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“You might just as well say,” added the Dormouse, which seemed
to be talking in its sleep, “that ‘I breathe when I sleep’ is the same
thing as ‘I sleep when I breathe’!” “It is the same thing with you,”
said the Hatter, and here the conversation dropped, and the party
sat silent for a minute, while Alice thought over all she could
remember about ravens and writing-desks, which wasn’t much.
The Hatter was the first to break the silence. “What day of the
month is it?” he said, turning to Alice: he had taken his watch out
of his pocket, and was looking at it uneasily, shaking it every now
and then, and holding it to his ear.
Alice considered a little, and then said “The fourth.” “Two days
wrong!” sighed the Hatter. “I told you butter wouldn’t suit the
works!” he added, looking angrily at the March Hare.
“It was the best butter,” the March Hare meekly replied.
“Yes, but some crumbs must have got in as well,” the Hatter
grumbled: “you shouldn’t have put it in with the bread-knife.” The
March Hare took the watch and looked at it gloomily: then he
dipped it into his cup of tea, and looked at it again: but he could
think of nothing better to say than his first remark, “It was the best
butter, you know.” Alice had been looking over his shoulder with
some curiosity. “What a funny watch!” she remarked. “It tells the
day of the month, and doesn’t tell what o’clock it is!”
“Why should it?” muttered the Hatter. “Does your watch tell you
what year it is?” “Of course not,” Alice replied very readily: “but
that’s because it stays the same year for such a long time together.”
“Which is just the case with mine,” said the Hatter.
Alice felt dreadfully puzzled. The Hatter’s remark seemed to her to
have no sort of meaning in it, and yet it was certainly English. “I
don’t quite understand you,” she said, as politely as she could.
“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 wasting 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.