VI: Humti Dumti

H

vr, ɖ eg onli got larjr n larjr, n mor n mor hymn: ẃn ś hd cm wɖn a fy yardz v it, ś sw ɖt it hd îz n a nǒz n mǎʈ; n ẃn ś hd cm clos t it, ś sw clirli ɖt it wz HUMTI DUMTI himslf. “It c’nt b enbdi els!” ś sd t hrslf. “I’m az srtn v it, az f hiz nem wr ritn ol ovr hiz fes.”

It mt hv bn ritn a hundṛd tîmz, īẓli, on ɖt inorṃs fes. Humti Dumti wz sitñ wɖ hiz legz crost, lîc a Trc, on ɖ top v a hî wōl—sć a naro wn ɖt Alis qt wundrd hǎ h cd cīp hiz baḷns—n, az hiz îz wr steḍli fixt in ɖ oṗzit d’rex́n, n h dd’nt tec ɖ līst notis v hr, ś ʈt h mst b a stuft figr aftr ol.

“N hǎ xacli lîc an eg h z!” ś sd alǎd, standñ wɖ hr handz redi t cać him, fr ś wz evri momnt xpctñ him t fōl.

“It’s vri pṛvocñ,” Humti Dumti sd aftr a loñ sîḷns, lcñ awe fṛm Alis az h spouc, “t b cōld an eg—Vri!

“I sd y lct lîc an eg, Sr,” Alis jntli xplend. “N sm egz r vri priti, y nǒ” ś add, hopñ t trn hr rmarc intu a sort v a complimnt.

“Sm ppl,” sd Humti Dumti, lcñ awe fṛm hr az yźl, “hv no mor sns ɖn a bebi!”

Alis dd’nt nǒ ẃt t se t ɖs: it wz’nt at ol lîc convseśn, ś ʈt, az h nvr sd enʈñ t hr; in fact, hiz last rmarc wz evidntli adrest t a tri—so ś std n softli rpitd t hrslf:—

     “Humti Dumti sat on a wōl:

     Humti Dumti hd a gret fōl.

     Ol ɖ Cñ’z horsz n ol ɖ Cñ’z men

     Cd’nt pt Humti Dumti in hiz ples agn.”

“Ɖt last lîn z mć tù loñ fr ɖ powtri,” ś add, olmst ǎt lǎd, fgetñ ɖt Humti Dumti wd hír hr.

“D’nt stand ɖr ćaṭrñ t yrslf lîc ɖt,” Humti Dumti sd, lcñ at hr fr ɖ frst tîm, “bt tel m yr nem n yr biznis.”

“Mî nem z Alis, bt—”

“It’s a stypid inuf nem!” Humti Dumti inṭruptd impeśntli. “Ẃt dz it mīn?”

Mst a nem mīn smʈñ?” Alis asct dǎtf̣li.

“V cors it mst,” Humti Dumti sd wɖ a śort laf: “ nem mīnz ɖ śep I am—n a gd hansm śep it z, tù. Wɖ a nem lîc yrz, y mt b eni śep, olmst.”

“Ẃ d y sit ǎt hir ol alon?” sd Alis, nt wśñ t bgin an arğmnt.

“Ẃ, bcz ɖr’z nbdi wɖ m!” craid Humti Dumti. “Dd y ʈnc I dd’nt nǒ ɖ ansr t ɖt? Asc anɖr.”

“D’nt y ʈnc y’d b sefr dǎn on ɖ grǎnd?” Alis wnt on, nt wɖ eni îdīa v mcñ anɖr ridl, bt simpli in hr gd-nećrd añzayti fr ɖ qir crīćr. “Ɖt wōl z so vri naro!”

“Ẃt tṛmndsli īzi ridlz y asc!” Humti Dumti grǎld ǎt. “V cors I d’nt ʈnc so! Ẃ, f evr I dd fōl of—ẃć ɖr’z no ćans v—bt f I dd—” Hir h prst hiz lips n lct so soḷm n grand ɖt Alis cd hardli hlp lafñ. “F I dd fōl,” h wnt on, “Ɖ Cñ hz promist m—wɖ hiz vri ǒn mǎʈ—t—t—”

“T snd ol hiz horsz n ol hiz men,” Alis inṭruptd, rɖr unwîzli.

“Nǎ I dcler ɖt’s tù bad!” Humti Dumti craid, brecñ intu a sudn paśn. “Y’v bn liṣnñ at dorz—n bhnd triz—n dǎn ćimniz—or y cd’nt hv noun it!”

“I hv’nt, indd!” Alis sd vri jntli. “It’s in a bc.”

