Which Dreamed It?
Reading time: 5 minutes. Word count: 1000 words.
At this moment she heard a hoarse laugh at her side, and turned to see what was the matter with the White Queen; but, instead of the Queen, there was the leg of mutton sitting in the chair. 'Here I am!' cried a voice from the soup tureen, and Alice turned again, just in time to see the Queen's broad good-natured face grinning at her for a moment over the edge of the tureen, before she disappeared into the soup.
There was not a moment to be lost. Already several of the guests were lying down in the dishes, and the soup ladle was walking up the table towards Alice's chair, and beckoning to her impatiently to get out of its way.
'I can't stand this any longer!' she cried as she jumped up and seized the table-cloth with both hands: one good pull, and plates, dishes, guests, and candles came crashing down together in a heap on the floor.
'And as for YOU,' she went on, turning fiercely upon the Red Queen, whom she considered as the cause of all the mischief -- but the Queen was no longer at her side -- she had suddenly dwindled down to the size of a little doll, and was now on the table, merrily running round and round after her own shawl, which was trailing behind her.
At any other time, Alice would have felt surprised at this, but she was far too much excited to be surprised at anything NOW. 'As for YOU,' she repeated, catching hold of the little creature in the very act of jumping over a bottle which had just lighted upon the table, 'I'll shake you into a kitten, that I will!'
She took her off the table as she spoke, and shook her backwards and forwards with all her might.
The Red Queen made no resistance whatever; only her face grew very small, and her eyes got large and green: and still, as Alice went on shaking her, she kept on growing shorter -- and fatter -- and softer -- and rounder -- and --
-- and it really WAS a kitten, after all.
'Your majesty shouldn't purr so loud,' Alice said, rubbing her eyes, and addressing the kitten, respectfully, yet with some severity. 'You woke me out of oh! such a nice dream! And you've been along with me, Kitty -- all through the Looking-Glass world. Did you know it, dear?'
It is a very inconvenient habit of kittens (Alice had once made the remark) that, whatever you say to them, they ALWAYS purr. 'If them would only purr for "yes" and mew for "no," or any rule of that sort,' she had said, 'so that one could keep up a conversation! But how CAN you talk with a person if they always say the same thing?'
On this occasion the kitten only purred: and it was impossible to guess whether it meant 'yes' or 'no.'
So Alice hunted among the chessmen on the table till she had found the Red Queen: then she went down on her knees on the hearth-rug, and put the kitten and the Queen to look at each other. 'Now, Kitty!' she cried, clapping her hands triumphantly. 'Confess that was what you turned into!'
('But it wouldn't look at it,' she said, when she was explaining the thing afterwards to her sister: 'it turned away its head, and pretended not to see it: but it looked a LITTLE ashamed of itself, so I think it MUST have been the Red Queen.')
'Sit up a little more stiffly, dear!' Alice cried with a merry laugh. 'And curtsey while you're thinking what to -- what to purr. It saves time, remember!' And she caught it up and gave it one little kiss, 'just in honour of having been a Red Queen.'
'Snowdrop, my pet!' she went on, looking over her shoulder at the White Kitten, which was still patiently undergoing its toilet, 'when WILL Dinah have finished with your White Majesty, I wonder? That must be the reason you were so untidy in my dream -- Dinah! do you know that you're scrubbing a White Queen? Really, it's most disrespectful of you!
'And what did DINAH turn to, I wonder?' she prattled on, as she settled comfortably down, with one elbow in the rug, and her chin in her hand, to watch the kittens. 'Tell me, Dinah, did you turn to Humpty Dumpty? I THINK you did -- however, you'd better not mention it to your friends just yet, for I'm not sure.
'By the way, Kitty, if only you'd been really with me in my dream, there was one thing you WOULD have enjoyed -- I had such a quantity of poetry said to me, all about fishes! To-morrow morning you shall have a real treat. All the time you're eating your breakfast, I'll repeat "The Walrus and the Carpenter" to you; and then you can make believe it's oysters, dear!
'Now, Kitty, let's consider who it was that dreamed it all. This is a serious question, my dear, and you should NOT go on licking your paw like that -- as if Dinah hadn't washed you this morning! You see, Kitty, it MUST have been either me or the Red King. He was part of my dream, of course -- but then I was part of his dream, too! WAS it the Red King, Kitty? You were his wife, my dear, so you ought to know -- Oh, Kitty, DO help to settle it! I'm sure your paw can wait!' But the provoking kitten only began on the other paw, and pretended it hadn't heard the question.
Which do YOU think it was?
Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:
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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