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“That proves his guilt, of course,” said the Queen: “so, off with-”
“It doesn’t prove anything of the sort!” said Alice. “Why, you don’t
even know what they’re about!” “Read them,” said the King.
The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. “Where shall I begin,
please your Majesty?” he asked.
“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on
till you come to the end: then stop.” There was dead silence in the
court, whilst the White Rabbit read out these verses:
“They told me you had been to her, And mentioned me to him:
She gave me a good character, But said I could not swim.
He sent them word I had not gone (We know it to be true):
If she should push the matter on, What would become of you?
I gave her one, they gave him two, You gave us three or more;
They all returned from him to you, Though they were mine before.
If I or she should chance to be Involved in this affair, He trusts to
you to set them free, Exactly as we were.
My notion was that you had been (Before she had this fit) An
obstacle that came between Him, and ourselves, and it.
Don’t let him know she liked them best, For this must ever be A
secret, kept from all the rest, Between yourself and me.”
“That’s the most important piece of evidence we’ve heard yet,”
said the King, rubbing his hands; “so now let the jury-” “If any one
of them can explain it,” said Alice, (she had grown so large in the
last few minutes that she wasn’t a bit afraid of interrupting him,)
“I’ll give him sixpence. I don’t believe there’s an atom of meaning
in it.” The jury all wrote down, on their slates, “She doesn’t believe
there’s an atom of meaning in it,” but none of them attempted to
explain the paper.
“If there’s no meaning in it,” said the King, “that saves a world of
trouble, you know, as we needn’t try to find any. And yet I don’t
know,” he went on, spreading out the verses on his knee, and
looking at them with one eye; “I seem to see some meaning in
them, after all. ‘-said I could not swim-’ you ca’n’t swim, can you?”
he added, turning to the Knave.
The Knave shook his head sadly. “Do I look like it?” he said.
(Which he certainly did not, being made entirely of cardboard.)
“All right, so far,” said the King; and he went on muttering over
the verses to himself: “’We know it to be true’- that’s the jury, of
course-‘If she should push the matter on’- that must be the Queen-
‘What would become of you?’- What, indeed!- ‘I gave her one, they
gave him two’- why, that must be what he did with the tarts, you
know-” “But it goes on ‘they all returned from him to you,’” said