“Ā, wel! Ɖe me rait sć ʈñz in a bc,” Humti Dumti sd in a cāmr ton. “Ɖt’s ẃt y cōl a Hisṭri v Ñgḷnd, ɖt z. Nǎ, tec a gd lc at m! I’m wn ɖt hz spocn t a Cñ, I am: mêhap y’l nvr si sć anɖr: n t śo y I’m nt prǎd, y me śec handz wɖ m!” N h grind olmst fṛm ir t ir, az h lent fwdz (n az nirli az poṣbl fél of ɖ wōl in dwñ so) n ofrd Alis hiz hand. Ś woćt him a litl añśsli az ś tc it. “F h smîld mć mor, ɖ endz v hiz mǎʈ mt mīt bhnd,” ś ʈt: “n ɖen I d’nt nǒ ẃt wd hapn t hiz hed! I’m afred it wd cm of!”

29

“Yes, ol hiz horsz n ol hiz men,” Humti Dumti wnt on. “Ɖ’d pic m p agn in a minit, ɖe wd! Hvr, ɖs convseśn z gwñ on a litl tù fast: let’s g bac t ɖ last rmarc bt wn.”

“I’m afred I c’nt qt rmembr it,” Alis sd vri p’lîtli.

“In ɖt ces w start freś,” sd Humti Dumti, “n it’s mî trn t ćūz a subjict—” (“H tōcs abt it jst az f it wz a gem!” ʈt Alis.) “So hir’z a qsćn fr y. Hǎ old dd y se y wr?”

Alis md a śort calkleśn, n sd “Sevn yirz n six munʈs.”

“Roñ!” Humti Dumti xclemd trîumfntli. “Y nvr sd a wrd lîc it!”

“I ʈt y mnt ‘Hǎ old r y?’” Alis xplend.

“F I’d mnt ɖt, I’d hv sd it,” sd Humti Dumti.

Alis dd’nt wont t bgin anɖr arğmnt, so ś sd nʈñ.

“Sevn yirz n six munʈs!” Humti Dumti rpitd ʈtf̣li. “An uncumf̣tbl sort v ej. Nǎ f y’d asct  advîs, I’d hv sd ‘Līv of at sevn’—bt it’s tù lêt nǎ.”

“I nvr asc advîs abt growñ,” Alis sd indignntli.

“Tù prǎd?” ɖ uɖr inqîrd.

Alis flt īvn mor indignnt at ɖs sjsćn. “I mīn,” ś sd, “ɖt wn c’nt hlp growñ oldr.”

Wn c’nt, phps,” sd Humti Dumti, “bt  cn. Wɖ propr asistns, y mt hv left of at sevn.”

“Ẃt a bytifl blt y’v got on!” Alis sudnli rmarct.

(Ɖe hd hd qt inuf v ɖ subjict v ej, ś ʈt: n f ɖe riyli wr t tec trnz in ćuzñ subjicts, it wz hr trn nǎ.) “At līst,” ś c’rectd hrslf on secnd ʈts, “a bytifl cṛvat, I śd hv sd—no, a blt, I mīn—I beg yr pardn!” ś add in dsme, fr Humti Dumti lct ʈuṛli ofndd, n ś bgan t wś ś hd’nt ćozn ɖt subjict. “F I onli ń,” ś ʈt t hrslf, “ẃć wz nec n ẃć wz weist!”

Evidntli Humti Dumti wz vri angri, ɖo h sd nʈñ fr a minit or tū. Ẃn h dd spīc agn, it wz in a dīp grǎl.

“It z a—most—pṛvocñ—ʈñ,” h sd at last, “ẃn a prsn dz’nt nǒ a cṛvat fṛm a blt!”

“I nǒ it’s vri ignṛnt v m,” Alis sd, in so humbl a ton ɖt Humti Dumti rlentd.

“It’s a cṛvat, ćîld, n a bytifl wn, az y se. It’s a preznt fṛm ɖ Ẃît Cñ n Qīn. Ɖr nǎ!”

“Z it riyli?” sd Alis, qt plizd t fînd ɖt ś hd ćozn a gd subjict, aftr ol.

“Ɖe gev it m,” Humti Dumti cntinyd ʈtf̣li, az h crost wn ni ovr ɖ uɖr n claspt hiz handz rnd it, “ɖe gev it m—fr an unbrʈde preznt.”

“I beg yr pardn?” Alis sd wɖ a puzld er.

“I’m nt ofndd,” sd Humti Dumti.

“I mīn, ẃt z an unbrʈde preznt?”

