wonderful dream it had been.

But her sister sat still just as she left her, leaning her

head on her hand, watching the setting sun, and thinking of

little Alice and all her wonderful Adventures, till she too began

dreaming after a fashion, and this was her dream:--

First, she dreamed of little Alice herself, and once again the

tiny hands were clasped upon her knee, and the bright eager eyes

were looking up into hers--she could hear the very tones of her

voice, and see that queer little toss of her head to keep back

the wandering hair that WOULD always get into her eyes--and

still as she listened, or seemed to listen, the whole place

around her became alive the strange creatures of her little sister's dream.

The long grass rustled at her feet as the White Rabbit hurried

by--the frightened Mouse splashed his way through the

neighbouring pool--she could hear the rattle of the teacups as

the March Hare and his friends shared their never-ending meal,

and the shrill voice of the Queen ordering off her unfortunate

guests to execution--once more the pig-baby was sneezing on the

Duchess's knee, while plates and dishes crashed around it--once

more the shriek of the Gryphon, the squeaking of the Lizard's

slate-pencil, and the choking of the suppressed guinea-pigs,

filled the air, mixed up with the distant sobs of the miserable Mock Turtle.

So she sat on, with closed eyes, and half believed herself in

Wonderland, though she knew she had but to open them again, and

all would change to dull reality--the grass would be only

rustling in the wind, and the pool rippling to the waving of the

reeds--the rattling teacups would change to tinkling sheep-

bells, and the Queen's shrill cries to the voice of the shepherd

boy--and the sneeze of the baby, the shriek of the Gryphon, and

all thy other queer noises, would change (she knew) to the

confused clamour of the busy farm-yard--while the lowing of the

cattle in the distance would take the place of the Mock Turtle's heavy sobs.

Lastly, she pictured to herself how this same little sister of

hers would, in the after-time, be herself a grown woman; and how

she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and

loving heart of her childhood: and how she would gather about

her other little children, and make THEIR eyes bright and eager

with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of

Wonderland of long ago: and how she would feel with all their

simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys,

remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days.




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