Lewis Carroll.

Alice's adventures in wonderland online

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VII. A MAD TEA-PARTY ...-,,.,.,.. 95






ALL in the golden afternoon

Full leisurely we glide ;
For both our oars, with little skill,

By little arms are plied,
While little hands make vain pretence

Our \v inderings to guide.

Ah, cmel Three ! In such an hour,
Beneath such dreamy weather,

To beg a tale, of breath too weak
To stir the tiniest feather !

Yet what can one poor voice avail
Against three tongues together?

Imperious Prima flashes forth
Her edict to "begin it"

In gentler tone Secunda hopes
"There will be nonsense _n it"

While Tertia interrupts the talc
Not more than once a minute.

Anon, to sudden silence won.

In fancy they pursue
The dream-child moving through a land

Of wonders wild and new,
In friendly chat with bird or beast

And half believe it true.

And ever, as the story drained

The wells of fancy dry,
And faintly strove that weary one

To put the subject by,
"The rest next time " "It is next time !

The happy voices cry.

Thus grew the tale of Wonderland :

Thus slowly, one by one,
Its quaint events were hammered out

And now the tale is done,
And home we steer, a merry crew,

Beneath the setting sun.

Alice ! a childish story take,

And with a gentle hand
Lay it where Childhood s dreams are twined

In Memory s mystic band,
Like pilgrim s withered wreath of flowers

Plucked in a far-off land.



ALICE was beginning to get very tired of
sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having
nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into
the book her sister was reading, but it had no
nictures or conversations in it, "and what is


the use of a boot," thought Alice, "without
pictures or conversations?"

So she was considering in her own mind,
(as well as she could, for the hot day made
her feel very sleepy and stupid,) whether the
pleasure of making a daisy - chain would be
worth the trouble of getting up and picking
the daisies, when suddenly a white rabbit with
pink eyes ran close by her.

There was nothing so very remarkable in
that; nor did Alice think it so very much out
of the way to hear the Rabbit say to itself,
"Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!"
(when she thought it over afterwards, it oc
curred to her that she ought to have wondered
at this, but at the time it all seemed quite
natural) ; but when the Rabbit actually took a
watch out of its waistcoat-pocket , and looked at
it, and then hurried on, Alice started to her
feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had
never before seen a rabbit with either a waist
coat-pocket- or a watch to take out of it, and


burning with curiosity, she ran across the field
after it, and was just in time to see it pop down
a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.

In another moment down went Alice after it,
never once considering how in the world she
was to get out again.

The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tun
nel for some way, and then dipped suddenly
down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment
to think aboufe stopping herself before sne found
herself falling down what seemed to be a very
deep well.

Either the well was very deep, or she fell
very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she
went down to look about her, and to wonder
what was going to happen next. First, she tried
to look down and make out what she was com
ing to, but it was too dark to see anything :
then she looked at the sides of the well, and
noticed that they were filled with cupboards
and bookshelves : here and there she saw maps
and pictures hung upon pegs. She took down


a jar from one of the shelves as she passed; it
was labelled " OKANGE MAKMALADE," but
to her great disappointment it was empty: she
did not like to drop the jar for fear of killing
somebody underneath, so managed to put it into
one of the cupboards as she fell past it.

w Well ! " thought Alice to herself, " after such
a fall as this, I shall think nothing of tumbling
down stairs! How brave they ll all think me
at home! Why, I wouldn t say anything about
it, even if I fell off the top of the house ! "
(Which was very likely true.)

Down, down, down. Would the fall never
come to an end? "I wonder how many miles
I ve fallen by this time ? " she said aloud. ? I
must be getting somewhere near the centre of
the earth. Let me see: that would be four
thousand miles down, I think " (for, you see,
Alice had learnt several things of this sort in
her lessons in the schoolroom, and though this
was not a very good opportunity for showing off
her knowledge, as there was no one to listen to


her, still it was good practice to say it over)
?? y es j that s about the right distance but
then I wonder what Latitude or Longitude I ve
got to ? " (Alice had not the slightest idea
what Latitude was, or Longitude either, but she
thought they were nice grand words to say.)

