فصل 09

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فصل 09

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CHAPTER NINE

Queen Alice

‘Well, this is grand!’ said Alice. She got up and walked around for a while, but the crown felt very heavy and strange, so she sat down again. Then she noticed that the Red Queen and the White Queen were now sitting on either side of her. How they had got there, she had no idea. But she was not at all surprised. Nothing could surprise her now in the looking-glass world.

‘Now I am a Queen,’ said Alice, ‘does this mean that the game of chess has finished, or-‘

‘Speak when you’re spoken to!’ the Red Queen said. ‘Think before you speak, and write it down afterwards.’

‘But I only-‘ Alice began·

‘And you can’t be a Queen, ‘the Red Queen went on,’ until you’ve done your lessons.’

‘Are you good at sums?’ the White Queen asked. ‘What’s one and one and one and one and one and one and one?’

‘I don’t know,’ said Alice. ‘I lost count. But why-‘

‘She can’t do sums,’ said the Red Queen. ‘What about languages? And can you read?’

‘Of course I can read!’ Alice said. ‘And I know a little French, but I really don’t see why-‘

‘It’s clear,’ said the White Queen, shaking her head sadly, ‘that she wants to argue about something, but she doesn’t know what to argue about!’

Alice decided it would be safer to say nothing, and for a while there was silence. Then the Red Queen said to the White Queen, ‘I invite you to Alice’s party this afternoon.’

‘And I invite you,’ the White Queen replied. ‘But I must have a rest first,’ she went on. ‘I am so sleepy.’

‘And so must I,’ said the Red Queen. She looked at Alice. ‘You can sing to us, to help us sleep.’

Then the two Queens put their heads against Alice’s shoulders. In a moment they were both asleep, and snoring loudly.

After a while the snoring seemed to change and began to sound almost like music. Alice thought that she could even hear some words. She listened hard, and suddenly she found that the Queens had disappeared, and she was standing in front of a tall and very grand-looking doorway. Above the door were the words QUEEN ALICE in large letters.

Alice knocked, and the door flew open. There seemed to behind reds of voices singing, and Alice could now hear the words very clearly. They went like this: Then fill up the glasses with everything nice,

And cover the table with buttons and rice.

Put cats in the coffee, and salt in the tea-

And welcome Queen Alice with thirty-times-three!

‘I suppose I should go in,’ Alice said to herself. So in she went, and at once everyone in the hall became silent.

As she walked down the long hall, she saw that there were animals, birds, and even a few flowers among the crowd seated round the table. At the top there were three chairs; the Red and White Queens had taken two of them, but the middle one was empty. Alice sat down, feeling a little uncomfortable and wishing that someone would speak.

At last the Red Queen began. ‘You’ve missed the fish. Bring the meat now!’ And at once the waiters put a large join of meat in front of Alice.

But before she could begin to cut up the joint, the Red Queen spoke again. ‘Let me introduce you to the joint,’ she said. ‘Alice-Meat. Meat-Alice.’

The joint of meat then stood up on the plate and curtsied to Alice. Alice, feeling both frightened and amused, picked up the knife and fork. ‘May I give you some meat?’ she said, looking from one Queen to the other.

‘Certainly not!’ the Red Queen said. ‘It isn’t polite to cut anyone you’ve been introduced to. Take away the joint!’

The waiters immediately carried away the joint, and brought a large plum-pudding in its place.

‘Please don’t introduce me to the pudding,’ said Alice quickly, ‘or we shall get no dinner at all.’

But the Red Queen said loudly, ‘Pudding - Alice. Alice -Pudding. Take away the pudding!’ And the waiters took it away at once.

Then Alice decided to give an order herself. ‘Waiter! Bring back the pudding!’ When the pudding appeared again, she quickly cut off a piece and gave it to the Red Queen.

‘That’s really friendly!’ said the Pudding. ‘How would you like someone to cut a piece out of you?’

Alice was too surprised to speak.

‘Say something,’ said the Red Queen. ‘You can’t leave all the conversation to the pudding!’

By this time the party was beginning to get very noisy, and more and more strange things were happening. Bottles and plates were now walking around on the table, arm in arm, and the White Queen began to whisper in Alice’s ear a long poem about fishes. Then the Red Queen screamed at the top of her voice, ‘Let’s drink to Queen Alice’s health!’

Some of the animals put their glasses upside-down on their heads, others got inside them or knocked them over on the table. The forks began to dance with the spoons, and the noise got wilder and wilder. The White Queen said in Alice’s ear, ‘You must stand up and give thanks now, you know.’

Alice stood up. ‘I must stop all this!’ she cried, and she took hold of the table-cloth with both hands. One good pull, and everything came crashing down on the floor.

‘And now for you!’ she went on, turning to the Red Queen, who had suddenly become very much smaller and was running around on the table. ‘You started all this trouble, and I’ll shake you into a kitten! Yes, I will!’

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