by Lewis Carroll
(Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)
Down the Rabbit-Hole
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
In another moment down went
The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that
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 coming 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 labeled, "Orange Marmalade," 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.
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) " - yes, that's about the right distance - but then I wonder what Latitude or Longitude I've got to?" (
Presently she began again. "I wonder if I shall fall right through the earth! How funny it'll seem to come out among the people that walk with their heads downwards! The Antipathies, I think - " (she was rather glad there was no one listening, this time, as it didn't sound at all the right word) " - but I shall have to ask them what the name of the country is, you know. Please, Ma'am, is this
Down, down, down. There was nothing else to do, so
There were doors all around the hall, but they were all locked, and when
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 before, and behind 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!
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 "Drink Me" beautifully printed on it in large letters.
It was all very well to say "Drink me," but the wise little Alice was not going to do that 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 remember 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 disagree with you, sooner or later.
However, this bottle was not marked "poison," so Alice ventured to taste it, and finding it very nice, (it had, in fact, a sort of mixed flavour of cherry-tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffy, and hot buttered toast,) she very soon finished it off.
"What a curious feeling!" said
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
After a while, finding that nothing more happened, she decided on going into the garden at once, but, alas for poor
"Come, there's no use in crying like that!" said
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 "Eat Me" were beautifully marked in currants.
"Well, I'll eat it," said Alice, "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 "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 she set to work, and very soon finished off the cake.
The Pool of Tears
'Curiouser and curiouser!" cried
And she went on planning to herself how she would manage it. "They must go by the carrier," she thought; "and how funny it'll seem, sending presents to one's own feet! And how odd the directions will look!
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.
"You ought to be ashamed of yourself," said Alice, "a great girl like you," (she might well say this,) "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, with 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, "Oh! the Duchess, the Duchess! Oh! won't she be savage if I've kept her waiting!"
"I'm sure I'm not
"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 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 somebody else' - but, oh dear!" cried
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?" 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 altogether.
"That was a narrow escape!" said
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 that case I can go back by railway," she said to herself. (Alice had been to the seaside once in her life, and had come to the general conclusion, that wherever you go to on the English coast you find a number of bathing machines in the sea, some children digging in the sand with wooden spades, then a row of lodging houses, and behind them a railway station). However she soon made out that she was in the pool of tears which she had wept when she was nine feet high.
"I wish I hadn't cried so much!" said
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
"Perhaps it doesn't understand English," thought
"Not like cats!" cried the Mouse, in a shrill, passionate voice. "Would you like cats if you were me?"
"Well, perhaps not," said
"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
So she called softly after it, "Mouse dear! Do come back again, and we won't talk about cats or dogs either, if you don't like them?" When the Mouse heard this, it turned round and swam slowly back to her: its face was quite pale (with passion,
It was high time to go, for the pool was getting quite crowded with the birds and animals that had fallen into it: there was a Duck and a Dodo, a Lory and an Eaglet, and several other curious creatures.
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 goodnaturedly 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
"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,"
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?"
"It was much pleasanter at home," thought poor
"But then," thought
"Oh, you foolish
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.
Presently the Rabbit came up to the door, and tried to open it, but as the door opened inwards, and
"That you won't!" thought
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
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? - 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 got to go down - Here, Bill! the master says you've got to go down the chimney!"
"Oh, so Bill's got to come down the chimney, has he?" said
She drew her foot as far down the chimney as she could, and waited till she heard 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 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 - 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
"So you did, old fellow!" said the others.
"We must burn the house down!" said the Rabbit's voice, and
There was a dead silence instantly, and
"A barrowful of what?" thought
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. The poor little Lizard, Bill, was in the middle, being held up by two guineapigs, who were giving it something out of a bottle. They all made a rush at
"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 think that will be the best plan."
It sounded an excellent plan, no doubt, and very neatly and simply arranged; the only difficulty was, that she had not the smallest idea how to set about it; and while she was peering about anxiously among the trees, a little sharp bark just over her head made her look up in a great hurry.
An enormous puppy was looking down at her with large round eyes, and feebly stretching out one paw, trying to touch her. "Poor little thing!" said Alice, in a coaxing tone, and she tried hard to whistle to it, but she was terribly frightened all the time at the thought that it might be hungry, in which case it would be very likely to eat her up in spite of all her coaxing.
Hardly knowing what she did, she picked up a little bit of stick, and held it out to the puppy; whereupon the puppy jumped into the air off all its feet at once, with a yelp of delight, and rushed at the stick, and made believe to worry it; then Alice dodged behind a great thistle, to keep herself from being run over, and, the moment she appeared on the other side, the puppy made another rush at the stick, and tumbled head over heels in its hurry to get hold of it; then Alice, thinking it was very like having a game of play with a cart-horse, and expecting every moment to be trampled under its feet, ran round the thistle again; then the puppy began a series of short charges at the stick, running a very little way forwards each time and a long way back, and barking hoarsely all the while, till at last it sat down a good way off, panting, with its tongue hanging out of its mouth, and its great eyes half shut.
This seemed to Alice a good opportunity for making her escape, so she set off at once, and ran till she was quite tired and out of breath, and till the puppy's bark sounded quite faint in the distance.
"And yet what a dear little puppy it was!" said
The great question certainly was, what?
