Alice in Wonderland
It was the White Rabbit, trotting slowly back again and looking anxiously about as it went, as if it had lost something; Alice 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, and called 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!"
"He took me for his housemaid!" said Alice, as she ran off. "How surprised he'll be when he finds out who I am!" 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.
By this time, Alice had found her way into a tidy little room with a table in the window, and on it 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 eyes fell upon a little bottle that stood near the looking-glass. She uncorked it and put it to her lips, saying to herself, "I do hope it'll make me grow large again, for, really, I'm quite tired of being such a tiny little thing!"
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, remarking, "That's quite enough—I hope I sha'n't grow anymore."
Alas! It was too late to wish that! She went on growing and growing and very soon she had to kneel down on the floor. 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. 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 that 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 honor!"
"Here! Come and help me out of this! Now tell me, Pat, what's that in the window?"
"Sure, it's an arm, yer honor!"
"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, 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. "I wonder what they'll do next!" thought Alice. "As for pulling me out of the window, I only wish they could!"
She waited for some time without hearing anything more. At last came a rumbling of little cart-wheels and the sound of a good many voices all talking together. She made out the words: "Where's the other ladder? Bill's got the other—Bill! Here, Bill! Will the roof bear?—Who's to go down the chimney?—Nay, I sha'n't! You do it! Here, Bill! The master says you've got to go down the chimney!"
Alice drew her foot as far down the chimney as she could and waited till she heard a little animal scratching and scrambling about in the chimney close above her; then 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 alone—"Catch him, you by the hedge!" Then silence and then another confusion of voices—"Hold up his head—Brandy now—Don't choke him—What happened to you?"
Last came a little feeble, squeaking voice, "Well, I hardly know—No more, thank ye. I'm better now—all I know is, something comes at me like a Jack-in-the-box and up I goes like a sky-rocket!"
After a minute or two of silence, 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. 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."
So she swallowed one of the cakes and was delighted to find that she began shrinking directly. As soon as she was small enough to get through the door, she ran out of the house and found quite a crowd of little animals and birds waiting outside. They all made a rush at Alice the moment she appeared, but she ran off as hard as she could and soon found herself safe in a thick wood.
"The first thing I've got to do," said Alice to herself, as she wandered about in the wood, "is to grow to my right size again; and the second thing is to find my way into that lovely garden. I suppose I ought to eat or drink something or other, but the great question is 'What?'"
Alice looked all around her at the flowers and the blades of grass, but she could not see anything that looked like the right thing to eat or drink under the circumstances. There was a large mushroom growing near her, about the same height as herself. She stretched herself up on tiptoe and peeped over the edge and her eyes immediately met those of a large blue caterpillar, that was sitting on the top, with its arms folded, quietly smoking a long hookah and taking not the smallest notice of her or of anything else.
At last the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth and addressed Alice in a languid, sleepy voice.
"Who are you?" said the Caterpillar.
Alice replied, rather shyly, "I—I hardly know, sir, just at present—at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have changed several times since then."
"What do you mean by that?" said the Caterpillar, sternly. "Explain yourself!"
"I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, sir," said Alice, "because I'm not myself, you see—being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing." She drew herself up and said very gravely, "I think you ought to tell me who you are, first."
"Why?" said the Caterpillar.
As Alice could not think of any good reason and the Caterpillar seemed to be in a very unpleasant state of mind, she turned away.
"Come back!" the Caterpillar called after her. "I've something important to say!" Alice turned and came back again.
"Keep your temper," said the Caterpillar.
"Is that all?" said Alice, swallowing down her anger as well as she could.
"No," said the Caterpillar.
It unfolded its arms, took the hookah out of its mouth again, and said, "So you think you're changed, do you?"
"I'm afraid, I am, sir," said Alice. "I can't remember things as I used—and I don't keep the same size for ten minutes together!"
"What size do you want to be?" asked the Caterpillar.
"Oh, I'm not particular as to size," Alice hastily replied, "only one doesn't like changing so often, you know. I should like to be a little larger, sir, if you wouldn't mind," said Alice. "Three inches is such a wretched height to be."
"It is a very good height indeed!" said the Caterpillar angrily, rearing itself upright as it spoke (it was exactly three inches high).
In a minute or two, the Caterpillar got down off the mushroom and crawled away into the grass, merely remarking, as it went, "One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter."
"One side of what? The other side of what?" thought Alice to herself.
"Of the mushroom," said the Caterpillar, just as if she had asked it aloud; and in another moment, it was out of sight.
Alice remained looking thoughtfully at the mushroom for a minute, trying to make out which were the two sides of it. At last she stretched her arms 'round it as far as they would go, and broke off a bit of the edge with each hand.
"And now which is which?" she said to herself, and nibbled a little of the right-hand bit to try the effect. The next moment she felt a violent blow underneath her chin—it had struck her foot!
She was a good deal frightened by this very sudden change, as she was shrinking rapidly; so she set to work at once to eat some of the other bit. Her chin was pressed so closely against her foot that there was hardly room to open her mouth; but she did it at last and managed to swallow a morsel of the left-hand bit....
"Come, my head's free at last!" said Alice; but all she could see, when she looked down, was an immense length of neck, which seemed to rise like a stalk out of a sea of green leaves that lay far below her.
"Where have my shoulders got to? And oh, my poor hands, how is it I can't see you?" She was delighted to find that her neck would bend about easily in any direction, like a serpent. She had just succeeded in curving it down into a graceful zigzag and was going to dive in among the leaves, when a sharp hiss made her draw back in a hurry—a large pigeon had flown into her face and was beating her violently with its wings.
"Serpent!" cried the Pigeon.
"I'm not a serpent!" said Alice indignantly. "Let me alone!"
"I've tried the roots of trees, and I've tried banks, and I've tried hedges," the Pigeon went on, "but those serpents! There's no pleasing them!"
Alice was more and more puzzled.
"As if it wasn't trouble enough hatching the eggs," said the Pigeon, "but I must be on the look-out for serpents, night and day! And just as I'd taken the highest tree in the wood," continued the Pigeon, raising its voice to a shriek, "and just as I was thinking I should be free of them at last, they must needs come wriggling down from the sky! Ugh, Serpent!"
"But I'm not a serpent, I tell you!" said Alice. "I'm a—I'm a—I'm a little girl," she added rather doubtfully, as she remembered the number of changes she had gone through that day.
"You're looking for eggs, I know that well enough," said the Pigeon; "and what does it matter to me whether you're a little girl or a serpent?"
"It matters a good deal to me," said Alice hastily; "but I'm not looking for eggs, as it happens, and if I was, I shouldn't want yours—I don't like them raw."
"Well, be off, then!" said the Pigeon in a sulky tone, as it settled down again into its nest. Alice crouched down among the trees as well as she could, for her neck kept getting entangled among the branches, and every now and then she had to stop and untwist it. After awhile she remembered that she still held the pieces of mushroom in her hands, and she set to work very carefully, nibbling first at one and then at the other, and growing sometimes taller and sometimes shorter, until she had succeeded in bringing herself down to her usual height.
It was so long since she had been anything near the right size that it felt quite strange at first. "The next thing is to get into that beautiful garden—how is that to be done, I wonder?" As she said this, she came suddenly upon an open place, with a little house in it about four feet high. "Whoever lives there," thought Alice, "it'll never do to come upon them this size; why, I should frighten them out of their wits!" She did not venture to go near the house till she had brought herself down to nine inches high.