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“You sha’n’t be beheaded!” said Alice, and she put them into a
large flowerpot that stood near. The three soldiers wandered about
for a minute or two, looking for them, and then quietly marched
off after the others.
“Are their heads off?” shouted the Queen.
“Their heads are gone, if it please your Majesty!” the soldiers
shouted in reply.
“That’s right!” shouted the Queen. “Can you play croquet?” The
soldiers were silent, and looked at Alice, as the question was
evidently meant for her.
“Yes!” shouted Alice.
“Come on, then!” roared the Queen, and Alice joined the
procession, wondering very much what would happen next.
“It’s-it’s a very fine day!” said a timid voice at her side. She was
walking by the White Rabbit, who was peeping anxiously into her
face. “Very,” said Alice. “Where’s the Duchess?” “Hush! Hush!”
said the Rabbit in a low hurried tone. He looked anxiously over his
shoulder as he spoke, and then raised himself upon tiptoe, put his
mouth close to her ear, and whispered “She’s under sentence of
execution.” “What for?” said Alice.
“Did you say ‘What a pity!’?” the Rabbit asked.
“No, I didn’t,” said Alice. “I don’t think it’s at all a pity. I said
“She boxed the Queen’s ears-” the Rabbit began. Alice gave a little
scream of laughter. “Oh, hush!” the Rabbit whispered in a
frightened tone. “The Queen will hear you! You see she came
rather late, and the Queen said-” “Get to your places!” shouted the
Queen in a voice of thunder, and people began running about in all
directions, tumbling up against each other: however, they got
settled down in a minute or two, and the game began.
Alice thought she had never seen such a curious croquet-ground in
her life; it was all ridges and furrows: the croquet balls were live
hedgehogs, and the mallets live flamingoes, and the soldiers had to
double themselves up and stand on their hands and feet, to make
The chief difficulty Alice found at first was in managing her
flamingo: she succeeded in getting its body tucked away,
comfortably enough, under her arm, with its legs hanging down,
but generally, just as she had got its neck nicely straightened out,
and was going to give the hedgehog a blow with its head, it would
twist itself round and look up in her face, with such a puzzled
expression that she could not help bursting out laughing; and,
when she had got its head down, and was going to begin again, it
was very provoking to find that the hedgehog had unrolled itself,