Presently she began again. w I wonder if I
shall fall right tlirougli the earth! How funny
it ll seem to come out among the people that
walk with their heads downwards! The Anti
pathies, I think " (she was rather glad there
was no one listening this time, as it didn t sound
at all the right word) w but I shall have to
ask them what the name of the country is, you
know. Please, Ma am, is this New Zealand
or Australia ? " (and she tried to curtsy as
she spoke fancy curtsying as you re falling
through the air! Do you think you could man
age it ?) w And what an ignorant little girl
she ll think me for asking! No, it ll never do
to ask: perhaps I shall see it written up some


Down, down, down. There was nothing else to
do, so Alice soon began talking again. " Dinah ll
miss me very much to-night, I should think ! "
(Dinah was the cat.) w I hope they ll remember
her saucer of milk at tea-time. Dinah, my dear !
I wish you were down here with me ! There
are no mice in the air, I m afraid, but you
might catch a bat, and that s very like a mouse,
you know. But do cats eat bats, I wonder ? "
And here Alice began to get rather sleepy, and
went on saying to herself, in a dreamy sort of
way, "Do cats eat bats? Do cats eat bats?"
and sometimes, w Do bats eat cats ? " for, you
see, as she couldn t answer either question, it
didn t much matter which way she put it. She
felt that she was dozing off, and had just begun
to dream that she was walking hand in hand
with Dinah, and was saying to her very ear
nestly, "Now, Dinah, tell me the truth: did
you ever eat a bat ? " when suddenly, thump !
thump ! down she came upon a heap of sticks
and dry leaves, and the fall was over.


Alice was not a bit hurt, and she jumped up
on to her feet in a moment: she looked up, but
it was all dark overhead; before her was an
other long passage, and the White Rabbit was
still in sight, hurrying down it. There was
not a moment to be lost: away went Alice like
the wind, and was just in time to hear it say, as
it turned a corner, " Oh my ears and whiskers,
how late it s getting ! " She was close behind
it when she turned the corner, but the Rabbit
was no longer to be seen: she found herself in
a long, low hall, which was lit up by a row of
lamps hanging from the roof.

There were doors all round the hall, but they
were all locked, and when Alice had been all
the way down one side and up the other, trying
every door, she walked sadly down the middle,
wondering how she was ever to get out again.

Suddenly she came upon a little three-legged
table, all made of solid glass ; there was nothing
on it but a tiny golden key, and Alice s first
idea was that this might belong to one of the


doors of the hall ; but alas ! either the locks
were too large, or the key was too small, but
at any rate it would not open any of them,,
However, on the second time round, she came

upon a low
curtain she "had
not noticed be
fore, and be
hind it was
a little door
about fifteen
inches high :
she tried the
little golden
key in the
lock, and to her great delight it fitted !

Alice opened the door and found that it led
into a small passage, not much larger than a
rat-hole: she knelt down and looked along the
passage into the loveliest garden you ever saw.
How she longed to get out of that dark hall,
and wander about among those beds of bright


flowers and those cool fountains, but she could
not even get her head through the doorway;
" and even if my head would go through,"
thought poor Alice, w it would be of very little
use without my shoulders. Oh, how I wish I
could shut up like a telescope ! I think I could, /
if I only knew how to begin." For, you see, so
many out-of-the-way things had happened lately
that Alice had begun to think that very few
things indeed were really impossible.

There seemed to be no use in waiting by
the little door, so she went back to the table,
half hoping she might find another key on it,
or at any rate a book of rules for shutting
people up like telescopes : this time she found
a little bottle on it, (" which certainly was not
here before," said Alice,) and tied round the
neck of the bottle was a paper label with the
words "DKINK ME" beautifully printed on
:<lt in large letters.

It was all very well to say " Drink me," but
the wise little Alice was not going to do thai



in a hurry: "no, I ll look first," she said, "and

see whether it s
marked ? poison
or not:" for she
had read several
nice little stories
about children who
had got burnt, and
eaten up by wild
beasts, and other
unpleasant things,
all because they
would not remem
ber the simple rules
their friends had taught them, such as, that a
red-hot poker will burn you if you hold it too
long; and that if you cut your finger very deeply
with a knife, it usually bleeds; and she had never
forgotten that, if you drink much from a bottle
marked "poison," it is almost certain to dis
agree with you, sooner or later.

