Inside the Garden

Near Alice was a small tree with flowers on it. There were three gardeners by the tree.

‘Be careful, Five!’ one of them said.

‘I’m always careful, Seven,’ answered Five.

Alice went to them. ‘What are you doing?’ she asked.

‘We’re making the flowers red,’ one of the gardeners said.

‘That’s strange!’ thought Alice. ‘Why?’ she asked.

The three men looked unhappy.

‘You tell her, Seven,’ Five said.

‘No,’ said Seven,’ You tell her, Two.’

‘Well, Miss, the Queen wanted trees with red flowers on them. But this tree’s got white flowers! We don’t want the Queen to see it. She’ll be very angry and cut off our heads. So we’re making the flowers red before she sees them.’

‘Oh no!’ Five shouted suddenly.’ The Queen! The Queen!’

The three gardeners fell to the ground, with their faces down. Alice heard the sound of many feet and turned round.

‘Oh good!’ she thought. ‘Now I’ll see the Queen.’

First, ten men with clubs in their hands came into the garden. Next came the King’s men. There were ten of them, and they had red diamonds on their clothes. The children of the King and Queen came next, all with red hearts. After them there were a lot more people. Most of them were Kings and Queens. The White Rabbit was there, but he didn’t see Alice. The Knave of Hearts came next. Last of all were the King and Queen of Hearts.

When these people saw Alice, they all stopped. The Queen said to the Knave of Hearts, ‘Who is this?’

The Knave of Hearts didn’t know. So he smiled and said nothing.

‘Stupid man!’ shouted the Queen. She turned to Alice and said, ‘What’s your name, child?’

‘My name is Alice, Madam,’ Alice answered.

She didn’t feel very afraid of the Queen. ‘They’re only cards,’ she thought.

The Queen looked at the gardeners. They were on the ground and she couldn’t see their faces. Who are these men?’ she asked.

‘Don’t ask me! I don’t know,’ answered Alice, not very politely.

The Queen’s face got redder and redder. She looked at Alice and shouted, ‘Cut off her head! Cut-‘

‘Oh, be quiet!’ said Alice.

The Queen stopped shouting. The King put his hand on her arm. He said quietly, ‘Don’t be angry, my dear. She’s only a child.’

The Queen turned away from him angrily. ‘Turn those men over!’ she said to the Knave of Hearts. The Knave did this very carefully, with one foot.

‘Get up!’ the Queen shouted.

The three gardeners jumped up. The Queen turned to the little tree and looked at it carefully. ‘What’s wrong with these flowers?’ she asked the gardeners.

‘Well, you see, M — M — Madam,’ said Two. ‘They were white, and — and-‘

The Queen looked from the flowers to the men. ‘I see,’ she said. ‘Cut off their heads!’

Everybody started walking again. The gardeners ran to Alice. ‘Help us!’ they cried. Alice put them behind some trees.

‘Don’t be afraid,’ she said. ‘They’re not going to cut off your heads.’

The Kings men looked for the gardeners but couldn’t find them. ‘Are their heads off?’ shouted the Queen.

‘Yes, Madam,’ shouted the King’s men.

‘Good!’ shouted the Queen.

Everybody started walking again and Alice walked with them.

‘It’s a very fine day,’ somebody said. Alice turned round and there was the White Rabbit next to her.

‘Very,’ said Alice. ‘Where’s the Duchess?’

‘Quiet!’ said the Rabbit and looked all round him. Then he put his mouth near to Alice’s ear. ‘They’re going to cut off her head!’ he said.

‘Why?’ asked Alice.

‘Did you say, «Oh no!»?’ asked the White Rabbit.

‘No, I didn’t. I said, «Why?»‘

‘She hit the Queen,’ the Rabbit said. Alice started to laugh.

‘Quiet!’ said the Rabbit again. ‘The Queen will hear you, she hears everything. You see, the Duchess came late. When she arrived, the Queen said-‘

Suddenly, the Queen shouted very loudly, ‘Cut off their heads!’

‘Who’s going to lose their head now?’ Alice wondered. She began to feel afraid. ‘The Queen isn’t angry with me now,’ she thought. ‘But it will happen. I would like to speak to somebody about it.’

She looked round. The White Rabbit wasn’t there. She looked up. There was something above her head.

‘What is it?’ she wondered. She watched for a minute or two. It was a smile! ‘It’s the Cheshire Cat,’ she thought. ‘Now I can talk to somebody.’

‘How are you?’ the Cheshire Cat asked.

Alice waited. She thought, ‘I won’t speak to it before it has its ears — or perhaps one ear.’

In another minute, she could see its ears and eyes.

‘Do you like the Queen?’ the Cat asked.

‘I don’t,’ said Alice. But then she saw the Queen. She was very near Alice. ‘She’s wonderful,’ said Alice. The Queen smiled and moved away. But the King saw the Cat’s head and came to Alice.

‘Who are you talking to?’ he asked.

‘It’s a friend — a Cheshire Cat,’ answered Alice.

The King looked carefully at the Cat. ‘I don’t like it,’ said the King.

‘Well, I don’t like you,’ said the Cat.

‘That’s not polite,’ said the King and got behind Alice.

Alice said, ‘A cat can look at a King. I read that in a book, I think.’

‘Well, this cat has to go,’ said the King. He called to the Queen, ‘My dear, I don’t like this cat.’

The Queen had only one answer to problems. ‘Cut off its head!’ she shouted loudly. She didn’t look at the Cat. The King smiled happily.

After a short time, there were a lot of people round the Cat. There was the King and Queen, and a man with a very long knife in his hand.

‘How can I cut off its head?’ asked the man with the knife. ‘I can’t do it and I’m not going to.’

‘Oh yes you are,’ said the King. ‘It’s got a head, so you can cut it off.’

‘Do something now, or I’ll cut off everybody’s head!’ said the Queen angrily.

‘What do you think?’ the King asked Alice.

Alice thought for a minute. Then she said, ‘It’s the Duchess’s Cat. Ask her about it.’

‘Bring the Duchess here,’ the Queen said.

Then the Cheshire Cat’s head started to vanish. Somebody came back with the Duchess. But now there was nothing above Alices head — not an eye or an ear or a smile. The King looked for the Cat for some time, but he couldn’t find it anywhere.

‘Come for a walk, you dear thing,’ the Duchess said to Alice. She put her arm through Alice’s and they walked through the garden.

‘She’s very friendly to me,’ thought Alice. ‘Perhaps when the cook isn’t there, she’s nice. When I’m a Duchess, I’m going to be kind to my children.’

‘Are you thinking?’ asked the Duchess. ‘You have to talk to me, you know.’

‘All right,’ said Alice. She could hear the Queen at the other end of the garden. ‘Cut off her head! Cut off his head!’ she shouted, every two or three minutes.

‘Will they cut off your head?’ Alice asked the Duchess.

‘Oh no, they never cut off anybody’s head. The Queen likes saying it, but she never does it.’

Alice wanted to ask more questions but they heard a cry: «The trial is beginning!»

‘What trial is it?’ Alice asked. The Duchess didn’t answer and started to run. Her arm was in Alice’s, so Alice ran too.


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