Scene 6: A Mad Tea-Party A large table is set out under a tree and the Mad Hatter and the March Hare are having tea at one end. The Dormouse is asleep between them; the Hatter and Hare are using it as a cushion.
Oh dear, that is very uncomfortable for the Dormouse. Only, as it’s asleep, I suppose it doesn’t mind.
No room! No room!
There’s plenty of room!
[Alice sits down in an armchair at the end of the table next to the Hare.]
[encouragingly] Have some wine
[Alice looks all around the table] I don’t see any wine.
There isn’t any.
[angrily] Then it wasn’t very civil of you to offer it!
It wasn’t very civil of you to sit down without being invited.
I didn’t know it was your table. It’s laid for a great many more than three.
Your hair needs cutting.
You should learn not to make personal remarks. It’s very rude.
[Opening eyes very wide and staring at Alice] Why is a raven like a writing desk?
[Aside] Come, we shall have some fun now. I’m glad they’ve begun asking riddles. [To the others] I believe I can guess that.
Do you mean that you think you can find out the answer to it?
Then you should say what you mean.
I do. At least – at least I mean what I say. That’s the same thing, you know.
Not the same thing a bit! You might just as well say that “I see what I eat” is the same thing as “I eat what I see”!
You might just as well say that “I like what I get” is the same thing as “I get what I like”!
[In his sleep] You might just as well say that “I breathe when I sleep” is the same thing as “I sleep when I breathe.”
It is the same thing with you.
[Pause] [Takinghis watch out of his pocket and looking at it uneasily.] What day of the month is it?
[After consideration] The fourth.
[Sighing] Two days wrong! [Looking angrily at the March Hare] I told you the butter wouldn’t suit the works!
[Meekly] It was the best butter.
Yes, but some crumbs must have got in as well. You shouldn’t have put it in with the bread-knife.
[The March Hare takes the watch and looks gloomily at it then dips it in his cup of tea. He looks at it again.] It was the best butter, you know.
What a funny watch. It tells the day of the month, and doesn’t tell what o’clock it is.
Why should it? Does your watch tell you what year it is?
Of course not, but that’s because it stays the same year for such a long time together.
Which is just the case with mine.
[Puzzled but polite] I don’t quite understand you.
The Dormouse is asleep again. [He pours hot tea upon its nose.] [Shaking its head and without opening its eyes] Of course, of course. Just as I was going to remark myself.
[To Alice] Have you guessed the riddle yet?
No, I give up. What’s the answer?
I haven’t the slightest idea.
[Sighing wearily] I think you might do something better with the time than wasting it asking riddles that have no answers.
If you knew Time as well as I do you wouldn’t talk about wasting it. It’s him.
I don’t know what you mean.
Of course you don’t. I dare say you never even spoke to Time.
Perhaps not. But I know how to beat time when I learn music.
Ah, that accounts for it. He won’t stand beating. Now, if you only kept on good terms with him, he’d do almost anything you liked with the clock. For instance, suppose it were nine o’clock in the morning, just time to begin lessons, you’d only have to whisper a hint to Time and round goes the clock in a twinkling. Half past one, time for lunch!
[To himself] I only wish it were.
That would be grand, certainly. But then – I wouldn’t be hungry so quickly.
Not at first, perhaps… but you could keep it to half past one as long as you liked.
Is that the way you manage it?
[Shaking his head mournfully] Not I. We quarreled last March – just before he went mad, you know. It was at the great concert given by the Queen of Hearts and I had to sing…
Twinkle, Twinkle, little bat
How I wonder what you’re at!
You know the song perhaps?
I’ve heard something like it.
It goes on, you know, in this way…
Up above the world you fly
Like a tea-tray in the sky
Twinkle, twinkle….. [Shaking itself and singing in its sleep] Twinkle, Twinkle, Twinkle, Twinkle…
[It goes on until the Hare and the Hatter pinch it to make it stop.] Well, I’d hardly finished the first verse when the Queen jumped up and bawled out, “He’s murdering the time. Off with his head!”
And ever since that he won’t do a thing I ask! It’s always six o’clock now.
Is that the reason so many tea-things are put out here?
[Sighing] Yes, that’s it. It’s always tea-time and we’ve no time to wash the things between whiles.
Then you keep moving round, I suppose?
Exactly so, as the things get used up.
But what happens when you come to the beginning again?
[Interrupting, yawning] Suppose we change the subject? I’m getting tired of this. I vote the young lady tells us a story.
[Alarmed] I’m afraid I don’t know one.
Then the Dormouse shall! Wake up, Dormouse!
[They pinch the Dormouse who slowly opens its eyes.] I wasn’t asleep. I heard every word you were saying.
Tell us a story!
Yes, please do!
And be quick about it or you’ll be asleep again before it’s done.
[In a great hurry] Once upon a time there were three little sisters and their names were Elsie, Lacie and Tillie; and they lived at the bottom of a well –
What did they live on?
[Pause] They lived on treacle.
They couldn’t have done that, you know. They’d have been very ill.
So they were. Very ill.
[Pause] But why did they live at the bottom of a well?
[To Alice, earnestly] Take some more tea
I’ve had nothing yet so I can’t take more.
You mean you can’t take less. It’s very easy to take more than nothing.
Nobody asked your opinion.
Who’s making personal remarks now?
[Instead of replying, Alice helps herself to tea and bread-and-butter. To the Dormouse - ] Why did they live at the bottom of a well?
[Pause] It was a treacle-well.
There’s no such thing…
If you can’t be civil, you’d better finish the story for yourself.
No, please go on. I won’t interrupt again. I dare say there may be one.
[Indignant] One indeed. And so, these three little sisters – they were learning to draw, you know.
What did they draw?
I want a clean cup. Let’s all move one place on.
[They all move one place on. Only the Mad Hatter has a clean place setting. The March Hare upsets the milk jug on his plate.] [To the Dormouse, cautiously] But I don’t understand. Where did they draw the treacle from?
You can draw water out of a water-well, so I should think you can draw treacle out of a treacle-well, eh, stupid?
[To the Dormouse] But they were in the well.
Of course they were. Well in. They were learning to draw… [rubbing hiseyes, sleepily]… and they drew all manner of things… everything that begins with an M-
Why with an M?
[The Dormouse has closed its eyes and is going off into a doze. The Hatter pinches it and it wakes with a little shriek] …that begins with an M, such as mousetraps, and the moon, and memory, and muchness, - you know, you say things are “much of a muchness” – did you ever see such a thing as a drawing of a muchness?
Really, now you ask me, I don’t think…
Then you shouldn’t talk.
[Alice gets up in great disgust and walks away. The Dormouse falls asleep immediately. No one takes any notice of Alice as she leaves, though she looks back once or twice. The Mad Hatter and the March Hare are trying to put the Dormouse in the tea-pot.] At any rate I’ll never go there again. It’s the stupidest tea-party I ever was at in all my life.
[She walks further into the wood]