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ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND Lewis Carroll

CHAPTER II

                        The Pool of Tears    
    
     - Curiouser and curiouser! - cried Alice (she was so much  surprised,
that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English); - now I'm
opening out like the 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! I shall be a great deal too  far  off  to  trouble  myself
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.  -  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!
 
            ALICE'S RIGHT FOOT, ESQ.    
                HEARTHRUG,    
                    NEAR THE FENDER,    
                        (WITH ALICE'S LOVE).    
    
     Oh dear, what nonsense I'm talking!
     Just then her head struck against the roof of the hall: in  fact  she
was now 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), - 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!  -  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, - If you  please,  sir  -
The Rabbit started violently, dropped the white kid gloves  and  the  fan,
and skurried away into the darkness as hard as he could go.
     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,  dear!  How
queer everything is to-day! And yesterday things went on just as usual.  I
wonder if I'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'S 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 I'm 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 doesn'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 spread his claws,    
            And welcome 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 Alice, with a sudden burst of tears, - I  do  wish  they  WOULD  put
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? - 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 avoid shrinking away altogether.
     - 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. He 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 Alice,  as  she  swam  about,
trying to find her way out. - 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, - 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? - Well, perhaps not, - said Alice in a
soothing tone: - 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, - and she sits purring so nicely by the
fire, licking her paws and washing her face - and she is such a nice  soft
thing to nurse - and she's such a capital one for catching 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 thins - I can't remember 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 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,  Alice  thought),  and  it  said  in  a  low
trembling voice, - Let us get to the shore, and  then  I'll  tell  you  my
history, and you'll understand why it is I hate cats and dogs.
     It was high time to go, for the pool was getting quite  crowded  with
the birds and animals that had fallen into it: there were  a  Duck  and  a
Dodo, a Lory and an Eaglet, and several other curious creatures. Alice led
the way, and the whole party swam to the shore.
 
    


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