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“I dare say you’re wondering why I don’t put my arm round your
waist,” the Duchess said, after a pause: “the reason is, that I’m
doubtful about the temper of your flamingo. Shall I try the
experiment?” “He might bite,” Alice cautiously replied, not feeling
at all anxious to have the experiment tried.
“Very true,” said the Duchess: “flamingoes and mustard both bite.
And the moral of that is-‘Birds of a feather flock together.’” “Only
mustard isn’t a bird,” Alice remarked.
“Right, as usual,” said the Duchess: “what a clear way you have of
putting things!” “It’s a mineral, I think,” said Alice.
“Of course it is,” said the Duchess, who seemed ready to agree to
everything that Alice said: “there’s a large mustard-machine near
here. And the moral of that is-‘The more there is of mine, the less
there is of yours.’” “Oh, I know!” exclaimed Alice, who had not
attended to this last remark. “It’s a vegetable. It doesn’t look like
one, but it is.” “I quite agree with you,” said the Duchess; “and the
moral of that is-‘Be what you would seem to be’- or, if you’d like it
put more simply-‘Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than
what it might appear to others that what you were or might have
been was not otherwise than what you had been would have
appeared to them to be otherwise.’” “I think I should understand
that better,” Alice said very politely, “if I had it written down: but I
ca’n’t quite follow it as you say it.” “That’s nothing to what I could
say if I chose,” the Duchess replied, in a pleased tone.
“Pray don’t trouble yourself to say it any longer than that,” said
“Oh, don’t talk about trouble!” said the Duchess. “I make you a
present of everything I’ve said as yet.” “A cheap sort of present!”
thought Alice. “I’m glad people don’t give birthday-presents like
that!” But she did not venture to say it out loud.
“Thinking again?” the Duchess asked, with another dig of her
sharp little chin.
“I’ve a right to think,” said Alice sharply, for she was beginning to
feel a little worried.
“Just about as much right,” said the Duchess, “as pigs have to fly;
and the m-” But here, to Alice’s great surprise, the Duchess’s voice
died away, even in the middle of her favourite word ‘moral’, and
the arm that was linked into hers began to tremble. Alice looked
up, and there stood the Queen in front of them, with her arms
folded, frowning like a thunderstorm.
“A fine day, your Majesty!” the Duchess began in a low, weak
“Now, I give you fair warning,” shouted the Queen, stamping on
the ground as she spoke; “either you or your head must be off, and