'It's waiting for 'em now,' said Hatta: 'this is a bit of it as I'm eating.'
There was a pause in the fight just then, and the Lion and the Unicorn sat down, panting, while the King called out 'Ten minutes allowed for refreshments!' Haigha and Hatta set to work at once, carrying rough trays of white and brown bread. Alice took a piece to taste, but it was VERY dry.
'I don't think they'll fight any more to-day,' the King said to Hatta: 'go and order the drums to begin.' And Hatta went bounding away like a grasshopper.
For a minute or two Alice stood silent, watching him. Suddenly she brightened up. 'Look, look!' she cried, pointing eagerly. 'There's the White Queen running across the country! She came flying out of the wood over yonder--How fast those Queens CAN run!'
'There's some enemy after her, no doubt,' the King said, without even looking round. 'That wood's full of them.'
'But aren't you going to run and help her?' Alice asked, very much surprised at his taking it so quietly.
'No use, no use!' said the King. 'She runs so fearfully quick. You might as well try to catch a Bandersnatch! But I'll make a memorandum about her, if you like--She's a dear good creature,' he repeated softly to himself, as he opened his memorandum-book. 'Do you spell "creature" with a double "e"?'
At this moment the Unicorn sauntered by them, with his hands in his pockets. 'I had the best of it this time?' he said to the King, just glancing at him as he passed.
'A little--a little,' the King replied, rather nervously. 'You shouldn't have run him through with your horn, you know.'
'It didn't hurt him,' the Unicorn said carelessly, and he was going on, when his eye happened to fall upon Alice: he turned round rather instantly, and stood for some time looking at her with an air of the deepest disgust.
'What--is--this?' he said at last.
'This is a child!' Haigha replied eagerly, coming in front of Alice to introduce her, and spreading out both his hands towards her in an Anglo-Saxon attitude. 'We only found it to-day. It's as large as life, and twice as natural!'
'I always thought they were fabulous monsters!' said the Unicorn. 'Is it alive?'
'It can talk,' said Haigha, solemnly.
The Unicorn looked dreamily at Alice, and said 'Talk, child.'
Alice could not help her lips curling up into a smile as she began: 'Do you know, I always thought Unicorns were fabulous monsters, too! I never saw one alive before!'
'Well, now that we HAVE seen each other,' said the Unicorn, 'if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you. Is that a bargain?'
'Yes, if you like,' said Alice.
'Come, fetch out the plum-cake, old man!' the Unicorn went on, turning from her to the King. 'None of your brown bread for me!'
'Certainly--certainly!' the King muttered, and beckoned to Haigha. 'Open the bag!' he whispered. 'Quick! Not that one-- that's full of hay!'
Haigha took a large cake out of the bag, and gave it to Alice to hold, while he got out a dish and carving-knife. How they all came out of it Alice couldn't guess. It was just like a conjuring-trick, she thought.
The Lion had joined them while this was going on: he looked very tired and sleepy, and his eyes were half shut. 'What's this!' he said, blinking lazily at Alice, and speaking in a deep hollow tone that sounded like the tolling of a great bell.
'Ah, what IS it, now?' the Unicorn cried eagerly. 'You'll never guess! _I_ couldn't.'
The Lion looked at Alice wearily. 'Are you animal--vegetable --or mineral?' he said, yawning at every other word.
'It's a fabulous monster!' the Unicorn cried out, before Alice could reply.
'Then hand round the plum-cake, Monster,' the Lion said, lying down and putting his chin on this paws. 'And sit down, both of you,' (to the King and the Unicorn): 'fair play with the cake, you know!'
The King was evidently very uncomfortable at having to sit down between the two great creatures; but there was no other place for him.