FOR a minute or two she stood looking at the
house, and wondering what to do next, when suddenly a footman in livery came
running out of the wood—(she considered him to be a footman because he was
in livery: otherwise, judging by his face only, she would have called him a
fish)—and rapped loudly at the door with his knuckles. It was opened by
another footman in livery, with a round face and large eyes like a frog; and
both footmen, Alice noticed, had powdered hair that curled all over their
heads. She felt very curious to know what 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, nearly as large as himself, and this he handed over to the other, saying, in a solemn tone, "For the Duchess. An invitation from the Queen to play croquet." The Frog-Footman repeated, in the same solemn tone, only changing the order of the words a little, "From the Queen. An invitation for the Duchess to play croquet."
Then they both bowed low,
and their curls got entangled together.
laughed so much at this, that she had to run back into the wood for fear of
their hearing her; and, when she next peeped out, the Fish-Footman was gone,
and the other was sitting on the ground near the door, staring stupidly up
into the sky.
Alice went timidly up to the door
"There's no use in knocking,"
said the Footman, "and that for two reasons. 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 constant howling and sneezing,
and every now and then a great crash, as if a dish or kettle had been broken
"Please, then," said
Alice, "how am I to get in?"
might be some sense in your knocking," the Footman went on without
attending to her, "if we had the door between us. For instance, if you
were inside, you might knock, and I could let you out, you know." He
was looking up into the sky all the time he was speaking, and this Alice
thought decidedly uncivil. "But perhaps he can't help it," she
said to herself: "his eyes are so very nearly at the top of his head.
But at any rate he might answer questions. How am I to get in?" she
"I shall sit here,"
the Footman remarked, "till to-morrow——"
this moment the door of the house opened, and a large plate came skimming
out, straight at the Footman's head: it just grazed his nose, and broke to
pieces against one of the trees behind him.
next day, maybe," the Footman continued in the same tone, exactly as if
nothing 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, you
The Footman and Alice
It was, no doubt: only Alice did not like to be told so. "It's really dreadful," she muttered to herself, "the way all the creatures argue. It's enough to drive one crazy!"
Footman seemed to consider 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.
there's no use in talking to him," said Alice desperately: "he's
perfectly idiotic!" And she opened the door and went in.
door led right into a large kitchen, which was full of smoke from one end to
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
cauldron which seemed to be full of soup.
certainly too much pepper in that soup!" Alice said to herself, as well
as she could for sneezing.
There was certainly
too much of it in the air. Even the Duchess sneezed occasionally; and the
baby was sneezing and howling alternately without a moment's pause. The only
things in the kitchen that did not sneeze, were the cook, and a large cat
which was sitting on the hearth and grinning from ear to ear.
would you tell me," said Alice a little timidly, for she was not quite
sure whether it was good manners for her to speak first, "why your cat
grins like that?"
"It's a Cheshire
cat," said the Duchess, "and that's why. Pig!"
said the last word with such sudden violence that Alice quite jumped; but
she saw in another moment that it was addressed to the baby, and not to her,
so she took courage, and went on again:
didn't know that Cheshire cats always grinned; in fact, I didn't know that
cats could grin."
"They all can,"
said the Duchess; "and most of 'em do."
don't know of any that do," Alice said very politely, feeling quite
pleased to have got into a conversation.
don't know much," said the Duchess; "and that's a fact."
did not at all like the tone of this remark, and thought it would be as well
to introduce some other subject of conversation. While she was trying to fix
on one, the cook took the cauldron of soup off the fire, and at once set to
work throwing everything within her reach at the Duchess and the baby—the
fire-irons came first; then followed a shower of saucepans, plates, and
dishes. The Duchess took no notice of them even when they hit her; and the
baby was howling so much already, that it was quite impossible to say
whether the blows hurt it or not.
please mind what you're doing!" cried Alice, jumping up and down in an
agony of terror. "Oh, there goes his precious nose"; as an
unusually large saucepan 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."
would not be an advantage," said Alice, who felt very glad to get an
opportunity of showing off a little of her knowledge. "Just think what
work it would make with the day and night! You see the earth takes
twenty-four hours to turn round on its axis——"
of axes," said the Duchess, "chop off her head."
glanced rather anxiously at the cook, to see if she meant to take the hint;
but the cook was busily engaged in stirring the soup, and did not seem to be
listening, so she ventured to go on again: "Twenty-four hours, I think;
or is it twelve? I——"
bother me," said the Duchess; "I never could abide figures!"
