A Caucus-Race and a Long Tale. The third chapter of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (we are collecting them all here) introduces us to the Dodo bird who is far from dead, but is enormously pompous. As usual, there are plenty of puns – the mouse tells a very “dry” history to try and dry out Alice and the other creatures who are still wet from swimming in the pool of tears. They run a race (a caucus race is actually an election) and there is a poem that looks like a mouse’s tail in the text.
They were indeed a queer-looking party that assembled on the bank–the birds with draggled feathers, the animals with their fur clinging close to them, and all dripping wet, cross, and uncomfortable.
The first question of course was, how to get dry again: they had a consultation about this, and after a few minutes it seemed quite natural to Alice to find herself talking familiarly with them, as if she had known them all her life. Indeed, she had quite a long argument with the Lory, who at last turned sulky, and would only say, `I am older than you, and must know better’; and this Alice would not allow without knowing how old it was, and, as the Lory positively refused to tell its age, there was no more to be said.
At last the Mouse, who seemed to be a person of authority among them, called out, `Sit down, all of you, and listen to me! I’ll soon make you dry enough!’ They all sat down at once, in a large ring, with the Mouse in the middle. Alice kept her eyes anxiously fixed on it, for she felt sure she would catch a bad cold if she did not get dry very soon.
`Ahem!’ said the Mouse with an important air, `are you all ready? This is the driest thing I know. Silence all round, if you please! “William the Conqueror, whose cause was favoured by the pope, was soon submitted to by the English, who wanted leaders, and had been of late much accustomed to usurpation and conquest. Edwin and Morcar, the earls of Mercia and Northumbria–“‘
`Ugh!’ said the Lory, with a shiver.
`I beg your pardon!’ said the Mouse, frowning, but very politely: `Did you speak?’
`Not I!’ said the Lory hastily.
`I thought you did,’ said the Mouse. `–I proceed. “Edwin and Morcar, the earls of Mercia and Northumbria, declared for him: and even Stigand, the patriotic archbishop of Canterbury, found it advisable–“‘
`Found what?’ said the Duck.
`Found it,’ the Mouse replied rather crossly: `of course you know what “it” means.’
`I know what “it” means well enough, when I find a thing,’ said the Duck: `it’s generally a frog or a worm. The question is, what did the archbishop find?’
The Mouse did not notice this question, but hurriedly went on, `”–found it advisable to go with Edgar Atheling to meet William and offer him the crown. William’s conduct at first was moderate. But the insolence of his Normans–” How are you getting on now, my dear?’ it continued, turning to Alice as it spoke.
`As wet as ever,’ said Alice in a melancholy tone: `it doesn’t seem to dry me at all.’
`In that case,’ said the Dodo solemnly, rising to its feet, `I move that the meeting adjourn, for the immediate adoption of more energetic remedies–‘
`Speak English!’ said the Eaglet. `I don’t know the meaning of half those long words, and, what’s more, I don’t believe you do either!’ And the Eaglet bent down its head to hide a smile: some of the other birds tittered audibly.
`What I was going to say,’ said the Dodo in an offended tone, `was, that the best thing to get us dry would be a Caucus-race.’
`What is a Caucus-race?’ said Alice; not that she wanted much to know, but the Dodo had paused as if it thought that somebody ought to speak, and no one else seemed inclined to say anything.
`Why,’ said the Dodo, `the best way to explain it is to do it.’ (And, as you might like to try the thing yourself, some winter day, I will tell you how the Dodo managed it.)
First it marked out a race-course, in a sort of circle, (`the exact shape doesn’t matter,’ it said,) and then all the party were placed along the course, here and there. There was no `One, two, three, and away,’ but they began running when they liked, and left off when they liked, so that it was not easy to know when the race was over. However, when they had been running half an hour or so, and were quite dry again, the Dodo suddenly called out `The race is over!’ and they all crowded round it, panting, and asking, `But who has won?’
This question the Dodo could not answer without a great deal of thought, and it sat for a long time with one finger pressed upon its forehead (the position in which you usually see Shakespeare, in the pictures of him), while the rest waited in silence. At last the Dodo said, `Everybody has won, and all must have prizes.’
