He came in with a teacup in one hand and a piece of bread-and-butter in the other. `I beg pardon, your Majesty,' he began, `for bringing these in: but I hadn't quite finished my tea when I was sent for.'
`You ought to have finished,' said the King. `When did you begin?'
The Hatter looked at the March Hare, who had followed him into the court, arm-in-arm with the Dormouse. `Fourteenth of March, I think it was,' he said.
`Fifteenth,' said the March Hare.
`Sixteenth,' added the Dormouse.
`Write that down,' the King said to the jury, and the jury eagerly wrote down all three dates on their slates, and then added them up, and reduced the answer to shillings and pence.
`Take off your hat,' the King said to the Hatter.
`It isn't mine,' said the Hatter.
`Stolen!' the King exclaimed, turning to the jury, who instantly made a memorandum of the fact.
`I keep them to sell,' the Hatter added as an explanation; `I've none of my own. I'm a hatter.'
Here the Queen put on her spectacles, and began staring at the Hatter, who turned pale and fidgeted.
`Give your evidence,' said the King; `and don't be nervous, or I'll have you executed on the spot.'
This did not seem to encourage the witness at all: he kept shifting from one foot to the other, looking uneasily at the Queen, and in his confusion he bit a large piece out of his teacup instead of the bread-and-butter.
Just at this moment Alice felt a very curious sensation, which puzzled her a good deal until she made out what it was: she was beginning to grow larger again, and she thought at first she would get up and leave the court; but on second thoughts she decided to remain where she was as long as there was room for her.
`I wish you wouldn't squeeze so.' said the Dormouse, who was sitting next to her. `I can hardly breathe.'
`I can't help it,' said Alice very meekly: `I'm growing.'
`You've no right to grow here,' said the Dormouse.
`Don't talk nonsense,' said Alice more boldly: `you know you're growing too.'
`Yes, but I grow at a reasonable pace,' said the Dormouse: `not in that ridiculous fashion.' And he got up very sulkily and crossed over to the other side of the court.
All this time the Queen had never left off staring at the Hatter, and, just as the Dormouse crossed the court, she said to one of the officers of the court, `Bring me the list of the singers in the last concert!' on which the wretched Hatter trembled so, that he shook both his shoes off.
`Give your evidence,' the King repeated angrily, `or I'll have you executed, whether you're nervous or not.'
`I'm a poor man, your Majesty,' the Hatter began, in a trembling voice, `--and I hadn't begun my tea--not above a week or so--and what with the bread-and-butter getting so thin--and the twinkling of the tea--'
`The twinkling of the what?' said the King.
`It began with the tea,' the Hatter replied.
`Of course twinkling begins with a T!' said the King sharply. `Do you take me for a dunce? Go on!'
`I'm a poor man,' the Hatter went on, `and most things twinkled after that--only the March Hare said--'
`I didn't!' the March Hare interrupted in a great hurry.
`You did!' said the Hatter.
`I deny it!' said the March Hare.
`He denies it,' said the King: `leave out that part.'
`Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said--' the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep.
`After that,' continued the Hatter, `I cut some more bread- and-butter--'
`But what did the Dormouse say?' one of the jury asked.
`That I can't remember,' said the Hatter.
`You MUST remember,' remarked the King, `or I'll have you executed.'
The miserable Hatter dropped his teacup and bread-and-butter, and went down on one knee. `I'm a poor man, your Majesty,' he began.
`You're a very poor speaker,' said the King.
Here one of the guinea-pigs cheered, and was immediately suppressed by the officers of the court.