Startled as she was, Alice was more frightened for him than for herself at the moment, and watched him with some anxiety as he mounted again. As soon as he was comfortably in the saddle, he began once more, “You’re my — -” but here another voice broke in, “Ahoy! Ahoy! Check!” and Alice looked round in some surprise for the new enemy.
This time it was a White Knight. He drew up at Alice’s side, and tumbled off his horse just as the Red Knight had done: then he got on again, and the two Knights sat and looked at each other without speaking. Alice looked from one to the other in some bewilderment.
“She’s my prisoner, you know!” the Red-Knight said at last.
“Yes, but then I came and rescued her!” the White Knight replied.
“Well, we must fight for her, then,” said the Red Knight, as he took up his helmet (which hung from the saddle, and was something the shape of a horse’s head), and put it on.
“You will observe the Rules of Battle, of course?” the White Knight remarked, putting on his helmet too.
“I always do,” said the Red Knight, and they began banging away at each other with such fury that Alice got behind a tree to be out of the way of the blows.
“I wonder, now, what the Rules of Battle are,” she said to herself, as she watched the fight, timidly peeping out from her hiding-place: “one Rule seems to be that, if one Knight hits the other, he knocks him off his horse, and if he misses, he tumbles off-himself — and another Rule seems to be that they hold their clubs in their arms, as if they were Punch and Judy. What a noise they make when they tumble! Just like fire-irons falling into the fender! And how quiet the horses are! They let them get on and off them just as if they were tables!”
Another Rule of Battle, that Alice had not noticed, seemed to be that they always fell on their heads, and the battle ended with their both falling off in this way, side by side : when they got up again, they shook hands, and then the Red Knight mounted and galloped off.
“It was a glorious victory, wasn’t it?” said the White Knight, as he came up panting.
“I don’t know,” Alice said doubtfully. “I don’t want to be anybody’s prisoner. I want to be Queen.”
“So you will, when you’ve crossed the next brook,” said the White Knight. “I’ll see you safe to the end of the wood — and then I must go back, you know. That’s the end of my move.”
“Thank you very much,” said Alice. “May I help you off with your helmet?” It was evidently more than he could manage by himself; however she managed to shake him out of it at last.
“Now one can breathe more easily,” said the Knight, putting back his shaggy hair with both hands, and turning nis gentle face and large mild eyes to Alice. She thought she had never seen such a strange-looking soldier in all her life. He was dressed in tin armour, which seemed to fit him very badly, and he had a queer little deal box fastened across his shoulders upside-down, and with the lid hanging open. Alice looked at it with great curiosity.
“I see you’re admiring my little box,” the Knight said in a friendly tone. “It’s my own invention — to keep clothes and sandwiches in. You see I carry it upside-down, so that the rain can’t get in.”
“But the things can get out,” Alice gently remarked. “Do you know the lid’s open?”
“I didn’t know it,” the Knight said, a shade of vexation passing over his face. “Then all the things must have fallen out! And the box is no use without them.” He unfastened it as he spoke, and was just going to throw it into the bushes, when a sudden thought seemed to strike , and he hung it carefully on a tree. “Can you guess why I did that!” he said to Alice.
Alice shook her head. “In hopes some bees may make a nest in it — then I should get the honey.”