THIS is a little bit of the beautiful garden I told you about. You see Alice had managed at last to get quite small, so that she could go through the little door. I suppose she was about as tall as a mouse, if it stood on its hind-legs: so of course this was a very tiny rose-tree: and these are very tiny gardeners.
What funny little men they are! But are they men, do you think? I think they must be live cards, with just a head, and arms, and legs, so as to look like little men. And what are they doing with that red paint, I wonder? Well, you see, this is what they told Alice. The Queen of Hearts wanted to have a red rose-tree just in that corner: and these poor little gardeners had made a great mistake, and had put in a white one instead: and they were so frightened about it, because the Queen was sure to be angry, and then she would order all their heads to be cut off!
She was a dreadfully savage Queen, and that was the way she always did, when she was angry with people. “Off with their head!” They didn’t really cut their heads off, you know: because nobody ever obeyed her: but that was what she always said.
Now ca’n’t you guess what the poor little gardeners are trying to do? They’re trying to paint the roses red, and they’re in a great hurry to get it done before the Queen comes. And then perhaps the Queen won’t find out it was a white rose-tree to begin with: and then perhaps the little men won’t get their heads cut off!
You see there were five large white roses on the tree-such a job to get them all painted red! But they’ve got three and a half done, now, and if only they wouldn’t stop to talk-work away, little men, do work away! Or the Queen will be coming before it’s done! And if she finds any white roses on the tree, do you know what will happen? It will be “Off with their heads!” Oh, work away, my little men! Hurry, hurry!
The Queen has come! And isn‘t she angry? Oh, my poor little Alice!