`Well, this IS grand!' said Alice. `I never expected I should be aQueen so soon--and I'll tell you what it is, your majesty,' she went on in asevere tone (she was always rather fond of scolding herself), `it'll never dofor you to be lolling about on the grass like that! Queens have to bedignified, you know!'
So she got up and walked about--rather stiffly just at first, as shewas afraid that the crown might come off: but she comforted herselfwith the thought that there was nobody to see her, `and if I really am aQueen,' she said as she sat down again, `I shall be able to manage it quitewell in time.'
Everything was happening so oddly that she didn't feel a bitsurprised at finding the Red Queen and the White Queen sitting close toher, one on each side: she would have liked very much to ask them howthey came there, but she feared it would not be quite civil. However,there would be no harm, she thought, in asking if the game was over.
`Please, would you tell me--' she began, looking timidly at the Red Queen.
`Speak when you're spoken to!' The Queen sharply interrupted her.
`But if everybody obeyed that rule,' said Alice, who was alwaysready for a little argument, `and if you only spoke when you were spokento, and the other person always waited for YOU to begin, you see nobodywould ever say anything, so that--'
`Ridiculous!' cried the Queen. `Why, don't you see, child--' hereshe broke off with a frown, and, after thinking for a minute, suddenlychanged the subject of the conversation. `What do you mean by "If youreally are a Queen"? What right have you to call yourself so? You can'tbe a Queen, you know, till you've passed the proper examination. Andthe sooner we begin it, the better.'
`I only said "if"!' poor Alice pleaded in a piteous tone.
The two Queens looked at each other, and the Red Queen remarked,with a little shudder, `She SAYS she only said "if"--'
`But she said a great deal more than that!' the White Queen moaned, wringing her hands. `Oh, ever so much more than that!'
`So you did, you know,' the Red Queen said to Alice. `Alwaysspeak the truth--think before you speak--and write it down afterwards.'
`I'm sure I didn't mean--' Alice was beginning, but the Red Queeninterrupted her impatiently.
`That's just what I complain of! You SHOULD have meant!
What do you suppose is the use of child without any meaning? Even ajoke should have some meaning--and a child's more important than a joke,I hope. You couldn't deny that, even if you tried with both hands.' `Idon't deny things with my HANDS,' Alice objected.
`Nobody said you did,' said the Red Queen. `I said you couldn't ifyou tried.'
`She's in that state of mind,' said the White Queen, `that she wants todeny SOMETHING--only she doesn't know what to deny!'
`A nasty, vicious temper,' the Red Queen remarked; and then therewas an uncomfortable silence for a minute or two.