Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
by Lewis Carroll
Chapter XII — Alice's Evidence
`Here!' cried Alice, quite forgetting in the flurry of
the moment how large she had grown in the last few
minutes, and she jumped up in such a hurry that she
tipped over the jury-box with the edge of her skirt,
upsetting all the jurymen on to the heads of the crowd
below, and there they lay sprawling about, reminding her
very much of a globe of goldfish she had accidentally
upset the week before.
`Oh, I BEG your pardon!' she exclaimed in a tone of
great dismay, and began picking them up again as quickly
as she could, for the accident of the goldfish kept
running in her head, and she had a vague sort of idea
that they must be collected at once and put back into the
jury-box, or they would die.
`The trial cannot proceed,' said the King in a very
grave voice, `until all the jurymen are back in their
proper places-- ALL,' he repeated with great emphasis,
looking hard at Alice as he said do.
Alice looked at the jury-box, and saw that, in her
haste, she had put the Lizard in head downwards, and the
poor little thing was waving its tail about in a
melancholy way, being quite unable to move. She soon got
it out again, and put it right; `not that it signifies
much,' she said to herself; `I should think it would be
QUITE as much use in the trial one way up as the other.'
As soon as the jury had a little recovered from the
shock of being upset, and their slates and pencils had
been found and handed back to them, they set to work very
diligently to write out a history of the accident, all
except the Lizard, who seemed too much overcome to do
anything but sit with its mouth open, gazing up into the
roof of the court.
`What do you know about this business?' the King said
`Nothing,' said Alice.
`Nothing WHATEVER?' persisted the King.
`Nothing whatever,' said Alice.
`That's very important,' the King said, turning to the
jury. They were just beginning to write this down on
their slates, when the White Rabbit interrupted:
`UNimportant, your Majesty means, of course,' he said in
a very respectful tone, but frowning and making faces at
him as he spoke.
`UNimportant, of course, I meant,' the King hastily
said, and went on to himself in an undertone, `important--unimportant--
unimportant--important--' as if he were trying which word
Some of the jury wrote it down `important,' and some
`unimportant.' Alice could see this, as she was near
enough to look over their slates; `but it doesn't matter
a bit,' she thought to herself.
At this moment the King, who had been for some time
busily writing in his note-book, cackled out `Silence!'
and read out from his book, `Rule Forty-two. ALL PERSONS
MORE THAN A MILE HIGH TO LEAVE THE COURT.'
Everybody looked at Alice.
`I'M not a mile high,' said Alice.
`You are,' said the King.
`Nearly two miles high,' added the Queen.
`Well, I shan't go, at any rate,' said Alice:
`besides, that's not a regular rule: you invented it just
`It's the oldest rule in the book,' said the King.
`Then it ought to be Number One,' said Alice.
The King turned pale, and shut his note-book hastily.
`Consider your verdict,' he said to the jury, in a low,
`There's more evidence to come yet, please your
Majesty,' said the White Rabbit, jumping up in a great
hurry; `this paper has just been picked up.'
`What's in it?' said the Queen.
`I haven't opened it yet,' said the White Rabbit, `but
it seems to be a letter, written by the prisoner to--to
`It must have been that,' said the King, `unless it
was written to nobody, which isn't usual, you know.'
`Who is it directed to?' said one of the jurymen.
`It isn't directed at all,' said the White Rabbit; `in
fact, there's nothing written on the OUTSIDE.' He
unfolded the paper as he spoke, and added `It isn't a
letter, after all: it's a set of verses.'
`Are they in the prisoner's handwriting?' asked
another of they jurymen.
`No, they're not,' said the White Rabbit, `and that's
the queerest thing about it.' (The jury all looked
`He must have imitated somebody else's hand,' said the
King. (The jury all brightened up again.)
`Please your Majesty,' said the Knave, `I didn't write
it, and they can't prove I did: there's no name signed at
`If you didn't sign it,' said the King, `that only
makes the matter worse. You MUST have meant some
mischief, or else you'd have signed your name like an
There was a general clapping of hands at this: it was
the first really clever thing the King had said that day.
`That PROVES his guilt,' said the Queen.
`It proves nothing of the sort!' said Alice. `Why, you
don't even know what they're about!'
`Read them,' said the King.
The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. `Where shall I
begin, please your Majesty?' he asked.
`Begin at the beginning,' the King said gravely, `and
go on till you come to the end: then stop.'
These were the verses the White Rabbit read:--
`They told me you had been to her,
And mentioned me to him:
She gave me a good character,
But said I could not swim.
He sent them word I had not gone
(We know it to be true):
If she should push the matter on,
What would become of you?
I gave her one, they gave him two,
You gave us three or more;
They all returned from him to you,
Though they were mine before.
If I or she should chance to be
Involved in this affair,
He trusts to you to set them free,
Exactly as we were.
My notion was that you had been
(Before she had this fit)
An obstacle that came between
Him, and ourselves, and it.
Don't let him know she liked them best,
For this must ever be
A secret, kept from all the rest,
Between yourself and me.'
