`The Dormouse is asleep again,’ said the Hatter, and he poured a little hot tea upon its nose.
The Dormouse shook its head impatiently, and said, without opening its eyes, `Of course, of course; just what I was going to remark myself.’
`Have you guessed the riddle yet?’ the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.
`No, I give it up,’ Alice replied: `what’s the answer?’
`I haven’t the slightest idea,’ said the Hatter.
`Nor I,’ said the March Hare.
Alice sighed wearily. `I think you might do something better with the time,’ she said, `than waste it in asking riddles that have no answers.’
`If you knew Time as well as I do,’ said the Hatter, `you wouldn’t talk about wasting it. It’s him.’
`I don’t know what you mean,’ said Alice.
`Of course you don’t!’ the Hatter said, tossing his head contemptuously. `I dare say you never even spoke to Time!’
`Perhaps not,’ Alice cautiously replied: `but I know I have to beat time when I learn music.’
`Ah! that accounts for it,’ said the Hatter. `He won’t stand beating. Now, if you only kept on good terms with him, he’d do almost anything you liked with the clock. For instance, suppose it were nine o’clock in the morning, just time to begin lessons: you’d only have to whisper a hint to Time, and round goes the clock in a twinkling! Half-past one, time for dinner!’
(`I only wish it was,’ the March Hare said to itself in a whisper.)
`That would be grand, certainly,’ said Alice thoughtfully: `but then—I shouldn’t be hungry for it, you know.’
`Not at first, perhaps,’ said the Hatter: `but you could keep it to half-past one as long as you liked.’
`Is that the way you manage?’ Alice asked.
The Hatter shook his head mournfully. `Not I!’ he replied. `We quarrelled last March—just before he went mad, you know—’ (pointing with his tea spoon at the March Hare,) `—it was at the great concert given by the Queen of Hearts, and I had to sing
How I wonder what you’re at!”
You know the song, perhaps?’
`I’ve heard something like it,’ said Alice.
`It goes on, you know,’ the Hatter continued, `in this way:—
“Up above the world
Like a tea-tray in the sky.
Here the Dormouse shook itself, and began singing in its sleep `Twinkle, twinkle, twinkle, twinkle—’ and went on so long that they had to pinch it to make it stop.
`Well, I’d hardly finished the first verse,’ said the Hatter, `when the Queen jumped up and bawled out, “He’s murdering the time! Off with his head!"’
`How dreadfully savage!’ exclaimed Alice.
`And ever since that,’ the Hatter went on in a mournful tone, `he won’t do a thing I ask! It’s always six o’clock now.’