A LARGE rose-tree stood near the entrance of the
garden: the roses growing on it were white, but there were three gardeners
at it, busily painting them red. Alice thought this a very curious thing,
and she went nearer to watch them, and just as she came up to them she heard
one of them say "Look out now, Five! Don't go splashing paint over me
"I couldn't help it," said Five, in a sulky tone. "Seven jogged my elbow."
which Seven looked up and said, "That's right, Five! Always lay the
blame on others!"
"You'd better not
talk!" said Five. "I heard the Queen say only yesterday you
deserved to be beheaded!"
said the one who had first spoken.
none of your business, Two!" said Seven.
it is his business!" said Five. "And I'll tell him—it was for
bringing the cook tulip-roots instead of onions."
flung down his brush, and had just begun "Well, of all the unjust
things——" when his eye chanced to fall upon Alice, as she stood
watching them, and he checked himself suddenly: the others looked round
also, and all of them bowed low.
you tell me," said Alice, a little timidly, "why you are painting
Five and Seven said nothing,
but looked at Two. Two began in a low voice, "Why, the fact is, you
see, Miss, this here ought to have been a red rose-tree, and we put a white
one in by mistake; and if the Queen was to find it out, we should all have
our heads cut off, you know. So you see, Miss, we're doing our best, afore
she comes, to——" At this moment, Five, who had been anxiously looking
across the garden, called out "The Queen! The Queen!" and the
three gardeners instantly threw themselves flat upon their faces. There was
a sound of many footsteps, and Alice looked round, eager to see the Queen.
came ten soldiers carrying clubs; these were all shaped like the three
gardeners, oblong and flat, with their hands and feet at the corners: next
the ten courtiers; these were ornamented all over with diamonds, and walked
two and two, as the soldiers did. After these came the royal children; there
were ten of them, and the little dears came jumping merrily along hand in
hand, in couples; they were all ornamented with hearts. Next came the
guests, mostly Kings and Queens, and among them Alice recognised the White
Rabbit: it was talking in a hurried, nervous manner, smiling at everything
that was said, and went by without noticing her. Then followed the Knave of
Hearts, carrying the King's crown on a crimson velvet cushion; and last of
all this grand procession, came THE KING AND QUEEN OF HEARTS.
was rather doubtful whether she ought not to lie down on her face like the
three gardeners, but she could not remember ever having heard of such a rule
at processions; "and besides, what would be the use of a procession,"
thought she, "if people had to lie down upon their faces, so that they
couldn't see it?" So she stood still where she was, and waited.
the procession came opposite to Alice, they all stopped and looked at her,
and the Queen said severely, "Who is this?" She said it to the
Knave of Hearts, who only bowed and smiled in reply.
said the Queen, tossing her head impatiently; and turning to Alice, she went
on, "What's your name, child?"
name is Alice, so please your Majesty," said Alice very politely; but
she added, to herself, "Why, they're only a pack of cards, after all. I
needn't be afraid of them!"
are these?" said the Queen, pointing to the three gardeners who were
lying round the rose-tree; for, you see, as they were lying on their faces,
and the pattern on their backs was the same as the rest of the pack, she
could not tell whether they were gardeners, or soldiers, or courtiers, or
three of her own children.
"How should I
know?" said Alice, surprised at her own courage. "It's no business
The Queen turned crimson with
fury, and, after glaring at her for a moment like a wild beast, screamed
"Off with her head! Off——"
said Alice, very loudly and decidedly, and the Queen was silent.
King laid his hand upon her arm, and timidly said "Consider
my dear: she is only a child!"
turned angrily away from him, and said to the Knave "Turn them over!"
Knave did so, very carefully, with one foot.
up!" said the Queen, in a shrill, loud voice, and the three gardeners
instantly jumped up, and began bowing to the King, the Queen, the royal
children, and everybody else.
that!" screamed the Queen. "You make me giddy." And then,
turning to the rose-tree, she went on, "What have you been doing here?"
"May it please your Majesty," said Two, in a very humble tone, going down on one knee as he spoke, "we were trying——"
see!" said the Queen, who had meanwhile been examining the roses.
"Off with their heads!" and the procession moved on, three of the
soldiers remaining behind to execute the unfortunate gardeners, who ran to
Alice for protection.
"You shan't be
beheaded!" said Alice, and she put them into a large flower-pot that
stood near. The three soldiers wandered about for a minute or two, looking
for them, and then quietly marched off after the others.
their heads off?" shouted the Queen.
heads are gone, if it please your Majesty!" the soldiers shouted in
"That's right!" shouted the
Queen. "Can you play croquet?"
soldiers were silent, and looked at Alice, as the question was evidently
meant for her.
"Yes!" shouted Alice.
on, then!" roared the Queen, and Alice joined the procession, wondering
very much what would happen next.
a very fine day!" said a timid voice at her side. She was walking by
the White Rabbit, who was peeping anxiously into her face.
said Alice: "——where's the Duchess?"
Hush!" said the Rabbit in a low hurried tone. He looked anxiously over
his shoulder as he spoke, and then raised himself upon tiptoe, put his mouth
close to her ear, and whispered "She's under sentence of execution."
for?" said Alice.