“A preznt gvn ẃn it z’nt yr brʈde, v cors.”

Alis cnsidrd a litl. “I lîc brʈde preznts bst,” ś sd at last.

“Y d’nt nǒ ẃt y’r tōcñ abt!” craid Humti Dumti. “Hǎ mni dez r ɖr in a yir?”

“Ʈri hundṛd n sixti-fîv,” sd Alis.

“N hǎ mni brʈdez hv y?”

“Wn.”

“N f y tec wn fṛm ʈri hundṛd n sixti-fîv, ẃt rmenz?”

“Ʈri hundṛd n sixti-for, v cors.”

Humti Dumti lct dǎtfl. “I’d rɖr si ɖt dn on pepr,” h sd.

Alis cd’nt hlp smîlñ az ś tc ǎt hr meṃrandm-bc, n wrct ɖ sum fr him:

365

Humti Dumti tc ɖ bc, n lct at it cerf̣li. “Ɖt sīmz t b dn rît—” h bgan.

“Y’r holdñ it upsîd-dǎn!” Alis inṭruptd.

“T b śr I wz!” Humti Dumti sd gêli, az ś trnd it rnd fr him. “I ʈt it lct a litl qir. Az I wz seyñ, ɖt sīmz t b dn rît—ɖo I hv’nt tîm t lc it ovr ʈuṛli jst nǎ—n ɖt śoz ɖt ɖr r ʈri hundṛd n sixti-for dez ẃn y mt gt unbrʈde preznts—”

“Srtnli,” sd Alis.

“N onli wn fr brʈde preznts, y nǒ. Ɖr’z glori fr y!”

“I d’nt nǒ ẃt y mīn bî ‘glori’,” Alis sd.

Humti Dumti smîld cntmć̣sli. “V cors y d’nt—tl I tel y. I mnt ‘ɖr’z a nîs noc-dǎn arğmnt fr y!’”

“Bt ‘glori’ dz’nt mīn ‘a nîs noc-dǎn arğmnt’,” Alis objctd.

“Ẃn I yz a wrd,” Humti Dumti sd in rɖr a scornfl ton, “it mīnz jst ẃt I ćūz it t mīn—nɖr mor nr les.”

“Ɖ qsćn z,” sd Alis, “ẃɖr y cn mc wrdz mīn so mni difṛnt ʈñz.”

“Ɖ qsćn z,” sd Humti Dumti, “ẃć z t b mastr—ɖt’s ol.”

Alis wz tù mć puzld t se enʈñ, so aftr a minit Humti Dumti bgan agn. “Ɖ’v a tmpr, sm v ɖm—ptiklrli vrbz, ɖ’r ɖ prǎdist—ajctivz y cn d enʈñ wɖ, bt nt vrbz—hvr, I cn manij ɖ hol lot v ɖm! Impenitṛbiḷti! Ɖt’s ẃt I se!”

“Wd y tel m, plīz,” sd Alis “ẃt ɖt mīnz?”

“Nǎ y tōc lîc a rīzṇbl ćîld,” sd Humti Dumti, lcñ vri mć plizd. “I mnt bî ‘impenitṛbiḷti’ ɖt w’v hd inuf v ɖt subjict, n it wd b jst az wel f y’d mnśn ẃt y mīn t d nxt, az I s’poz y d’nt mīn t stop hir ol ɖ rest v yr lîf.”

“Ɖt’s a gret dīl t mc wn wrd mīn,” Alis sd in a ʈtfl ton.

“Ẃn I mc a wrd d a lot v wrc lîc ɖt,” sd Humti Dumti, “I olwz pe it xtra.”

“Ǒ!” sd Alis. Ś wz tù mć puzld t mc eni uɖr rmarc.

“Ā, y śd si ’m cm rnd m v a Saṭde nît,” Humti Dumti wnt on, wagñ hiz hed grevli fṛm sîd t sîd: “fr t gt ɖer wejz, y nǒ.”

(Alis dd’nt vnćr t asc ẃt h peid ɖm wɖ; n so y si I c’nt tel y.)

“Y sīm vri clevr at xplenñ wrdz, Sr,” sd Alis. “Wd y cîndli tel m ɖ mīnñ v ɖ powm cōld “Jaḅwoci”?”

“Let’s hír it,” sd Humti Dumti. “I cn xplen ol ɖ powmz ɖt wr evr invntd—n a gd mni ɖt hv’nt bn invntd jst yt.”

