So they began solemnly dancing round and round Alice, every now and then treading on her toes when they passed too close, and waving their fore-paws to mark the time, while the Mock Turtle sang this, very slowly and sadly:
`Will you walk a little faster?' said a whiting to a snail, `There's a porpoise close behind us, and he's treading on my tail.
`Thank you, it's a very interesting dance to watch,' said Alice, feeling very glad that it was over at last: `and I do so like that curious song about the whiting!'
`Oh, as to the whiting,' said the Mock Turtle, `they--you've seen them, of course?'
`Yes,' said Alice, `I've often seen them at dinn--' she checked herself hastily.
`I don't know where Dinn may be,' said the Mock Turtle; `but, if you've seen them so often, of course you know what they're like?'
`I believe so,' Alice replied thoughtfully. `They have their tails in their mouths--and they're all over crumbs.'
`You're wrong about the crums,' said the Mock Turtle: `crumbs would all wash off in the sea. But they have their tails in their mouths; and the reason is--' here the Mock Turtle yawned and shut his eyes. `Tell her about the reason and all that,' he said to the Gryphon.
`The reason is,' said the Gryphon, `that they would go with the lobsters to the dance. So they got thrown out to sea. So they had to fall a long way. So they got their tails fast in their mouths. So they couldn't get them out again. That's all.'
`Thank you,' said Alice, `it's very interesting. I never knew so much about a whiting before.'
`I can tell you more than that, if you like,' said the Gryphon. `Do you know why it's called a whiting?'
`I never thought about it,' said Alice. `Why?'
`It does the boots and shoes,' the Gryphon replied very solemnly.
Alice was thoroughly puzzled. `Does the boots and shoes!' she repeated in a wondering tone.
`Why, what are your shoes done with?' said the Gryphon. `I mean, what makes them so shiny?'
Alice looked down at them, and considered a little before she gave her answer. `They're done with blacking, I believe.'
`Boots and shoes under the sea,' the Gryphon went on in a deep voice, `are done with whiting. Now you know.'
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