But here, to Alice’s great surprise, the Duchess’s voice died away, even in the middle of her favourite word ‘moral,’ and the arm that was linked into hers began to tremble. Alice looked up, and there stood the Queen in front of them, with her arms folded, frowning like a thunderstorm. ‘A fine day, your Majesty!’ the Duchess began in a low, weak voice. ‘Now, I give you fair warning,’ shouted the Queen, stamping on the ground as she spoke; ‘either you or your head must be off, and that in about half no time! Take your choice!’
The Duchess took her choice, and was gone in a moment. ‘Let’s go on with the game,’ the Queen said to Alice; and Alice was too much frightened to say a word, but slowly followed her back to the croquet-ground. The other guests had taken advantage of the Queen’s absence, and were resting in the shade: however, the moment they saw her, they hurried back to the game, the Queen merely remarking that a moment’s delay would cost them their lives. All the time they were playing the Queen never left off quarrelling with the other players, and shouting ‘Off with his head!’ or ‘Off with her head!’ Those whom she sentenced were taken into custody by the soldiers, who of course had to leave off being arches to do this, so that by the end of half an hour or so there were no arches left, and all the players, except the King, the Queen, and Alice, were in custody and under sentence of execution.