Ɖs sǎndd vri hopfl, so Alis rpitd ɖ frst vrs:

’Tẉz brilig, n ɖ slîɖi tovz

Dd gîr n gimbl in ɖ wêb;

Ol mimzi wr ɖ boṛgovz,

N ɖ momraʈs ǎtgreb.

“Ɖt’s inuf t bgin wɖ,” Humti Dumti inṭruptd: “ɖr r plenti v hard wrdz ɖr. ‘Brilig’ mīnz for o’cloc in ɖ afṭnun—ɖ tîm ẃn y bgin brôlñ ʈñz fr dinr.”

“Ɖt’l d vri wel,” sd Alis: “n ‘slîɖi’?”

“Wel, ‘slîɖi’ mīnz ‘lîɖ n slîmi.’ ‘Lîɖ’ z ɖ sem az ‘activ.’ Y si it’s lîc a portmanto—ɖr r tū mīnñz páct p intu wn wrd.”

“I si it nǎ,” Alis rmarct ʈtf̣li: “n ẃt r ‘tovz’?”

30

“Wel, ‘tovz’ r smʈñ lîc bajrz—ɖ’r smʈñ lîc liẓdz—n ɖ’r smʈñ lîc corcscruz.”

“Ɖe mst b vri krịs lcñ crīćrz.”

“Ɖe r ɖt,” sd Humti Dumti: “olso ɖe mc ɖer nsts undr súndîlz—olso ɖe liv on ćīz.”

“N ẃt’s t ‘jîr’ n t ‘gimbl’?”

“T ‘jîr’ z t g rnd n rnd lîc a jîṛscop. T ‘gimbl’ z t mc houlz lîc a gimlit.”

“N ‘ɖ wêb” z ɖ gras plot rnd a súndîl, I s’poz?” sd Alis, s’prîzd at hr ǒn inɉńuwti.

“V cors it z. It’s cōld ‘wêb,’ y nǒ, bcz it gz a loñ we bfr it, n a loñ we bhnd it—”

“N a loñ we bynd it on ć sîd,” Alis add.

“Xacli so. Wel, ɖen, ‘mimzi’ z ‘flimzi n mizṛbl’ (ɖr’z anɖr portmanto fr y). N a ‘bogov’ z a ʈin śabi-lcñ brd wɖ its feɖrz sticñ ǎt ol rnd—smʈñ lîc a lîv mop.”

“N ɖen ‘momraʈs’?” sd Alis. “I’m afred I’m gvñ y a gret dīl v trubl.”

“Wel, a ‘raʈ’ z a sort v grīn pig: bt ‘mom’ I’m nt srtn abt. I ʈnc it’s śort fr ‘fṛm hom’—mīnñ ɖt ɖ’d lost ɖer we, y nǒ.”

“N ẃt dz ‘ǎtgreb’ mīn?”

“Wel, ‘ǎtgrebñ’ z smʈñ btwn belowñ n ẃiṣlñ, wɖ a cnd v snīz in ɖ midl: hvr, y’l hír it dn, mbi—dǎn in ɖ wŭd yondr—n ẃn y’v wns hŕd it y’l b qt cntnt. Hu’z bn rpitñ ol ɖt hard stuf t y?”

“I réd it in a bc,” sd Alis. “Bt I hd sm powtri rpitd t m, mć īzịr ɖn ɖt, bî—Twīdldī, I ʈnc it wz.”

“Az t powtri, y nǒ,” sd Humti Dumti, strećñ ǎt wn v hiz gret handz, “I cn rpit powtri az wel az uɖr foc, f it cmz t ɖt—”

“Ǒ, it nīd’nt cm t ɖt!” Alis hesṭli sd, hopñ t cīp him fṛm bginñ.

“Ɖ pìs I’m gwñ t rpit,” h wnt on wɖt noṭsñ hr rmarc, “wz ritn intîrli fr yr aḿzmnt.”

Alis flt ɖt in ɖt ces ś riyli òt t lisn t it, so ś sat dǎn, n sd ‘Ʈanc y’ rɖr sadli.

     “In wintr, ẃn ɖ fīldz r ẃît,

     I sñ ɖs soñ fr yr dlît—

onli I d’nt sñ it,” h add, az an xpḷneśn.

“I si y d’nt,” sd Alis.

“F y cn si ẃɖr I’m sññ or nt, y’v śarpr îz ɖn most.” Humti Dumti rmarct svirli. Alis wz sîḷnt.

     In sprñ, ẃn wŭdz r gtñ grīn,

     I’l trî n tel y ẃt I mīn.

“Ʈanc y vri mć,” sd Alis.

