For a minute or two she stood looking at the house, and wondering what to d_ext, when suddenly a footman in livery came running out of the wood—(sh_onsidered him to be a footman because he was in livery: otherwise, judging b_is face only, she would have called him a fish)—and rapped loudly at the doo_ith his knuckles. It was opened by another footman in livery, with a roun_ace, and large eyes like a frog; and both footmen, Alice noticed, ha_owdered hair that curled all over their heads. She felt very curious to kno_hat it was all about, and crept a little way out of the wood to listen.
The Fish-Footman began by producing from under his arm a great letter, nearl_s large as himself, and this he handed over to the other, saying, in a solem_one, “For the Duchess. An invitation from the Queen to play croquet.” Th_rog-Footman repeated, in the same solemn tone, only changing the order of th_ords a little, “From the Queen. An invitation for the Duchess to pla_roquet.”
Then they both bowed low, and their curls got entangled together.
Alice laughed so much at this, that she had to run back into the wood for fea_f their hearing her; and, when she next peeped out, the Fish-Footman wa_one, and the other was sitting on the ground near the door, staring stupidl_p into the sky.
Alice went timidly up to the door, and knocked.
“There’s no sort of use in knocking,” said the Footman, “and that for tw_easons. First, because I’m on the same side of the door as you are: secondly, because they’re making such a noise inside, no one could possibly hear you.” And certainly there was a most extraordinary noise going on within—a constan_owling and sneezing, and every now and then a great crash, as if a dish o_ettle had been broken to pieces.
“Please, then,” said Alice, “how am I to get in?”
“There might be some sense in your knocking,” the Footman went on, withou_ttending to her, “if we had the door between us. For instance, if you wer_nside, you might knock, and I could let you out, you know.” He was looking u_nto the sky all the time he was speaking, and this Alice thought decidedl_ncivil. “But perhaps he ca’n’t help it,” she said to herself; “his eyes ar_o very nearly at the top of his head. But at any rate he might answe_uestions.—How am I to get in?” she repeated, aloud.
“I shall sit here,” the Footman remarked, “till to-morrow——”
At this moment the door of the house opened, and a large plate came skimmin_ut, straight at the Footman’s head: it just grazed his nose, and broke t_ieces against one of the trees behind him.
“——or next day, maybe,” the Footman continued in the same tone, exactly as i_othing had happened.
“How am I to get in?” asked Alice again, in a louder tone.
“Are you to get in at all?” said the Footman. “That’s the first question, yo_now.”
It was, no doubt: only Alice did not like to be told so. “It’s reall_readful,” she muttered to herself, “the way all the creatures argue. It’_nough to drive one crazy!”
The Footman seemed to think this a good opportunity for repeating his remark, with variations. “I shall sit here,” he said, “on and off, for days and days.”
“But what am I to do?” said Alice.
“Anything you like,” said the Footman, and began whistling.
“Oh, there’s no use in talking to him,” said Alice desperately: “he’_erfectly idiotic!” And she opened the door and went in.
The door led right into a large kitchen, which was full of smoke from one en_o the other: the Duchess was sitting on a three-legged stool in the middle, nursing a baby: the cook was leaning over the fire, stirring a large cauldro_hich seemed to be full of soup.
“There’s certainly too much pepper in that soup!” Alice said to herself, a_ell as she could for sneezing.
There was certainly too much of it in the air. Even the Duchess sneeze_ccasionally; and as for the baby, it was sneezing and howling alternatel_ithout a moment’s pause. The only things in the kitchen that did not sneeze, were the cook, and a large cat, which was lying on the hearth and grinnin_rom ear to ear.
“Please would you tell me,” said Alice, a little timidly, for she was no_uite sure whether it was good manners for her to speak first, “why your ca_rins like that?”
“It’s a Cheshire-Cat,” said the Duchess, “and that’s why. Pig!”
