A Race

Alice and the birds and animals felt cold and wet. The largest bird spoke to Alice.

‘Good afternoon,’ it said loudly. ‘I am the Dodo.’

‘What is a Dodo?’ thought Alice, but she smiled politely. ‘Hello, Dodo. I’m Alice,’ she said.

‘I have an idea,’ said the Dodo.’ We all want to get warm. So let’s have a race — a Caucus race.’

‘What is a Caucus race?’ Alice asked.

‘I can tell you,’ said the Dodo,’ but I won’t. I’ll show you! That will be easier.’

He put the animals and birds in different places in the room. In a race, somebody usually says,’ One, two, three, go!’ But the Dodo didn’t do that. Everybody started to run at different times and stopped at different times too. After half an hour, the Dodo cried, ‘Everybody stop! All the birds and animals stopped. Then they all came to the Dodo and stood round it.’ Who was first? Who was first?’ they shouted.

The Dodo had to think about it. He sat for a long time with his finger in his mouth. Then he said, ‘Everybody was first. So everybody can have a chocolate.’

‘But who will give us the chocolates?’ the Mouse asked.

‘She will,’ the Dodo said and looked at Alice. The birds and animals came and stood round Alice.

‘Chocolates, chocolates!’ they cried.

‘What am I going to do?’ thought Alice. I haven’t got any chocolates.’ But then she saw a box of chocolates near her feet.

‘Here we are,’ she said, and opened the box. There was one chocolate for each bird and animal.

‘But Alice has to have something, you know,’ said the Mouse.

‘Of course,’ the Dodo answered. He turned to Alice. ‘What can you have?’ he asked.

‘I can have the box,’ said Alice sadly.

‘Give it to me,’ said the Dodo and Alice gave it to him.

They all stood round Alice again, and the Dodo gave her the box.

‘Please take this beautiful box,’ he said.

‘This is very stupid,’ thought Alice and she wanted to laugh. But she didn’t. She took the box and smiled politely.

The animals and birds ate their chocolates noisily. Some of them cried. The big animals and birds wanted more. But the chocolates were too big for the small birds, and they had to eat them very slowly. When they finished their chocolates, they sat and looked at Alice.

‘Oh, where is Dinah?’ said Alice. ‘I want her with me.’

‘And who is Dinah?’ the Dodo asked.

Alice loved to talk about her cat. ‘Dinah’s our cat. She’s very nice. And very clever and fast. She can catch a mouse in the morning for her breakfast and a little bird in the evening for her dinner — Oh! I’m sorry!’

It was too late. The birds and animals started leaving.

One old bird said, ‘I really have to go home. It gets so cold at night!’

Another bird called to her children, ‘Come away, my dears! It’s time for bed!’

They all spoke politely to Alice and left the room.

‘Oh, why did I talk about Dinah?’ cried Alice. ‘Nobody likes Dinah down here, but she’s the best cat in the world. Perhaps I’ll never see her again!’

She sat down and started to cry again. After a time, she heard the sound of small feet and looked up.

‘Perhaps it’s the Mouse,’ she thought.


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