30th April 2020

The division between forest and courtroom was surprisingly vague. Courthouses are generally lined with wood paneling but the way the trees merged together to make a seemingly solid enclosure was quite the optic illusion. Alice took a moment to allow her eyes to adjust to the level of light, the canopy of leaves that formed the ceiling allowed just enough light to pass but never too much. The White Rabbit indicated to Alice she should sit herself on a witness bench already overflowing with a teeming host of critters great and small. With some coaxing the Egret sat on the very end moved inwards a little and Alice was just able to perch enough of herself to avoid seeming totally out of place.

The Judge watched Alice and the White Rabbit enter impatiently, to be kept waiting was not something that the rather forbidding Eagle was used to under any circumstances. He momentarily considered swooping from his bench and disappearing with Rabbit in talons back to his eyrie. Happily, for the White Rabbit he decided the Queen would probably not appreciate losing her chief adviser to reside very temporarily under a simple pie crust. The Eagle satisfied himself temporarily by a simple treble strike of his large gavel on the impressively carved judicial bench, effecting an immediate deathly silence to fall over the courtroom.

“Order in the court. All attending pray give attention and silence to the proceedings under the considerably important auspices of his eminence the high judge Harold Whitehead.”

The court clerk was a rather disheveled vulture whose crumpled black robe and yellowed wig showed a personal discipline solely lacking in fortitude.

“Bring forth the accused to stand trial.”

The Hatter walked or more correctly staggered under the weight of his manacles into the spike adorned wooden dock. He was accompanied by a pair of very straight faced Ravens whose expressions would have suited executioner than prison guard.

“Guilty, guilty, guilty, GUILTY!’

The chant from the pact spectator benches grew in volume till almost threatening to shake the very pillars of justice. Most disturbingly for the poor Hatters chances the twelve Crows perched with murderous intent in the jury box shouted louder than almost anyone else.

“SILENCE!”

The judges gavel dropped again thunderously stifling the cacophony.

“How does the prisoner plead?”

“Guilty, guilty, guilty, GUILTY!’

“SILENCE.”

The judges gavel had taken to wrapping with the rhythm and rapidity of a Gatling gun in full fire.

“Executioner!”

In proof of Alices earlier thoughts one of the Raven guards stepped forward but with the addition of a large axe grasped in his right clawed foot. The room chilled rapidly.

“Next interruption you may carry out your duty axe bird.”

The executioner waved a wing in salute but remained silent. He had once witnessed a predecessor suffer long division from their head for replying unnecessarily.

“Now, posed to the Hatter alone, how do you plead?”

The Hatter removed his stovepipe to scratch at his tangled ginger locks enthusiastically.

“I really cannot say Milord.”

A gasp escaped even the most firmly sealed lip or beak.

“You have to say otherwise it makes things terrible complicated.”

“Well perhaps if you could suggest what I might have done that is inappropriate.”

“Clerk of the court read the charges.”

“The defendant is accused of having unregulated tea parties.”

“Excuse me Milord but I hadn’t realized there were actually tea party regulations.”

“Oh yes there are many, many, many regulations. Continue with the listing of charges.”

“Cruelty to animals, noticeably the possible attempted murder of a dormouse.”

“Boo, hiss, hiss, boo!”

The courtroom was becoming noisy again and the executioner was gleefully checking the edge of his axe with his thumb.

“Use of shrimp paste when crab paste was available.”

Even Alice was inclined to consider this a most serious offence.

“Any plea now Mister Hatter?”

“Oh well that rather depends, let’s say not guilty on two and possibly not so un-guilty on the other.”

“Good enough for me. Call your first witness Mister Prosecutor please.”

The prosecutor, a rather short sighted Barn Owl, adjusted the half glazed spectacles on his nose and read the name from the top of the list.

“Call the March Hare.”

“Call the March Hare.”

“Call the March Hare.”

“Call the March Hare.”

