At this moment the Messenger arrived: he was far too much out of breath to say a word, and could only wave his hands about, and make the most fearful faces at the poor King.

`This young lady loves you with an H,' the King said, introducing Alice in the hope of turning off the Messenger's attention from himself -- but it was of no use -- the Anglo-Saxon attitudes only got more extraordinary every moment, while the great eyes rolled wildly from side to side.

`You alarm me!' said the King. `I feel faint -- Give me a ham-sandwich!'

On which the Messenger, to Alice's great amusement, opened a bag that hung round his neck, and handed a sandwich to the King, who devoured it greedily.

`Another sandwich!' said the King.

`There's nothing but hay left now,' the Messenger said, peeping into the bag.

`Hay, then,' the King murmured in a faint whisper.

Alice was glad to see that it revived him a good deal. `There's nothing like eating hay when you're faint,' he remarked to her, as he munched away.

`I should think throwing cold water over you would be better,' Alice suggested: `-- or some sal-volatile.'

`I didn't say there was nothing better,' the King replied. `I said there was nothing like it.' Which Alice did not venture to deny.

`Who did you pass on the road?' the King went on, holding out his hand to the Messenger for some hay.

`Nobody,' said the Messenger.

`Quite right,' said the King: `this young lady saw him too. So of course Nobody walks slower than you.'

`I do my best,' the Messenger said in a sullen tone. `I'm sure nobody walks much faster than I do!'

`He ca'n't do that,' said the King, `or else he'd have been here first.

However, now you've got your breath, you may tell us what's happened in the town.'

`I'll whisper it,' said the Messenger, putting his hands to his mouth in the shape of a trumpet and stooping so as to get close to the King's ear. Alice was sorry for this, as she wanted to hear the news too. However, instead of whispering, he simply shouted, at the top of his voice, `They're at it again!'

`Do you call that a whisper?' cried the poor King, jumping up and shaking himself. `If you do such a thing again I'll have you buttered! It went through and through my head like an earthquake!'

`It would have to be a very tiny earthquake!' thought Alice. `Who are at it again?' she ventured to ask.

`Why the Lion and the Unicorn, of course,' said the King.

`Fighting for the crown?'

`Yes, to be sure,' said the King: `and the best of the joke is, that it's my crown all the while! Let's run and see them.' And they trotted off, Alice repeating to herself, as she ran, the words of the old song:

`The Lion and the Unicorn were fighting for the crown:
The Lion beat the Unicorn all round the town.
Some gave them white bread, some gave them brown:
Some gave them plum-cake and drummed them out of town.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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