She said the last word with such sudden violence that Alice quite jumped; bu_he saw in another moment that it was addressed to the baby, and not to her, so she took courage, and went on again:—
“I didn’t know that Cheshire-Cats always grinned; in fact, I didn’t know tha_ats could grin.”
“They all can,” said the Duchess; “and most of ’em do.”
“I don’t know of any that do,” Alice said very politely, feeling quite please_o have got into a conversation.
“You don’t know much,” said the Duchess; “and that’s a fact.”
Alice did not at all like the tone of this remark, and thought it would be a_ell to introduce some other subject of conversation. While she was trying t_ix on one, the cook took the cauldron of soup off the fire, and at once se_o work throwing everything within her reach at the Duchess and the baby—th_ire-irons came first; then followed a shower of saucepans, plates, an_ishes. The Duchess took no notice of them even when they hit her; and th_aby was howling so much already, that it was quite impossible to say whethe_he blows hurt it or not.
“Oh, please mind what you’re doing!” cried Alice, jumping up and down in a_gony of terror. “Oh, there goes his precious nose!”, as an unusually larg_aucepan flew close by it, and very nearly carried it off.
“If everybody minded their own business,” the Duchess said, in a hoarse growl, “the world would go round a deal faster than it does.”
“Which would not be an advantage,” said Alice, who felt very glad to get a_pportunity of showing off a little of her knowledge. “Just think of what wor_t would make with the day and night! You see the earth takes twenty-fou_ours to turn round on its axis——”
“Talking of axes,” said the Duchess, “chop off her head!”
Alice glanced rather anxiously at the cook, to see if she meant to take th_int; but the cook was busily stirring the soup, and seemed not to b_istening, so she went on again: “Twenty-four hours, I think; or is it twelve?
“Oh, don’t bother me!” said the Duchess. “I never could abide figures!” An_ith that she began nursing her child again, singing a sort of lullaby to i_s she did so, and giving it a violent shake at the end of every line:—
? “Speak roughly to your little boy,
? And beat him when he sneezes:
? He only does it to annoy,
? Because he knows it teases.”
(in which the cook and the baby joined):—
? “Wow! Wow! Wow!”
While the Duchess sang the second verse of the song, she kept tossing the bab_iolently up and down, and the poor little thing howled so, that Alice coul_ardly hear the words:—
? “I speak severely to my boy,
? I beat him when he sneezes;
? For he can thoroughly enjoy
? The pepper when he pleases!”
? “Wow! wow! wow!”
“Here! You may nurse it a bit, if you like!” the Duchess said to Alice, flinging the baby at her as she spoke. “I must go and get ready to pla_roquet with the Queen,” and she hurried out of the room. The cook threw _rying-pan after her as she went, but it just missed her.
Alice caught the baby with some difficulty, as it was a queer-shaped littl_reature, and held out its arms and legs in all directions, “just like a star- fish,” thought Alice. The poor little thing was snorting like a steam-engin_hen she caught it, and kept doubling itself up and straightening itself ou_gain, so that altogether, for the first minute or two, it was as much as sh_ould do to hold it.
As soon as she had made out the proper way of nursing it (which was to twis_t up into a sort of knot, and then keep tight hold of its right ear and lef_oot, so as to prevent its undoing itself), she carried it out into the ope_ir. “If I don’t take this child away with me,” thought Alice, “they’re sur_o kill it in a day or two. Wouldn’t it be murder to leave it behind?” Sh_aid the last words out loud, and the little thing grunted in reply (it ha_eft off sneezing by this time). “Don’t grunt,” said Alice; “that’s not at al_ proper way of expressing yourself.”
The baby grunted again, and Alice looked very anxiously into its face to se_hat was the matter with it. There could be no doubt that it had a very turn- up nose, much more like a snout than a real nose: also its eyes were gettin_xtremely small for a baby: altogether Alice did not like the look of th_hing at all. “But perhaps it was only sobbing,” she thought, and looked int_ts eyes again, to see if there were any tears.
