Chapter 11: Who Stole the Tarts? Notes from Alice in Wonderland

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Alice in Wonderland Chapter 11: Who Stole the Tarts?

At court, the King and Queen of Hearts are on their thrones, surrounded by a huge crowd of creatures and the whole pack of cards. The Knave is standing in chains in front of the King and Queen, and the White Rabbit, holding a trumpet and a scroll, is nearby. In the middle of the court, a large platter of tarts is on display. Alice has never been in a court of justice, but she had read about them, so she could easily identify the King as the judge by his white wig.

Topic Tracking: Identity 10

She is quite pleased with her knowledge about courts when she is able to pick out the jury, twelve animals and birds who are busy writing on their slates. In a whisper, Alice asks the Gryphon what they could be writing before the trial has even begun. The Gryphon informs her that the jurors are writing down their names, lest they forget them before the trial ends. Alice, in a voice a bit too loud for the court setting, says, "'Stupid things!'" This prompts the White Rabbit to call for silence in the court, while the jurors all make a note of Alice's remark on their slates.

Topic Tracking: Identity 11

Alice becomes annoyed by the squeakiness of one juror's pencil, so she sneaks up behind him and steals it (from Bill the Lizard, as it so happens). For the rest of the day, this hapless juror has to try to write with his finger.

The trial begins, and the White Rabbit reads the accusation, which sounds a lot like a nursery rhyme. The King then asks the jurors to come to a verdict. The Rabbit argues that a lot more of the trial should come before that, so the first witness, the Mad Hatter, is called to the stand. The Mad Hatter apologizes for bringing in his tea and bread, since he had not been finished with tea when he was summoned. The King wants to know when the Hatter began having his tea--there is some dispute among the Hatter, the Hare, and the Dormouse. The King next demands that the Hatter remove his hat. When the Hatter replies that the hat isn't his, the King pronounces it stolen, but the Hatter explains that the hat, like all his others, is for sale.

The King tells the Hatter to give his evidence and warns him that if he keeps looking so nervous, he'll be executed at once. This does little to calm the Hatter's nerves. Suddenly, Alice becomes aware that she is getting larger again. Her first thought is to leave before it becomes a problem, but she decides to stay as long as she can fit.

The Hatter still does not give his evidence, which causes the Queen to order that the list of the singers at the last concert be brought to the court. This makes the Hatter so nervous, he actually shakes out of his shoes. The King again calls for the evidence. The Hatter tries to explain what happened one day at tea, but the March Hare denies everything, and when asked what the Dormouse said, the Hatter can't remember. The penalty for failing to remember this is death.

At this point a guinea pig becomes rowdy and is suppressed. Since "suppressed" is not an easy word, Carroll explains it: "suppressed" means that some officers shoved the animal into a bag, closed it up, and sat on it. Alice is pleased to have learned what "suppressed" means, since she has read the word before without understanding it.

Topic Tracking: Knowledge 11

Frustrated, the King tells the Hatter that if he doesn't know anything more, he may stand down, or if he can't stand any lower, he may sit down. The Hatter runs off before he can be executed.

Next on the witness stand is the Duchess' Cook. She refuses to give her evidence, and the King seems ready to give up. The White Rabbit, however, reminds him that it is traditional practice at trials to get some information from each witness, so the King presses the issue. The Cook informs the court that tarts are made mostly of pepper. The Dormouse calls out from the back that tarts are made from treacle, and in the confusion created by suppressing the Dormouse and throwing him out, the Cook slips away. The White Rabbit calls the next witness, who is Alice herself, much to her surprise.

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