`Mine is a long and a sad tale!' said the Mouse, turning to Alice, and sighing.
`It IS a long tail, certainly,' said Alice, looking down with wonder at the Mouse's
tail; `but why do you call it sad?' And she kept on puzzling about it while the
Mouse was speaking, so that her idea of the tale was something like this:--
`Fury said to a
mouse, That he
met in the
both go to
law: I will
I'll take no
must have a
mouse to the
`You are not attending!' said the Mouse to Alice severely. `What are you thinking
`I beg your pardon,' said Alice very humbly: `you had got to the fifth bend,
`I had NOT!' cried the Mouse, sharply and very angrily.
`A knot!' said Alice, always ready to make herself useful, and looking anxiously
about her. `Oh, do let me help to undo it!'
`I shall do nothing of the sort,' said the Mouse, getting up and walking away.
`You insult me by talking such nonsense!'
`I didn't mean it!' pleaded poor Alice. `But you're so easily offended, you know!'
The Mouse only growled in reply.
`Please come back and finish your story!' Alice called after it; and the others
all joined in chorus, `Yes, please do!' but the Mouse only shook its head impatiently,
and walked a little quicker.
`What a pity it wouldn't stay!' sighed the Lory, as soon as it was quite out
of sight; and an old Crab took the opportunity of saying to her daughter `Ah, my
dear! Let this be a lesson to you never to lose YOUR temper!' `Hold your tongue,
Ma!' said the young Crab, a little snappishly. `You're enough to try the patience
of an oyster!'
`I wish I had our Dinah here, I know I do!' said Alice aloud, addressing nobody
in particular. `She'd soon fetch it back!'
`And who is Dinah, if I might venture to ask the question?' said the Lory.
Alice replied eagerly, for she was always ready to talk about her pet: `Dinah's
our cat. And she's such a capital one for catching mice you can't think! And oh,
I wish you could see her after the birds! Why, she'll eat a little bird as soon
as look at it!'
This speech caused a remarkable sensation among the party. Some of the birds
hurried off at once: one old Magpie began wrapping itself up very carefully, remarking,
`I really must be getting home; the night-air doesn't suit my throat!' and a Canary
called out in a trembling voice to its children, `Come away, my dears! It's high
time you were all in bed!' On various pretexts they all moved off, and Alice was
soon left alone.
`I wish I hadn't mentioned Dinah!' she said to herself in a melancholy tone.
`Nobody seems to like her, down here, and I'm sure she's the best cat in the world!
Oh, my dear Dinah! I wonder if I shall ever see you any more!' And here poor Alice
began to cry again, for she felt very lonely and low-spirited. In a little while,
however, she again heard a little pattering of footsteps in the distance, and she
looked up eagerly, half hoping that the Mouse had changed his mind, and was coming
back to finish his story.
The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill
It was the White Rabbit, trotting slowly back again, and looking anxiously about
as it went, as if it had lost something; and she heard it muttering to itself `The
Duchess! The Duchess! Oh my dear paws! Oh my fur and whiskers! She'll get me executed,
as sure as ferrets are ferrets! Where CAN I have dropped them, I wonder?' Alice
guessed in a moment that it was looking for the fan and the pair of white kid gloves,
and she very good-naturedly began hunting about for them, but they were nowhere
to be seen--everything seemed to have changed since her swim in the pool, and the
great hall, with the glass table and the little door, had vanished completely.
Very soon the Rabbit noticed Alice, as she went hunting about, and called out
to her in an angry tone, `Why, Mary Ann, what ARE you doing out here? Run home this
moment, and fetch me a pair of gloves and a fan! Quick, now!' And Alice was so much
frightened that she ran off at once in the direction it pointed to, without trying
to explain the mistake it had made.
`He took me for his housemaid,' she said to herself as she ran. `How surprised
he'll be when he finds out who I am! But I'd better take him his fan and gloves--that
is, if I can find them.' As she said this, she came upon a neat little house, on
the door of which was a bright brass plate with the name `W. RABBIT' engraved upon
it. She went in without knocking, and hurried upstairs, in great fear lest she should
meet the real Mary Ann, and be turned out of the house before she had found the
fan and gloves.
