“Take care!” cried Alice. “You’re holding it all crooked!” And she caught at the brooch; but it was too late: the pin had slipped, and the Queen had pricked her finger.
“That accounts for the bleeding, you see,” she said to Alice with a smile. “Now you understand the way things happen here.”
“But why don’t you scream now?” Alice asked, holding her hands ready to put over her ears again. “Why, I’ve done all the screaming already,” said the Queen. “What would be the good of having it all over again?”
By this time it was getting light. “The crow must have flown away, I think,” said Alice: “I’m so glad it’s gone. I thought it was the night coming on.”
“I wish I could manage to be glad!” the Queen said. “Only I never can remember the rule. You must be very happy, living in this wood, and being glad whenever you like!”
“Only it is so very lonely here!” Alice said in a melancholy voice; and at the thought of her loneliness two large tears came rolling down her cheeks.
“Oh, don’t go on like that!” cried the poor Queen, wringing her hands in despair. “Consider what a great girl you are. Consider what a long way you’ve come to-day. Consider what o’clock it is. Consider anything, only don’t cry!”
Alice could not help laughing at this, even in the midst of her tears. “Can you keep from crying by considering things?” she asked.
“That’s the way it’s done,” the Queen said with great decision: “nobody can do two things at once, you know. Let’s consider your age to begin with — how old are you?”
“I’m seven and a half exactly.” “You needn’t say ’exactly,’” the Queen remarked: “I can believe it without that. Now I’ll give you something to believe. I’m just one hundred and one, five months and a day.”
“I can’t believe that!” said Alice.
“Can’t you?” the Queen said in a pitying tone. “Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.”
Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. There goes the shawl again!”
The brooch had come undone as she spoke, and a sudden gust of wind blew her shawl across a little brook. The Queen spread out her arms again, and went flying after it, and this time succeeded in catching it for herself. “I’ve got it!” she cried in a triumphant tone. “Now you shall see me pin it on again, all by myself!”
“Then I hope your finger is better now?” Alice said very politely, as she crossed the little brook after the Queen.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Oh, much better!” cried the Queen, her voice rising into a squeak as she went on. “Much beetter! Be-etter! Be-e-e-etter! B-e-ehh!” The last word ended in a long bleat, so like a sheep that Alice quite started.
She looked at the Queen, who seemed to have suddenly wrapped herself up in wool. Alice rubbed her eyes, and looked again. She couldn’t make out what had happened at all. Was she in a shop? And was that really — was it really a sheep that was sitting on the other side of the counter? Rub as she would, she could make nothing more of it: she was in a little dark shop, leaning with her elbows on the counter, and opposite to her was an old Sheep, sitting in an arm-chair knitting, and every now and then leaving off to look at her through a great pair of spectacles.
“What is it you want to buy?” the Sheep said at last, looking up for a moment from her knitting.
“I don’t quite know yet,” Alice said very gently. “I should like to look all round me first, if I might.”
“You may look in front of you, and on both sides, if you like,” said the Sheep; “but you can’t look all round you — unless you’ve got eyes at the back of your head.”