“You ought to return thanks in a neat speech,” the Red Queen said, frowning at Alice as she spoke. “We must support you, you know,” the White Queen whispered, as Alice got up to do it, very obediently, but a little frightened.
“Thank you very much,” she whispered in reply, “but I can do quite well without.”
“That wouldn’t be at all the thing,” the Red Queen said very decidedly: so Alice tried to submit to it with a good grace.
(“And they did push so!” she said afterwards, when she was telling her sister the history of the feast. “You would have thought they wanted to squeeze me flat!”)
In fact it was rather difficult for her to keep in her place while she made her speech: the two Queens pushed her so, one on each side, that they nearly lifted her up into the air: “I rise to return thanks — ” Alice began: and she really did rise as she spoke, several inches; but she got hold of the edge of the table, and managed to pull herself down again.
“Take care of yourself!” screamed the White Queen, seizing Alice’s hair with both her hands. “Something’s going to happen!”
And then (as Alice afterwards described it) all sorts of things happened in a moment. The candles grew up to the ceiling, looking something like a bed of bushes with fireworks at the top. As to the bottles, they each took a pair of plates, which they hastily fitted on as wings, and so, with forks for legs, went fluttering about: “and very like birds they look,” Alice thought to herself, as well as she could in the dreadful confusion that was beginning. At this moment she heard a hoarse laugh at her side, and turned to see what was the matter with the White Queen; but, instead of the Queen, there was the leg of mutton sitting in the chair. “Here I am!” cried a voice from the soup-tureen, and Alice turned again, just in time to see the Queen’s broad good-natured face grinning at her for a moment over the edge of the tureen, before she disappeared into the soup.
There was not a moment to be lost. Already several of the guests were lying down in the dishes, and the soup-ladle was walking up the table to Alice, and signing to her to get out of its way.
“I can’t stand this any longer!” she cried, as she seized the table-cloth with both hands: one good pull, and plates, dishes, guests, and candles came crashing down together in a heap on the floor.
“And as for you,” she went on, turning fiercely upon the Red Queen, whom she considered as the cause of all the mischief — but the Queen was no longer at her side — she had suddenly dwindled down to the size of a little doll, and was now on the table, merrily running round and round after her own shawl, which was trailing behind her.
At any other time, Alice would have felt surprised at this, but she was far too much excited to be surprised at anything now. “As for you,” she repeated, catching hold of the little creature in the very act of jumping over a bottle which had just lighted upon the table, “I’ll shake you into a kitten, that I will!”
She took her off the table as she spoke, and shook her backwards and forwards with all her might.
The Red Queen made no resistance whatever; only her face grew very small, and her eyes got large and green: and still, as Alice went on shaking her, she kept on growing shorter — and fatter — and softer — and rounder — and — –
— and it really was a kitten, after all.
“Which Dreamed It?”
YOUR Red Majesty shouldn’t purr so loud,” Alice said, rubbing her eyes, and addressing the kitten respectfully, yet with some severity. “You woke me out of — oh! such a nice dream! And you’ve been along with me, Kitty — all through the Looking-glass world. Did you know it, dear?”
It is a very inconvenient habit of kittens (Alice had once made the remark) that, whatever you say to them, they always purr. “If they would only purr for “yes,’ and mew for “no,’ or any rule of that sort,” she had said, “so that one could keep up a conversation! But how can you talk with a person if they always say the same thing?”