Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass Wonderland, Chapter 7
By Lewis Carroll
Wonderland, Chapter 7
A Mad Tea-Party
In front of the March Hare's house is a table where the Hare and the Mad Hatter are having tea with a Dormouse. There are only three of them at the table, but there are lots of other places set.
Alice sits down despite the protests of the Hare, Hatter, and Dormouse, who claim there is no room.
The March Hare offers Alice wine. She says she doesn't see any on the table and he admits that there isn't any. She's irritated with him for offering something he doesn't have, and he responds that he's irritated that she sat down uninvited.
The Hatter tells Alice that she needs a haircut, and she tells him it's rude to say things like that.
Next, the Hatter asks Alice a riddle: "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" Alice says she thinks she can guess, but quickly gets into trouble as the other three question her and find holes in her logic. Saying what you mean is not the same, they tell her, as meaning what you say.
The Hatter asks Alice what day it is and checks her answer against his watch. He discovers that the watch is two days off and argues with the Hare about the butter they put into the watch earlier.
Alice asks the Hatter about the watch, which tells the day of the month but not the time. The Hatter explains that it's because time stays the same for him.
The Dormouse falls asleep (as it does frequently) and the Hatter wakes it up by pouring tea on its nose.
The Hatter asks Alice to guess at the riddle. Alice gives up, and it turns out the Hatter doesn't know the answer either.
Alice says the Hatter is wasting time. The Hatter tells her that Time is a friend of his and explains that's why it's always teatime. He made Time angry last March by "murdering the time" of a song he was singing, and now time doesn't pass for him.
The Hacker starts singing the song for Alice, a parody of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." The Dormouse, which has fallen asleep again, wakes up a little and starts singing along. They pinch it so it will stop.
Alice figures out that the time problem is the reason the table is so big: the three tea party participants just keep moving down and using new place settings.
The Hatter and Hare grow bored of talking to Alice about time and ask her to tell a story. She says she doesn't know any, so they wake the Dormouse up and get him to tell one instead.
The Dormouse starts telling a story about three sisters who live at the bottom of a treacle well. Alice is puzzled by this strange setting.
The March Hare offers Alice more tea. She says she can't have more because she hasn't had any. He replies that she can't take less.
The Dormouse gets frustrated with Alice, who is arguing about the story. She stops and asks him to go on.
The Dormouse says that the three sisters are learning to draw. Because there's nothing else in the well, they draw treacle.
The Hatter insists that everyone move one seat down. He gets a clean plate, but everyone else gets their neighbor's dirty one.
Alice keeps trying to argue with the Dormouse about his story, but it responds with a pun or play on words each time.
The Dormouse says that the sisters draw things that begin with the letter m. Some of them make sense, like mousetraps and the moon, but others are silly, like memory and muchness.
Finally the Hatter offends Alice so much that she gets up and walks away. She looks back to see the Dormouse falling asleep again and the other two trying to put it in the teapot.
Alice resolves never to go back to the Mad Tea Party.
Alice notices a door in a tree and goes through it. She's back in the hall with the glass table and all the doors. This time, she knows what to do. She takes the little golden key from the table, unlocks the door, eats a piece of mushroom until she's the right size, and walks into the garden.