TWEEDLEDUM AND TWEEDLEDEE
They were standing under a tree, each with an arm round the
other's neck, and Alice knew which was which in a moment, because
one of them had `DUM' embroidered on his collar, and the other
`DEE.' `I suppose they've each got "TWEEDLE" round at the back
of the collar,' she said to herself.
They stood so still that she quite forgot they were alive,
and she was just looking round to see if the word "TWEEDLE" was
written at the back of each collar, when she was startled by a
voice coming from the one marked `DUM.'
`If you think we're wax-works,' he said, `you ought to pay, you
know. Wax-works weren't made to be looked at for nothing, nohow!'
`Contrariwise,' added the one marked `DEE,' `if you think we're
alive, you ought to speak.'
`I'm sure I'm very sorry,' was all Alice could say; for the words of the old song kept ringing through her head like the ticking of a clock, and she could hardly help saying them out loud:--
`I know what you're thinking about,' said Tweedledum: `but it
isn't so, nohow.'
`Contrariwise,' continued Tweedledee, `if it was so, it might
be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't.
`I was thinking,' Alice said very politely, `which is the best
way out of this wood: it's getting so dark. Would you tell me,
But the little men only looked at each other and grinned.
They looked so exactly like a couple of great schoolboys, that
Alice couldn't help pointing her finger at Tweedledum, and saying
`Nohow!' Tweedledum cried out briskly, and shut his mouth up
again with a snap.
`Next Boy!' said Alice, passing on to Tweedledee, though she
felt quite certain he would only shout out `Contrariwise!' and so
`You've been wrong!' cried Tweedledum. `The first thing in a
visit is to say "How d'ye do?" and shake hands!' And here the
two brothers gave each other a hug, and then they held out the
two hands that were free, to shake hands with her.
Alice did not like shaking hands with either of them first, for
fear of hurting the other one's feelings; so, as the best way out
of the difficulty, she took hold of both hands at once: the next
moment they were dancing round in a ring. This seemed quite
natural (she remembered afterwards), and she was not even
surprised to hear music playing: it seemed to come from the tree
under which they were dancing, and it was done (as well as she
could make it out) by the branches rubbing one across the other,
like fiddles and fiddle-sticks.
`But it certainly WAS funny,' (Alice said afterwards, when she
was telling her sister the history of all this,) `to find myself
singing "HERE WE GO ROUND THE MULBERRY BUSH." I don't know when
I began it, but somehow I felt as if I'd been singing it a long
The other two dancers were fat, and very soon out of breath.
`Four times round is enough for one dance,' Tweedledum panted
out, and they left off dancing as suddenly as they had begun:
the music stopped at the same moment.
Then they let go of Alice's hands, and stood looking at her for
a minute: there was a rather awkward pause, as Alice didn't know
how to begin a conversation with people she had just been dancing
with. `It would never do to say "How d'ye do?" NOW,' she said to
herself: `we seem to have got beyond that, somehow!'
`I hope you're not much tired?' she said at last.
`Nohow. And thank you VERY much for asking,' said Tweedledum.
`So much obliged!' added Tweedledee. `You like poetry?'
`Ye-es. pretty well--SOME poetry,' Alice said doubtfully.
`Would you tell me which road leads out of the wood?'
`What shall I repeat to her?' said Tweedledee, looking round at
Tweedledum with great solemn eyes, and not noticing Alice's question.
`"THE WALRUS AND THE CARPENTER" is the longest,' Tweedledum
replied, giving his brother an affectionate hug.
Tweedledee began instantly:
Here Alice ventured to interrupt him. `If it's VERY long,' she
said, as politely as she could, `would you please tell me first
Tweedledee smiled gently, and began again:
`I like the Walrus best,' said Alice: `because you see he was
a LITTLE sorry for the poor oysters.'
`He ate more than the Carpenter, though,' said Tweedledee.
`You see he held his handkerchief in front, so that the Carpenter
couldn't count how many he took: contrariwise.'
