A Tea Party

There was a tree in front of the house. Under the tree was a big table with a lot of chairs round it. But there were only three at the table: the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and a large brown mouse. The Mouse sat between the Mad Hatter and the March Hare. It was asleep, so they talked over its head.

When they saw Alice, they cried, ‘No, no, you can’t sit here! There isn’t a place for you!’

‘There are a lot of places,’ Alice said. She sat down in a chair at one end of the table.

‘Have some wine,’ the Mad Hatter said politely.

Alice looked round the table but there was only tea.

‘I don’t see any wine,’ she answered.

‘There isn’t any,’ said the March Hare.

‘Then why did you say, «Have some wine»? It wasn’t very polite of you,’ Alice said angrily.

‘We didn’t invite you to tea, but you came. That wasn’t very polite of you,’ said the March Hare.

‘No, it wasn’t. Cut your hair!’ said the Mad Hatter.

‘Oh, be quiet,’ said Alice.

The Mad Hatter opened his eyes very wide, but he said nothing. Then he took out his watch and looked at it. ‘What day is it?’ he asked.

Alice thought for a little. ‘Wednesday, I think,’ she said.

‘My watch says Monday,’ the Mad Hatter said. ‘You see, I was right. Butter isn’t good for a watch.’ He looked angrily at the March Hare.

‘But it was the best butter,’ answered the March Hare.

‘Yes, but you put it in with the bread knife. Perhaps some bread got in.’

The March Hare took the watch from the Mad Hatter and looked at it sadly. Then he put it in his tea. He took it out and looked at it again.’ It was the best butter, you know,’ he repeated.

Alice looked at the watch. ‘It’s a strange watch!’ she said. ‘It tells you the day, but it doesn’t tell you the time.’

‘So? Does your watch tell you the year?’ asked the Mad Hatter.

‘No,’ Alice answered, ‘but it’s the same year for a very long time.’

‘And my watch doesn’t tell the time because it’s always tea-time.’

Alice thought about that. ‘I don’t really understand you,’ she said politely. She looked round the table. There were a lot of teacups on the table.

‘We move from place to place,’ said the Mad Hatter.

‘Don’t you wash the cups?’ asked Alice.

‘No, we don’t have time,’ said the Mad Hatter.

‘Why not?’ asked Alice.

‘It’s a long story,’ said the Mad Hatter. ‘Time was my friend, you see. But he and I aren’t friends now. So he doesn’t do anything for me. And I don’t have time for anything.’

‘I see,’ said Alice and smiled politely. But she didn’t really understand.

‘Oh, look! The Mouse is asleep again,’ said the Mad Hatter. He took his teacup and put a little hot tea on the Mouse’s nose. It woke up and started to sing.

‘Be quiet!’ the Mad Hatter said very loudly, and the Mouse stopped singing.

‘Have some more tea,’ the March Hare said to Alice.

‘Thank you, but I haven’t got any tea. So how can I have some more?’

‘You can have more,’ the Mad Hatter said. ‘You can have more than nothing.’

‘I don’t think-‘ Alice began.

‘Then don’t speak,’ the Mad Hatter said.

Alice got up angrily and walked away from the table into the woods.

‘Perhaps they’ll call me back,’ she thought. ‘And then they’ll be nice to me and give me some tea and bread-and-butter.’

But they didn’t say anything.

When she looked back, the Mouse was asleep with its head on its plate.

«I’ll never go there again,’ Alice said. ‘That was a stupid tea party!’

She looked round and saw a door in one of the trees. ‘A door in a tree? That’s strange!’ she thought. And she opened the door and went inside.

‘Oh, good!’ she cried. She was back in the long room, near the little table! ‘I’m small now. I can get through the little door into the garden.’

The key was on the table. She took it and opened the little door. Then she ate some of the brown mushroom. She started to get smaller. When she was about 30 centimeters high, she walked through the door into the garden.


next page