And with that she began nursing her child again, singing a sort of lullaby
to it as she did so, and giving it a violent shake at the end of every line:
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 baby violently up and down, and the poor little thing howled so, that Alice could hardly 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 play croquet with the Queen," and she hurried out of the room. The cook threw a frying-pan after her as she went out, but it just missed her.
Alice caught the baby with
some difficulty, as it was a queer-shaped little creature, 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-engine when she
caught it, and kept doubling itself up and straightening itself out again,
so that altogether, for the first minute or two, it was as much as she could
do to hold it.
As soon as she had made out the
proper way of nursing it, (which was to twist it up into a knot, and then
keep tight hold of its right ear and left foot, so as to prevent its undoing
itself,) she carried it out into the open air. "If I don't take this
child away with me," thought Alice, "they're sure to kill it in a
day or two: wouldn't it be murder to leave it behind?" She said
the last words out loud, and the little thing grunted in reply (it had left
off sneezing by this time). "Don't grunt," said Alice; "that's
not at all a proper way of expressing yourself."
baby grunted again, and Alice looked very anxiously into its face to see
what 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
getting extremely small for a baby: altogether Alice did not like the look
of the thing at all. "But perhaps it was only sobbing," she
thought, and looked into its eyes again, to see if there were any tears.
there were no tears. "If you're going to turn into a pig, my dear,"
said Alice, seriously, "I'll have nothing more to do with you. Mind
now!" The poor little thing sobbed again (or grunted, it was impossible
to say which), and they went on for some while in silence.
was just beginning to think to herself, "Now, what am I to do with this
creature when I get it home?" when it grunted again, so violently, that
she looked down into its face in some alarm. This time there could be no
mistake about it: it was neither more nor less than a pig, and she felt that
it would be quite absurd for her to carry it any further.
So she set the little creature down, and felt quite relieved to see it trot quietly away into the wood. "If it had grown up," she said to herself, "it would have made a dreadfully ugly child: but it makes rather a handsome pig, I think." And she began thinking over other children she knew, who might do very well as pigs, and was just saying to herself, "if one only knew the right way to change them——" when she was a little startled by seeing the Cheshire Cat sitting 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 ought to be treated with respect.
cat in a tree
"Cheshire Puss," she began, rather timidly, as she did not at all know whether it would like the name: however, it only grinned a little wider. "Come, it's pleased so far," thought Alice, and she went on. "Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
don't much care where——" said Alice.
it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
so long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation.
you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long
Alice felt that this could not be
denied, so she tried another question. "What sort of people live about
"In that direction," the
Cat said, waving its right paw round, "lives a Hatter: and in that
direction," waving the other paw, "lives a March Hare. Visit
either you like: they're both mad."
I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
you ca'n't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad.
"How do you know I'm
mad?" said Alice.
"You must be,"
said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."
didn't think that proved it at all; however, she went on. "And how do
you know that you're mad?"
with," said the Cat, "a dog's not mad. You grant that?"
suppose so," said Alice.
the Cat went on, "you see a dog growls when it's angry, and wags its
tail when it's pleased. Now I growl when I'm pleased, and wag my tail when
I'm angry. Therefore I'm mad."
call it purring, not growling," said Alice.
it what you like," said the Cat. "Do you play croquet with the
"I should like it very
much," said Alice, "but I haven't been invited yet."
see me there," said the Cat and vanished.
Alice was not much surprised at this, she was getting so used to queer things happening. While she was looking at the place where it had been, it suddenly appeared again.
"By-the-bye, what became of
the baby?" said the Cat. "I'd nearly forgotten to ask."
turned into a pig," Alice quietly said, just as if it had come back in
a natural way.
"I thought it would,"
said the Cat, and vanished again.
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 March Hare was
said to live. "I've seen hatters before," she said to herself;
"the March Hare will be much the most interesting, and perhaps as this
is May, it won't be raving mad—at least not so mad as it was in March."
As she said this, she looked up, and there was the Cat again, sitting on the
branch of a tree.
"Did you say pig, or
fig?" said the Cat.
"I said pig,"
replied Alice; "and I wish you wouldn't keep appearing and vanishing so
suddenly: you make one quite giddy."
right," said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning
with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time
after the rest of it had gone.
"Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin," thought Alice; "but a grin without 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 the March Hare: she thought it must be the right house, because the chimneys were shaped 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 she walked up towards it rather timidly, saying to herself, "Suppose it should be raving mad after all! I almost wish I'd gone to see the Hatter instead!"