`That was mean!' Alice said indignantly. `Then I like the
Carpenter best--if he didn't eat so many as the Walrus.'
`But he ate as many as he could get,' said Tweedledum.
This was a puzzler. After a pause, Alice began, `Well! They
were BOTH very unpleasant characters--' Here she checked
herself in some alarm, at hearing something that sounded to her
like the puffing of a large steam-engine in the wood near them,
though she feared it was more likely to be a wild beast.
`Are there any lions or tigers about here?' she asked timidly.
`It's only the Red King snoring,' said Tweedledee.
`Come and look at him!' the brothers cried, and they each took
one of Alice's hands, and led her up to where the King was sleeping.
`Isn't he a LOVELY sight?' said Tweedledum.
Alice couldn't say honestly that he was. He had a tall red
night-cap on, with a tassel, and he was lying crumpled up into a
sort of untidy heap, and snoring loud--`fit to snore his head
off!' as Tweedledum remarked.
`I'm afraid he'll catch cold with lying on the damp grass,'
said Alice, who was a very thoughtful little girl.
`He's dreaming now,' said Tweedledee: `and what do you think
he's dreaming about?'
Alice said `Nobody can guess that.'
`Why, about YOU!' Tweedledee exclaimed, clapping his hands
triumphantly. `And if he left off dreaming about you, where do
you suppose you'd be?'
`Where I am now, of course,' said Alice.
`Not you!' Tweedledee retorted contemptuously. `You'd be
nowhere. Why, you're only a sort of thing in his dream!'
`If that there King was to wake,' added Tweedledum, `you'd go
out--bang!--just like a candle!'
`I shouldn't!' Alice exclaimed indignantly. `Besides, if I'M
only a sort of thing in his dream, what are YOU, I should like to
`Ditto' said Tweedledum.
`Ditto, ditto' cried Tweedledee.
He shouted this so loud that Alice couldn't help saying, `Hush!
You'll be waking him, I'm afraid, if you make so much noise.'
`Well, it no use YOUR talking about waking him,' said
Tweedledum, `when you're only one of the things in his dream.
You know very well you're not real.'
`I AM real!' said Alice and began to cry.
`You won't make yourself a bit realler by crying,' Tweedledee
remarked: `there's nothing to cry about.'
`If I wasn't real,' Alice said--half-laughing though her
tears, it all seemed so ridiculous--`I shouldn't be able to
`I hope you don't suppose those are real tears?' Tweedledum
interrupted in a tone of great contempt.
`I know they're talking nonsense,' Alice thought to herself:
`and it's foolish to cry about it.' So she brushed away her
tears, and went on as cheerfully as she could. `At any rate I'd
better be getting out of the wood, for really it's coming on very
dark. Do you think it's going to rain?'
Tweedledum spread a large umbrella over himself and his
brother, and looked up into it. `No, I don't think it is,' he
said: `at least--not under HERE. Nohow.'
`But it may rain OUTSIDE?'
`It may--if it chooses,' said Tweedledee: `we've no
`Selfish things!' thought Alice, and she was just going to say
`Good-night' and leave them, when Tweedledum sprang out from
under the umbrella and seized her by the wrist.
`Do you see THAT?' he said, in a voice choking with passion,
and his eyes grew large and yellow all in a moment, as he pointed
with a trembling finger at a small white thing lying under the
`It's only a rattle,' Alice said, after a careful examination
of the little white thing. `Not a rattleSNAKE, you know,' she
added hastily, thinking that he was frightened: only an old
rattle--quite old and broken.'
`I knew it was!' cried Tweedledum, beginning to stamp about
wildly and tear his hair. `It's spoilt, of course!' Here he
looked at Tweedledee, who immediately sat down on the ground, and
tried to hide himself under the umbrella.
Alice laid her hand upon his arm, and said in a soothing tone,
`You needn't be so angry about an old rattle.'
