'I think I should understand that better,' Alice said very politely, 'if I had it written down: but I can't quite follow it as you say it.'
'That's nothing to what I could say if I chose,' the Duchess replied, in a pleased tone.
'Pray don't trouble yourself to say it any longer than that,' said Alice.
'Oh, don't talk about trouble!' said the Duchess. 'I make you a present of everything I've said as yet.'
'A cheap sort of present!' thought Alice. 'I'm glad they don't give birthday presents like that!' But she did not venture to say it out loud.
'Thinking again?' the Duchess asked, with another dig of her sharp little chin.
'I've a right to think,' said Alice sharply, for she was beginning to feel a little worried.
'Just about as much right,' said the Duchess, 'as pigs have to fly; and the m--'
But here, to Alice's great surprise, the Duchess's voice died away, even in the middle of her favourite word 'moral,' and the arm that was linked into hers began to tremble. Alice looked up, and there stood the Queen in front of them, with her arms folded, frowning like a thunderstorm.
'A fine day, your Majesty!' the Duchess began in a low, weak voice.
'Now, I give you fair warning,' shouted the Queen, stamping on the ground as she spoke; 'either you or your head must be off, and that in about half no time! Take your choice!'
The Duchess took her choice, and was gone in a moment.
'Let's go on with the game,' the Queen said to Alice; and Alice was too much frightened to say a word, but slowly followed her back to the croquet-ground.
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