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The Tea Party
Mad Hatter and Alice walked until they came to the edge of the meadow, and then they kept on from there, turning onto a narrow, unassuming dirt path that wandered along the edge of the wood for a while before finally throwing up its hands and turning sharply into the trees rather, between them, as a path that leads straight into a tree shows poor planning. This went on for a little ways, until gradually the trees seemed to grow a little less closely together, and then they went up a little hill and across a little stream on a little bridge, and then they came to a little fence with a perfectly average-sized gate leading into an average-sized garden. It was latched, but not locked, because Mad Hatter leaned around Alice and opened it quite without using a key, and then they went inside.
The garden within was pleasantly crowded, with a bed of tangled rosebushes on one side, and an uneven row of stones on the oth
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"I say, your mouth is open again," said the young man after a long time had passed and Alice had failed to make any reply. " are you troubled with weakness about the jaw?"
Alice's stare had become almost comical. The young man was forced to wait while she struggled to speak. "But you couldn't have known I was coming," she said with some effort.
"Why not?" asked the gentleman, who wasn't even minding her reply but brushing a bit of lint from his immaculate waistcoat.
"Because I didn't even know it myself!"
The young man waved his hand dismissively. "Oh, tosh. People will latch onto their little fancies. Whether you knew it or not is utterly beside the point, which is that " he stopped, squinting. He'd lost where he was going. When he'd recoupled his t
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Of course, if it hadn't rained, the whole business would probably never have happened. Alice would have wandered right back up the garden path and gone into the house and never looked into the little tool-shed at all, and that would have been that.
But it did rain. The signs were there some time before the axe actually fell, in the gradual darkening of the summer sky, the whistle of wind picking up in the trees and even the distant rumble of impatient thunder. Alice might have known better, but then she had always been the sort to make excuses, rationalizing and justifying, and just now she had decided that it couldn't possibly start to rain very hard within the next quarter-hour or so, and anyway, she wanted to look at the roses. They were in full bloom and very lovely, even to Alice who had never been especially fond of flowers. One might say, then, that it was partly the fault of the roses, or even
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Not Entirely Welcome
They were sitting in Mad Hatter's airy parlor airy because all the windows were still open, in spite of his having proclaimed his intention of nailing them shut. The four of them were there, Alice and Mad Hatter and the two rabbits. The frog was still reciting poetry in the tower for all Alice knew; she had wondered whether it was polite to go off and leave him but Mad Hatter had taken her arm and shaken his head and hadn't let go again until they had gone two full turns down the stairs.
The White Rabbit was telling a long story about shopping for gloves in the market, which wasn't very interesting. Alice was feeling very drowsy and had almost fallen into a sort of doze when she took in a breath and sat up straight. There was a face peering in through one of the open windows. On it were two eyes that seemed overly round and large for a human face, a mouth that was all on
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"For heaven's sake! I can't keep up!"
Alice drew back like a horse that was being reined in. The lanky youth attached to her hand was forced to slow his progress in light of these developments. Alice shook the hand free and stood, gasping for breath, holding her hands to her aching sides. The Hatter, although very rosy in the cheeks and possibly showing more expansion of the chest during his breathing than usual, seemed otherwise unaffected, and as Alice continued to catch her breath, grew increasingly agitated.
"Oh do let's go," he urged finally, sounding strained. Alice gave him an unhappy look, but he took her hand and she allowed herself to be dragged along once more.
"I wish you would tell me what this is about!" she gasped out in intervals as they darted around tree trunks and roots, the Hatter's dark boots snapping twigs and kicking up leaves.
"I am sorry, my dear, but I simply haven't