However, this bottle was not marked " poison/


so Alice ventured to taste it 5 and finding it
very nice, (it had, in fact, a sort of mixed
flavor of cherry-tart, custard, pine-apple, roast
turkey, toffy, and hot buttered toast,) she very

soon finished it off.

* # * *

w What a curious feeling ! " said Alice, w I
must be shutting up like a telescope."

And so it was indeed: she was now only
ten inches high, and her face brightened up
at the thought that she was now the right
size for going through the little door into that
lovely garden. First, however, she waited for a
few minutes to see if she was going to shrink
any further : she felt a little nervous about
this, "for it might end, you know," said Alice
to herself, w in my going out altogether, like a
candle. I wonder what I should be like then?"
And she tried to fancy what the flame of a
candle looks like after the candle is blown out*


for she could not remember ever having seen
such a thing.

After a while, finding that nothing more
happened, she decided on going into the garden
at once, but, alas for poor Alice ! when she got
to the door, she found she had forgotten the
little golden key, and when she went back to
the table for it, she found she could not possibly
reach it: she could see it quite plainly through
the glass, and she tried her best to climb up
one of the legs of the table, but it was too
slippery, and when she had tired herself out
with trying, the poor little thing sat down
and cried.

w Come, there s no use in crying like that ! "
said Alice to herself, rather sharply, "I advise
you to leave off this minute ! " She generally
gave herself very good advice, (though she
very seldom followed it,) and sometimes she
scolded herself so severely as to bring tears
into her eyes, and once she remembered trying
to box her own ears for having cheated herself


in a game of croquet she was playing against
herself, for this curious child was very fond of
pretending to be two people. " But it s no use
now," thought poor Alice, w to pretend to be two
people! Why, there s hardly enough of me left
to make one respectable person!"

Soon her eye fell on a little glass box that
was lying under the table : she opened it, and
found in it a very small cake, on which the
words w EAT ME " were oeautifully marked in
currants. " Well, I ll eat it," said Alice, w and
if it makes me grow larger, I can reach the key;
and if it makes me grow smaller, I can creep
under the door; so either way I ll get into the
garden, and I don t care which happens ! "

She ate a little bit, and said anxiously to
herself w Which way? Which way? " holding her
hand on the top of her head to feel which way
it was growing, and she was quite surprised
to find that she remained the same size: to be
sure, this is what generally happens when one
eats cake, but Alice had got so much into the


way of expecting nothing but out-of-the-way
things to happen, that it seemed quite dull and
stupid for life to go on in the common way.

So sho set to work, and very soon finished
oft the cake.



" Curiouser and cu-
riouser! " cried Alice
(she was so much sur
prised, that for the
moment she quite for
got how to speak good
English); "now I m
opening out like the |j
largest telescope that
ever was ! Good-bye,
feet ! " (for when she
looked down at her ^
feet, they seemed to
be almost out of sight,
they were getting so
far off) " Oh, my poor
little feet, I wonder


who will put on your shoes and stockings for
you now, dears? I m sure I shan t be able! 1
shall be a great deal too far off to trouble my
self about you: you must manage the best way
you can ; but I must be kind to them," thought
Alice, " or perhaps they won t walk the way I
want to go ! Let me see : I ll give them a new
pair of boots every Christmas."

And she went on planning to herself how she
would manage it. !f They must go by the car
rier," she thought; "and how funny it ll seem,
sending presents to one s own feet! And how
odd the directions will look!

Alice s Right Foot, Esq.,

near the Fender,

(with Alice s love.)
Oh dear, what nonsense I m talking ! "

Just at this moment her head struck against the
roof of the hall: in fact she was now rather more
than nine feet high, and she at once took up the
little golden key and hurried off to the garden door.


