Who Took the Tarts?

Alice and the Duchess followed everybody into a house with one very large room. The King and Queen were there. They sat on big chairs above all the animals and birds. All the cards were there too. Near the King was the White Rabbit. He had a paper in his hand and looked very important. The Knave of Hearts stood in front of the King and Queen. He stood between two men and his head was down. It was his trial. In the middle of the room was a table with a large plate of tarts on it.

Alice found a place and sat down. She looked round.

‘I know a lot of the animals and birds here,’ she thought. She looked hungrily at the tarts.

‘I hope they finish the trial quickly,’ she thought. ‘Then we can eat the tarts.’

Suddenly, the White Rabbit cried, ‘Quiet please!’

The King looked round the room. ‘Read the paper!’ he said. The White Rabbit stood up and read from a very long paper:

The Queen of Hearts, she made some tarts,

One lovely sunny day;

The Knave of Hearts, he took those tarts,

He took them all away.

‘Cut off his head!’ cried the Queen.

‘No, no,’ said the Rabbit. ‘We have to call people into the room, and ask them questions.’

‘All right then. Call the Mad Hatter!’ said the King.

The Mad Hatter came into the room. He had a teacup in one hand, and some bread-and-butter in the other hand.

‘Why did you call me? I wanted to finish my tea,’ he said.

‘When did you begin your tea?’ asked the King.

The Mad Hatter thought for a minute. The March Hare and the Mouse were quite near him and he looked at them for ideas. Then he said, ‘March the fourteenth — I think.’

‘Fifteenth,’ said the March Hare.

‘Sixteenth,’ said the Mouse.

‘Write that down,’ said the King to the White Rabbit. Then he said to the Mad Hatter, ‘Take off your hat.’

‘It isn’t mine,’ said the Mad Hatter.

‘Oh, so you took it from somebody, you bad man,’ said the King.

‘No, no! I sell hats. I’m a Hatter,’ answered the Mad Hatter. He looked very afraid.

‘Don’t be afraid or I’ll cut off your head!’ said the King.

‘I’m not a bad man!’ the Mad Hatter cried. ‘But the March Hare told me-‘

‘I didn’t!’ the March Hare said quickly.

‘Well, the Mouse said…’ The Mad Hatter stopped and looked at the Mouse. But the Mouse didn’t say anything, because he was asleep.

‘After that,’ said the Mad Hatter, ‘I cut some more bread-and-butter.’

‘But what did the Mouse say?’ asked the King.

‘I can’t remember,’ the Mad Hatter said.

‘You have to remember,’ the King said, ‘or I’ll cut off your head.’

‘I’m a good man, Sir…’ the unhappy Mad Hatter began. But the King wasn’t interested now.

‘You can go,’ he said to the Mad Hatter.

The Mad Hatter ran out of the room.

‘Take his head off outside!’ shouted the Queen. Two men ran after him. But the Mad Hatter ran very fast and they could not catch him.

Alice did not feel very well. ‘What’s wrong with me?’ she wondered. And then she understood. ‘I’m getting bigger again,’ she thought.

She was between the Duchess and the Mouse. ‘You’re hurting me,’ the Duchess said.

‘I can’t do anything,’ said Alice. ‘I’m getting bigger.’

‘You can’t get bigger here,’ said the Mouse.

‘Yes, I can,’ said Alice. ‘You’re getting bigger too.’

‘Yes, but not as fast as you,’ said the Mouse. He got up and sat in a different place.

‘Call the next person!’ said the King.

The next person came in. It was the Duchess’s cook.

The King looked at her. ‘What do you know about these tarts?’ he asked. The cook didn’t answer.

‘Speak!’ said the King.

‘No!’ said the cook.

‘Ask her some questions,’ the White Rabbit said to the King.

‘All right, all right,’ said the King. ‘What was in those tarts?’

‘Fish,’ said the cook.

‘Don’t be stupid,’ said the King. ‘Call the next person!’

Alice looked round. ‘Who can it be?’ she wondered.

The White Rabbit looked at his paper and read the next name: ‘Alice!’


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