Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
by Lewis Carroll
Chapter VII — A Mad Tea-Party
There was a table set out under a tree in front of the
house, and the March Hare and the Hatter were having tea
at it: a Dormouse was sitting between them, fast asleep,
and the other two were using it as a cushion, resting
their elbows on it, and the talking over its head. `Very
uncomfortable for the Dormouse,' thought Alice; `only, as
it's asleep, I suppose it doesn't mind.'
The table was a large one, but the three were all
crowded together at one corner of it: `No room! No room!'
they cried out when they saw Alice coming. `There's
PLENTY of room!' said Alice indignantly, and she sat down
in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.
`Have some wine,' the March Hare said in an
Alice looked all round the table, but there was
nothing on it but tea. `I don't see any wine,' she
`There isn't any,' said the March Hare.
`Then it wasn't very civil of you to offer it,' said
`It wasn't very civil of you to sit down without being
invited,' said the March Hare.
`I didn't know it was YOUR table,' said Alice; `it's
laid for a great many more than three.'
`Your hair wants cutting,' said the Hatter. He had
been looking at Alice for some time with great curiosity,
and this was his first speech.
`You should learn not to make personal remarks,' Alice
said with some severity; `it's very rude.'
The Hatter opened his eyes very wide on hearing this;
but all he SAID was, `Why is a raven like a writing-desk?'
`Come, we shall have some fun now!' thought Alice.
`I'm glad they've begun asking riddles.--I believe I can
guess that,' she added aloud.
`Do you mean that you think you can find out the
answer to it?' said the March Hare.
`Exactly so,' said Alice.
`Then you should say what you mean,' the March Hare
`I do,' Alice hastily replied; `at least--at least I
mean what I say--that's the same thing, you know.'
`Not the same thing a bit!' said the Hatter. `You
might just as well say that "I see what I eat"
is the same thing as "I eat what I see"!'
`You might just as well say,' added the March Hare,
`that "I like what I get" is the same thing as
"I get what I like"!'
`You might just as well say,' added the Dormouse, who
seemed to be talking in his sleep, `that "I breathe
when I sleep" is the same thing as "I sleep
when I breathe"!'
`It IS the same thing with you,' said the Hatter, and
here the conversation dropped, and the party sat silent
for a minute, while Alice thought over all she could
remember about ravens and writing-desks, which wasn't
The Hatter was the first to break the silence. `What
day of the month is it?' he said, turning to Alice: he
had taken his watch out of his pocket, and was looking at
it uneasily, shaking it every now and then, and holding
it to his ear.
Alice considered a little, and then said `The fourth.'
`Two days wrong!' sighed the Hatter. `I told you
butter wouldn't suit the works!' he added looking angrily
at the March Hare.
`It was the BEST butter,' the March Hare meekly
`Yes, but some crumbs must have got in as well,' the
Hatter grumbled: `you shouldn't have put it in with the
The March Hare took the watch and looked at it
gloomily: then he dipped it into his cup of tea, and
looked at it again: but he could think of nothing better
to say than his first remark, `It was the BEST butter,
Alice had been looking over his shoulder with some
curiosity. `What a funny watch!' she remarked. `It tells
the day of the month, and doesn't tell what o'clock it is!'
`Why should it?' muttered the Hatter. `Does YOUR watch
tell you what year it is?'
`Of course not,' Alice replied very readily: `but
that's because it stays the same year for such a long
`Which is just the case with MINE,' said the Hatter.
Alice felt dreadfully puzzled. The Hatter's remark
seemed to have no sort of meaning in it, and yet it was
certainly English. `I don't quite understand you,' she
said, as politely as she could.
`The Dormouse is asleep again,' said the Hatter, and
he poured a little hot tea upon its nose.
The Dormouse shook its head impatiently, and said,
without opening its eyes, `Of course, of course; just
what I was going to remark myself.'
`Have you guessed the riddle yet?' the Hatter said,
turning to Alice again.
