Saturday, December 31, 2016


excerpts from through the looking glass by lewis carroll (charles lutwidge dodson)

"what sort of insects do you rejoice in, where you come from?" the gnat inquired.
"i don't rejoice in insects at all," alice explained, "because i'm rather afraid of them -- at least the large kinds. but i can tell you the names of some of them."
"of course they answer to their names?" the gnat remarked carelessly.
"i never knew them do it."
"what's the use of their having names," the gnat said, "if they won't answer to them?"
"no use to them," said alice; "but it's useful to the people that name them, i suppose. if not, why do things have names at all?"
"i can't say," the gnat replied. "further on, in the wood down there, they've got no names -- however, go on with your list of insects: you're wasting time."
"well, there's the horse-fly," alice began, counting off the names on her fingers.
"all right," said the gnat. "half way up that bush, you'll see a rocking-horse-fly, if you look. it's made entirely of wood, and gets about by swinging itself from branch to branch."
"what does it live on?" alice asked, with great curiosity.
"sap and sawdust," said the gnat. "go on with the list."
alice looked at the rocking-horse-fly with great interest, and made up her mind that it must have been just repainted, it looked so bright and sticky; and then she went on.
"and there's the dragon-fly."
"look on the branch above your head," said the gnat, "and there you'll find a snap=dragon-fly. its body is made of plum-pudding, its wings of holly-leaves, and its head is a raisin burning in brandy."
"and what does it live on?" alice asked, as before.
"frumenty and mince-pie," the gnat replied; "and it makes its nest in a christmas-box."
"and then there's the butterfly," alice went on, after she had taken a good look at the insect with its head on fire, and had thought to herself, "i wonder if that's the reason insects are so fond of flying into candles -- because they want to turn into snap-dragon-flies!"
"crawling at your feet," said the gnat (alice drew her feet back in some alarm), "you may observe a bread-and-butter-fly. its wings are thin slices of bread-and-butter, its body is a crust, and its head is a lump of sugar."
"and what does it live on?"
"weak tea with cream in it."
a new difficulty came into alice's head. "supposing it couldn't find any?" she suggested.
"then it would die, of course."
"but that must happen very often," alice remarked thoughtfully.
"it always happens," said the gnat.
after this, alice was silent for a minute or two, pondering. the gnat amused itself meanwhile by humming round and round her head: at last it settled again and remarked "i suppose you don't want to lose your name?"
"no, indeed," alice said, a little anxiously.
"and yet i don't know," the gnat went on in a careless tone: "only think how convenient it would be if you could manage to go home without it! for instance, if the governess wanted to call you to your lessons, she would call out 'come here -------,' and there she would have to leave off, because there wouldn't be any name for her to call, and of course you wouldn't have to go, you know."
"that would never do, i'm sure," said alice: "the governess would never think of excusing me lessons for that. if she couldn't remember my name, she'd call me 'miss,' as the servants do."
"well, if she said 'miss,' and didn't say anything more," the gnat remarked, "of course you'd miss your lessons. that's a joke. i wish you had made it."
"why do you wish i had made it?" alice asked. "it's a very bad one."
but the gnat only sighed deeply, while two large tears came rolling down its cheeks.
"you shouldn't make jokes," alice said, "if it makes you so unhappy."


"how can you go on talking so quietly, head downwards?" alice asked, as she dragged him out by the feet, and laid him in a heap on the bank.
the knight looked surprised at the question. "what does it matter where my body happens to be?" he said. "my mind goes on working all the same. in fact, the more head-downwards i am, the more i keep inventing new things."
"now the cleverest thing of the sort that i ever did," he went on after a pause, "was inventing a new pudding during the meat-course."
"in time to have it cooked for the next course?" said alice. "well, that was quick work, certainly!"
"well, not the next course," the knight said in a slow thoughtful tone: "no, certainly not the next course."
"then it would have to be the next day. i suppose you wouldn't have two pudding-courses in one dinner?"
"well not the next day," the knight repeated as before: "not the next day. in fact," he went on, holding his head down, and his voice getting lower and lower, "i don't believe that pudding ever was cooked! in fact, i don't believe that pudding ever will be cooked! and yet it was a very clever pudding to invent."
"what did you mean it to be made of?" alice asked, hoping to cheer him up, for the poor knight seemed quite low-spirited about it.
"it began with blotting-paper," the knight answered with a groan.
"that wouldn't be very nice, i'm afraid ---"
"not very nice alone," he interrupted, quite eagerly: "but you've no idea what a difference it makes, mixing it with other things - such as gunpowder and sealing-wax. and here i must leave you." they had just come to the end of the wood.
alice could only look puzzled: she was thinking of the pudding.
"you are sad," the knight said in an anxious tone: "let me sing you a song to comfort you."
"is it very long?" alice asked, for she had heard a good deal of poetry that day.
"it's long," said the knight, "but it's very, very beautiful. everybody that hears me sing it - either it brings the tears into their eyes, or else ----"
"or else what?" said alice, for the knight had made a sudden pause.
"or else it doesn't, you know. the name of the song is called 'haddocks' eyes.'"
"oh, that's the name of the song, is it?" alice said, trying to feel interested.
 "no, you don't understand," the knight said, looking a little vexed. "that's what the name is called. the name really is "the aged aged man.'"
"then i ought to have said, 'that's what the song is called'?" alice corrected herself.
"no, you oughtn't: that's quite another thing! the song is called 'ways and means': but that's only what it's called, you know!"
"well, what is the song, then?" said alice, who was by this time completely bewildered.
"i was coming to that," the knight said. "the song really is 'a-sitting on a gate': and the tune's my own invention."
so saying, he stopped his horse and let the reins fall on its neck: then, slowly beating time with one hand, and with a faint smile lighting up his gentle foolish face, as if he enjoyed the music of his song, he began.
of all the strange things that alice saw in her journey through the looking-glass, this was the one that she always remembered most clearly. years afterwards she could bring the whole scene back again, as if it had been only yesterday -- the mild blue eyes and kindly smile of the knight -- the setting sun gleaming through his hair, and shining on his armour in a blaze of light that quite dazzled her -- the horse quietly moving about, with the reins hanging loose on his neck, cropping the grass at her feet -- and the black shadows of the forest behind -- all this she took in like a picture, as with one hand shading her eyes, she leant against a tree, watching the strange pair, and listening, in a half-dream, to the melancholy music of the song.

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