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ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND Lewis Carroll

CHAPTER IV

                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
good-naturedly 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 Alice, as she went  hunting  about,  and
called out to her in an angry tone, - Why, Mary Ann, what  ARE  you  doing
out here? Run home this moment, and fetch me a pair of gloves and  a  fan!
Quick, now! - And Alice was so much frightened that she ran off at once in
the direction it pointed to, without trying to explain the mistake it  had
made.
     - 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, - Alice said to herself, - to be going messages
for a rabbit! I suppose Dinah'll be sending me on messages next! - And she
began fancying the sort of thing that would happen:  -  Miss  Alice!  Come
here directly, and get ready for your walk! - - Coming in a minute, nurse!
But I've got to see that the mouse doesn't get out. Only I don't think,  -
Alice went on, - that they'd let Dinah stop  in  the  house  if  it  began
ordering people about like that!
     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 lookingglass. 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?
     Luckily for Alice, the little magic  bottle  had  now  had  its  full
effect, and she grew no larger: still it was very uncomfortable,  and,  as
there seemed to be no sort of chance of her ever getting out of  the  room
again, no wonder she felt unhappy.
     - It was much pleasanter at home, - thought poor Alice,  -  when  one
wasn't always growing larger and smaller, and being ordered about by  mice
and rabbits. I almost wish I hadn't gone down that rabbit-hole - and yet -
and yet - it's rather curious, you know, this sort of life!  I  do  wonder
what CAN have happened to me! When I used to read fairy-tales,  I  fancied
that kind of thing never happened, and now here I am in the middle of one!
There ought to be a book written about me, that there ought!  And  when  I
grow up, I'll write one - but I'm grown up now, - she added in a sorrowful
tone; - at least there's no room to grow up any more HERE.
     - But then, - thought Alice, - shall I NEVER get any older than I  am
now? That'll be a comfort, one way - never to be an old woman-but  then  -
always to have lessons to learn! Oh, I shouldn't like THAT!
     - Oh, you foolish Alice! - she answered herself. - How can you  learn
lessons in here? Why, there's hardly room for YOU, and no room at all  for
any lesson-books!
     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.  Alice  knew
it was the Rabbit coming to look for her, and she trembled till she  shook
the house, quite forgetting that she was now about  a  thousand  times  as
large as the Rabbit, and had no reason to be afraid of it.
     Presently the Rabbit came up to the door, and tried to open it;  but,
as the door opened inwards, and Alice's elbow was pressed hard against it,
that attempt proved a failure. Alice heard it say to itself - Then I'll go
round and get in at the window.
     - THAT you won't - thought Alice, and, after waiting till she fancied
she heard the Rabbit just under the window, she suddenly  spread  out  her
hand, and made a snatch in the air. She did not get hold of anything,  but
she heard a little shriek and a fall, and a crash of  broken  glass,  from
which she concluded that it  was  just  possible  it  had  fallen  into  a
cucumber-frame, or something of the sort.
     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 Alice could  only  hear  whispers
now and then; such as, - Sure, I don't like it, yer  honour,  at  all,  at
all! - - Do as I tell you, you coward! - and at last she  spread  out  her
hand again, and made another snatch in the air. This time there  were  TWO
little shrieks, and more sounds of broken glass.
     - What a number of cucumber-frames there must be! - thought Alice.  -
I wonder what they'll do next! As for pulling me out of the window, I only
wish they COULD! I'm sure I don't want to stay in here any longer!
     She waited for some time without hearing anything more: at last  came
a rumbling of little cartwheels, and the sound of a good  many  voice  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 to
go down - Here, Bill! the master says you're to go down the chimney!
     - Oh! So Bill's got to come down the chimney, has he? - said Alice to
herself. - Shy, they seem to put everything upon Bill! I  wouldn't  be  in
Bill's place for a good deal: this fireplace is narrow, to be sure; but  I
THINK I can kick a little!
     She drew her foot as far down the chimney as she  could,  and  waited
till she heard a 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 along -  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 Alice,) - Well, I hardly know - No more, thank ye; I'm better  now
- but I'm a deal too flustered to tell you -  all  I  know  is,  something
comes at me like a Jack-in-the-box, and up I goes like a sky-rocket!
     - So you did, old fellow! - said the others.
     - We must burn the house down! - said the Rabbit's voice;  and  Alice
called out as loud as she could, - If you do. I'll set Dinah at you!
     There was a dead silence instantly, and Alice thought to herself, - I
wonder what they WILL do next! If they had any sense, they'd take the roof
off. - After a minute or two, they began moving  about  again,  and  Alice
heard the Rabbit say, - A barrowful will do, to begin with.
     - A barrowful of WHAT? - thought Alice;  but  she  had  not  long  to
doubt, for the next moment a shower of little pebbles came rattling in  at
the window, and some of them hit her in the face. - I'll  put  a  stop  to
this, - she said to herself, and shouted out, - You'd better not  do  that
again! - which produced another dead silence.
     Alice noticed with some surprise that the pebbles  were  all  turning
into little cakes as they lay on the floor, and a bright  idea  came  into
her head. - If I eat one of these cakes, - she thought,  -  it's  sure  to
make SOME change in my size; and as it can't possibly make me  larger,  it
must make me smaller, I suppose.
     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 guinea-pigs, who were giving it something
out of a bottle. They all made a rush at Alice the  moment  she  appeared;
but she ran off as hard as she could, and soon found  herself  safe  in  a
thick wood.
     - 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 Alice, as she leant
against a buttercup to rest herself, and fanned herself with  one  of  the
leaves: - I should have liked teaching it tricks very much, if  -  if  I'd
only been the right size to do it! Oh dear! I'd nearly forgotten that I've
got to grow up again! Let me see - how IS it to be managed?  I  suppose  I
ought to eat or drink something or other; but the great question is, what?
The great question certainly was, what? Alice looked all round her at  the
flowers and the blades of grass, but she did not see anything that  looked
like the right thing to eat or drink under the circumstances. There was  a
large mushroom growing near her, about the same  height  as  herself;  and
when she had looked under it, and on both sides of it, and behind  it,  it
occurred to her that she might as well look and see what was on the top of
it.
     She stretched herself up on tiptoe, and peeped over the edge  of  the
mushroom, and her eyes immediately met those of a large 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.



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