`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 gold-fish 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 gold-fish 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 so.
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, called 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 sha'n'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.
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|