Alice in Wonderland Chapter 3: A Caucus-Race and a Long Tale
The wet animals, birds, and Alice all gather on the bank and try to figure out how to get dry. Alice chats comfortably with the company and gets into an argument with one of the birds. Finally, the Mouse announces that he will make everyone dry by telling them the driest story he knows, a history of William the Conqueror. He proceeds to tell a long, boring tale, despite frequent interruptions.
The Duck and the Mouse have an argument over the meaning of the word "it," and the Eaglet exclaims, "'Speak English!...I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and I don't believe you do either!'" Chapter 3, pg. 14
No one is getting any drier, and so the Dodo proposes that instead they ought to have a caucus race. The Dodo arranges everyone in a sort of circle, and everyone begins and ends running when they like. Eventually when everyone is dry, the Dodo calls out that the race is over. When asked who won, the Dodo thinks very hard before deciding that everyone has won and therefore must have a prize, to be awarded by Alice. Alice has just enough candies in her pocket for everyone, except herself. She is awarded a thimble that she had in her pocket. She finds the whole thing quite absurd but is careful not to laugh and offend anyone.
Alice reminds the Mouse that he had promised to tell her the reason he hates cats and dogs. The Mouse replies, with one of the many, many puns of this book, that his tale is long and sad. He relates his history, and Alice pictures it in the shape of a tail. The Mouse understands he is telling a tale, and not a tail, so when he resentfully tells Alice that he had not been telling the tale in the way she imagined and Alice thinks he's talking about a knot in his tail, he accuses her of speaking utter nonsense.
The Mouse stalks off in anger, and Alice wishes that Dinah were there to fetch it back. Alice's stories of Dinah's bird- and mouse-catching skills are about as popular with the rest of the company as they had been with the Mouse, so she soon finds herself alone. Out of loneliness, she begins to cry.