`But it isn't old!' Tweedledum cried, in a greater fury than
ever. `It's new, I tell you--I bought it yesterday--my nice
New RATTLE!' and his voice rose to a perfect scream.
All this time Tweedledee was trying his best to fold up the
umbrella, with himself in it: which was such an extraordinary
thing to do, that it quite took off Alice's attention from the
angry brother. But he couldn't quite succeed, and it ended in
his rolling over, bundled up in the umbrella, with only his head
out: and there he lay, opening and shutting his mouth and his
large eyes--'looking more like a fish than anything else,'
`Of course you agree to have a battle?' Tweedledum said in a
`I suppose so,' the other sulkily replied, as he crawled out of
the umbrella: `only SHE must help us to dress up, you know.'
So the two brothers went off hand-in-hand into the wood, and
returned in a minute with their arms full of things--such as
bolsters, blankets, hearth-rugs, table-cloths, dish-covers and
coal-scuttles. `I hope you're a good hand at pinning and tying
strings?' Tweedledum remarked. `Every one of these things has
got to go on, somehow or other.'
Alice said afterwards she had never seen such a fuss made about
anything in all her life--the way those two bustled about--
and the quantity of things they put on--and the trouble they
gave her in tying strings and fastening buttons--`Really
they'll be more like bundles of old clothes that anything else,
by the time they're ready!' she said to herself, as she arranged a
bolster round the neck of Tweedledee, `to keep his head from
being cut off,' as he said.
`You know,' he added very gravely, `it's one of the most
serious things that can possibly happen to one in a battle--to
get one's head cut off.'
Alice laughed aloud: but she managed to turn it into a cough,
for fear of hurting his feelings.
`Do I look very pale?' said Tweedledum, coming up to have his
helmet tied on. (He CALLED it a helmet, though it certainly
looked much more like a saucepan.)
`Well--yes--a LITTLE,' Alice replied gently.
`I'm very brave generally,' he went on in a low voice: `only
to-day I happen to have a headache.'
`And I'VE got a toothache!' said Tweedledee, who had overheard
the remark. `I'm far worse off than you!'
`Then you'd better not fight to-day,' said Alice, thinking it a
good opportunity to make peace.
`We MUST have a bit of a fight, but I don't care about going on
long,' said Tweedledum. `What's the time now?'
Tweedledee looked at his watch, and said `Half-past four.'
`Let's fight till six, and then have dinner,' said Tweedledum.
`Very well,' the other said, rather sadly: `and SHE can watch
us--only you'd better not come VERY close,' he added: `I
generally hit everything I can see--when I get really excited.'
`And I hit everything within reach,' cried Tweedledum,
`whether I can see it or not!'
Alice laughed. `You must hit the TREES pretty often, I should
think,' she said.
Tweedledum looked round him with a satisfied smile. `I don't suppose,'
he said, `there'll be a tree left standing, for ever so far round,
by the time we've finished!'
`And all about a rattle!' said Alice, still hoping to make them
a LITTLE ashamed of fighting for such a trifle.
`I shouldn't have minded it so much,' said Tweedledum, `if it
hadn't been a new one.'
`I wish the monstrous crow would come!' though Alice.
`There's only one sword, you know,' Tweedledum said to his
brother: `but you can have the umbrella--it's quite as sharp.
Only we must begin quick. It's getting as dark as it can.'
`And darker.' said Tweedledee.
It was getting dark so suddenly that Alice thought there must
be a thunderstorm coming on. `What a thick black cloud that is!'
she said. `And how fast it comes! Why, I do believe it's got
`It's the crow!' Tweedledum cried out in a shrill voice of
alarm: and the two brothers took to their heels and were out of
sight in a moment.
Alice ran a little way into the wood, and stopped under a large tree. `It can never get at me HERE,' she thought: `it's far too large to squeeze itself in among the trees. But I wish it wouldn't flap its wings so--it makes quite a hurricane in the wood-- here's somebody's shawl being blown away!'
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