The Lion and the Unicorn

The next moment soldiers came running through the wood, at first in twos and threes, then ten or twenty together, and at last in such crowds that they seemed to fill the whole forest. Alice got behind a tree, for fear of being run over, and watched them go by.

The thought that in all her life she had never seen soldiers so uncertain on their feet: they were always tripping over something or other, and whenever one went down, several more always fell over him, so that the ground was soon covered with little heaps of men.

Then came the horses. Having four feet, these managed rather better than the foot-soldiers: but even they stumbled now and then; and it seemed to be a regular rule that, whenever a horse stumbled the rider fell off instantly. The confusion got worse every moment, and Alice was very glad to get out of the wood into an open place, where she found the white king seated on the ground, busily writing in his memorandum-book.


All this was lost on Alice, who was still looking intently along the road, shading her eyes with one hand.

(For the messenger kept skipping up and down, and wriggling like an eel, as he came along, with his great hands spread out like fans on each side.)


At this moment the messenger arrived: he was far too much out of breath to say a word, and could only wave his hands about, and make the most fearful faces at the poor king.

(I love), the king said, introducing Alice in the hope of turning off the messenger's attention from himself--but it was no use--the Anglo-Saxon attitudes only got more extraordinary every moment, while the great eyes rolled wildly from side to side.

On which the messenger, to Alice's great amusement, opened a bag that hung round his neck, and handed a sandwich to the king, who devoured it greedily.

Alice was glad to see that it revived him a good deal.

Which Alice did not venture to deny.

the king went on, holding out his hand to the messenger for some more hay.

said the messenger, putting his hands to his mouth in the shape of a trumpet, and stooping so as to get close to the king's ear. Alice was sorry for this, as she wanted to hear the news too. However, instead of whispering, he simply shouted at the top of his voice

And they trotted off, Alice repeating to herself, as she ran, the words of the old song:--

`The Lion and the Unicorn were fighting for the crown:
The Lion beat the Unicorn all round the town.
Some gave them white bread, some gave them brown;
Some gave them plum-cake and drummed them out of town.'

Alice had no more breath for talking, so they trotted on in silence, till they came in sight of a great crowd, in the middle of which the Lion and Unicorn were fighting. They were in such a cloud of dust, that at first Alice could not make out which was which: but she soon managed to distinguish the Unicorn by his horn.

They placed themselves close to where Hatta, the other messenger, was standing watching the fight, with a cup of tea in one hand and a piece of bread-and-butter in the other.

,he went on, putting his arm affectionately round Hatta's neck.

Hatta looked round and nodded, and went on with his bread and butter.Hatta looked round once more, and this time a tear or two trickled down his cheek: but not a word would he say.

There was a pause in the fight just then, and the Lion and the Unicorn sat down, panting, while the king called out Haigha and Hatta set to work at once, carrying rough trays of white and brown bread. Alice took a piece to taste, but it was very dry.

And Hatta went bounding away like a grasshopper.

For a minute or two Alice stood silent, watching him. Suddenly she brightened up.

At this moment the Unicorn sauntered by them, with his hands in his pockets. and he was going on, when his eye happened to fall upon Alice: he turned round rather instantly, and stood for some time looking at her with an air of the deepest disgust.

Haigha replied eagerly, coming in front of Alice to introduce her, and spreading out both his hands towards her in an Anglo-Saxon attitude.

Alice could not help her lips curling up into a smile as she began:

`Well, now that we have seen each other,' said the Unicorn, `if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you. Is that a bargain?'

`Come, fetch out the plum-cake, old man!' the Unicorn went on, turning from her to the king. `None of your brown bread for me!'

Haigha took a large cake out of the bag, and gave it to Alice to hold, while he got out a dish and carving-knife. How they all came out of it Alice couldn't guess. It was just like a conjuring-trick, she thought.

The Lion had joined them while this was going on: he looked very tired and sleepy, and his eyes were half shut.

The king was evidently very uncomfortable at having to sit down between the two great creatures; but there was no other place for him.

,the Unicorn said, looking slyly up at the crown, which the poor king was nearly shaking off his head, he trembled so much.

Here the king interrupted, to prevent the quarrel going on: he was very nervous, and his voice quite quivered.

Alice had seated herself on the bank of a little brook, with the great dish on her knees, and was sawing away diligently with the knife. she said, in reply to the Lion (she was getting quite used to being called `the Monster').

This sounded nonsense, but Alice very obediently got up, and carried the dish round, and the cake divided itself into three pieces as she did so.

But before Alice could answer him, the drums began.

Where the noise came from, she couldn't make out: the air seemed full of it, and it rang through and through her head till she felt quite deafened. She started to her feet and sprang across the little brook in her terror,

and had just time to see the Lion and the Unicorn rise to their feet,with angry looks at being interrupted in their feast, before she dropped to her knees, and put her hands over her ears, vainly trying to shut out the dreadful uproar.

A boat beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July--

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear--

Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die.
Autumn frosts have slain July.

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream--
Lingering in the golden gleam--
Life, what is it but a dream?