Poor Alice ! It was as much as she could do,
lying down on one side, to look through into
the garden with one eye; but to get through
was more hopeless than ever: she sat down and
began to cry again.

" You ought to be ashamed of yourself," said
Alice, " a great girl like you," (she might well
say this,) w to go on crying in this way ! Stop
this moment, I tell you! " But she went on all
the same, shedding gallons of tears, until there
was a large pool all round her, about four inches
deep and reaching half down the hall.

After a time she heard a little pattering of
feet in the distance, and she hastily dried her
eyes to see what was coming. It was the White
Rabbit returning, splendidly dressed, w r ith a pair
of white kid gloves in one hand and a large
fan in the other : he came trotting along in a
great hurry, muttering to himself as he came,
r t)h ! the Duchess, the Duchess ! Oh ! won t she
be savage if I ve kept her waiting ! " Alice
felt so desperate that she was ready to ask help



of any one ; so, when the Rabbit came near her,
she began, in a low, timid voice, w If you please,
sir- " The Eabbit started violently, dropped
the white kid gloves and the fan, and skurried
away into the darkness as hard as he could go.

O 1 ? TEARS. 19

Alice took up the fan and gloves, and, as the
hall was very hot, she kept fanning herself all
the time she went on talking: "Dear, dearL
How queer everything is to-day! And yester- 11
day things went on just as usual. I wonder if i ;
J ve been changed in the night? Let me think:/
was I the same when I got up this morning?
I almost think I can remember feeling a little
different. But if I m not the same, the next
question is, Who in the world am I? Ah, that? 8
the great puzzle ! " And she began thinking
over all the children she knew, that were of
the same age as herself, to see if she could
have been changed for any of them.

"I m sure I m not Ada," she said, "for her
hair goes in such long ringlets, and mine doesn t
go in ringlets at all; and I m sure I can t be
Mabel, for I know all sorts of things, and she,
oh! she knows such a very little! Besides, she s
she, and Pm I, and oh dear, how puzzling it
all is! I ll try if I know all the things I used
to know. Let me see: four times five is twelve,


and four times six is thirteen, and four times
seven is oh dear ! I shall never get to twenty
at that rate! However, the Multiplication Table
don t signify: let s try Geography. London is
the capital of Paris, and Paris is the capital of
Rome, and Rome no, that s all wrong, I m
certain! I must have been changed for Mabel!
I ll try and say How doth the little " and she
crossed her hands on her lap, as if she were
saying lessons, and began to repeat it, but her
voice sounded hoarse and strange, and the words
did not come the same as they used to do :

*How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail.

And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale !

How cheerfully he seems to grin.
How neatly spreads his claws^

And welcomes little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws ! "


"I m sure those are not the right words,"
said, poor Alice, and her eyes filled with tears
again as she went on, "I must be Mabel after
all, and I shall have to go and live in that
poky little house, and have next to no toys to
v play with, and oh! ever so many lessons to
learn! No, I ve made up my mind about it:
if I m Mabel, I ll stay down here! It ll be no
use their putting their heads down and saying,
Come up again, dear! I shall only look up
and say, Who am I, then? Tell me that first,
and then, if I like being that person, I ll come
up: if not, I ll stay down here till I m some
body else but, oh dear ! " cried Alice with a
sudden burst of tears, "I do wish they would
pat their heads down! I am so very tired of
being all alone here!"

As she said this, she looked down at her
hands, and was surprised to see that she had
put on one of the Rabbit s little white kid gloves
while she was talking. " How can I have done
that I " she thought. " I must be growing small


again." She got up and went to the table to
measure herself by it, and found that, as nearly
as she could guess, she was now about two feet
high, and was going on shrinking rapidly: she
soon found out that the cause of this was the
fan she was holding, and she dropped it hastily,
just in time to save herself from shrinking away

" That was a narrow escape ! " said Alice, a
good deal frightened at the sudden change, but
very glad to find herself still in existence; "and
now for the garden ! " and she ran with all
speed back to the little door: but alas! the
little door was shut again, and the little golden
key was lying on the glass table as before, " and
things are worse than ever," thought the poor
child, "for I never was so small as this before,
never! And I declare it s too bad, that it is! "

As she said these words her foot slipped,,
and in another moment, splash! she was up to
her chin in salt water. Her first idea was that
she had somehow fallen into the sea, "and in



hat case I can go back by railway," she said
o herself. (Alice had been to the seaside once
n her life, and had come to the general con
tusion, that wherever you go to on the English
3oast you find a number of bathing machines
n the sea, some children digging in the sand
with wooden spades, then a row of lodging
louses, and behind them a railway station.)
However she soon made out that she was in
he pool of tears which she had wept when she

nine feet high.