`That's the most important piece of evidence we've
heard yet,' said the King, rubbing his hands; `so now let
`If any one of them can explain it,' said Alice, (she
had grown so large in the last few minutes that she
wasn't a bit afraid of interrupting him,) `I'll give him
sixpence. _I_ don't believe there's an atom of meaning in
The jury all wrote down on their slates, `She
doesn't believe there's an atom of meaning in it,' but
none of them attempted to explain the paper.
`If there's no meaning in it,' said the King, `that
saves a world of trouble, you know, as we needn't try to
find any. And yet I don't know,' he went on, spreading
out the verses on his knee, and looking at them with one
eye; `I seem to see some meaning in them, after all.
"--said I could not swim--" you can't
swim, can you?' he added, turning to the Knave.
The Knave shook his head sadly. `Do I look like it?'
he said. (Which he certainly did not, being made
entirely of cardboard.)
`All right, so far,' said the King, and he went on
muttering over the verses to himself: `"We know
it to be true--" that's the jury, of course--
"I gave her one, they gave him two--"
why, that must be what he did with the tarts, you know--'
`But, it goes on "They all returned from him
to you,"' said Alice.
`Why, there they are!' said the King triumphantly,
pointing to the tarts on the table. `Nothing can be
clearer than that. Then again--"Before she
had this fit--" you never had fits, my dear, I
think?' he said to the Queen.
`Never!' said the Queen furiously, throwing an
inkstand at the Lizard as she spoke. (The unfortunate
little Bill had left off writing on his slate with one
finger, as he found it made no mark; but he now hastily
began again, using the ink, that was trickling down his
face, as long as it lasted.)
`Then the words don't fit you,' said the King,
looking round the court with a smile. There was a dead
`It's a pun!' the King added in an offended tone, and
everybody laughed, `Let the jury consider their verdict,'
the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.
`No, no!' said the Queen. `Sentence first--verdict
`Stuff and nonsense!' said Alice loudly. `The idea of
having the sentence first!'
`Hold your tongue!' said the Queen, turning purple.
`I won't!' said Alice.
`Off with her head!' the Queen shouted at the top of
her voice. Nobody moved.
`Who cares for you?' said Alice, (she had grown to her
full size by this time.) `You're nothing but a pack of
At this the whole pack rose up into the air, and came
flying down upon her: she gave a little scream, half of
fright and half of anger, and tried to beat them off, and
found herself lying on the bank, with her head in the lap
of her sister, who was gently brushing away some dead
leaves that had fluttered down from the trees upon her
`Wake up, Alice dear!' said her sister; `Why, what a
long sleep you've had!'
`Oh, I've had such a curious dream!' said Alice, and
she told her sister, as well as she could remember them,
all these strange Adventures of hers that you have just
been reading about; and when she had finished, her sister
kissed her, and said, `It WAS a curious dream, dear,
certainly: but now run in to your tea; it's getting late.'
So Alice got up and ran off, thinking while she ran, as
well she might, what a wonderful dream it had been.
But her sister sat still just as she left her, leaning
her head on her hand, watching the setting sun, and
thinking of little Alice and all her wonderful
Adventures, till she too began dreaming after a fashion,
and this was her dream:--
First, she dreamed of little Alice herself, and once
again the tiny hands were clasped upon her knee, and the
bright eager eyes were looking up into hers--she could
hear the very tones of her voice, and see that queer
little toss of her head to keep back the wandering hair
that WOULD always get into her eyes--and still as she
listened, or seemed to listen, the whole place around her
became alive the strange creatures of her little sister's
The long grass rustled at her feet as the White Rabbit
hurried by--the frightened Mouse splashed his way through
the neighbouring pool--she could hear the rattle of the
teacups as the March Hare and his friends shared their
never-ending meal, and the shrill voice of the Queen
ordering off her unfortunate guests to execution--once
more the pig-baby was sneezing on the Duchess's knee,
while plates and dishes crashed around it--once more the
shriek of the Gryphon, the squeaking of the Lizard's
slate-pencil, and the choking of the suppressed guinea-pigs,
filled the air, mixed up with the distant sobs of the
miserable Mock Turtle.
So she sat on, with closed eyes, and half believed
herself in Wonderland, though she knew she had but to
open them again, and all would change to dull reality--the
grass would be only rustling in the wind, and the pool
rippling to the waving of the reeds--the rattling teacups
would change to tinkling sheep- bells, and the Queen's
shrill cries to the voice of the shepherd boy--and the
sneeze of the baby, the shriek of the Gryphon, and all
thy other queer noises, would change (she knew) to the
confused clamour of the busy farm-yard--while the lowing
of the cattle in the distance would take the place of the
Mock Turtle's heavy sobs.
Lastly, she pictured to herself how this same little
sister of hers would, in the after-time, be herself a
grown woman; and how she would keep, through all her
riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood:
and how she would gather about her other little children,
and make their eyes bright and eager with many a
strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland
of long ago: and how she would feel with all their simple
sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys,
remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days.
— THE END —
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