The Red King's Dream
Reading time: 3 minutes. Word count: 600 words.
'I like the Walrus best,' said Alice: 'because you see he was a LITTLE sorry for the poor oysters.'
'He ate more than the Carpenter, though,' said Tweedledee. 'You see he held his handkerchief in front, so that the Carpenter couldn't count how many he took: contrariwise.'
'That was mean!' Alice said indignantly. 'Then I like the Carpenter best -- if he didn't eat so many as the Walrus.'
'But he ate as many as he could get,' said Tweedledum.
This was a puzzler. After a pause, Alice began, 'Well! They were BOTH very unpleasant characters -- ' Here she checked herself in some alarm, at hearing something that sounded to her like the puffing of a large steam-engine in the wood near them, though she feared it was more likely to be a wild beast. 'Are there any lions or tigers about here?' she asked timidly.
'It's only the Red King snoring,' said Tweedledee.
'Come and look at him!' the brothers cried, and they each took one of Alice's hands, and led her up to where the King was sleeping.
'Isn't he a LOVELY sight?' said Tweedledum.
Alice couldn't say honestly that he was. He had a tall red night-cap on, with a tassel, and he was lying crumpled up into a sort of untidy heap, and snoring loud -- 'fit to snore his head off!' as Tweedledum remarked.
'I'm afraid he'll catch cold with lying on the damp grass,' said Alice, who was a very thoughtful little girl.
'He's dreaming now,' said Tweedledee: 'and what do you think he's dreaming about?'
Alice said 'Nobody can guess that.'
'Why, about YOU!' Tweedledee exclaimed, clapping his hands triumphantly. 'And if he left off dreaming about you, where do you suppose you'd be?'
'Where I am now, of course,' said Alice.
'Not you!' Tweedledee retorted contemptuously. 'You'd be nowhere. Why, you're only a sort of thing in his dream!'
'If that there King was to wake,' added Tweedledum, 'you'd go out -- bang! -- just like a candle!'
'I shouldn't!' Alice exclaimed indignantly. 'Besides, if I'M only a sort of thing in his dream, what are YOU, I should like to know?'
'Ditto' said Tweedledum.
'Ditto, ditto' cried Tweedledee.
He shouted this so loud that Alice couldn't help saying, 'Hush! You'll be waking him, I'm afraid, if you make so much noise.'
'Well, it no use YOUR talking about waking him,' said Tweedledum, 'when you're only one of the things in his dream. You know very well you're not real.'
'I AM real!' said Alice and began to cry.
'You won't make yourself a bit realler by crying,' Tweedledee remarked: 'there's nothing to cry about.'
'If I wasn't real,' Alice said -- half-laughing though her tears, it all seemed so ridiculous -- 'I shouldn't be able to cry.'
'I hope you don't suppose those are real tears?' Tweedledum interrupted in a tone of great contempt.
'I know they're talking nonsense,' Alice thought to herself: 'and it's foolish to cry about it.' So she brushed away her tears, and went on as cheerfully as she could. 'At any rate I'd better be getting out of the wood, for really it's coming on very dark. Do you think it's going to rain?'
Tweedledum spread a large umbrella over himself and his brother, and looked up into it. 'No, I don't think it is,' he said: 'at least -- not under HERE. Nohow.'
'But it may rain OUTSIDE?'
'It may -- if it chooses,' said Tweedledee: 'we've no objection. Contrariwise.'
'Selfish things!' thought Alice, and she was just going to say 'Good-night' and leave them, when Tweedledum sprang out from under the umbrella and seized her by the wrist.
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Source: Through The Looking-Glass, by Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson). 1871. Website: Project Gutenberg.
MLLL-2003. World Literature: Frametales. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D.
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