“I hope it encouraged him,” she said, as she turned to run down the hill: “and now for the last brook, and to be a Queen! How grand it sounds!” A very few steps brought her to the edge of the brook. “The Eighth Square at last!” she cried as she bounded across and threw herself down to rest on a lawn as soft as moss, with little flower-beds dotted all about it here and there. “Oh, how glad I am to get here! And what is this on my head?” she exclaimed in a tone of dismay, as she put her hands up to something very heavy, that fitted tight round her head.
“But how can it have got there without my knowing it?” she said to herself, as she lifted it off, and set it on her lap to make out what it could possibly be. It was a golden crown.
“WELL, this is grand!” said Alice. “I never expected I should be a Queen so soon — and I’ll tell you what it is, your Majesty,” she went on in a severe tone (she was always rather fond of scolding hersef), “it’ll never do to loll about on the grass like that! Queens have to be dignified, you know”
So she got up and walked about — rather stiffly just at first, as she was afraid that the crown might come off: but she comforted herself with the thought that there was nobody to see her, “and if I really am a Queen,” she said as she sat down again, “I shall be able to manage it quite well in time.”
Everything was happening so oddly that she didn’t feel a bit surprised at finding the Red Queen and the White Queen sitting close to her, one on each side: she would have liked very much to ask them how they came there, but she feared it would not be quite civil. However, there would be no harm, she thought, in asking if the game was over. “Please, would you tell me — -” she began, looking timidly at the Red Queen.
“Speak when you’re spoken to!” the Red Queen sharply interrupted her.
“But if everybody obeyed that rule,” said Alice, who was always ready for a little argument, “and if you only spoke when you were spoken to, and the other person always waited for you to begin, you see nobody would ever say anything, so that — -”
“Ridiculous!” cried the Queen. “Why, don’t you see, child — -” here she broke off with a frown, and after thinking for a minute, suddenly changed the subject of the conversation. “What do you mean by ’If you really are a Queen’? What right have you to call yourself so? You can’t be a Queen, you know, till you’ve passed the proper examination. And the sooner we begin it, the better.”
“I only said ’if’!” poor Alice pleaded in a piteous tone.
The two Queens looked at each other, and the Red Queen remarked, with a little shudder, “She says she only said ’if’ — -”
“But she said a great deal more than that!” the White Queen moaned, wringing her hands. “Oh, ever so much more than that!”
“So you did, you know,” the Red Queen said to Alice. “Always speak the truth — think before you speak — and write it down afterwards.”
“I’m sure I didn’t mean — -” Alice was beginning, but the Red Queen interrupted.
“That’s just what I complain of! You should have meant! What do you suppose is the use of a child without any meaning? Even a joke should have some meaning — and a chiId’s more important than a joke, I hope. You couldn’t deny that, even if you tried with both hands.”
“I don’t deny things with my hands,” Alice objected.
“Nobody said you did,” said the Red Queen, “I said you couldn’t if you tried.”
“She’s in that state of mind,” said the White Queen, “that she wants to deny something — only she doesn’t know what to deny!”
“A nasty, vicious temper,” the Red Queen remarked; and then there was an uncomfortable silence for a minute or two.