“You couldn’t have wanted it much,” said Alice; “living at the bottom of the sea.”
“I couldn’t afford to learn it,” said the Mock Turtle with a sigh. “I only took the regular course.”
“What was that ?” inquired Alice.
“Reeling and Writhing, of course, to begin with,” the Mock Turtle replied; “and then the different branches of Arithmetic–Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision.”
“I never heard of ‘Uglification,’ ” Alice ventured to say. “What is it?”
The Gryphon lifted up both its paws in surprise, “What! Never heard of uglifying!” it exclaimed. “You know what to beautify is, I suppose?”
“Yes,” said Alice doubtfully: “it means–to–make–anything–prettier.”
“Well, then,” the Gryphon went on, “if you don’t know what to uglify is, you must be a simpleton.”
Alice did not feel encouraged to ask any more questions about it, so she turned to the Mock Turtle, and said, “What else had you to learn?”
“Well, there was Mystery,” the Mock Turtle replied, counting off the subjects on his flappers, “–Mystery, ancient and modern, with Seaography : then Drawling–the Drawling-master was an old conger-eel, that used to come once a week: he taught us Drawling, Stretching, and Fainting in Coils.”
“What was that like?” said Alice.
“Well, I can’t show it you myself,” the Mock Turtle said: “I’m too stiff. And the Gryphon never learnt it.”
“Hadn’t time,” said the Gryphon: “I went to the Classical master, though. He was an old crab, he was.”
“I never went to him,” the Mock Turtle said with a sigh : “he taught Laughing and Grief, they used to say. ”
“So he did, so he did,” said the Gryphon, sighing in his turn; and both creatures hid their faces in their paws.
“And how many hours a day did you do lessons?” said Alice, in a hurry to change the subject.
“Ten hours the first day,” said the Mock Turtle: “nine the next, and so on.”
“What a curious plan!” exclaimed Alice.
“That’s the reason they’re called lessons,” the Gryphon remarked: “because they lessen from day to day.”
This was quite a new idea to Alice, and she thought it over a little before she made her next remark. “Then the eleventh day must have been a holiday?”
“Of course it was,” said the Mock Turtle.
“And how did you manage on the twelfth? Alice went on eagerly.
“That’s enough about lessons,” the Gryphon interrupted in a very decided tone: “tell her something about the games now.”
The Lobster Quadrille
THE Mock Turtle sighed deeply, and drew the back of one flapper across his eyes. He looked at Alice, and tried to speak, but, for a minute or two, sobs choked his voice. “Same as if he had a bone in his throat,” said the Gryphon: and it set to work shaking him and punching him in the back. At last the Mock Turtle recovered his voice, and, with tears running down his cheeks, went on again:–
“You may not have lived much under the sea–” (“I haven’t,” said Alice) “and perhaps you were never even introduced to a lobster–” (Alice began to say, “I once tasted—” but checked herself hastily, and said, “No, never”) “–so you can have no idea what a delightful thing a Lobster Quadrille is!”
“No, indeed,” said Alice. “What sort of a dance is it?”
“Why,” said the Gryphon, “you first form into a line along the sea-shore—”
“Two lines!” cried the Mock Turtle. “Seals, turtles, and so on; then, when you’ve cleared the jelly-fish out of the way—”
“That generally takes some time,” interrupted the Gryphon.
“–you advance twice—”
“Each with a lobster as a partner!” cried the Gryphon.
“Of course,” the Mock Turtle said: “advance twice, set to partners—”
“–change lobsters, and retire in same order,” continued the Gryphon.
“Then you know,” the Mock Turtle went on, “you throw the—”
“The lobsters!” shouted the Gryphon, with a bound into the air.
“–as far out to sea as you can—”
“Swim after them!” screamed the Gryphon.
“Turn a somersault in the sea!” cried the Mock Turtle, capering wildly about.
“Change lobsters again!” yelled the Gryphon at the top of its voice.
“Back to land again, and–that’s all the first figure,” said the Mock Turtle, suddenly dropping his voice, and the two creatures, who had been jumping about like mad dogs, sat down again very sadly and quietly, and looked at Alice.