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- Journeys Through Bookland V3 - 2/69 -
Said Aunt Matilda; "John, I found A pumpkin, high and dry, Upon a pile of rubbish, down Behind that worn-out sty!" O, dear, I didn't cry, because I'm quite too big to cry, But, honestly, I couldn't eat A mouthful of the pie.
THE MOCK TURTLE'S STORY
By LEWIS CARROLL
NOTE.--The Mock Turtle's Story is from Alice in Wonderland, one of the most delightful books that ever was written for children. It tells the story of a little girl's dream of Wonderland--a curious country where one's size changes constantly, and where one meets and talks with the quaintest, most interesting creatures. Through the Looking-Glass, a companion book to Alice in Wonderland, is almost equally charming, with its descriptions of the land where everything happens backward. Queen Alice, and The Walrus and the Carpenter, are from Through the Looking-Glass.
The real name of the man who wrote these books was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, but every one knows him better as Lewis Carroll. He was a staid and learned mathematician, who wrote valuable books on most difficult mathematical subjects; for instance, he wrote a Syllabus of Plane Algebraical Geometry, and it is not a joke, though the name may sound like one to a person who has read Alice in Wonderland. However, there was one subject in which this grave lecturer on mathematics was more interested than he was in his own lectures, and that was children--especially little girls. He liked to have them with him always, and they, seeing in him a friend and playmate, coaxed him constantly for stories and stories, and yet more stories.
One day, in July, 1862, he took three of his little friends, Alice and Edith and Lorina Liddell, for a trip up the river, and on that afternoon he began telling them about Alice and her Wonderland, continuing the story on other occasions, He had no intention then of making a book, but the story pleased little Alice and her sisters so well that they talked about it at home and among their grown-up friends, who finally persuaded the author to have it printed. It has gone on growing more and more popular, and will keep on doing so as long as children love fun and wonderful happenings.
The pictures which Sir John Tenniel made for Lewis Carroll's books are almost as famous as the books themselves, and every child who has studied them knows exactly how dear little Alice looked, and feels certain that he would recognize a Gryphon or a Mock Turtle anywhere. The pictures given here are after Tenniel's drawings.
They had not gone far before they saw the Mock Turtle in the distance, sitting sad and lonely on a little ledge of rock, and, as they came nearer, Alice could hear him sighing as if his heart would break. She pitied him deeply.
"What is his sorrow?" she asked the Gryphon, and the Gryphon answered, "It's all his fancy, that: he hasn't got no sorrow, you know. Come on!"
So they went up to the Mock Turtle, who looked at them with large eyes full of tears, but said nothing.
"This here young lady," said the Gryphon, "she wants for to know your history, she do."
"I'll tell it her," said the Mock Turtle in a deep-hollow tone: "sit down both of you, and don't speak a word till I've finished."
So they sat down, and nobody spoke for some minutes. Alice thought to herself, "I don't see how he can EVER finish, if he doesn't begin." But she waited patiently.
[Illustration: THE GRYPHON]
"Once," said the Mock Turtle at last, with a deep sigh, "I was a real Turtle."
These words were followed by a very long silence, broken only by an occasional exclamation of "Hjckrrh!" from the Gryphon, and the constant heavy sighing of the Mock Turtle. Alice was very nearly getting up and saying "Thank you, sir, for your interesting story," but she could not help thinking there MUST be more to come, so she sat still and said nothing.
"When we were little," the Mock Turtle went on at last, more calmly, though still sobbing a little now and then, "we went to school in the sea. The master was an old Turtle--we used to call him Tortoise--"
[Illustration: ALICE SAT STILL]
"Why did you call him Tortoise, if he wasn't one?" Alice asked.
"We called him Tortoise because he taught us," said the Mock Turtle angrily; "really you are very dull."
"You ought to be ashamed of yourself for asking such a simple question," added the Gryphon; and then they both sat silent and looked at poor Alice, who felt ready to sink into the earth. At last the Gryphon said to the Mock Turtle, "Drive on, old fellow! Don't be all day about it!" and he went on in these words:
"Yes, we went to school in the sea, though you mayn't believe it--"
"I never said I didn't!" interrupted Alice.
"You did," said the Mock Turtle.
"Hold your tongue!" added the Gryphon, before Alice could speak again. The Mock Turtle went on:
"We had the best of educations--in fact, we went to school every day-"
"I'VE been to a day-school too," said Alice; "you needn't be so proud as all that."
"With extras?" asked the Mock Turtle a little anxiously.
"Yes," said Alice, "we learned French and music."
"And washing?" said the Mock Turtle.
"Certainly not!" said Alice indignantly.
"Ah! then yours wasn't a really good school," said the Mock Turtle in a tone of great relief. "Now at OURS they had at the end of the bill, 'French, music, AND WASHING--extra.'"
"You couldn't have wanted it much," said Alice, "living at the bottom of the sea."
"I couldn't afford to learn it," said the Mock Turtle with a sigh. "I only took the regular course."
"What was that?" inquired Alice.
"Reeling and Writhing, of course, to begin with," the Mock Turtle replied; "and then the different branches of Arithmetic--Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision."
"I never heard of 'Uglification'," Alice ventured to say. "What is it?"
The Gryphon lifted up both its paws in surprise. "Never heard of uglifying!" it exclaimed. "You know what to beautify is, I suppose?"
"Yes," said Alice, doubtfully; "it means--to--make--anything-- prettier.
"Well then," the Gryphon went on, "if you don't know what to uglify is, you ARE a simpleton."
Alice did not feel encouraged to ask any more questions about it, so she turned to the Mock Turtle, and said, "What else had you to learn?"
"Well, there was Mystery," the Mock Turtle replied, counting off the subjects on his flappers--"Mystery, ancient and modern, with Seaography: then Drawling--the Drawling-master was an old conger eel, that used to come once a week: HE taught us Drawling, Stretching, and Fainting in Coils."
"What was THAT like?" said Alice.
"Well, I can't show it you, myself," the Mock Turtle said: "I'm too stiff. And the Gryphon never learned it."
"Hadn't time," said the Gryphon. "I went to the Classical master, though. He was an old crab, HE was."
"I never went to him," the Mock Turtle said with a sigh: "he taught Laughing and Grief, they used to say." "So he did, so he did." said the Gryphon, sighing in his turn, and both creatures hid their faces in their paws.
"And how many hours a day did you do lessons?" said Alice, in a hurry to change the subject.
"Ten hours the first day," said the Mock Turtle; "nine the next, and so on."
"What a curious plan!" exclaimed Alice.
"That's the reason they're called lessons," the Gryphon remarked: "because they lessen from day to day."
This was quite a new idea to Alice, and she thought it over a little before she made her next remark. "Then the eleventh day must have been a holiday?"
"Of course it was," said the Mock Turtle.
"And how did you manage on the twelfth?" Alice went on eagerly.
"That's enough about lessons," the Gryphon interrupted in a very
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