`But who is to give the prizes?’ quite a chorus of voices asked.
`Why, she, of course,’ said the Dodo, pointing to Alice with one finger; and the whole party at once crowded round her, calling out in a confused way, `Prizes! Prizes!’
Alice had no idea what to do, and in despair she put her hand in her pocket, and pulled out a box of comfits, (luckily the salt water had not got into it), and handed them round as prizes. There was exactly one a-piece all round.
`But she must have a prize herself, you know,’ said the Mouse.
`Of course,’ the Dodo replied very gravely. `What else have you got in your pocket?’ he went on, turning to Alice.
`Only a thimble,’ said Alice sadly.
`Hand it over here,’ said the Dodo.
Then they all crowded round her once more, while the Dodo solemnly presented the thimble, saying `We beg your acceptance of this elegant thimble’; and, when it had finished this short speech, they all cheered.
Dodo presenting thimble
Alice thought the whole thing very absurd, but they all looked so grave that she did not dare to laugh; and, as she could not think of anything to say, she simply bowed, and took the thimble, looking as solemn as she could.
The next thing was to eat the comfits: this caused some noise and confusion, as the large birds complained that they could not taste theirs, and the small ones choked and had to be patted on the back. However, it was over at last, and they sat down again in a ring, and begged the Mouse to tell them something more.
`You promised to tell me your history, you know,’ said Alice, `and why it is you hate–C and D,’ she added in a whisper, half afraid that it would be offended again.
`Mine is a long and a sad tale!’ said the Mouse, turning to Alice, and sighing.
`It is a long tail, certainly,’ said Alice, looking down with wonder at the Mouse’s tail; `but why do you call it sad?’ And she kept on puzzling about it while the Mouse was speaking, so that her idea of the tale was something like this:–
`Fury said to a
mouse, That he
met in the
both go to
law: I will
I'll take no
must have a
mouse to the
`You are not attending!’ said the Mouse to Alice severely. `What are you thinking of?’
Mouse telling story to birds and Alice
`I beg your pardon,’ said Alice very humbly: `you had got to the fifth bend, I think?’
`I had not!’ cried the Mouse, sharply and very angrily.
`A knot!’ said Alice, always ready to make herself useful, and looking anxiously about her. `Oh, do let me help to undo it!’
`I shall do nothing of the sort,’ said the Mouse, getting up and walking away. `You insult me by talking such nonsense!’
`I didn’t mean it!’ pleaded poor Alice. `But you’re so easily offended, you know!’
The Mouse only growled in reply.
`Please come back and finish your story!’ Alice called after it; and the others all joined in chorus, `Yes, please do!’ but the Mouse only shook its head impatiently, and walked a little quicker.
`What a pity it wouldn’t stay!’ sighed the Lory, as soon as it was quite out of sight; and an old Crab took the opportunity of saying to her daughter `Ah, my dear! Let this be a lesson to you never to lose your temper!’ `Hold your tongue, Ma!’ said the young Crab, a little snappishly. `You’re enough to try the patience of an oyster!’
`I wish I had our Dinah here, I know I do!’ said Alice aloud, addressing nobody in particular. `She’d soon fetch it back!’
`And who is Dinah, if I might venture to ask the question?’ said the Lory.
Alice replied eagerly, for she was always ready to talk about her pet: `Dinah’s our cat. And she’s such a capital one for catching mice you can’t think! And oh, I wish you could see her after the birds! Why, she’ll eat a little bird as soon as look at it!’
This speech caused a remarkable sensation among the party. Some of the birds hurried off at once: one old Magpie began wrapping itself up very carefully, remarking, `I really must be getting home; the night-air doesn’t suit my throat!’ and a Canary called out in a trembling voice to its children, `Come away, my dears! It’s high time you were all in bed!’ On various pretexts they all moved off, and Alice was soon left alone.
`I wish I hadn’t mentioned Dinah!’ she said to herself in a melancholy tone. `Nobody seems to like her, down here, and I’m sure she’s the best cat in the world! Oh, my dear Dinah! I wonder if I shall ever see you any more!’ And here poor Alice began to cry again, for she felt very lonely and low-spirited. In a little while, however, she again heard a little pattering of footsteps in the distance, and she looked up eagerly, half hoping that the Mouse had changed his mind, and was coming back to finish his story.
lovely story a bit sad cant wait for the next chapter i have read from the begning of the chapters i love them all i am glad my teacher in year 3 told me about this website i have already been on fairy tales so great love it all love rebecca joy whelan i will be back soon who is prinece berti the frong and tad the tadpole
October 26, 2008
hi Tiffany love your comment will you help me with my website if i make my own blog about cheats because i love it all i love yo all thanks for commenting on my website love you all bye wait i need a girl friend on build a bear ville i am a hansem young boy on a lot user name baileydecember23 i am a cyber guide lending a helping paw caring for nature giving cheat codes out i am also on club penguin my user is prasewnt237 i am black wearing brown boots a black hat with a quisten mark on it i am not a member because it cost to much i also go on binweevils my user is seashell i am diffrent shades of pink i have a red bin pet i also go on fish land my user is scarymary123 i have 4 fish 1 medal a lot of money i am almost rich on the inter net all those games are free oh and i go on star doll my user is bailey boo it is free on all those games apart from members on club penguin and star dolls love Rebecca
October 26, 2008
I am learning english with STORYNORY.thank you very much NATASH
Hoze magsoud —
January 25, 2009
Princess Taiami —
September 2, 2009
I like this story so much an i’m looking forward to watch it movie
November 27, 2009
It is an very enejoyable.
PS good luck that more people are going to listen to this.
Thank you so much, I’m from Turkey and thank to these stories i am be able to improuve my English.
June 23, 2010
Alice’s Adventures Wonderland can be helpful to learning English,
as Lewis Carroll uses a wide span of vocabulary. Be careful though as he also wrote in a language known as Lexicon that is invented English, that we don’t speak in everyday.
You’ll some simple English poems in the Classics Blue section of Storynory, to help you learn English.
Great, Alice in Wonderland chapter 3 is a super chapter The Causcaus Race and The Long Tale. And we also meet a rare bird that actually did exist called The Dodo. The Alice chapters on Storynory we hope will help you to read all of the stories better. There are 13 in the first book and we hope to have more chapters from Alice through the Looking Glass, that you may enjoy reading.
Thanks for listening
[…] Those captions might say that works were drawn “from life”, but of course Edwards intended to mean that he was working directly from a subject that may or may not have been flapping, hopping or trotting about. Pickled bird skins would have been most usual and it was the artist’s task to animate them. George Edwards’ birds soar off the page and he wasn’t one for wasting copper plate. If he could, even for decorative purposes, he would shoehorn together the most unlikely creatures. While one might assume that he was being naive, I don’t think so. I like to think that Edwards was alert to visual humour, so that his dodo, paired with an equally rotund guinea pig (above), irresistibly reminds me of Lewis Carroll (who, a century later, would be inspired to include an Edwards-style dodo in Alice’s Adventures). […]
My school did a play of this at Fernham hall but the book is way better. My favourite book is sapphire battersea could you do an audio book on that please Natasha:-). I <3 this story even though i haven't read the book.
March 3, 2013
I really like this story. I think it is very funny. Natasha, I know this may sound a little weird but do you like to swim? p.s. I am only 8 please reply
April 22, 2013
it’s such a nice series of story…
I loved hearing to it…
Thanks! This was really great! I love the mouse’s Poem!!
July 7, 2013
I love this story!! ^^ I’m a huge Alice in Wonderland fan. This story is so fun to read! 😀
July 11, 2013
I am 5 next saturday. When Alice changes sizes i like it because its funny-she would say queer.
September 2, 2013
This story is really slow and boring I had to read it for school but I listened to the audio and it was amazing, Natasha you are not only a great reader but you have an amazing voice which I know may sound a little bit weird but it makes the story way more interesting. Thank you so much I finally found a story that I really love.
October 3, 2013
Louise I am delighted that Natasha’s reading has brought this alive and you are not alone.. I only really liked this book when I heard her read it.