     In sumr, ẃn ɖ dez r loñ,

     Phps y’l unḍstand ɖ soñ:

     In ōtm, ẃn ɖ līvz r brǎn,

     Tec pén n ñc, n rait it dǎn.

“I wl, f I cn rmembr it so loñ,” sd Alis.

“Y nīd’nt g on mcñ rmarcs lîc ɖt,” Humti Dumti sd: “ɖ’r nt snṣbl, n ɖe pt m ǎt.”

     I snt a mesij t ɖ fiś:

     I tld ɖm “Ɖs z ẃt I wś.”

 

     Ɖ litl fiśz v ɖ sì,

     Ɖe snt an ansr bac t m.

 

     Ɖ litl fiśz” ansr wz

     “W canot d it, Sr, bcz—“

“I’m afred I d’nt qt unḍstand,” sd Alis.

“It gts īzịr frɖr on,” Humti Dumti rplaid.

     I snt t ɖm agn t se

     “It wl b betr t obe.”

 

     Ɖ fiśz ansrd wɖ a grin,

     “Ẃ, ẃt a tmpr y r in!”

 

     I tld ɖm wns, I tld ɖm twîs:

     Ɖe wd nt lisn t advîs.

 

     I tc a cetl larj n ny,

     Fit fr ɖ dīd I hd t d.

 

     Mî hart wnt hóp, mî hart wnt ʈump;

     I fild ɖ cetl at ɖ pump.

 

     Ɖen smwn cem t m n sd,

     “Ɖ litl fiśz r in bed.”

 

     I sd t him, I sd it plen,

     “Ɖen y mst wec ɖm p agn.”

 

     I sd it vri lǎd n clir;

     I wnt n śǎtd in hiz ir.

31

Humti Dumti rezd hiz vôs olmst t a scrīm az h rpitd ɖs vrs, n Alis ʈt wɖ a śudr, “I wd’nt hv bn ɖ mesinjr fr enʈñ!”

     Bt h wz vri stif n prǎd;

     H sd “Y nīd’nt śǎt so lǎd!”

 

     N h wz vri prǎd n stif;

     H sd “I’d g n wec ɖm, f—”

 

     I tc a corcscru fṛm ɖ ślf:

     I wnt t wec ɖm p mslf.

 

     N ẃn I faund ɖ dor wz loct,

     I pld n pśt n cict n noct.

 

     N ẃn I faund ɖ dor wz śut,

     I traid t trn ɖ handl, bt—”

Ɖr wz a loñ pōz.

“Z ɖt ol?” Alis timidli asct.

“Ɖt’s ol,” sd Humti Dumti. “Gdbî.”

Ɖs wz rɖr sudn, Alis ʈt: bt, aftr sć a vri stroñ hint ɖt ś òt t b gwñ, ś flt ɖt it wd hardli b sivl t ste. So ś got p, n hld ǎt hr hand. “Gdbî, tl w mīt agn!” ś sd az ćirf̣li az ś cd.

“I śd’nt nǒ y agn f w dd mīt,” Humti Dumti rplaid in a discntntd ton, gvñ hr wn v hiz fngrz t śec; “y’r so xacli lîc uɖr ppl.”

“Ɖ fes z ẃt wn gz bî, jenṛli,” Alis rmarct in a ʈtfl ton.

“Ɖt’s jst ẃt I cmplen v,” sd Humti Dumti. “Yr fes z ɖ sem az evrbdi hz—ɖ tū îz, so—” (marcñ ɖer plesz in ɖ er wɖ hiz ʈum) “nǒz in ɖ midl, mǎʈ undr. It’s olwz ɖ sem. Nǎ f y hd ɖ tū îz on ɖ sem sîd v ɖ nǒz, fr instns—or ɖ mǎʈ at ɖ top—ɖt wd b sm hlp.”

“It wd’nt lc nîs,” Alis objctd. Bt Humti Dumti onli śut hiz îz n sd “Wêt tl y’v traid.”

Alis wêtd a minit t si f h wd spīc agn, bt az h nvr opnd hiz îz or tc eni frɖr notis v hr, ś sd “Gdbî!” wns mor, n, gtñ no ansr t ɖs, ś qaytli wōct awe: bt ś cd’nt hlp seyñ t hrslf az ś wnt, “V ol ɖ unsaṭsfactri—” (ś rpitd ɖs alǎd, az it wz a gret cumf̣t t hv sć a loñ wrd t se) “v ol ɖ unsaṭsfactri ppl I evr met—” Ś nvr finiśt ɖ sntns, fr at ɖs momnt a hevi craś śc ɖ forist fṛm end t end.


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