`How queer it seems,' Alice said to herself, `to be going messages for a rabbit!
I suppose Dinah'll be sending me on messages next!' And she began fancying the sort
of thing that would happen: `"Miss Alice! Come here directly, and get ready for
your walk!" "Coming in a minute, nurse! But I've got to see that the mouse doesn't
get out." Only I don't think,' Alice went on, `that they'd let Dinah stop in the
house if it began ordering people about like that!'
By this time she had found her way into a tidy little room with a table in the
window, and on it (as she had hoped) a fan and two or three pairs of tiny white
kid gloves: she took up the fan and a pair of the gloves, and was just going to
leave the room, when her eye fell upon a little bottle that stood near the looking-
glass. There was no label this time with the words `DRINK ME,' but nevertheless
she uncorked it and put it to her lips. `I know SOMETHING interesting is sure to
happen,' she said to herself, `whenever I eat or drink anything; so I'll just see
what this bottle does. I do hope it'll make me grow large again, for really I'm
quite tired of being such a tiny little thing!'
It did so indeed, and much sooner than she had expected: before she had drunk
half the bottle, she found her head pressing against the ceiling, and had to stoop
to save her neck from being broken. She hastily put down the bottle, saying to herself
`That's quite enough--I hope I shan't grow any more--As it is, I can't get out at
the door--I do wish I hadn't drunk quite so much!'
Alas! it was too late to wish that! She went on growing, and growing, and very
soon had to kneel down on the floor: in another minute there was not even room for
this, and she tried the effect of lying down with one elbow against the door, and
the other arm curled round her head. Still she went on growing, and, as a last resource,
she put one arm out of the window, and one foot up the chimney, and said to herself
`Now I can do no more, whatever happens. What WILL become of me?'
Luckily for Alice, the little magic bottle had now had its full effect, and she
grew no larger: still it was very uncomfortable, and, as there seemed to be no sort
of chance of her ever getting out of the room again, no wonder she felt unhappy.
`It was much pleasanter at home,' thought poor Alice, `when one wasn't always
growing larger and smaller, and being ordered about by mice and rabbits. I almost
wish I hadn't gone down that rabbit-hole--and yet--and yet--it's rather curious,
you know, this sort of life! I do wonder what CAN have happened to me! When I used
to read fairy-tales, I fancied that kind of thing never happened, and now here I
am in the middle of one! There ought to be a book written about me, that there ought!
And when I grow up, I'll write one--but I'm grown up now,' she added in a sorrowful
tone; `at least there's no room to grow up any more HERE.'
`But then,' thought Alice, `shall I NEVER get any older than I am now? That'll
be a comfort, one way--never to be an old woman-- but then--always to have lessons
to learn! Oh, I shouldn't like THAT!'
`Oh, you foolish Alice!' she answered herself. `How can you learn lessons in
here? Why, there's hardly room for YOU, and no room at all for any lesson-books!'
And so she went on, taking first one side and then the other, and making quite
a conversation of it altogether; but after a few minutes she heard a voice outside,
and stopped to listen. `Mary Ann! Mary Ann!' said the voice. `Fetch me my gloves
this moment!' Then came a little pattering of feet on the stairs. Alice knew it
was the Rabbit coming to look for her, and she trembled till she shook the house,
quite forgetting that she was now about a thousand times as large as the Rabbit,
and had no reason to be afraid of it.
Presently the Rabbit came up to the door, and tried to open it; but, as the door
opened inwards, and Alice's elbow was pressed hard against it, that attempt proved
a failure. Alice heard it say to itself `Then I'll go round and get in at the window.'
`THAT you won't' thought Alice, and, after waiting till she fancied she heard
the Rabbit just under the window, she suddenly spread out her hand, and made a snatch
in the air. She did not get hold of anything, but she heard a little shriek and
a fall, and a crash of broken glass, from which she concluded that it was just possible
it had fallen into a cucumber-frame, or something of the sort.
