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Alice in Wonderland (Chapter 6)

Đăng vào lúc 02:31 02/07/2015 bởi Đỗ Thị Hải Yến

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Chapter 6: The Queen’s game of croquet

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Near the door there was a rose-tree and three gardeners, who were looking at the roses in a very worried way.

‘What’s the matter?’ Alice said to them.

‘You see, Miss,’ said the first gardener, ‘these roses are white, but the Queen only likes red roses, and she—’

‘The Queen!’ said the second gardener suddenly, and at once, the three gardeners lay down flat on their faces. Alice turned round and saw a great crowd of people.

It was a pack of cards, walking through the garden. There were clubs (they were soldiers), and diamonds, and ten little children (they were hearts). Next came some Kings and Queens. Then Alice saw the White Rabbit, and behind him, the Knave of Hearts. And last of all, came THE KING AND QUEEN OF HEARTS.

When the crowd came near to Alice, they all stopped and looked at her, and the Queen said, ‘Who are you?’ ‘My name is Alice, Your Majesty,’ said Alice very politely. But she thought to herself, ‘They’re only a pack of cards. I don’t need to be afraid of them!’

‘And who are these?’ said the Queen, looking at the three gardeners. Then she saw the white roses, and her face turned red and angry. ‘Off with their heads!’ she shouted, and soldiers hurried up to take the gardeners away. The Queen turned to Alice. ‘Can you play croquet?’ she shouted.

‘Yes!’ shouted Alice.

‘Come on, then!’ shouted the Queen. The crowd began to move on, and Alice went with them.

‘It’s - it’s a very fine day,’ said a worried voice in her ear. Alice saw that the White Rabbit was by her side. ‘Very fine,’ said Alice. ‘Where’s the Duchess?’

‘Shhh!’ said the Rabbit in a hurried voice. ‘She’s in prison, waiting for execution.’

‘What for?’ said Alice.

But just then the Queen shouted, ‘ Get to your places!’, and the game began.

It was the strangest game of croquet in Alice’s life! The balls were hedgehogs, and the mallets were flamingoes. And the hoops were made by soldiers, who turned over and stood on their hands and feet. Alice held her flamingo’s body under her arm, but the flamingo turned its long neck first this way and then that way. At last, Alice was ready to hit the ball with the flamingo’s head. But by then, the hedgehog was tired of waiting and was walking away across the croquet-ground. And when both the flamingo and the hedgehog were ready, there was no hoop! The soldiers too were always getting up and walking away. It really was a very difficult game, Alice thought.

The players all played at the same time, and they were always arguing and fighting for hedgehogs. Nobody could agree about anything. Very soon, the Queen was wildly angry, and went around shouting ‘Off with his head!’ or ‘Off with her head!’ about once a minute.

Alice began to feel worried. ‘The Queen is sure to argue with me soon,’ she thought. ‘And what will happen to me then? They’re cutting people’s heads off all the time here. I’m surprised there is anyone left alive!’

Just then she saw something very strange. She watched carefully, and after a minute or two she saw that the thing was a grin. ‘It’s the Cheshire Cat,’ she said to herself. ‘Now I’ll have somebody to talk to.’

‘How are you getting on?’ said the Cat, when its mouth appeared.

Alice waited. ‘I can’t talk to something without ears,’ she thought. Slowly the Cat’s eyes, then its ears, and then the rest of its head appeared. But it stopped at the neck, and its body did not appear.

Alice began to tell the Cat all about the game. ‘It’s very difficult to play,’ she said. ‘Everybody argues all the time, and the hoops and the hedgehogs walk away.’ ‘How do you like the Queen?’ said the Cat quietly.

‘I don’t,’ said Alice. ‘She’s very—’ Just then she saw the Queen behind her, so she went on, ‘—clever. She’s the best player here.’

The Queen smiled and walked past.

‘Who are you talking to?’ said the King. He came up behind Alice and looked at the Cat’s head in surprise. ‘It’s a friend of mine - a Cheshire Cat,’ said Alice. ‘I’m not sure that I like it,’ said the King. ‘But it can touch my hand if it likes.’

‘I prefer not to,’ said the Cat.

‘Well!’ said the King angrily. He called out to the Queen, ‘My dear! There’s a cat here, and I don’t like it.’ The Queen did not look round. ‘Off with its head! ’ she shouted. ‘Call for the executioner!’

Alice was a little worried for her friend, but when the executioner arrived, everybody began to argue.

‘I can’t cut off a head,’ said the executioner, ‘if there isn’t a body to cut it off from.’

‘You can cut the head off,’ said the King, ‘from anything that’s got a head.’

‘If somebody doesn’t do something quickly,’ said the Queen, ‘I’ll cut everybody’s head off.’

Nobody liked that plan very much, so they all turned to Alice. ‘And what do you say?’ they cried. 

‘Off with its head!’ the Queen shouted.

‘The Cat belongs to the Duchess,’ said Alice carefully. ‘Perhaps you could ask her about it.’

‘She’s in prison,’ the Queen said to the executioner. ‘Bring her here at once.’

But then the Cat’s head slowly began to vanish, and when the executioner came back with the Duchess, there was nothing there. The King ran wildly up and down, looking for the Cat, and the Duchess put her arm round Alice. ‘I’m so pleased to see you again, my dear!’ she said.

‘Let’s get on with the game,’ the Queen said angrily, and Alice followed her back to the croquet-ground.

The game went on, but all the time the Queen was arguing, and shouting ‘Off with his head!’ or ‘Off with her head!’ Soon there were no hoops left, because the soldiers (who were the hoops) were too busy taking everybody to prison. And at the end there were only three players left - the King, the Queen, and Alice.

The Queen stopped shouting and said to Alice, ‘Have you seen the Mock Turtle yet?’

‘No,’ said Alice. ‘I’m not sure what a Mock Turtle is.’ ‘Then come with me,’ said the Queen.

They found the Mock Turtle down by the sea. Next to him was a Gryphon, asleep in the sun. Then the Queen hurried away, saying, ‘I have to get on with some executions.’

The Gryphon woke up, and said sleepily to Alice, ‘It’s just talk, you know. They never execute anybody.’

Alice was pleased to hear this. She felt a little afraid of the Gryphon and the Mock Turtle, because they were so large. But they were very friendly, and sang songs and told her many stories about their lives. The Mock Turtle was in the middle of a very sad song when they all heard a shout a long way away: ‘It’s beginning!’

‘Come on! We must hurry!’ cried the Gryphon. It took Alice by the hand and began to run.

 

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