`Give your evidence,' the King repeated angrily, `or I'll have you executed, whether you're nervous or not.'
`I'm a poor man, your Majesty,' the Hatter began, in a trembling voice, `--and I hadn't begun my tea--not above a week or so--and what with the bread-and-butter getting so thin--and the twinkling of the tea--'
`The twinkling of the what?' said the King.
`It began with the tea,' the Hatter replied.
`Of course twinkling begins with a T!' said the King sharply. `Do you take me for a dunce? Go on!'
`I'm a poor man,' the Hatter went on, `and most things twinkled after that--only the March Hare said--'
`I didn't!' the March Hare interrupted in a great hurry.
`You did!' said the Hatter.
`I deny it!' said the March Hare.
`He denies it,' said the King: `leave out that part.'
`Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said--' the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep.
`After that,' continued the Hatter, `I cut some more bread- and-butter--'
`But what did the Dormouse say?' one of the jury asked.
`That I can't remember,' said the Hatter.
`You MUST remember,' remarked the King, `or I'll have you executed.'
The miserable Hatter dropped his teacup and bread-and-butter, and went down on one knee. `I'm a poor man, your Majesty,' he began.
`You're a very poor speaker,' said the King.
Here one of the guinea-pigs cheered, and was immediately suppressed by the officers of the court. (As that is rather a hard word, I will just explain to you how it was done. They had a large canvas bag, which tied up at the mouth with strings: into this they slipped the guinea-pig, head first, and then sat upon it.)
`I'm glad I've seen that done,' thought Alice. `I've so often read in the newspapers, at the end of trials, "There was some attempts at applause, which was immediately suppressed by the officers of the court," and I never understood what it meant till now.'
`If that's all you know about it, you may stand down,' continued the King.
`I can't go no lower,' said the Hatter: `I'm on the floor, as it is.'
`Then you may SIT down,' the King replied.
Here the other guinea-pig cheered, and was suppressed.
`Come, that finished the guinea-pigs!' thought Alice. `Now we shall get on better.'
`I'd rather finish my tea,' said the Hatter, with an anxious look at the Queen, who was reading the list of singers.
`You may go,' said the King, and the Hatter hurriedly left the court, without even waiting to put his shoes on.
`--and just take his head off outside,' the Queen added to one of the officers: but the Hatter was out of sight before the officer could get to the door.
`Call the next witness!' said the King.
The next witness was the Duchess's cook. She carried the pepper-box in her hand, and Alice guessed who it was, even before she got into the court, by the way the people near the door began sneezing all at once.
`Give your evidence,' said the King.
`Shan't,' said the cook.
The King looked anxiously at the White Rabbit, who said in a low voice, `Your Majesty must cross-examine THIS witness.'
`Well, if I must, I must,' the King said, with a melancholy air, and, after folding his arms and frowning at the cook till his eyes were nearly out of sight, he said in a deep voice, `What are tarts made of?'
`Pepper, mostly,' said the cook.
`Treacle,' said a sleepy voice behind her.
`Collar that Dormouse,' the Queen shrieked out. `Behead that Dormouse! Turn that Dormouse out of court! Suppress him! Pinch him! Off with his whiskers!'
For some minutes the whole court was in confusion, getting the Dormouse turned out, and, by the time they had settled down again, the cook had disappeared.
`Never mind!' said the King, with an air of great relief. `Call the next witness.' And he added in an undertone to the Queen, `Really, my dear, YOU must cross-examine the next witness. It quite makes my forehead ache!'
Alice watched the White Rabbit as he fumbled over the list, feeling very curious to see what the next witness would be like, `--for they haven't got much evidence YET,' she said to herself. Imagine her surprise, when the White Rabbit read out, at the top of his shrill little voice, the name `Alice!'
`Here!' cried Alice, quite forgetting in the flurry of the moment how large she had grown in the last few minutes, and she jumped up in such a hurry that she tipped over the jury-box with the edge of her skirt, upsetting all the jurymen on to the heads of the crowd below, and there they lay sprawling about, reminding her very much of a globe of goldfish she had accidentally upset the week before.
`Oh, I BEG your pardon!' she exclaimed in a tone of great dismay, and began picking them up again as quickly as she could, for the accident of the goldfish kept running in her head, and she had a vague sort of idea that they must be collected at once and put back into the jury-box, or they would die.
`The trial cannot proceed,' said the King in a very grave voice, `until all the jurymen are back in their proper places-- ALL,' he repeated with great emphasis, looking hard at Alice as he said do.
Alice looked at the jury-box, and saw that, in her haste, she had put the Lizard in head downwards, and the poor little thing was waving its tail about in a melancholy way, being quite unable to move. She soon got it out again, and put it right; `not that it signifies much,' she said to herself; `I should think it would be QUITE as much use in the trial one way up as the other.'
As soon as the jury had a little recovered from the shock of being upset, and their slates and pencils had been found and handed back to them, they set to work very diligently to write out a history of the accident, all except the Lizard, who seemed too much overcome to do anything but sit with its mouth open, gazing up into the roof of the court.
`What do you know about this business?' the King said to Alice.
`Nothing,' said Alice.
`Nothing WHATEVER?' persisted the King.
`Nothing whatever,' said Alice.
`That's very important,' the King said, turning to the jury. They were just beginning to write this down on their slates, when the White Rabbit interrupted: `UNimportant, your Majesty means, of course,' he said in a very respectful tone, but frowning and making faces at him as he spoke.
`UNimportant, of course, I meant,' the King hastily said, and went on to himself in an undertone, `important--unimportant-- unimportant--important--' as if he were trying which word sounded best.
Some of the jury wrote it down `important,' and some `unimportant.' Alice could see this, as she was near enough to look over their slates; `but it doesn't matter a bit,' she thought to herself.
At this moment the King, who had been for some time busily writing in his note-book, cackled out `Silence!' and read out from his book, `Rule Forty-two. ALL PERSONS MORE THAN A MILE HIGH TO LEAVE THE COURT.'
Everybody looked at Alice.
`I'M not a mile high,' said Alice.
`You are,' said the King.
`Nearly two miles high,' added the Queen.
`Well, I shan't go, at any rate,' said Alice: `besides, that's not a regular rule: you invented it just now.'
`It's the oldest rule in the book,' said the King.
`Then it ought to be Number One,' said Alice.