“Mine is a long and sad tale!” said the Mouse, turning to Alice and sighing.
“It is a long tail, certainly,” said Alice, looking down with wonder at the Mouse’s tail; “but why do you call it sad?” And she kept on puzzling about it while the Mouse was speaking, so that her idea of the tale was something like this:–
“Fury said to a mouse, That he met in the house, ‘Let us both go to law: I will prosecute you. Come, I’ll take no denial; We must have a trial: For really this morning I’ve nothing to do’ Said the mouse to the cur, ‘Such a trial dear Sir, With no jury or judge would be wasting our breath.’ ‘I’ll be judge, I’ll be jury,’ said cunning old Fury: ‘I’ll try the whole cause and condemn you to death.’”
“You are not attending!” said the Mouse to Alice severely. “What are you thinking of?”
“I beg your pardon,” said Alice very humbly: “you had got to the fifth bend, I think?”
“I had not!” cried the Mouse, sharply and very angrily.
“A knot!” said Alice, always ready to make herself useful, and looking anxiously about her. “Oh, do let me help, to undo it!”
“I shall do nothing of the sort,” said the Mouse, getting up and walking away. “You insult me by talking such nonsense!”
“I didn’t mean it!” pleaded poor Alice. “But you’re so easily offended, you know!”
The Mouse only growled in reply.
“Please come back and finish your story!” Alice called after it. And the others all joined in chorus, “Yes, please do!” but the Mouse only shook its head impatiently and walked a little quicker.
“What a pity it wouldn’t stay!” sighed the Lory, as soon as it was quite out of sight; and an old Crab took the opportunity of saying to her daughter, “Ah, my dear! Let this be a lesson to you never to lose your temper!” “Hold your tongue, Ma!” said the young Crab, a little snappishly. “You’re enough to try the patience of an oyster!”
“I wish I had our Dinah here, I know I do!” said Alice aloud, addressing nobody in particular. “She’d soon fetch it back!”
“And who is Dinah, if I might venture to ask the question?” said the Lory.
Alice replied eagerly, for she was always ready to talk about her pet: “Dinah’s our cat. And she’s such a capital one for catching mice, you can’t think! And oh, I wish you could see her after the birds! Why, she’ll eat a little bird as soon as look at it!”
This speech caused a remarkable sensation among the party. Some of the birds hurried off at once: one old Magpie began wrapping itself up very carefully, remarking, “I really must be getting home; the night-air doesn’t suit my throat!” and a Canary called out in a trembling voice to its children, “Come away, my dears! It’s high time you were all in bed!” On various pretexts they all moved off, and Alice was soon left alone.
“I wish I hadn’t mentioned Dinah!” she said to herself in a melancholy tone. “Nobody seems to like her, down here, and I’m sure she’s the best cat in the world! Oh, my dear Dinah! I wonder if I shall ever see you any more!” And here poor Alice began to cry again, for she felt very lonely and low-spirited. In a little while, however, she again heard a little pattering of footsteps in the distance, and she looked up eagerly, half hoping that the Mouse had changed his mind, and was coming back to finish his story.
The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill
IT was the White Rabbit, trotting slowly back again, and looking anxiously about as it went, as if it had lost something; and she heard it muttering to itself, “The Duchess! The Duchess! Oh my dear paws! Oh my fur and whiskers! She’ll get me executed, as sure as ferrets are ferrets! Where can I have dropped them, I wonder?” Alice guessed in a moment that it was looking for the fan and the pair of white kid gloves, and she very good-naturedly began hunting about for them, but they were nowhere to be seen–everything seemed to have changed since her swim in the pool, and the great hall, with the glass table and the little door, had vanished completely.