Curiouser and curiouser! cried Alice.
But then, thought Alice. shall I never get any older than I am now? Thatll be a comfort, one way–never to be an old woman–but then–always to have lessons to learn!
`Who are YOU? said the Caterpillar.
This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, `I–I hardly know, sir, just at present– at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.
`Keep your temper, said the Caterpillar.
`But I dont want to go among mad people, Alice remarked.
`Oh, you cant help that, said the Cat: `were all mad here. Im mad. Youre mad.
`How do you know Im mad? said Alice.
`You must be, said the Cat, `or you wouldnt have come here.
Alice didnt think that proved it at all; however, she went on` And how do you know that youre mad?
`To begin with, said the Cat, `a dogs not mad. You grant that?
`I suppose so, said Alice.
`Well, then, the Cat went on, `you see, a dog growls when its angry, and wags its tail when its pleased. Now I growl when Im pleased, and wag my tail when Im angry. Therefore Im mad.
The Queen turned crimson with fury, and, after glaring at her for a moment like a wild beast, screamed `Off with her head! Off–
`Nonsense! said Alice, very loudly and decidedly, and the Queen was silent.
The King laid his hand upon her arm, and timidly said `Consider, my dear: she is only a child!
`Get 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 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 on their hands and feet, to make the arches.
The 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 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 game indeed.
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.
`A cat may look at a king, said Alice. `Ive read that in some book, but I dont remember where.
`Tut, tut, child! said the Duchess. `Everythings got a moral, if only you can find it. And she squeezed herself up closer to Alices side as she spoke.
`I quite agree with you, said the Duchess; `and the moral of that is–Be what you would seem to be–or if youd like it put more simply–Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.
`I think I should understand that better, Alice said very politely, `if I had it written down: but I cant quite follow it as you say it.
`Thats nothing to what I could say if I chose, the Duchess replied, in a pleased tone.
`Now, I give you fair warning, shouted the Queen, stamping on the ground as she spoke; `either you or your head must be off, and that in about half no time! Take your choice!
Curiouser and curiouser! cried Alice.