Alice approaches a large table set under the tree outside the March Hare’s house and comes across the Mad Hatter and the March Hare taking tea. They rest their elbows on a sleeping Dormouse who sits between them. They tell Alice that there is no room for her at the table, but Alice sits anyway. The March Hare offers Alice wine, but there is none. Alice tells the March Hare that his conduct is uncivil, to which he rejoins that it was uncivil of her to sit down without being invited. The Mad Hatter enters the conversation, opining that Alice’s hair “wants cutting.” Alice admonishes his rudeness, but he ignores her scolding and responds with a riddle: “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” Alice attempts to answer the riddle, which begins a big argument about semantics. After their argument, the tea party sits in silence until the Mad Hatter asks the March Hare the time. When he discovers that the March Hare’s watch, which measures the day of the month, is broken, the Mad Hatter becomes angry. He blames the March Hare for getting crumbs on the watch when the March Hare was spreading butter on it. The March Hare sullenly dips the watch in his tea, dejectedly remarking that “It was the best butter.”
Alice gives up on the riddle and becomes angry with the Mad Hatter when she discovers that he doesn’t know the answer either. She tells him he should not waste time asking riddles that have no answers. The Mad Hatter calmly explains that Time is a “him,” not an “it.” He goes on to recount how Time has been upset ever since the Queen of Hearts said the Mad Hatter was “murdering time” while he performed a song badly. Since then, Time has stayed fixed at six o’clock, which means that they exist in perpetual tea-time. Bored with this line of conversation, the March Hare states that he would like to hear a story, so they wake up the Dormouse. The Dormouse tells a story about three sisters who live in a treacle-well, eating and drawing treacle. Confused by the story, Alice interjects with so many questions that the Dormouse becomes insulted. Alice continues to ask questions until the Mad Hatter insults her and she storms off in disgust. As she walks, she looks back at the Mad Hatter and the March Hare as they attempt to stuff the Dormouse into a teapot.
In the wood, Alice encounters a tree with a door in it. She enters the door and finds herself back in the great hall. Alice goes back to the table with the key and uses the mushroom to grow to a size that she can reach the key, then to shrink back to the size that she can fit through the door. She goes through the door and at last arrives at the passageway to the garden.
Alice in Wonderland 7: A Mad Tea Party – Listen and Read
Chapter Seven of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol (abridged)
This Librivox Recording is in the Public Domain.
Chapter Seven – A mad tea-party
There was a table set out under a tree in front of the house, and the March Hare and the Hatter were having tea at it; a Dormouse was sitting between them, fast asleep.
The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it. “No room! No room!” they cried out when they saw Alice coming. “There’s plenty of room!” said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.
The Hatter opened his eyes very wide on hearing this, but all he said was “Why is a raven like a writing-desk?”
“I’m glad they’ve begun asking riddles—I believe I can guess that,” she added aloud.
“Do you mean that you think you can find out the answer to it?” said the March Hare.
“Exactly so,” said Alice.
“Then you should say what you mean,” the March Hare went on.
“I do,” Alice hastily replied; “at least—at least I mean what I say—that’s the same thing, you know.”
“You might just as well say,” added the Dormouse, which seemed to be talking in its sleep, “that ‘I breathe when I sleep’ is the same thing as ‘I sleep when I breathe!'”
“It is the same thing with you,” said the Hatter, and he poured a little hot tea upon its nose. The Dormouse shook its head impatiently and said, without opening its eyes, “Of course, of course; just what I was going to remark myself.”
“Have you guessed the riddle yet?” the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.
“No, I give it up,” Alice replied. “What’s the answer?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea,” said the Hatter.
“Nor I,” said the March Hare.
Alice gave a weary sigh. “I think you might do something better with the time,” she said, “than wasting it in asking riddles that have no answers.”
“Take some more tea,” the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
“I’ve had nothing yet,” Alice replied in an offended tone, “so I can’t take more.”
“You mean you can’t take less,” said the Hatter; “it’s very easy to take more than nothing.”
At this, Alice got up and walked off. The Dormouse fell asleep instantly and neither of the others took the least notice of her going, though she looked back once or twice; the last time she saw them, they were trying to put the Dormouse into the tea-pot.
“At any rate, I’ll never go there again!” said Alice, as she picked her way through the wood. “It’s the stupidest tea-party I ever was at in all my life!” Just as she said this, she noticed that one of the trees had a door leading right into it. “That’s very curious!” she thought. “I think I may as well go in at once.” And in she went.
Once more she found herself in the long hall and close to the little glass table. Taking the little golden key, she unlocked the door that led into the garden. Then she set to work nibbling at the mushroom (she had kept a piece of it in her pocket) till she was about a foot high; then she walked down the little passage; and then—she found herself at last in the beautiful garden, among the bright flower-beds and the cool fountains.
Alice in Wonderland – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 1: Down the Rabbit-Hole – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 2: The Pool of Tears – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 3: A Caucus Race and a Long Tale – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 4: The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 5: Advice from a Caterpillar – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 6: Pig and Pepper – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 7: A Mad Tea Party – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 8: The Queen’s Croquet Ground – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 9: Who Stole the Tarts? – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 10: Alice’s Evidence – Listen and Read
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audio: LibriVox: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (dramatic reading)
transcript: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland