CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR
"Are you in, Uncle Wiggily?" asked a voice at the hollow stump bungalow one morning, and the rabbit gentleman looked up to see Alice from Wonderland standing on the door sill.
"Yes, of course I'm in, my dear," he answered. "Can't you see me?"
"I can't be sure of anything I see," answered the little girl with flaxen hair, "especially since I've been having so many queer adventures. I used to think I saw the Cheshire cat, when it was only his grin smiling at me. And maybe now I'm only looking at your ears, or tall silk hat, and thinking it's you."
"No, I'm here all right," answered the bunny. "Is there anything I can do for you?"
"Yes," answered Alice. "I'd like you to come for a walk with me. I haven't much longer time to stay with you, and I want to have all the fun I can."
"Are you going away?" asked Uncle Wiggily.
"I have very soon to go back in the book where I belong," answered Alice. "But no matter. Come now, and we'll go look for an adventure."
So Alice and Uncle Wiggily started off over the fields and through the woods, and they had not gone very far before they suddenly heard, among the trees, some voices crying:
"You did it!"
"No, I didn't!"
"Yes, you did; you know you did!"
"No, I didn't! I know I didn't!"
"Well, we'll have to have a battle, anyhow!"
And then came a sound as if someone was beating a carpet with a fishing pole and voices cried:
"Oh! Oh, dear! Ouch! Oh, how it hurts!"
"My, what in the world can that be?" asked Uncle Wiggily. "It sounds like an adventure all right."
"I think it is," answered Alice. "It's probably Tweedledum and Tweedledee fighting."
"Fighting? Tweedledee and Tweedledum?" asked the surprised bunny.
"Oh, it's only in fun," laughed Alice, "and they have to do it because it's that way in the book, for if they didn't things wouldn't come out right. Yes, there they are." And she pointed off through the trees, where Uncle Wiggily saw two round, fat, little boys, dressed exactly the same, and looking so like one another that no one could tell them apart, except when they were together—just like twins, you know.
"Oh, I'm so glad to see you!" called Alice to the two queer fat chaps. They were as round as barrels, both of them. Uncle Wiggily noticed that on the collar of one was the word DUM, while on the other was the word DEE.
"Tweedle, the rest of their name, is on the back of their collars," Alice explained. "As it's the same for both, they didn't need it in front."
Then the fat boys turned around, like tops slowly spinning, and, surely enough, on the back of the white collar of each were letters spelling TWEEDLE.
"I'm glad to see you," spoke Uncle Wiggily. "I heard you—sort of—er—well, you know," he went on, diffident-like, not wishing to say he had heard the brothers quarreling.
"Oh, it's all right, we do that every day," said Tweedledee.
"And, contrariwise, twice on Sunday," added Tweedledum. "We have to for the verse about us says:
"'Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Agreed to have a battle;
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
Had spoiled his nice new rattle.
"'Just then down flew a monstrous crow,
As black as a tar barrel,
Which frightened both the heroes so,
They quite forgot their quarrel.'"
"Only we weren't really frightened," said Tweedledee. "We just made believe so, and laughed at the crow. And I didn't really spoil Tweedledum's nice new rattle, for here it is now," and taking his arm down from around his brother's neck he took the rattle from his pocket and shook it, making a noise like a drum.
And, just as he did that, all of a sudden, out from behind a big stump came—not a monstrous crow, but the bad old skillery-scalery alligator, who cried:
"Ah, ha! At last I have him! Now I'll get that Uncle Wiggily Longears chap! Ah, ha!" and he made a grab for the gentleman bunny.
"Oh, dear!" exclaimed Alice. "Please don't hurt Uncle Wiggily!"
"Yes, I shall!" snapped the 'gator. "I'll bumble him and mumble him, that's what I'll do."
"Oh, no you won't!" exclaimed Tweedledum, wabbling toward the alligator as Jimmie Wibblewobble, the boy duck, waddled when he walked.
"I won't what?" asked the 'gator.
"You won't bumble or mumble Uncle Wiggily. First you have to catch me!"
"Pooh! That's easily done," snapped the alligator. "You are so fat that you can't run any more than a rubber ball."
"Will you promise to let Uncle Wiggily alone until you catch me?" asked Tweedledum, eagerly.
"I promise," said the alligator smiling to himself, for he thought he could easily catch the fat twin, and his promise wouldn't count.
"Then here I go! Catch me!" suddenly cried Tweedledum. And with that he stretched out on the ground and began to roll down hill in the woods.
And as he was fat and round he rolled as fast as a rubber ball, and he rolled so fast (ever so much faster than if he had run) that when the alligator raced after him, as he had promised he would do, why the bad double-jointed skillery-scalery creature got all out of breath and couldn't bumble or mumble a strawberry, to say nothing of Uncle Wiggily. And the 'gator didn't catch the fat boy either.
So Tweedledum, rolling down hill that way, which he could do much better than walking or running, saved the bunny uncle from the alligator, and Mr. Longears was very glad, and so was Alice.
And if the knife and fork don't go to the candy store, just when supper is ready, and make the spoon holder wait for them before eating the ice cream, I'll tell you next about Uncle Wiggily and Tweedledee.