Alice thought to herself, `I don't see how he can EVEN finish, if he doesn't begin.' But she waited patiently.
`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 sobbing 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--'
`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. `What! 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 learnt it.'
`Hadn't time,' said the Gryphon: `I went to the Classics 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.