`No, I give it up,' Alice replied: `what's the
`I haven't the slightest idea,' said the Hatter.
`Nor I,' said the March Hare.
Alice sighed wearily. `I think you might do something
better with the time,' she said, `than waste it in asking
riddles that have no answers.'
`If you knew Time as well as I do,' said the Hatter,
`you wouldn't talk about wasting IT. It's HIM.'
`I don't know what you mean,' said Alice.
`Of course you don't!' the Hatter said, tossing his
head contemptuously. `I dare say you never even spoke to
`Perhaps not,' Alice cautiously replied: `but I know I
have to beat time when I learn music.'
`Ah! that accounts for it,' said the Hatter. `He won't
stand beating. Now, if you only kept on good terms with
him, he'd do almost anything you liked with the clock.
For instance, suppose it were nine o'clock in the
morning, just time to begin lessons: you'd only have to
whisper a hint to Time, and round goes the clock in a
twinkling! Half-past one, time for dinner!'
(`I only wish it was,' the March Hare said to itself
in a whisper.)
`That would be grand, certainly,' said Alice
thoughtfully: `but then--I shouldn't be hungry for it,
`Not at first, perhaps,' said the Hatter: `but you
could keep it to half-past one as long as you liked.'
`Is that the way YOU manage?' Alice asked.
The Hatter shook his head mournfully. `Not I!' he
replied. `We quarrelled last March--just before HE went
mad, you know--' (pointing with his tea spoon at the
March Hare,) `--it was at the great concert given by the
Queen of Hearts, and I had to sing
"Twinkle, twinkle, little bat! How I wonder what you're at!"
You know the song, perhaps?'
`I've heard something like it,' said Alice.
`It goes on, you know,' the Hatter continued, `in this
"Up above the world you fly,
Like a tea-tray in the sky.
Here the Dormouse shook itself, and began singing in
its sleep `Twinkle, twinkle, twinkle, twinkle--' and went
on so long that they had to pinch it to make it stop.
`Well, I'd hardly finished the first verse,' said the
Hatter, `when the Queen jumped up and bawled out, "He's
murdering the time! Off with his head!"'
`How dreadfully savage!' exclaimed Alice.
`And ever since that,' the Hatter went on in a
mournful tone, `he won't do a thing I ask! It's always
six o'clock now.'
A bright idea came into Alice's head. `Is that the
reason so many tea-things are put out here?' she asked.
`Yes, that's it,' said the Hatter with a sigh: `it's
always tea-time, and we've no time to wash the things
`Then you keep moving round, I suppose?' said Alice.
`Exactly so,' said the Hatter: `as the things get used
`But what happens when you come to the beginning
again?' Alice ventured to ask.
`Suppose we change the subject,' the March Hare
interrupted, yawning. `I'm getting tired of this. I vote
the young lady tells us a story.'
`I'm afraid I don't know one,' said Alice, rather
alarmed at the proposal.
`Then the Dormouse shall!' they both cried. `Wake up,
Dormouse!' And they pinched it on both sides at once.
The Dormouse slowly opened his eyes. `I wasn't
asleep,' he said in a hoarse, feeble voice: `I heard
every word you fellows were saying.'
`Tell us a story!' said the March Hare.
`Yes, please do!' pleaded Alice.
`And be quick about it,' added the Hatter, `or you'll
be asleep again before it's done.'
`Once upon a time there were three little sisters,'
the Dormouse began in a great hurry; `and their names
were Elsie, Lacie, and Tillie; and they lived at the
bottom of a well--'
`What did they live on?' said Alice, who always took a
great interest in questions of eating and drinking.
`They lived on treacle,' said the Dormouse, after
thinking a minute or two.
`They couldn't have done that, you know,' Alice gently
remarked; `they'd have been ill.'
`So they were,' said the Dormouse; `VERY ill.'
