Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass Wonderland, Chapter 11
By Lewis Carroll
Wonderland, Chapter 11
Who Stole the Tarts?
Alice and the Gryphon arrive at the court to find the King and Queen of Hearts on their thrones with a crowd of people around them. The Knave, who is the defendant, is in chains. The White Rabbit is the announcer and has a trumpet and a scroll. On display is a pan of tarts.
Alice sits down and starts thinking about all the people and things in the trial. She notices that the King is wearing a wig along with his crown, making him the Judge. Twelve of the little animals Alice has met in her adventures, including Bill the Lizard, are in the jury box writing on slates.
The White Rabbit calls for silence. Alice is irritated by the squeaking pencil that Bill is using on his slate and takes it away from him.
The King asks the White Rabbit to read the charge. The Rabbit unrolls his scroll and reads (Verse Alert!) a poem about the Knave of Hearts stealing some tarts that the Queen of Hearts made.
The King is ready for a verdict from the jury, but the Rabbit reminds him that they have to finish the trial first.
The King calls the first witness: the Mad Hatter. He's still drinking tea and eating bread and butter, which he takes with him into the witness box.
The Hatter gets in trouble right away. The King doesn't understand that it's always teatime for him. He wants him to take off his hat, but he can't, because it's not his own but one for sale.
The Hatter is so nervous that he bites his teacup instead of the bread.
Alice notices that she is growing larger again. The Dormouse, sitting beside her, complains that she is squeezing him.
The Queen stares at the Hatter, then asks for the list of singers from the last concert, which makes him even more nervous. (Remember, that was when he offended her by "murdering the time" of his song.)
The King tries to get the Hatter to give his evidence, but he keeps rambling on about the tea party and trying to blame the Dormouse or the Hare for what he knows. Finally, the King gets frustrated and lets him stand down. He runs away before the Queen can have him executed.
The King calls the next witness, who is the Duchess's cook. She brings the box of pepper with her and everyone starts sneezing.
The cook refuses to give evidence, and the Rabbit tells the King he'll have to cross-examine her.
The King asks the cook what tarts are made of, and she says they're mostly pepper.
The Dormouse, talking in its sleep, interrupts. The Queen freaks out and has him turned out of court.
The King dismisses the cook and calls the next witness – Alice herself!