Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
by Lewis Carroll
Chapter IX — The Mock Turtle's Story
`You can't think how glad I am to see you again, you
dear old thing!' said the Duchess, as she tucked her arm
affectionately into Alice's, and they walked off together.
Alice was very glad to find her in such a pleasant
temper, and thought to herself that perhaps it was only
the pepper that had made her so savage when they met in
`When I'M a Duchess,' she said to herself, (not in a
very hopeful tone though), `I won't have any pepper in my
kitchen AT ALL. Soup does very well without--Maybe it's
always pepper that makes people hot-tempered,' she went
on, very much pleased at having found out a new kind of
rule, `and vinegar that makes them sour--and camomile
that makes them bitter--and--and barley-sugar and such
things that make children sweet-tempered. I only wish
people knew that: then they wouldn't be so stingy about
it, you know--'
She had quite forgotten the Duchess by this time, and
was a little startled when she heard her voice close to
her ear. `You're thinking about something, my dear, and
that makes you forget to talk. I can't tell you just now
what the moral of that is, but I shall remember it in a
`Perhaps it hasn't one,' Alice ventured to remark.
`Tut, tut, child!' said the Duchess. `Everything's got
a moral, if only you can find it.' And she squeezed
herself up closer to Alice's side as she spoke.
Alice did not much like keeping so close to her:
first, because the Duchess was VERY ugly; and secondly,
because she was exactly the right height to rest her chin
upon Alice's shoulder, and it was an uncomfortably sharp
chin. However, she did not like to be rude, so she bore
it as well as she could.
`The game's going on rather better now,' she said, by
way of keeping up the conversation a little.
`'Tis so,' said the Duchess: `and the moral of that is--"Oh,
'tis love, 'tis love, that makes the world go round!"'
`Somebody said,' Alice whispered, `that it's done by
everybody minding their own business!'
`Ah, well! It means much the same thing,' said the
Duchess, digging her sharp little chin into Alice's
shoulder as she added, `and the moral of THAT is--"Take
care of the sense, and the sounds will take care of
`How fond she is of finding morals in things!' Alice
thought to herself.
`I dare say you're wondering why I don't put my arm
round your waist,' the Duchess said after a pause: `the
reason is, that I'm doubtful about the temper of your
flamingo. Shall I try the experiment?'
`HE might bite,' Alice cautiously replied, not feeling
at all anxious to have the experiment tried.
`Very true,' said the Duchess: `flamingoes and mustard
both bite. And the moral of that is--"Birds of a
feather flock together."'
`Only mustard isn't a bird,' Alice remarked.
`Right, as usual,' said the Duchess: `what a clear way
you have of putting things!'
`It's a mineral, I THINK,' said Alice.
`Of course it is,' said the Duchess, who seemed ready
to agree to everything that Alice said; `there's a large
mustard-mine near here. And the moral of that is--"The
more there is of mine, the less there is of yours."'
`Oh, I know!' exclaimed Alice, who had not attended to
this last remark, `it's a vegetable. It doesn't look like
one, but it is.'
`I quite agree with you,' said the Duchess; `and the
moral of that is--"Be what you would seem to be"--or
if you'd 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 can't
quite follow it as you say it.'
`That's nothing to what I could say if I chose,' the
Duchess replied, in a pleased tone.
`Pray don't trouble yourself to say it any longer than
that,' said Alice.
`Oh, don't talk about trouble!' said the Duchess. `I
make you a present of everything I've said as yet.'
`A cheap sort of present!' thought Alice. `I'm glad
they don't give birthday presents like that!' But she did
not venture to say it out loud.
`Thinking again?' the Duchess asked, with another dig
of her sharp little chin.
`I've a right to think,' said Alice sharply, for she
was beginning to feel a little worried.
`Just about as much right,' said the Duchess, `as pigs
have to fly; and the m--'
But here, to Alice's great surprise, the Duchess's
voice died away, even in the middle of her favourite word
`moral,' and the arm that was linked into hers began to
tremble. Alice looked up, and there stood the Queen in
front of them, with her arms folded, frowning like a
`A fine day, your Majesty!' the Duchess began in a
low, weak voice.
`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
The Duchess took her choice, and was gone in a moment.
`Let's go on with the game,' the Queen said to Alice;
and Alice was too much frightened to say a word, but
slowly followed her back to the croquet-ground.
The other guests had taken advantage of the Queen's
absence, and were resting in the shade: however, the
moment they saw her, they hurried back to the game, the
Queen merely remarking that a moment's delay would cost
them their lives.
All the time they were playing the Queen never left
off quarrelling with the other players, and shouting `Off
with his head!' or `Off with her head!' Those whom she
sentenced were taken into custody by the soldiers, who of
course had to leave off being arches to do this, so that
by the end of half an hour or so there were no arches
left, and all the players, except the King, the Queen,
and Alice, were in custody and under sentence of
Then the Queen left off, quite out of breath, and said
to Alice, `Have you seen the Mock Turtle yet?'
`No,' said Alice. `I don't even know what a Mock
`It's the thing Mock Turtle Soup is made from,' said
`I never saw one, or heard of one,' said Alice.
`Come on, then,' said the Queen, `and he shall tell
you his history,'
As they walked off together, Alice heard the King say
in a low voice, to the company generally, `You are all
pardoned.' `Come, THAT'S a good thing!' she said to
herself, for she had felt quite unhappy at the number of
executions the Queen had ordered.