Next came an angry voice--the Rabbit's--`Pat! Pat! Where are you?' And then a
voice she had never heard before, `Sure then I'm here! Digging for apples, yer honour!'
`Digging for apples, indeed!' said the Rabbit angrily. `Here! Come and help me
out of THIS!' (Sounds of more broken glass.)
`Now tell me, Pat, what's that in the window?'
`Sure, it's an arm, yer honour!' (He pronounced it `arrum.')
`An arm, you goose! Who ever saw one that size? Why, it fills the whole window!'
`Sure, it does, yer honour: but it's an arm for all that.'
`Well, it's got no business there, at any rate: go and take it away!'
There was a long silence after this, and Alice could only hear whispers now and
then; such as, `Sure, I don't like it, yer honour, at all, at all!' `Do as I tell
you, you coward!' and at last she spread out her hand again, and made another snatch
in the air. This time there were TWO little shrieks, and more sounds of broken glass.
`What a number of cucumber-frames there must be!' thought Alice. `I wonder what
they'll do next! As for pulling me out of the window, I only wish they COULD! I'm
sure I don't want to stay in here any longer!'
She waited for some time without hearing anything more: at last came a rumbling
of little cartwheels, and the sound of a good many voices all talking together:
she made out the words: `Where's the other ladder?--Why, I hadn't to bring but one;
Bill's got the other--Bill! fetch it here, lad!--Here, put 'em up at this corner--No,
tie 'em together first--they don't reach half high enough yet--Oh! they'll do well
enough; don't be particular-- Here, Bill! catch hold of this rope--Will the roof
bear?--Mind that loose slate--Oh, it's coming down! Heads below!' (a loud crash)--`Now,
who did that?--It was Bill, I fancy--Who's to go down the chimney?--Nay, I shan't!
YOU do it!--That I won't, then!--Bill's to go down--Here, Bill! the master says
you're to go down the chimney!'
`Oh! So Bill's got to come down the chimney, has he?' said Alice to herself.
`Shy, they seem to put everything upon Bill! I wouldn't be in Bill's place for a
good deal: this fireplace is narrow, to be sure; but I THINK I can kick a little!'
She drew her foot as far down the chimney as she could, and waited till she heard
a little animal (she couldn't guess of what sort it was) scratching and scrambling
about in the chimney close above her: then, saying to herself `This is Bill,' she
gave one sharp kick, and waited to see what would happen next.
The first thing she heard was a general chorus of `There goes Bill!' then the
Rabbit's voice along--`Catch him, you by the hedge!' then silence, and then another
confusion of voices--`Hold up his head--Brandy now--Don't choke him--How was it,
old fellow? What happened to you? Tell us all about it!'
Last came a little feeble, squeaking voice, (`That's Bill,' thought Alice,) `Well,
I hardly know--No more, thank ye; I'm better now--but I'm a deal too flustered to
tell you--all I know is, something comes at me like a Jack-in-the-box, and up I
goes like a sky-rocket!'
`So you did, old fellow!' said the others.
`We must burn the house down!' said the Rabbit's voice; and Alice called out
as loud as she could, `If you do. I'll set Dinah at you!'
There was a dead silence instantly, and Alice thought to herself, `I wonder what
they WILL do next! If they had any sense, they'd take the roof off.' After a minute
or two, they began moving about again, and Alice heard the Rabbit say, `A barrowful
will do, to begin with.'
`A barrowful of WHAT?' thought Alice; but she had not long to doubt, for the
next moment a shower of little pebbles came rattling in at the window, and some
of them hit her in the face. `I'll put a stop to this,' she said to herself, and
shouted out, `You'd better not do that again!' which produced another dead silence.
Alice noticed with some surprise that the pebbles were all turning into little
cakes as they lay on the floor, and a bright idea came into her head. `If I eat
one of these cakes,' she thought, `it's sure to make SOME change in my size; and
as it can't possibly make me larger, it must make me smaller, I suppose.'