“I meant the other way.”
“It’s too late to correct it,” said the Red Queen: “when you’ve once said a thing, that fixes it, and you must take the consequences.”
“Which reminds me — ” the White Queen said, looking down and nervously clasping and unclasping’her hands, “we had such a thunderstorm last Tuesday — I mean one of the last set of Tuesdays, you know.”
“In our country,” Alice remarked, “there’s only ” one day at a time.”
The Red Queen said. “That’s a poor thin way of doing things. Now here, we mostly have days and nights two or three at a time, and sometimes in the winter we take as many as five’nights together — for warmth, you know.”
“Are five nights warmer than one night, then?” Alice ventured to ask.
“Five times as warm, of course.”
“But they should be five times as cold, by the same rule — -”
“just so!” cried the Red Queen. “Five times as warm, and five times as cold — just as I’m five times as rich as you are, and five times as clever!”
Alice sighed and gave it up. “It’s exactly like a riddle with no answer!” she thought.
“Humpty Dumpty saw it too,” the White Queen went on in a low voice, more as if she were talking to herself. “He came to the door with a corkscrew in his hand — -”
“What for?” said the Red Queen.
“He said he would come in,” the White Queen went on, “because he was looking for a hippopotamus. Now, as it happened, there wasn’t such a thing in the house, that morning.”
“Is there generally ?” Alice asked in an astonished tone.
“Well, only on Thursdays,” said the Queen.
“I know what he came for,” said Alice: “he wanted to punish the fish, because — -”
Here the White Queen began again. “It was such a thunderstorm, you can’t think!” (“She never could, you know,” said the Red Queen.) “And part of the roof came off, and ever so much thunder got in — and it went rolling round the room in great lumps — and knocking over the tables and things — till I was so frightened, I couldn’t remember my own name!”
Alice thought to herself, “I never should try to remember my name in the middle of an accident! Where would be the use of it?” But she did not say this aloud, for fear of hurting the poor Queen’s feelings.
“Your Majesty must excuse her,” the Red Queen said to Alice, taking one of the White Queen’s hands in her own, and gently stroking it: “she means well, but she can’t help saying foolish things, as a general rule.”
The White Queen looked timidly at Alice, who felt she ought to say something kind, but really couldn’t think of anything.
“She never was really well brought up,” the Red Queen went on: “but it’s amazing how good-tempered she is! Pat her on the head, and see how pleased she’ll be!” But this was more than Alice had courage to do.
“A little kindness — and putting her hair in papers — would do wonders with her — -”
The White Queen gave a deep sigh, and laid her head on Alice’s shoulder. “I am so sleepy!” she moaned.
“She”s tired, poor thing!” said the Red Queen, “Smooth her hair — lend her your nightcap — and sing her a soothing lullaby.”
“I haven’t got a nightcap with me,” said Alice, as she tried to obey the first direction: “and I don’t know any soothing lullabies.”
“I must do it myself, then,” said the Red Queen, and she began:
“Hush-a-by lady, in Alice’s lap!
Till the feast’s ready, we’ve time for a nap:
Till the feast’s over, we’ll go to the ball —
Red Queen, and White Queen, and Alice, and all!.
“And now you know the words,” she added, as she put her head down on Alice’s other shoulder, “just sing it through to me. I’m getting sleepy too.” In another moment both Queens were fast asleep, and snoring loud.
“What am I to do?” exclaimed Alice, looking about in great perplexity, as first one round head, and then the other, rolled down from her shoulder, and lay like a heavy lump in her lap. “I don’t think it ever happened before, that anyone had to take “care of two Queens asleep at once! No, not in all the History of England — it couldn’t, you know, because there never was more than one Queen at a time. Do wake up, you heavy things!” she went on in an impatient tone; but there was no answer but a gentle snoring.