She soon got it out again, and put it right; `not that it signifies much,' she said to herself; `I should think it would be QUITE as much use in the trial one way up as the other.'

As soon as the jury had a little recovered from the shock of being upset, and their slates and pencils had been found and handed back to them, they set to work very diligently to write out a history of the accident, all except the Lizard, who seemed too much overcome to do anything but sit with its mouth open, gazing up into the roof of the court.

`What do you know about this business?' the King said to Alice.

`Nothing,' said Alice.

`Nothing WHATEVER?' persisted the King.

`Nothing whatever,' said Alice.

`That's very important,' the King said, turning to the jury. They were just beginning to write this down on their slates, when the White Rabbit interrupted: `UNimportant, your Majesty means, of course,' he said in a very respectful tone, but frowning and making faces at him as he spoke.

`UNimportant, of course, I meant,' the King hastily said, and went on to himself in an undertone, `important--unimportant-- unimportant--important--' as if he were trying which word sounded best.

Some of the jury wrote it down `important,' and some `unimportant.' Alice could see this, as she was near enough to look over their slates; `but it doesn't matter a bit,' she thought to herself.

At this moment the King, who had been for some time busily writing in his note-book, cackled out `Silence!' and read out from his book, `Rule Forty-two. ALL PERSONS MORE THAN A MILE HIGH TO LEAVE THE COURT.'

Everybody looked at Alice.

`I'M not a mile high,' said Alice.

`You are,' said the King.

`Nearly two miles high,' added the Queen.

`Well, I shan't go, at any rate,' said Alice: `besides, that's not a regular rule: you invented it just now.'

`It's the oldest rule in the book,' said the King.

`Then it ought to be Number One,' said Alice.

The King turned pale, and shut his note-book hastily. `Consider your verdict,' he said to the jury, in a low, trembling voice.

`There's more evidence to come yet, please your Majesty,' said the White Rabbit, jumping up in a great hurry; `this paper has just been picked up.'

`What's in it?' said the Queen.

`I haven't opened it yet,' said the White Rabbit, `but it seems to be a letter, written by the prisoner to--to somebody.'

`It must have been that,' said the King, `unless it was written to nobody, which isn't usual, you know.'

`Who is it directed to?' said one of the jurymen.

`It isn't directed at all,' said the White Rabbit; `in fact, there's nothing written on the OUTSIDE.' He unfolded the paper as he spoke, and added `It isn't a letter, after all: it's a set of verses.'

`Are they in the prisoner's handwriting?' asked another of the jurymen.

`No, they're not,' said the White Rabbit, `and that's the queerest thing about it.' (The jury all looked puzzled.)

`He must have imitated somebody else's hand,' said the King. (The jury all brightened up again.)

`Please your Majesty,' said the Knave, `I didn't write it, and they can't prove I did: there's no name signed at the end.'

`If you didn't sign it,' said the King, `that only makes the matter worse. You MUST have meant some mischief, or else you'd have signed your name like an honest man.'

There was a general clapping of hands at this: it was the first really clever thing the King had said that day.

`That PROVES his guilt,' said the Queen.

`It proves nothing of the sort!' said Alice. `Why, you don't even know what they're about!'

`Read them,' said the King.

The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. `Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?' he asked.

`Begin at the beginning,' the King said gravely, `and go on till you come to the end: then stop.'

These were the verses the White Rabbit read:--

`They told me you had been to her, And mentioned me to him: She gave me a good character, But said I could not swim.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Page 35

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