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Alice in Wonderland 3: The Queen of Hearts

The garden into which Alice had finally found her way had a tree of white roses growing by the door. Three gardeners worked at the tree, changing the roses from white to red as fast as they were able.

“Why you are painting those roses?” Alice asked.

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One of the gardeners stopped painting and said, “Why, the fact is, you see, Miss, this here ought to have been a red rose tree, and we put a white one in by mistake. And, if the Queen was to find it out, we will all have our heads cut off!”

“That’s terrible!” Alice cried.

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Before Alice could learn more, a procession of more flat, square people marched into the garden. Soldiers with clubs led the way, followed by courtiers covered in diamonds. Finally, a king and queen marked with hearts arrived.

“Why, they’re a pack of cards!” Alice thought.

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The queen saw the painted roses and glared. “Those roses aren’t red. They’re white! Who’s been painting my roses?” the queen yelled. “Off with their heads!” She screamed, storming off. Her court followed.

Though Alice had only just met the gardeners, she couldn’t bear to see them hurt. So she hid them in a pot.

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The queen’s guards pretended to look around, shrugged to one another, and went back to join the queen. Alice followed.

“Are their heads off?” the queen asked.

Alice didn’t like to lie, but she smiled and said, “Oh, yes. Their heads are quite gone.”

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The queen looked at Alice. “Who are you? And more important, can you play croquet?”

“I’m Alice,” Alice said. “And yes, I can!”

The queen gave Alice a hedgehog for a ball and a flamingo for a mallet. The guards formed arches by crawling on their hands and knees. “How strange,” Alice thought.

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Alice soon realized that such a game of croquet was as difficult as it was bizarre. The flamingo-mallet kept un-straightening, looking up at her with the silliest face and making her laugh. As for the hedgehog, it was not interested in being battered around, and ran off every time it was Alice’s turn.

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As Alice chased her hedgehog, the Cheshire Cat appeared in the branches of a tree, or at least his head did.

“How do you like the Queen?” said the Cat in a low voice.

“Not at all,” said Alice.

From somewhere within the garden came the queen’s angry cry of, “Off with his head!”

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“You’d better get back to your game,” the Cat said. “The queen doesn’t like it when someone misses a turn.”

Alice started off as the king ran toward the Cheshire Cat. “The queen wants its head!”

“How am I supposed to behead something without a body?” the executioner asked.

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Figuring that the crafty Cat would be just fine, Alice went to find her hedgehog. It was in the midst of a fray with another ball. This was the perfect opportunity to take her turn, but her flamingo was out on the other side of the garden, trying to fly up into a tree.

“I’m never playing a game of croquet again!” she said. “At least, not this kind of croquet!”

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Finally, Alice managed to get her hedgehog rolled into a little ball and her flamingo nice and straight. She was ready to take her turn. But just as she was about to send her hedgehog under the three of clubs, the queen’s fury echoed across the garden.

“What are you doing with my tarts?” she demanded.

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Alice found that the queen and king were now seated upon their thrones. The king had put on a judge’s wig, and twelve creatures had been selected for a jury. The knave of hearts was on trial.

A large dish of tarts sat in the middle of the court. Alice was quite hungry, but thought it best not to help herself.

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The White Rabbit stepped up beside the king and blew a horn to silence the crowd. He unrolled a scroll and read,
“The Queen of Hearts, she made some tarts, all on a summer day.
The Knave of Hearts, he stole those tarts and took them quite away!”

“I’m innocent!” the knave pronounced.

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The king summoned the first witness. The Mad Hatter approached with a slice of bread in one hand and a teacup in the other.

“Remove your hat while in this court!” the king ordered. “Show some respect!”

“But it isn’t even my hat!” the Hatter replied.

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“Thief!” The king pointed at his witness.

“I’m not a thief! I meant that I sell hats. That’s all. So it isn’t really mine!” So nervous was the Hatter that he took a bite from his teacup instead of the slice of bread.

The king realized the Hatter, being quite mad, was useless. “You can go!” he said.

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Alice looked about, wondering who would be next to face questioning. “And now I call as a witness,” announced the king, “Alice!”

“Me?” Alice said. She stood to approach the court, and realized that her chair seemed quite small below her. She was growing again, like when she’d eaten the cakes!

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Alice knocked over the jury box in her haste to approach the king, sending birds and other creatures sprawling across the garden.

“We can’t proceed until the jury is back in place!” the king said. “All of them!”

“I’m quite sorry!” Alice said, picking up the animals and setting them back in the box.

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The king wrote in his book, then read, “Rule 42 says this witness is too tall to speak!”

“You just made that up!” Alice said.

“I did not!” the king said. “It’s the oldest rule!”

“Then shouldn’t it be rule one?” Alice said.

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“Enough! What do you know of this business?” the king said pointing to the tarts.

Alice crossed her arms. “Nothing at all.”

“Then it’s time for the verdict,” said the king.

“No, no!” said the Queen. “Sentence first. Verdict after.”

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“What nonsense!” Alice cried, and she didn’t care a bit if it made the queen mad. Alice was now towering over everyone anyway. “You can’t punish someone and then decide on a verdict! What if he’s innocent?”

The queen fumed at the interruption. “Off with her head!” The guards flew up against Alice, flapping and poking at her face.

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Alice woke up on the riverbank. Leaves from a nearby tree brushed against her cheeks.

“Oh, I’ve had such a curious dream!” said Alice. She got up and ran off, thinking about just what an amazing dream it had been.

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FAZ Reading Level Detail

Lexile Score 600
Word Count 1087
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