Chapter 4: The Caucus-Race
HEN Alice and the Mouse had got out of the Pool of Tears, of course they were very wet: and so were a lot of other curious creatures, that had tumbled in as well. There was a Dodo (that's the great bird, in front, leaning on a walking-stick); and a Duck; and a Lory (that's just behind the Duck, looking over its head); and an Eaglet (that's on the left-hand side of the Lory); and several others.
Well, and so they didn't know how in the world they were to get dry again. But the Dodo-who was a very wise bird-told them the right way was to have a Caucus-Race. And what do you think that was?
You don't know? Well, you are an ignorant child! Now, be very attentive, and I'll soon cure you of your ignorance!
First, you must have a racecourse. It ought to be a sort of circle, but it doesn't much matter what shape it is, so long as it goes a good way round, and joins on to itself again.
Then, you must put all the racers on the course, here and there: it doesn't matter where, so long as you don't crowd them too much together.
Then, you needn't say "One, two, three, and away!" but let them all set off running just when they like, and leave off just when they like.
So all these creatures, Alice and all, went on running round and round, till they were all quite dry again. And then the Dodo said everybody had won, and everybody must have prizes!
Of course Alice had to give them their prizes. And she had nothing to give them but a few comfits she happened to have in her pocket. And there was just one a-piece, all round. And there was no prize for Alice!
So what do you think they did? Alice had nothing left but her thimble. Now look at the picture, and you'll see what happened.
"Hand it over here!" said the Dodo.
Then the Dodo took the thimble and handed it back to Alice, and said "We beg your acceptance of this elegant thimble!" And then all the other creatures cheered.
Wasn't that a curious sort of present to give her? Suppose they wanted to give you a birthday-present, would you rather they should go to you toy-cupboard, and pick out your nicest doll, and say "Here, my love, here's a lovely birthday-present for you!" or would you like them to give you something new, something that didn't belong to you before?