The March Hare, who must have been loitering within earshot of the court bounded into the room absentmindedly chewing on a stick of celery that he would occasionally dip into a large mound of salt in his left palm. Alice was pleased to see he had changed into a more formal waistcoat than his usual tweed number, a nice black velveteen with silk lapels. The monocle clasped in his right eye socket did seem a little over the top but generally he presented an appearance of near sanity, a most surprising development.

“Mister Hare, you are acquainted with the accused?”

March Hare glanced casually at Hatter standing in the dock between gentile nibbles of celery.

“Why yes, that is the Hatter don’t you know!”

“Well yes of course I know.”

“Then why on earth ask me?”

This conversation between prosecuting Owl and Hare was obviously going nowhere and the Judge was forced to intervene.

“Please do keep your questions on point Mister prosecutor and you Hare, well you watch your tongue.”

Hare looked somewhat confused then spent some moments trying to stick his tongue out of the side of his mouth and curl it upwards into view. Alice realized that his air of sanity was part of a complex ruse to avoid incarceration in an asylum.

“Mister Hare, you are regularly in attendance at Hatters tea parties?”

“Oh yes, wonderful affairs. Best tea, finest crumpets, even jam tarts.”

There was an audible gasp from the gathering at the mention of tarts.

“Jam tarts did you say?”

The Judge was staring hard at the Hare now, eagle eyed you might be tempted to say if it wasn’t quite such an appallingly obvious pun.

“Just a few, now and again.”

March Hare had realized the very dangerous evidence that had tricked quite innocently from his lips and was quaking in his pelt.

“Stolen Jam tarts? Royal jam tarts?”

“Strawberry actually.”

The Hare giggled nervously as the executioner continued to twirl his axe with almost casual dexterity.

“Back to the charges in hand. The tea parties you attended, did you ask to see the official licenses?”

“I…  well….. perhaps….”

“ANSWER THE QUESTION!”

The Judges voice had such a shrill tone it often caused the ears of tiny creatures to bleed alarmingly.

“I am sure there was one. I remember a framed document was used as a teapot stand. Yes, decidedly, there definitely was a license.”

“And was the crockery cleared and washed regularly as per local health regulation number 501?”

“Well actually I can’t really comment on that. I never remained in the same seat long enough to see either clearing of the table or the fate of china.”

“China?”

“Yes Milord, a very pretty willow pattern it was.”

“OH, china.”

“Exactly Milord.”

“And what happened to the Dormouse?”

The March hare blanched so white it almost seemed like winter again.

“The Dormouse?”

“Yes indeed, the victim of the attempted teapot drowning.”

The Prosecutor had puffed up his feathers to such a degree that he looked like an escaped feather duster.

“He went back into hibernation I believe.”

“Before or after the Hatter drowned him?”

The Prosecutors head swiveled all but completely around in a very owlish way to sneer superciliously at all gathered.

“I didn’t see the Hatter drown him. Dormouse seemed quite alive after I gave up trying to force him into the tea pot lid.”

“An admission!”

The Judge scribbled frantically upon the parchment on his desk and indicated that the March Hare should be taken into custody.

“Does that mean I am free then?”

The Hatter was being hopeful of course.

“Stop the silly jibber jabber and call the next witness.”

“Call Miss Alice to the stand!”

“Call Miss Alice.”

“Call Miss Alice.”

“Call Miss Alice.”

Alice rose from her bench to suddenly realize she was very, very tall. So tall in fact that her curls brushed against the leaven ceiling of the courtroom. Her feet were now so large that they had displaced much of the public seating and the various animals and birds were all jumbled together in a large pile.

The Judge was shouting but was now so far away from her ears that the words were just a string of incoherent screams. Alice being suddenly very scared began to sob loudly, producing the largest tears that you can possibly imagine.

The court scene is most definitely ridiculous, taking careful comic aim at both participants and the system in general. It is important to recall that the legal process can often become but a matter of motions, proceedings, arguments and appeals, all often overseen by persons of such age they are barely able to keep awake let alone make cohesive decisions about life altering events. It can be argued quite logically that placing a full wig upon a bust of Archimedes would produce a substitute for any high court judge in the land, let alone within the madness that is Wonderland.

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