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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 72 pages of information about Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Some of the jury wrote it down `important,’ and some `unimportant.’  Alice could see this, as she was near enough to look over their slates; `but it doesn’t matter a bit,’ she thought to herself.

At this moment the King, who had been for some time busily writing in his note-book, cackled out `Silence!’ and read out from his book, `Rule Forty-two.  All Persons more than A mile high to leave the court.’

  Everybody looked at Alice.

  `I’m not a mile high,’ said Alice.

  `You are,’ said the King.

  `Nearly two miles high,’ added the Queen.

`Well, I shan’t go, at any rate,’ said Alice:  `besides, that’s not a regular rule:  you invented it just now.’

  `It’s the oldest rule in the book,’ said the King.

  `Then it ought to be Number One,’ said Alice.

The King turned pale, and shut his note-book hastily. `Consider your verdict,’ he said to the jury, in a low, trembling voice.

`There’s more evidence to come yet, please your Majesty,’ said the White Rabbit, jumping up in a great hurry; `this paper has just been picked up.’

  `What’s in it?’ said the Queen.

`I haven’t opened it yet,’ said the White Rabbit, `but it seems to be a letter, written by the prisoner to—­to somebody.’

`It must have been that,’ said the King, `unless it was written to nobody, which isn’t usual, you know.’

  `Who is it directed to?’ said one of the jurymen.

`It isn’t directed at all,’ said the White Rabbit; `in fact, there’s nothing written on the outside.’  He unfolded the paper as he spoke, and added `It isn’t a letter, after all:  it’s a set of verses.’

`Are they in the prisoner’s handwriting?’ asked another of the jurymen.

`No, they’re not,’ said the White Rabbit, `and that’s the queerest thing about it.’ (The jury all looked puzzled.)

`He must have imitated somebody else’s hand,’ said the King.  (The jury all brightened up again.)

`Please your Majesty,’ said the Knave, `I didn’t write it, and they can’t prove I did:  there’s no name signed at the end.’

`If you didn’t sign it,’ said the King, `that only makes the matter worse.  You must have meant some mischief, or else you’d have signed your name like an honest man.’

There was a general clapping of hands at this:  it was the first really clever thing the King had said that day.

  `That proves his guilt,’ said the Queen.

`It proves nothing of the sort!’ said Alice. `Why, you don’t even know what they’re about!’

  `Read them,’ said the King.

The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. `Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?’ he asked.

`Begin at the beginning,’ the King said gravely, `and go on till you come to the end:  then stop.’

  These were the verses the White Rabbit read:—­

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