They very soon came upon a Gryphon, lying fast asleep
in the sun. (IF you don't know what a Gryphon is, look at
the picture.) `Up, lazy thing!' said the Queen, `and take
this young lady to see the Mock Turtle, and to hear his
history. I must go back and see after some executions I
have ordered'; and she walked off, leaving Alice alone
with the Gryphon. Alice did not quite like the look of
the creature, but on the whole she thought it would be
quite as safe to stay with it as to go after that savage
Queen: so she waited.
The Gryphon sat up and rubbed its eyes: then it
watched the Queen till she was out of sight: then it
chuckled. `What fun!' said the Gryphon, half to itself,
half to Alice.
`What IS the fun?' said Alice.
`Why, SHE,' said the Gryphon. `It's all her fancy,
that: they never executes nobody, you know. Come on!'
`Everybody says "come on!" here,' thought
Alice, as she went slowly after it: `I never was so
ordered about in all my life, never!'
They had not gone far before they saw the Mock Turtle
in the distance, sitting sad and lonely on a little ledge
of rock, and, as they came nearer, Alice could hear him
sighing as if his heart would break. She pitied him
deeply. `What is his sorrow?' she asked the Gryphon, and
the Gryphon answered, very nearly in the same words as
before, `It's all his fancy, that: he hasn't got no
sorrow, you know. Come on!'
So they went up to the Mock Turtle, who looked at them
with large eyes full of tears, but said nothing.
`This here young lady,' said the Gryphon, `she wants
for to know your history, she do.'
`I'll tell it her,' said the Mock Turtle in a deep,
hollow tone: `sit down, both of you, and don't speak a
word till I've finished.'
So they sat down, and nobody spoke for some minutes.
Alice thought to herself, `I don't see how he can EVEN
finish, if he doesn't begin.' But she waited patiently.
`Once,' said the Mock Turtle at last, with a deep
sigh, `I was a real Turtle.'
These words were followed by a very long silence,
broken only by an occasional exclamation of `Hjckrrh!'
from the Gryphon, and the constant heavy sobbing of the
Mock Turtle. Alice was very nearly getting up and saying,
`Thank you, sir, for your interesting story,' but she
could not help thinking there MUST be more to come, so
she sat still and said nothing.
`When we were little,' the Mock Turtle went on at
last, more calmly, though still sobbing a little now and
then, `we went to school in the sea. The master was an
old Turtle--we used to call him Tortoise--'
`Why did you call him Tortoise, if he wasn't one?'
`We called him Tortoise because he taught us,' said
the Mock Turtle angrily: `really you are very dull!'
`You ought to be ashamed of yourself for asking such a
simple question,' added the Gryphon; and then they both
sat silent and looked at poor Alice, who felt ready to
sink into the earth. At last the Gryphon said to the Mock
Turtle, `Drive on, old fellow! Don't be all day about it!'
and he went on in these words:
`Yes, we went to school in the sea, though you mayn't
`I never said I didn't!' interrupted Alice.
`You did,' said the Mock Turtle.
`Hold your tongue!' added the Gryphon, before Alice
could speak again. The Mock Turtle went on.
`We had the best of educations--in fact, we went to
school every day--'
`I'VE been to a day-school, too,' said Alice; `you
needn't be so proud as all that.'
`With extras?' asked the Mock Turtle a little
`Yes,' said Alice, `we learned French and music.'
`And washing?' said the Mock Turtle.
`Certainly not!' said Alice indignantly.
`Ah! then yours wasn't a really good school,' said the
Mock Turtle in a tone of great relief. `Now at OURS they
had at the end of the bill, "French, music, AND
`You couldn't have wanted it much,' said Alice;
`living at the bottom of the sea.'
`I couldn't afford to learn it.' said the Mock Turtle
with a sigh. `I only took the regular course.'
`What was that?' inquired Alice.
`Reeling and Writhing, of course, to begin with,' the
Mock Turtle replied; `and then the different branches of
Arithmetic-- Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and
`I never heard of "Uglification,"' Alice
ventured to say. `What is it?'
The Gryphon lifted up both its paws in surprise. `What!
Never heard of uglifying!' it exclaimed. `You know what
to beautify is, I suppose?'
`Yes,' said Alice doubtfully: `it means--to--make--anything--
`Well, then,' the Gryphon went on, `if you don't know
what to uglify is, you ARE a simpleton.'
Alice did not feel encouraged to ask any more
questions about it, so she turned to the Mock Turtle, and
said `What else had you to learn?'
`Well, there was Mystery,' the Mock Turtle replied,
counting off the subjects on his flappers, `--Mystery,
ancient and modern, with Seaography: then Drawling--the
Drawling-master was an old conger-eel, that used to come
once a week: HE taught us Drawling, Stretching, and
Fainting in Coils.'
`What was THAT like?' said Alice.
`Well, I can't show it you myself,' the Mock Turtle
said: `I'm too stiff. And the Gryphon never learnt it.'
`Hadn't time,' said the Gryphon: `I went to the
Classics master, though. He was an old crab, HE was.'
`I never went to him,' the Mock Turtle said with a
sigh: `he taught Laughing and Grief, they used to say.'
`So he did, so he did,' said the Gryphon, sighing in
his turn; and both creatures hid their faces in their
`And how many hours a day did you do lessons?' said
Alice, in a hurry to change the subject.
`Ten hours the first day,' said the Mock Turtle: `nine
the next, and so on.'
`What a curious plan!' exclaimed Alice.
`That's the reason they're called lessons,' the
Gryphon remarked: `because they lessen from day to day.'
This was quite a new idea to Alice, and she thought it
over a little before she made her next remark. `Then the
eleventh day must have been a holiday?'
`Of course it was,' said the Mock Turtle.
`And how did you manage on the twelfth?' Alice went on
`That's enough about lessons,' the Gryphon interrupted
in a very decided tone: `tell her something about the
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