She stretched herself up on tiptoe, and peeped over the edge of the mushroom, 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.
Advice from a Caterpillar
The Caterpillar and Alice looked at each other for some time in silence: at last the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth, and addressed her in a languid, sleepy voice.
"Who are you?" said the Caterpillar.
This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. 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 been 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
"I don't see," said the Caterpillar.
"I'm afraid I can't put it more clearly,"
"It isn't," said the Caterpillar.
"Well, perhaps you haven't found it so yet," said Alice; "but when you have to turn into a chrysalis - you will some day, you know-and then after that into a butterfly, I should think you'll feel it a little queer, won't you?"
"Not a bit," said the Caterpillar.
"Well, perhaps your feelings may be different," said
"You!" said the Caterpillar contemptuously. "Who are you?"
Which brought them back again to the beginning of the conversation. Alice felt a little irritated at the Caterpillar's making such very short remarks, and she drew herself up and said, very gravely, "I think you ought to tell me who you are, first."
"Why?" said the Caterpillar.
Here was another puzzling question; and, as
"Come back!" the Caterpillar called after her. "I've something important to say!"
This sounded promising, certainly:
"Keep your temper," said the Caterpillar.
"Is that all?" said
"No," said the Caterpillar.
"I'm afraid I am, sir," said
"Can't remember what things?" said the Caterpillar.
"Well, I've tried to say 'How doth the little busy bee,' but it all came different!"
"Repeat 'You are old, Father William,'" said the Caterpillar.
"You are old, father William," the young man said, "And your hair has become very white; And yet you incessantly stand on your head - Do you think, at your age, it is right?"
"In my youth," father William replied to his son, "I feared it might injure the brain; But now that I'm perfectly sure I have none, Why, I do it again and again."
"You are old," said the youth, "as I mentioned before, And have grown most uncommonly fat; Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door - Pray what is the reason of that?"
"In my youth," said the sage, as he shook his grey locks, "I kept all my limbs very supple By the use of this ointment - one shilling the box - Allow me to sell you a couple."
"You are old," said the youth, "and your jaws are too weak For anything tougher than suet; Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak - Pray, how did you manage to do it?"
"In my youth," said his father, "I took to the law, And argued each case with my wife; And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw, Has lasted the rest of my life."
"You are old," said the youth, "one would hardly suppose That your eye was as steady as ever; Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose - What made you so awfully clever?"
"I have answered three questions, and that is enough," Said his father; "Don't give yourself airs! Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff? Be off, or I'll kick you down stairs!"
"That is not said right," said the Caterpillar.
"Not quite right, I'm afraid," said
"It is wrong from beginning to end," said the Caterpillar decidedly, and there was silence for some minutes.
The Caterpillar was the first to speak.
"What size do you want to be?" it asked.
"Oh, I'm not particular as to size,"
"I don't know," said the Caterpillar.
"Are you content now?" said the Caterpillar.
"Well, I should like to be a little larger, sir if you wouldn't mind," said
"It is a very good height indeed!" said the Caterpillar angrily, rearing itself upright as it spoke (it was exactly three inches high).
"But I'm not used to it!" pleaded poor
"You'll get used to it in time," said the Caterpillar; and it put the hookah into its mouth and began smoking again.
"One side of what? The other side of what?" thought
"Of the mushroom," said the Caterpillar, just as if she had asked it aloud; and in another moment it was out of sight.
"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, but she felt that there was no time to be lost, 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 in a tone of delight, which changed into alarm in another moment, when she found that her shoulders were nowhere to be found: 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.
"What can all that green stuff be?" said
As there seemed to be no chance of getting her hands up to her head, she tried to get her head down to them, and 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, which she found to be nothing but the tops of the trees under which she had been wandering, 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!: screamed the Pigeon.
"I'm not a serpent!" said
"Serpent, I say again!" repeated the Pigeon, but in a more subdued tone, and added with a kind of sob, "I've tried every way, and nothing seems to suit them!"
"I haven't the least idea what you're talking about," said
"I've tried the roots of trees, and I've tried banks, and I've tried hedges," the Pigeon went on, without attending to her; "but those serpents! There's no pleasing them!"
"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! Why, I haven't had a wink of sleep these three weeks!"
"I'm very sorry you've been annoyed," said Alice, who was beginning to see its meaning.
"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
"Well! What are you?" said the Pigeon. "I can see you're trying to invent something!"
"I - I'm a little girl," said
"A likely story indeed!" said the Pigeon in a tone of the deepest contempt. "I've seen a good many little girls in my time, but never one with such a neck as that! No, no! You're a serpent; and there's no use denying it. I suppose you'll be telling me next that you never tasted an egg!"
"I have tasted eggs, certainly," said Alice, who was a very truthful child; "but little girls eat eggs quite as much as serpents do, you know."
"I don't believe it," said the Pigeon; "but if they do, why then they're a kind of serpent, that's all I can say."
This was such a new idea to
"It matters a good deal to me," said
"Well, be off, then!" said the Pigeon in a sulky tone, as it settled down again into its nest.
It was so long since she had been anything near the right size, that it felt quite strange at first, but she got used to it in a few minutes, and began talking to herself as usual. "Come, there's half my plan done now! How puzzling all these changes are! I'm never sure what I'm going to be, from one minute to another! However, I've got back to my right size: 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