THE MAD CONVERSATION: An extract from Alice in Wonderland on Top of the World
Flummoxed by the Rabbit’s question, Alice found herself struggling to find a reply. The only one that she was able to come up with, was, “I bet you are mad!”
“That all depends,” the Rabbit replied, quite matter-of-factly.
“It all depends on what?”
“On whether you mean mad or mad.”
“That’s silly,” said Alice. “They both mean the very same thing.”
“If you were mad number one,” said the White Rabbit, with full conviction of the soundness of his case, “and someone happened to tell you that you were mad number two, you might be very mad indeed, at so fundamental a mistake.”
“But I’m not mad!” Alice insisted, becoming ever more frustrated at so silly a conversation.
“How do you know that you aren’t mad,” asked the Rabbit, who appeared to be enjoying flummoxing Alice, so “when you can’t tell the difference between mad number one and mad number two, I might ask?”
“I just know that I’m not mad!” Alice insisted stamping her foot, displaying her annoyance at what she considered was questionable logic. Then changing the subject, from her possible madness or claimed sanity, Alice informed the Rabbit that another door had appeared and was awaiting his attention.
Turning round, the White Rabbit took hold of the brass handle and attempted to turn it, but despite his best efforts the door remained stubbornly shut.
“Might I try?” Alice asked, feeling very un-mad. Standing away from the door, the White Rabbit said nothing, but his pink, beady eyes watched her intently.
The door opened easily for Alice, and feeling vindicated, she proclaimed, “Could a mad person have done that?” Without waiting for a reply, she stepped through the doorway and promptly fell into a gaping hole on the other side.
“No, they mightn’t,” said the Rabbit, laughing as she disappeared into the hole. “But would they have fallen down there?” Laughing again, he hopped through doorway and jumped into the hole, following Alice…