Queen Alice (end)
(for audio, see previous page)
(for audio, see previous page)
'I'm glad they've come without waiting to be asked,' she thought; 'I should never have known who were the right people to invite!'
There were three chairs at the head of the table; the Red and White Queens had already taken two of them, but the middle one was empty. Alice sat down in it, rather uncomfortable in the silence and longing for some one to speak.
At last the Red Queen began. 'You've missed the soup and fish,' she said. 'Put on the joint!'
And the waiters set a leg of mutton before Alice, who looked at it rather anxiously, as she had never had to carve a joint before.
The leg of mutton got up in the dish and made a little bow to Alice, and Alice returned the bow, not knowing whether to be frightened or amused.
'May I give you a slice?' she said, taking up the knife and fork, and looking from one Queen to the other.
'Certainly not,' the Red Queen said, very decidedly; 'it isn't etiquette to cut any one you've been introduced to. Remove the joint!' And the waiters carried it off and brought a large plum-pudding in its place.
'I won't be introduced to the pudding, please,' Alice said rather hastily, 'or we shall get no dinner at all. May I give you some?'
But the Red Queen looked sulky and growled, 'Pudding — Alice; Alice — Pudding. Remove the pudding!' and the waiters took it away so quickly that Alice couldn't return its bow.
However, she didn't see why the Red Queen should be the only one to give orders, so, as an experiment, she called out 'Waiter! Bring back the pudding!' and there it was again in a moment like a conjuring-trick. It was so large that she couldn't help feeling a LITTLE shy with it, as she had been with the mutton; however, she conquered her shyness by a great effort and cut a slice and handed it to the Red Queen.
'What impertinence!' said the Pudding. 'I wonder how you'd like it if I were to cut a slice out of YOU, you creature!'
It spoke in a thick, suety sort of voice, and Alice hadn't a word to say in reply; she could only sit and look at it and gasp.
'Make a remark,' said the Red Queen; 'it's ridiculous to leave all the conversation to the pudding!'
'Do you know, I've had such a quantity of poetry repeated to me to-day,' Alice began, a little frightened at finding that, the moment she opened her lips, there was dead silence, and all eyes were fixed upon her, 'and it's a very curious thing, I think — every poem was about fishes in some way. Do you know why they're so fond of fishes, all about here?'
She spoke to the Red Queen, whose answer was a little wide of the mark. 'As to fishes,' she said, very slowly and solemnly, putting her mouth close to Alice's ear, 'her White Majesty knows a lovely riddle — all in poetry — all about fishes. Shall she repeat it?'
'Her Red Majesty's very kind to mention it,' the White Queen murmured into Alice's other ear, in a voice like the cooing of a pigeon. 'It would be SUCH a treat! May I?'
'Please do,' Alice said very politely.
Next: Shaking and Waking