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فصل 06

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CHAPTER SIX

Humpty Dumpty

But the egg got larger and larger, and more and more like a person. Then Alice saw that it had eyes and a nose and a mouth, and she realized that it was HUMPTYDUMPTY himself.

‘It must be him,’ she said to herself .’There he is, sitting on a high wall, and he looks just like an egg.’

He was sitting very still and seemed to be asleep, so Alice stood and repeated to herself the words of the song: Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall;

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

All the King’s horses and all the King’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

‘Don’t stand there talking to yourself,’ said Humpty Dumpty suddenly, opening his eyes. ‘Tell me your name.’

‘My name is Alice-‘

‘That’s a stupid name!’ said Humpty Dumpty. ‘What does it mean?’

‘Must a name mean something?’ Alice asked, puzzled.

‘Of course it must,’ Humpty Dumpty said with a short laugh. ‘My name means the shape I am-and a very good shape it is, too. With a name like yours, you could be almost any shape.’

‘Why do you sit out here all alone?’ said Alice, not wishing to argue.

‘Because there’s nobody with me!’ cried Humpty Dumpty. ‘Did you think I didn’t know the answer to that? Come, let’s have some intelligent conversation now.’

Alice tried to think of something intelligent to say, but couldn’t. ‘What a beautiful belt you’re wearing!’ she said, suddenly noticing it.

‘That’s better,’ said Humpty Dumpty, looking pleased. ‘Yes, it was a present from the White King and Queen. They gave it to me for an un birthday present.’

Alice looked puzzled. ‘What is an un birthday present?’

‘A present when it isn’t your birthday, of course.’

Alice thought about this. ‘I like birthday presents best,’ she said at last.

‘You don’t know what you’re talking about!’ cried Humpty Dumpty. ‘How many days are there in a year?’

‘Three hundred and sixty-five,’ said Alice.

‘And how many birthdays have you?’

‘One.’

‘And if you take one from three hundred and sixty-five, what is left?’

‘Three hundred and sixty-four, of course.’

‘So there’s only one day when you can get birthday presents,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘but three hundred and sixty-four days when you can get un birthday presents! There’s success for you!’

‘I don’t know what you mean by “success”,’ Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled. ‘Of course you don’t - until I tell you. I meant “there’s a clever idea for you!”’

‘But “success” doesn’t mean “a clever idea”,’ Alice argued.

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, looking down his nose at Alice, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.’

‘But can you make words have different meanings?’ asked Alice.

‘Words are difficult things, I agree,’ said Humpty Dumpty. ‘But you have to be strong with them. Give them orders. Tell them to obey you. They must work hard, and do what they’re told!’ He banged his hand excitedly on the wall as he spoke.

‘You seem very clever with words, Sir,’ said Alice politely, hoping to calm him. She was worried about him falling off the wall.

Humpty Dumpty looked pleased. ‘I can explain most words, and get them to do what I want,’ he said. ‘Some of them are like suitcases, you know. They’ve got several meanings packed up in them. Take poems, for example. One short poem can carry as many meanings as five people’s luggage.’

‘Somebody repeated a poem to me earlier today,’ said Alice. ‘It was Tweedledee, I think.’

‘Oh, I can repeat any number of poems, if you like,’ said Humpty Dumpty.

‘Well, not just at the moment,’ Alice said quickly, hoping to stop him from beginning.

‘This piece was written specially for you,’ Humpty Dumpty went on, not listening to her. ‘It will amuse you.’

‘Thank you,’ said Alice sadly. She could not refuse to listen, she thought, if the poem was specially written for her.

In winter, when the fields are white,

I sing this song for your delight-

‘But I don’t sing it,’ he explained.

‘Yes, I can see that,’ Alice said.

‘If you can see me singing or not singing, you’ve better eyes than most people,’ said Humpty Dumpty. Alice was silent, and he went on.

In spring, when woods are getting green,

I’ll try and tell you what I mean.

‘Thank you very much,’ said Alice.

In summer, when the days are long,

Perhaps you’ll understand the song.

In autumn, when the leaves are brown,

Take pen and ink and write it down.

‘I will, if I can remember it so long,’ said Alice.

‘Don’t go on saying things, ‘Humpty Dumpty said. ‘They’re not sensible, and I forget where I am.’

I sent a message to the fish;

I told them ‘This is what I wish.’

The little fishes of the sea,

They sent an answer back to me.

The little fishes’ answer was

‘We cannot do it, Sir, because-‘

‘I’m afraid I don’t understand,’ said Alice.

‘It gets easier as it goes on,’ Humpty Dumpty replied.

But the poem went on for a long time, and Alice thought it got harder, not easier, to understand. Then Humpty Dumpty suddenly stopped, and there was a long silence.

‘Is that all?’ Alice asked politely.

‘That’s all,’ said Humpty Dumpty. ‘Goodbye.’

Alice waited a minute, but Humpty Dumpty closed his eyes and did not speak again. So she got up, said ‘goodbye’, and quietly walked away.

‘What an extraordinary person!’ she said to herself as she walked. ‘I don’t think I ever met-‘She never finished what she was saying, because at that moment a heavy crash shook the forest from end to end.

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