Alice tried to fancy to herself what such an
extraordinary ways of living would be like, but it
puzzled her too much, so she went on: `But why did they
live at the bottom of a well?'
`Take some more tea,' the March Hare said to Alice,
`I've had nothing yet,' Alice replied in an offended
tone, `so I can't take more.'
`You mean you can't take LESS,' said the Hatter: `it's
very easy to take MORE than nothing.'
`Nobody asked YOUR opinion,' said Alice.
`Who's making personal remarks now?' the Hatter asked
Alice did not quite know what to say to this: so she
helped herself to some tea and bread-and-butter, and then
turned to the Dormouse, and repeated her question. `Why
did they live at the bottom of a well?'
The Dormouse again took a minute or two to think about
it, and then said, `It was a treacle-well.'
`There's no such thing!' Alice was beginning very
angrily, but the Hatter and the March Hare went `Sh! sh!'
and the Dormouse sulkily remarked, `If you can't be
civil, you'd better finish the story for yourself.'
`No, please go on!' Alice said very humbly; `I won't
interrupt again. I dare say there may be ONE.'
`One, indeed!' said the Dormouse indignantly. However,
he consented to go on. `And so these three little sisters--they
were learning to draw, you know--'
`What did they draw?' said Alice, quite forgetting her
`Treacle,' said the Dormouse, without considering at
all this time.
`I want a clean cup,' interrupted the Hatter: `let's
all move one place on.'
He moved on as he spoke, and the Dormouse followed him:
the March Hare moved into the Dormouse's place, and Alice
rather unwillingly took the place of the March Hare. The
Hatter was the only one who got any advantage from the
change: and Alice was a good deal worse off than before,
as the March Hare had just upset the milk-jug into his
Alice did not wish to offend the Dormouse again, so
she began very cautiously: `But I don't understand. Where
did they draw the treacle from?'
`You can draw water out of a water-well,' said the
Hatter; `so I should think you could draw treacle out of
a treacle-well--eh, stupid?'
`But they were IN the well,' Alice said to the
Dormouse, not choosing to notice this last remark.
`Of course they were', said the Dormouse; `--well in.'
This answer so confused poor Alice, that she let the
Dormouse go on for some time without interrupting it.
`They were learning to draw,' the Dormouse went on,
yawning and rubbing its eyes, for it was getting very
sleepy; `and they drew all manner of things--everything
that begins with an M--'
`Why with an M?' said Alice.
`Why not?' said the March Hare.
Alice was silent.
The Dormouse had closed its eyes by this time, and was
going off into a doze; but, on being pinched by the
Hatter, it woke up again with a little shriek, and went
on: `--that begins with an M, such as mouse-traps, and
the moon, and memory, and muchness-- you know you say
things are "much of a muchness"--did you ever
see such a thing as a drawing of a muchness?'
`Really, now you ask me,' said Alice, very much
confused, `I don't think--'
`Then you shouldn't talk,' said the Hatter.
This piece of rudeness was more than Alice could bear:
she got up in great disgust, and walked off; the Dormouse
fell asleep instantly, and neither of the others took the
least notice of her going, though she looked back once or
twice, half hoping that they would call after her: the
last time she saw them, they were trying to put the
Dormouse into the teapot.
`At any rate I'll never go THERE again!' said Alice as
she picked her way through the wood. `It's the stupidest
tea-party I ever was at in all my life!'
Just as she said this, she noticed that one of the
trees had a door leading right into it. `That's very
curious!' she thought. `But everything's curious today. I
think I may as well go in at once.' And in she went.
Once more she found herself in the long hall, and
close to the little glass table. `Now, I'll manage better
this time,' she said to herself, and began by taking the
little golden key, and unlocking the door that led into
the garden. Then she went to work nibbling at the
mushroom (she had kept a piece of it in her pocked) till
she was about a foot high: then she walked down the
little passage: and THEN--she found herself at last in
the beautiful garden, among the bright flower-beds and
the cool fountains.
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