A bright idea came into Alice’s head. `Is that the reason so many tea-things are put out here?’ she asked.
`Yes, that’s it,’ said the Hatter with a sigh: `it’s always tea-time, and we’ve no time to wash the things between whiles.’
`Then you keep moving round, I suppose?’ said Alice.
`Exactly so,’ said the Hatter: `as the things get used up.’
`But what happens when you come to the beginning again?’ Alice ventured to ask.
`Suppose we change the subject,’ the March Hare interrupted, yawning. `I’m getting tired of this. I vote the young lady tells us a story.’
`I’m afraid I don’t know one,’ said Alice, rather alarmed at the proposal.
`Then the Dormouse shall!’ they both cried. `Wake up, Dormouse!’ And they pinched it on both sides at once.
The Dormouse slowly opened his eyes. `I wasn’t asleep,’ he said in a hoarse, feeble voice: `I heard every word you fellows were saying.’
`Tell us a story!’ said the March Hare.
`Yes, please do!’ pleaded Alice.
`And be quick about it,’ added the Hatter, `or you’ll be asleep again before it’s done.’
`Once upon a time there were three little sisters,’ the Dormouse began in a great hurry; `and their names were Elsie, Lacie, and Tillie; and they lived at the bottom of a well—’
`What did they live on?’ said Alice, who always took a great interest in questions of eating and drinking.
`They lived on treacle,’ said the Dormouse, after thinking a minute or two.
`They couldn’t have done that, you know,’ Alice gently remarked; `they’d have been ill.’
`So they were,’ said the Dormouse; `very ill.’
Alice tried to fancy to herself what such an extraordinary ways of living would be like, but it puzzled her too much, so she went on: `But why did they live at the bottom of a well?’
`Take some more tea,’ the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
`I’ve had nothing yet,’ Alice replied in an offended tone, `so I can’t take more.’
`You mean you can’t take less,’ said the Hatter: `it’s very easy to take more than nothing.’
`Nobody asked your opinion,’ said Alice.
`Who’s making personal remarks now?’ the Hatter asked triumphantly.
Alice did not quite know what to say to this: so she helped herself to some tea and bread-and-butter, and then turned to the Dormouse, and repeated her question. `Why did they live at the bottom of a well?’
The Dormouse again took a minute or two to think about it, and then said, `It was a treacle-well.’
`There’s no such thing!’ Alice was beginning very angrily, but the Hatter and the March Hare went `Sh! sh!’ and the Dormouse sulkily remarked, `If you can’t be civil, you’d better finish the story for yourself.’
`No, please go on!’ Alice said very humbly; `I won’t interrupt again. I dare say there may be one.’