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CHAPTER VI

Pig and Pepper


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.

Alice 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, and knocked.

`There's no sort of 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 to pieces.

`Please, then,' said Alice, `how am I to get in?'

`There 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 repeated, aloud.

`I shall sit here,' the Footman remarked, `till tomorrow--'

At 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.

`--or 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 know.'

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!'

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's perfectly idiotic!' And she opened the door and went in.

The 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.

`There's 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 as for the baby, it 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.

`Please 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!'

She 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:--

`I 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.'

`I don't know of any that do,' Alice said very politely,
feeling quite pleased to 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 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.

`Oh, 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.'

`Which 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 of what work it would make with the day
and night! You see the earth takes twenty-four hours 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 the hint; but the cook was busily stirring the soup, and
seemed not to be listening, so she went on again: `Twenty-four
hours, I THINK; or is it twelve? I--'

`Oh, don't 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:

`Speak roughly to your little boy,
And beat him when he sneezes:
He only does it to annoy,
Because he knows it teases.'

CHORUS.

(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!'

CHORUS.

`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 sort of 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.'

The 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.

No, 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.

Alice 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 further.

So she set the little creature down, and felt quite relieved to
see it trot away quietly 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.

`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?'

`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. `What sort of people live about here?'

`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.'

`But I don't want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.

`Oh, you can't help that,' said the Cat: `we're all mad here.
I'm mad. You're mad.'

`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 do you 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, 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.'

`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 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.'

`It 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.

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 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 a
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.'

`All 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 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 lefthand
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!'




Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Category:
Children's literature
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