"Did you say 'What
a pity!'?" the Rabbit asked.
didn't," said Alice: "I don't think it's at all a pity. I said
"She boxed the Queen's ears—" the Rabbit began. Alice gave a little scream of laughter. "Oh, hush!" the Rabbit whispered in a frightened tone. "The Queen will hear you! You see she came rather late, and the Queen said——"
to your places!" shouted the Queen in a voice of thunder, and people
began running about in all directions, tumbling up against each other;
however, they got settled down in a minute or two, and the game began. Alice
thought she had never seen such a curious croquet-ground in all her life; it
was all ridges and furrows; the balls were live hedgehogs, the mallets live
flamingoes, and the soldiers had to double themselves up and to stand upon
their hands and feet, to make the arches.
chief difficulty Alice found at first was in managing her flamingo; she
succeeded in getting its body tucked away, comfortably enough, under her
arm, with its legs hanging down, but generally, just as she had got its neck
nicely straightened out, and was going to give the hedgehog a blow with its
head, it would twist itself round and look up in her face, with such a
puzzled expression that she could not help bursting out laughing: and when
she had got its head down, and was going to begin again, it was very
provoking to find that the hedgehog had unrolled itself and was in the act
of crawling away: besides all this, there was generally a ridge or a furrow
in the way wherever she wanted to send the hedgehog to, and, as the
doubled-up soldiers were always getting up and walking off to other parts of
the ground, Alice soon came to the conclusion that it was a very difficult
The players all played at once
without waiting for turns, quarrelling all the while, and fighting for the
hedgehogs; and in a very short time the Queen was in a furious passion, and
went stamping about, and shouting "Off with his head!" or "Off
with her head!" about once in a minute.
began to feel very uneasy: to be sure she had
not as yet had any dispute with the Queen, but she knew that it might happen
any minute, "and then," thought she, "what would become of
me? They're dreadfully fond of beheading people here: the great wonder is
that there's any one left alive!"
looking about for some way of escape, and wondering whether she could get
away without being seen, when she noticed a curious appearance in the air:
it puzzled her very much at first, but, after watching it a minute or two,
she made it out to be a grin, and she said to herself "It's the
Cheshire Cat: now I shall have somebody to talk to."
are you getting on?" said the Cat, as soon as there was mouth enough
for it to speak with.
Alice waited till the
eyes appeared, and then nodded. "It's no use speaking to it," she
thought, "till its ears have come, or at least one of them." In
another minute the whole head appeared, and then Alice put down her
flamingo, and began an account of the game, feeling very glad she had some
one to listen to her. The Cat seemed to think that there was enough of it
now in sight, and no more of it appeared.
"I don't think they play at all fairly," Alice began, in rather a complaining tone, "and they all quarrel so dreadfully one can't hear oneself speak—and they don't seem to have any rules in particular; at least, if there are, nobody attends to them—and you've no idea how confusing it is all the things being alive; for instance, there's the arch I've got to go through next walking about at the other end of the ground—and I should have croqueted the Queen's hedgehog just now, only it ran away when it saw mine coming!"
"How do you like the Queen?" said
the Cat in a low voice.
"Not at all,"
said Alice: "she's so extremely——" Just then she noticed that the
Queen was close behind her listening: so she went on, "——likely to win,
that it's hardly worth while finishing the game."
Queen smiled and passed on.
"Who are you
talking to?" said the King, coming up to Alice, and looking at the
Cat's head with great curiosity.
friend of mine—a Cheshire Cat," said Alice: "allow me to introduce
"I don't like the look of it at
all," said the King: "however, it may kiss my hand if it likes."
rather not," the Cat remarked.
be impertinent," said the King, "and don't look at me like that!"
He got behind Alice as he spoke.
may look at a king," said Alice. "I've read that in some book, but
I don't remember where."
must be removed," said the King very decidedly, and he called to the
Queen, who was passing at the moment, "My dear! I wish you would have
this cat removed!"
The Queen had only one
way of settling all difficulties, great or small. "Off with his head!"
she said, without even looking round.
fetch the executioner myself," said the King eagerly, and he hurried
Alice thought she might as well go back
and see how the game was going on, as she heard the Queen's voice in the
distance, screaming with passion. She had already heard her sentence three
of the players to be executed for having missed their turns, and she did not
like the look of things at all, as the game was in such confusion that she
never knew whether it was her turn or not. So she went in search of her
The hedgehog was engaged in a fight
with another hedgehog, which seemed to Alice an excellent opportunity for
croqueting one of them with the other: the only difficulty was, that her
flamingo was gone across to the other side of the garden, where Alice could
see it trying in a helpless sort of way to fly up into one of the trees.
the time she had caught the flamingo and brought it back, the fight was
over, and both the hedgehogs were out of sight: "but it doesn't matter
much," thought Alice, "as all the arches are gone from this side
of the ground." So she tucked it under her arm, that it might not
escape again, and went back for a little more conversation with her friend.
she got back to the Cheshire Cat, she was surprised to find quite a large
crowd collected round it: there was a dispute going on between the
executioner, the King, and
the Queen, who were all talking at once, while all the rest were quite
silent, and looked very uncomfortable.
The moment Alice appeared, she was appealed to by all three to settle the question, and they repeated their arguments to her, though, as they all spoke at once, she found it very hard indeed to make out exactly what they said.
The executioner's argument was, that you couldn't
cut off a head unless there was a body to cut it off from: that he had never
had to do such a thing before, and he wasn't going to begin at his time of
The King's argument was, that anything
that had a head could be beheaded, and that you weren't to talk nonsense.
Queen's argument was, that if something wasn't done about it in less than no
time, she'd have everybody executed all round. (It was this last remark that
had made the whole party look so grave and anxious.)
could think of nothing else to say but "It belongs to the Duchess:
you'd better ask her about it."
in prison," the Queen said to the executioner; "fetch her here."
And the executioner went off like an arrow.
Cat's head began fading away the moment he was gone, and by the time he had
come back with the Duchess, it had entirely disappeared; so the King and the
executioner ran wildly up and down looking for it, while the rest of the
party went back to the game.