The Queen's Croquet-Ground (cont.)
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'Very,' said Alice: ' — where's the Duchess?'
'Hush! Hush!' said the Rabbit in a low, hurried tone. He looked anxiously over his shoulder as he spoke and then raised himself upon tiptoe, put his mouth close to her ear, and whispered, 'She's under sentence of execution.'
'What for?' said Alice.
'Did you say "What a pity!"?' the Rabbit asked.
'No, I didn't,' said Alice: 'I don't think it's at all a pity. I said "What for?"'
'She boxed the Queen's ears — ' the Rabbit began. Alice gave a little scream of laughter. 'Oh, hush!' the Rabbit whispered in a frightened tone. 'The Queen will hear you! You see, she came rather late, and the Queen said — '
'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 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.
Alice began to feel very uneasy: to be sure, she had not as yet had any dispute with the Queen, but she knew that it might happen any minute, 'and then,' thought she, 'what would become of me? They're dreadfully fond of beheading people here; the great wonder is that there's any one left alive!'
She was looking about for some way of escape and wondering whether she could get away without being seen when she noticed a curious appearance in the air: it puzzled her very much at first, but, after watching it a minute or two, she made it out to be a grin, and she said to herself 'It's the Cheshire Cat: now I shall have somebody to talk to.'