I took some nephews and nieces to the Zoo, and we halted at a cage marked
The eight animals were asleep in a row, and the children began to guess which was which. "That one at the end is Mr Tove." "No, no! It's Mrs Jabberwock," and so on. I suggested that they should each write down the names in order from left to right, and offered a prize to the one who got most names right.
As the four species were easily distinguished, no mistake would arise in pairing the animals; naturally a child who identified one animal as Mr Tove identified the other animal of the same species as Mrs Tove.
The keeper, who consented to judge the lists, scrutinised them carefully. "Here's a queer thing. I take two of the lists, say, John's and Mary's. The animal which John supposes to be the animal which Mary supposes to be Mr Tove is the animal which Mary supposes to be the animal which John supposes to be Mrs Tove. It is just the same for every pair of lists, and for all four species.
"Curiouser and curiouser! Each boy supposes Mr Tove to be the animal which he supposes to be Mr Tove; but each girl supposes Mr Tove to be the animal which she supposes to be Mrs Tove. And similarly for the oth- er animals. I mean, for instance, that the animal Mary calls Mr Tove is really Mrs Rathe, but the animal she calls Mrs Rathe is really Mrs Tove."
"It seems a little involved," I said, "but I suppose it is a remarkable coincidence."
"Very remarkable," replied Mr Dodgson (whom I had supposed to be the keeper) "and it could not have happened if you had brought any more children."