THE MOCK TURTLE sighed deeply, and drew the back of one flapper across his eyes. He looked at Alice and tried to speak, but for a minute or two sobs choked his voice. “Same as if he had a bone in his throat,” said the Gryphon, and it set to work shaking him and punching him in the back. At last the Mock Turtle recovered his voice, and, with tears running down his cheeks, he went on again:
“You may not have lived much under the sea”—(“I haven't,” said Alice)—“and perhaps you were never even introduced to a Lobster”—(Alice began to say “I once tasted”—but checked herself hastily, and said, “No, never”)—“so you can have no idea what a delightful thing a Lobster-Quadrille is!”
“No, indeed,” said Alice. “What sort of a dance is it?”
“Why,” said the Gryphon, “you first form into a line along the seashore—”
“Two lines!” cried the Mock Turtle. “Seals, turtles, salmon, and so on: then, when they cleared all the jelly-fish out of the way—”
“That generally takes some time,” interrupted the Gryphon.
“You advance twice—”
“Each with a lobster as a partner!” cried the Gryphon.
“Of course,” the Mock Turtle said: “advance twice, set to partners—”
“Change lobsters, and retire in same order,” continued the Gryphon.
“Then, you know,” the Mock Turtle went on, “you throw the—”
“The lobsters!” shouted the Gryphon, with a bound into the air.
“As far out to sea as you can—”
“Swim after them!” screamed the Gryphon.
“Turn a somersault in the sea!” cried the Mock Turtle, capering wildly about.
“Change lobsters again!” yelled the Gryphon at the top of its voice.
“Back to land again, and—that's all the first figure,” said the Mock Turtle, suddenly dropping his voice, and the two creatures, who had been jumping about like mad things all this time, sat down again very sadly and quietly, and looked at Alice.
“It must be a very pretty dance,” said Alice timidly.
“Would you like to see a little of it?” said the Mock Turtle.
“Very much indeed,” said Alice.
“Come, let's try the first figure!” said the Mock Turtle to the Gryphon. “We can do without lobsters, you know. Which shall sing?”
“Oh, you sing,” said the Gryphon. “I've forgotten the words.”
So they began solemnly dancing round and round Alice, every now and then treading on her toes when they passed too close, and waving their forepaws to mark the time, while the Mock Turtle sang this, very slowly and sadly:
“Thank you, it's a very interesting dance to watch,” said Alice, feeling very glad that it was over at last; “and I do so like that curious song about the whiting!”
“Oh, as to the whiting,” said the Mock Turtle, “they—you've seen them, of course?”
“Yes,” said Alice, “I've often seen them at dinn—” she checked herself hastily.
“I don't know where Dinn may be,” said the Mock Turtle, “but if you've seen them so often, of course you know what they're like.”
“I believe so,” Alice replied thoughtfully. “They have their tails in their mouths; and they're all over crumbs.”
“You're wrong about the crumbs,” said the Mock Turtle: “crumbs would all wash off in the sea. But they have their tails in their mouths; and the reason is”—here the Mock Turtle yawned and shut his eyes—“Tell her about the reason and all that,” he said to the Gryphon.
“The reason is,” said the Gryphon, “that they would go with the lobsters to the dance. So they got thrown out to sea. So they had to fall a long way. So they got their tails fast in their mouths. So they couldn't get them out again. That's all.”
“Thank you,” said Alice, “it's very interesting. I never knew so much about a whiting before.”
“I can tell you more than that, if you like,” said the Gryphon. “Do you know why it's called a whiting?”
“I never thought about it,” said Alice. “Why?”
“It does the boots and shoes .” the Gryphon replied very...
(The entire section is 1,948 words.)