Letter to Gertrude Chataway

Written by

Lewis Carroll
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Year

2010
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Christ Church, Oxford, October 28, 1876

My Dearest Gertrude,

—You will be sorry, and surprised, and puzzled, to hear what a queer illness I have had ever since you went. I sent for the doctor, and said, "Give me some medicine. for I'm tired." He said, "Nonsense and stuff! You don't want medicine: go to bed!" I said, "No; it isn't the sort of tiredness that wants bed. I'm tired in the face."

He looked a little grave, and said, "Oh, it's your nose that's tired: a person often talks too much when he thinks he knows a great deal." I said, "No, it isn't the nose. Perhaps it's the hair."

Then he looked rather grave, and said, "Now I understand: you've been playing too many hairs on the pianoforte." "No, indeed I haven't!" I said, "and it isn't exactly the hair: it's more about the nose and chin."

Then he looked a good deal graver, and said, "Have you been walking much on your chin lately?" I said, "No." "Well!" he said, "it puzzles me very much. Do you think it's in the lips?" "Of course!" I said. "That's exactly what it is!"

Then he looked very grave indeed, and said, "I think you must have been giving too many kisses." "Well," I said, "I did give one kiss to a baby child, a little friend of mine." "Think again," he said; "are you sure it was only one?" I thought again, and said, "Perhaps it was eleven times." Then the doctor said, "You must not give her any more till your lips are quite rested again." "But what am I to do?" I said, "because you see, I owe her a hundred and eighty-two more."

Then he looked so grave that tears ran down his cheeks, and he said, "You may send them to her in a box." Then I remembered a little box that I once bought at Dover, and thought I would some day give it to some little girl or other. So I have packed them all in it very carefully. Tell me if they come safe or if any are lost on the way.

Lewis Carroll

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Elizabeth Bishop and