No, there were no tears. “If you’re going to turn into a pig, my dear,” sai_lice, seriously, “I’ll have nothing more to do with you. Mind now!” The poo_ittle thing sobbed again (or grunted, it was impossible to say which), an_hey went on for some while in silence.
Alice was just beginning to think to herself, “Now, what am I to do with thi_reature, when I get it home?” when it grunted again, so violently, that sh_ooked down into its face in some alarm. This time there could be no mistak_bout it: it was neither more nor less than a pig, and she felt that it woul_e quite absurd for her to carry it any further.
So she set the little creature down, and felt quite relieved to see it tro_way quietly into the wood. “If it had grown up,” she said to herself, “i_ould have made a dreadfully ugly child: but it makes rather a handsome pig, _hink.” And she began thinking over other children she knew, who might do ver_ell as pigs, and was just saying to herself “if one only knew the right wa_o change them——” when she was a little startled by seeing the Cheshire-Ca_itting on a bough of a tree a few yards off.
The Cat only grinned when it saw Alice. It looked good-natured, she thought: still it had very long claws and a great many teeth, so she felt that it ough_o be treated with respect.
“Cheshire Puss,” she began, rather timidly, as she did not at all know whethe_t would like the name: however, it only grinned a little wider. “Come, it’_leased so far,” thought Alice, and she went on. “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where——” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“——so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
Alice felt that this could not be denied, so she tried another question. “Wha_ort of people live about here?”
“In that direction,” the Cat said, waving its right paw round, “lives _atter: and in that direction,” waving the other paw, “lives a March Hare.
Visit either you like: they’re both mad.”
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you ca’n’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’r_ad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
Alice didn’t think that proved it at all: however, she went on: “And how d_ou know that you’re mad?”
“To begin with,” said the Cat, “a dog’s not mad. You grant that?”
“I suppose so,” said Alice.
“Well, then,” the Cat went on, “you see, a dog growls when it’s angry, an_ags its tail when it’s pleased. Now I growl when I’m pleased, and wag my tai_hen I’m angry. Therefore I’m mad.”
“I call it purring, not growling,” said Alice.
“Call it what you like,” said the Cat. “Do you play croquet with the Queen to- day?”
“I should like it very much,” said Alice, “but I haven’t been invited yet.”
“You’ll see me there,” said the Cat, and vanished.
Alice was not much surprised at this, she was getting so used to queer thing_appening. While she was looking at the place where it had been, it suddenl_ppeared again.
“By-the-bye, what became of the baby?” said the Cat. “I’d nearly forgotten t_sk.”
“It turned into a pig,” Alice quietly said, just as if the Cat had come bac_n a natural way.
“I thought it would,” said the Cat, and vanished again.
Alice waited a little, half expecting to see it again, but it did not appear, and after a minute or two she walked on in the direction in which the Marc_are was said to live. “I’ve seen hatters before,” she said to herself: “th_arch Hare will be much the most interesting, and perhaps, as this is May, i_o’n’t be raving mad—at least not so mad as it was in March.” As she sai_his, she looked up, and there was the Cat again, sitting on a branch of _ree.
“Did you say ‘pig’, or ‘fig’?” said the Cat.
“I said ‘pig’,” replied Alice; “and I wish you wouldn’t keep appearing an_anishing so suddenly: you make one quite giddy.”
“All right,” said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginnin_ith the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some tim_fter the rest of it had gone.
“Well! I’ve often seen a cat without a grin,” thought Alice; “but a gri_ithout a cat! It’s the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life!”
She had not gone much farther before she came in sight of the house of th_arch Hare: she thought it must be the right house, because the chimneys wer_haped like ears and the roof was thatched with fur. It was so large a house, that she did not like to go nearer till she had nibbled some more of the left- hand bit of mushroom, and raised herself to about two feet high: even then sh_alked up towards it rather timidly, saying to herself “Suppose it should b_aving mad after all! I almost wish I’d gone to see the Hatter instead!”