فصل 02

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فصل 02

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CHAPTER TWO

The garden of live flowers

There was a small hill not far away and Alice decided to walk to it ‘I shall be able to see the garden better from the top of the hill’ she said.

She tried very hard to reach the hill but it seemed impossible to get to it. She went first this way then that way but every time she turned a corner she found herself back at the house.

‘I’m not going in again yet’ she told the house crossly ‘I’ll have to go back through the looking-glass into the old room and that’s the end of all my adventures then.’

She tried once more and this time passed a large flowerbed with a tree growing in the middle.

‘Oh Tiger-lily’ Alice said to one of the flowers, ‘I wish you could talk.’

‘We can talk,’ said the Tiger-lily, ‘if there is anybody interesting enough to talk to. ‘For a minute Alice was too surprised to speak. Then she said, almost in a whisper, ‘And can all the flowers talk?’

‘As well as you can,’ said the Tiger-lily. ‘And a lot louder.’

‘It isn’t polite for us to begin, you know,’ said the Rose, ‘and I was really wondering when you would speak.’

‘But why can you all talk?’ Alice said, puzzled. ‘I’ve been in many gardens before, and none of the flowers could talk.’

‘Put your hand down and feel the ground,’ said the Tiger-lily.’ Then you’ll know why.’

Alice did so. ‘It’s very hard,’ she said, ‘but how does that explain it?’

‘In most gardens,’ the Tiger-lily said, ‘they make the flowerbeds too soft-so the flowers are always asleep.’

This sounded a very good reason to Alice. ‘I never thought of that before!’ she said.

‘Do you ever think at all?’ asked the Rose, unkindly.

‘I never saw anybody with a more stupid face,’ said a Daisy suddenly. It was the first time it had spoken, and Alice jumped in surprise.

‘Oh, be quiet!’ cried the Tiger-lily. ‘What do you Daisies know about the world?’

‘Are there any other people in the garden?’ Alice asked.

‘There’s one other flower that can move around like you,’ said the Rose. ‘She’s the same strange shape as you, but she’s redder, with more leaves than you have.’

‘She’s coming now!’ cried another Daisy. ‘I can hear her feet - bang, bang, bang, on the ground.’

Alice looked round quickly, and saw that it was the Red Queen. ‘She’s grown a lot,’ Alice thought. When she had seen her by the fireplace, the Queen had been only eight centimetres high. Now she was taller than Alice herself!

‘I think I’ll go and meet her,’ Alice said.

‘You can’t possibly do that,’ said the Rose. ‘You must walk the other way if you want to meet her.’

This sounded nonsense to Alice, so she began to walk towards the Red Queen. To her surprise, she found herself a minute later walking in through the front door of the house. She turned round crossly, and saw the Queen again, on the other side of the garden. This time she tried walking the other way, away from the Queen.

It succeeded beautifully. A minute later she was standing opposite the Red Queen, and very near the hill that she had wanted to get to.

‘Where do you come from?’ said the Red Queen. ‘Where are you going? And why are you here at all? Look up, speak nicely, keep your hands still. And curtsy while you’re thinking what to say. It saves time.’

Alice tried to obey all these orders, feeling just a little frightened of the Queen.

‘I only wanted to look at the garden, your Majesty, from the top of that hill,’ she began.

‘Hill!’ cried the Queen. ‘Some people would call that a valley.’

‘But a hill can’t be a valley,’ said Alice. ‘That would be nonsense.’

The Red Queen shook her head. ‘You can call it nonsense if you like. Some people would say it was sensible!’

Alice curtsied again, and decided it would be safer not to argue anymore. Together, they walked on in silence up the hill. At the top Alice could see right across the country - and a very strange country it was. There were lots of little brooks running across from side to side, and there were long lines of hedges, going the other way. It was a country of squares.

‘It’s just like a large chess-board!’ Alice said at last. ‘Oh, and I can see some chessmen down there!’ Her heart began to beat fast with excitement. ‘It’s a great game of chess, as big as the world itself - if this is the world at all. Oh, what fun! I wish I could be in it, even as a Pawn. Although, I would love to be a Queen, of course.’

She looked a little worriedly at the real Queen as she said this. But the Red Queen smiled kindly, and said, ‘You can be the White Queen’s Pawn, if you like. Lily is too young to play. You’re in the Second Square now, and when you get to the Eighth Square, you’ll be a Queen-‘

Just at that moment, they began to run. Alice never did understand how it happened, but she had no time to think about it because they were running so fast.

‘Faster! Faster!’ cried the Queen, pulling Alice’s hand. They ran like the wind, but the strange thing was that they never seemed to pass anything. The trees and other things round them never changed their places at all.

Alice was very puzzled by this, but still the Queen cried, ‘Faster! Faster!’ Now they were almost flying over the ground. Alice had never run so fast in her life.

When at last they stopped, she had to sit down because her legs were shaking. Then she looked around in surprise.

‘But we’ve been under this same tree all the time! We’re still in the same place!’

‘Of course we are,’ said the Queen. ‘Why shouldn’t we be?’

‘Well, in our country,’ said Alice, ‘if you run very fast for a long time, you usually arrive at a different place.’

‘What a slow kind of country!’ said the Queen. ‘Here, you see, you have to run very fast, just to keep in the same place. If you want to go somewhere different, you must run twice as fast. Now,’ she went on, ‘I shall tell you what to do. While I’m speaking, I shall take five steps, and at the fifth step, I shall go.’

She took two steps away from the tree and turned round. ‘A pawn goes two squares in its first move. So you’ll go very quickly through the Third Square-by railway, probably. Then you’ll be in the Fourth Square, which belongs to Tweedledum and Tweedledee. The Fifth Square is mostly water, and the Sixth belongs to Humpty Dumpty. But why haven’t you said anything?’

‘I didn’t know I had to say anything,’ said Alice.

‘It’s polite,’ said the Queen,’ to say thank you for all this information. But never mind. Let’s pretend you said it. The Seventh Square is all forest-one of the Knights will show you the way - and in the Eighth Square we shall be Queens together, and it’s all parties and fun!’

Alice got up and curtsied, and sat down again.

The Queen took another two steps and turned round again. ‘Speak in French when you can’t think of the English word - and always remember who you are!’

She took another step, and was gone. Alice did not know if she had disappeared into the air, or run into the wood, but she had certainly gone and Alice began to remember that she was a Pawn and that it would soon be time to move.

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