" I wish I hadn t cried so much ! " said Alice,
is she swam about, trying to find her way out.


w I shall be punished for it now, I suppose, by
being drowned in my own tears! That will be
a queer thing, to be sure ! However, everything
is queer to-day."

Just then she heard something splashing
about in the pool a little way off, and she swam
nearer to make out what it was : at first she
thought it must be a walrus or hippopotamus,
but then she remembered how small she was
now, and she soon made out that it was only
a mouse, that had slipped in like herself.

:? Would it be of any use, now," thought
Alice, w to speak to this mouse ? Everything is
so out-of-the-way down here, that I should think
very likely it can talk: at any rate there s no
harm in trying." So she began: " O Mouse,
do you know the way out of this pool? I am
very tired of swimming about here, O Mouse ! "
(Alice thought this must be the right way of
speaking to a mouse: she had never done such
a thing before, but she remembered having seen
in her brother s Latin Grammar, "A mouse


of a mouse to a mouse a mouse O mouse ! ")
The Mouse looked at her rather inquisitively,
and seemed to her to wink with one of its little
eyes, but it said nothing.

"Perhaps it doesn t understand English,"
thought Alice ; " I daresay it s a French mouse,
come over with William the Conqueror." (For,
with all her knowledge of history, Alice had no
very clear notion how long ago anything had
happened.) So she began again: " Ou est ma
chatte?" which was the first sentence in her
French lesson-book. The Mouse gave a sudden
leap out of the water, and seemed to quiver
all over with fright. " Oh, I beg your pardon ! "
cried Alice hastily, afraid that she had hurt the
poor animal s feelings "I quite forgot you
didn t like cats."

" Not like cats ! " cried the Mouse, in a shrill,
passionate voice. * Would you like cats if you
were me?"

T Well, perhaps not," said Alice in a sooth
ing tone : w don t be angry about it. And yet


I wish I could show you our cat Dinah : I
think you d take a fancy to cats if you could
only see her. She is such a dear quiet thing,"
Alice went on, half to herself, as she swam lazily

about in the pool, w and she sits purring so
nicely by the fire, licking her paws and wash
ing her face and she is such a nice soft thing
to nurse and she s such a capital one for catch
ing mice oh, I beg your pardon! " cried Alice

again, for this time the Mouse was bristling
all over, and she felt certain it must be really


offended. *We won t talk about her any more
if you d rather not."

;? We, indeed!" cried the Mouse, who was
trembling down to the end of his tail. "As if
I would talk on such a subject! Our family
always hated cats: nasty, low, vulgar things!
Don t let me hear the name again ! "

" I won t indeed ! " said Alice, in a great
hurry to change the subject of conversation.
"Are you are you fond of of dogs?" The
mouse did not answer, so Alice went on eagerly:
"There is such a nice little dog near our house
I should like to show you! A little bright-
eyed terrier, you know, with oh! such long
curly brown hair! And it ll fetch things when
you throw them, and it ll sit up and beg for
its dinner, and all sorts of things I can t re
member half of them and it belongs to a
farmer, you know, and he says it s so useful,
it s worth a hundred pounds! He says it kills
all the rats and oh dear ! " cried Alice in a
sorrowful tone. "I m afraid I ve offended it


again ! " For the Mouse was swimming away
from her as hard as it could go, and making
quite a commotion in the pool as it went.

So she called softly after it: "Mouse dear!
Do come back again, and we won t talk about

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Online LibraryLewis CarrollAlice's adventures in wonderland → online text (page 1 of 14)