“How can you go on talking so quietly, head downwards?” Alice asked, as she dragged him out by the feet, and laid him in a heap on the bank.
The Knight looked surprised at the question. “What does it matter where my body happens to be?” he said. “My mind goes on working all the same. In fact, the more head-downwards I am, the more I keep inventing new things.”
“Now the cleverest thing that I ever did,” he went on after a pause, “was inventing a new pudding during the meat-course.”
“In time to have it cooked for the next course?” said Alice. “Well, that was quick work, certainly.” “Well, not the next course,” the Knight said in a slow thoughtful tone: “no, certainly not the next course.”
“Then it would have, to be the next day. I suppose you wouldn’t have two pudding-courses in one dinner?”
“Well, not the next day,” the Knight repeated as before: “not the next day. In fact,” he went on, holding his head down, and his voice getting lower and lower, “I don’t believe that pudding ever was cooked! In fact, I don’t believe that pudding ever will be cooked! And yet it was a very clever pudding to invent.”
“What did you mean it to be made of?” Alice asked, hoping to cheer him up, for he seemed quite low-spirited about it.
“It began with blotting-paper,” the Knight answered with a groan.
“That wouldn’t be very nice, I’m afraid — -”
“Not very nice alone,” he interrupted, quite eagerly: “but you’ve no idea what a difference it makes, mixing it with other things — such as gunpowder and sealing-wax. And here I must leave you.” Alice could only look puzzled: she was thinking of the pudding.
“You are sad,” the Knight said in an anxious tone: “let me sing you a song to comfort you.”
“Is it very long?” Alice asked, for she had heard a good deal of poetry that day.
“It’s long,” said the Knight, “but it’s very, very beautiful. Everybody that hears me sing it — either it brings the tears into their eyes, or else — -”
“Or else what?” said Alice, for the Knight had made a sudden pause.
“Or else it doesn’t, you know. The name of the song is called ’Haddocks’ Eyes.’ ”
“Oh, that’s the name of the song, is it?” Alice said, trying to feel interested.
“No, you don’t understand,” the Kinght said, looking a little vexed. “That’s what the name is called. The name really is ’The Aged Aged Man.’”
“Then I ought to have said, ’That’s what the song is called’?” Alice corrected herself.
“No, you oughtn’t: that’s another thing. The song is called ’Ways and Means’: but that’s only what it’s called, you know!”
“Well, what is the song, then?” said Alice, who was by this time completely bewildered.
“I was coming to that,” the Knight said. “The song really is ’A sitting on a Gate’: and the tune’s my own invention.”
So saying, he stopped his horse and let the reins fall on its neck: then, slowly beating time with one hand, and with a faint smile lighting up his gentle, foolish face, he began.
Of all the strange things that Alice saw in her journey Through the Looking-glass, this was the one that she always remembered most clearly. Years afterwards she could bring the whole scene back again, as if it had been only yesterday — the mild blue eyes and kindly smile of the Knight — the setting sun gleaming through his hair, and shining on his armour in a blaze of light that quite dazzled her — the horse quietly moving about, with the reins hanging loose on his neck, cropping the grass at her feet — and the black shadows of the forest behind — all this she took in like a picture, as, with one hand shading her eyes, she leant against a tree, watching the strange pair, and listening, in a half-dream, to the melancholy music of the song.
“But the tune isn’t his own invention,” she said to herself: “it’s “I give thee all, I can no more.’” She stood and listened very attentively, but no tears came into her eyes.