Alice in Wonderland in Words of One Syllable/Chapter 4


CHAPTER IV.

THE RAB-BIT SENDS IN A BILL.

It was the White Rab-bit who trot-ted back a-gain. It looked from side to side as it went as if it had lost some-thing; and Al-ice heard it say to it-self, "The Duch-ess! The Duch-ess! Oh, my dear paws! She'll get my head cut off as sure as rats are rats! Where can I have lost them!" Al-ice guessed at once that he was in search of the fan and the pair of white kid gloves, and like the good girl that she was, she set out to hunt for them, but they were not to be found. All things seemed to have changed since her swim in the pool; the great hall with the glass stand and the lit-tle door—all were gone. Soon the Rab-bit saw Al-ice and called out to her, "Why, Ann, what are you out here for? Run home at once, and fetch me a pair of gloves and a fan! Quick, now!" And Al-ice was in such a fright that she ran off and did not wait to tell it who she was.

"He took me for his house-maid," she said to her-self as she ran. "What will he think when he finds out who I am! But I must take him his fan and gloves—that is if I can find them."

As she said this she came to a small neat house on the door of which was a bright brass plate with the name W. Rab-bit on it. She ran up-stairs in great fear lest she should meet Ann and be turned out of the house be-fore she had found the fan and gloves.

"How queer it seems that I should do things for a Rab-bit! I guess Di-nah'll send me to wait on her next!"

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By this time she had made her way to a ti-dy room with a ta-ble near the wall, and on it, as she had hoped, a fan and two or three pairs of small white kid gloves. She took up the fan and a pair of gloves, and turned to leave the room, when her eye fell up-on a small bot-tle that stood near. There was no tag this time with the words "Drink me," but Al-ice put it to her lips. "I know I am sure to change in some way, if I eat or drink any-thing; so I'll just see what this does. I do hope it'll make me grow large a-gain, for I'm quite tired of this size," Al-ice said to her-self.

It did as she had wished, for in a short time her head pressed the roof so hard she couldn't stand up straight. She put the bot-tle down in haste and said, "That's as much as I need—I hope I shan't grow an-y more—as it is, I can't get out at the door—I do wish I hadn't drunk so much!"

But it was too late to wish that! She grew and grew, till she had to kneel down on the floor; next there was not room for this and she had to lie down. Still she grew and grew and grew till she had to put one arm out the window and one foot up the chim-ney and said to her-self, "Now I can do no more, let come what may." There seemed no sort of chance that she could ev-er get out of the room.

"I wish I was at home," thought poor Al-ice, "where I wouldn't change so much, and where I didn't have to do things for mice and rab-bits. I wish I hadn't gone down that rab-bit hole—and yet—and yet—it's queer, you know, this sort of life! When I used to read fair-y tales, I thought they were just made up by some one, and now here I am in one my-self. When I grow up I'll write a book a-bout these strange things—but I'm grown up now," she added in a sad tone, "at least there's no room to grow an-y more here."

She heard a voice out-side and stopped to list-en.

"Ann! Ann!" said the voice, "fetch me my gloves, quick!" Then came the sound of feet on the stairs. Al-ice knew it was the Rab-bit and that it had come to look for her. She quaked with fear till she shook the house. Poor thing! She didn't think that she was now more than ten times as large as the Rab-bit, and that she had no cause to be a-fraid of it.

Soon the Rab-bit came to the door and tried to come in, but Al-ice's arm pressed it so hard the door would not move. Al-ice heard it say, "Then I'll go round and get in at the win-dow."

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"That you won't!" thought Al-ice; then she wait-ed till she heard the Rab-bit quite near the win-dow, then spread out her hand and made a snatch in the air. She did not get hold of it, but she heard a shriek and a fall.

Next came an an-gry voice—the Rab-bit's—"Pat! Pat! Where are you?" And then a voice which was new to her, "Sure then, I'm here! Dig-ging for apples, yer hon-or!"

"Dig-ging for ap-ples, in-deed!" said the Rab-bit. "Here! Come and help me out of this! Now, tell me, Pat, what's that in the win-dow?"

"Sure it's an arm, yer hon-or"

"An arm, you goose! Who-ever saw one that size? Why, it fills the whole win-dow!"

"Sure it does, yer hon-or; but it's an arm for all that."

"Well, it has no right there; go and take it out!"

For a long time they seemed to stand still, but now and then Al-ice could hear a few words in a low voice, such as, "Sure I don't like it, yer hon-or, at all, at all!"

"Do as I tell you, you cow-ard!" and at last she spread out her hand and made a snatch in the air. This time there were two lit-tle shrieks.

"I should like to know what they'll do next! As to their threats to pull me out, I on-ly wish they could. I'm sure I don't want to stay in here."

She wait-ed for some time, but all was still; at last came the noise of small cart wheels and the sound of voi-ces, from which she made out the words, "Where's the oth-er lad-der? Why, I hadn't to bring but one; Bill's got the oth-er. Bill, fetch it here, lad! Here, put 'em up at this place. No, tie 'em first—they don't reach half as high as they should yet—oh, they'll do. Here, Bill! catch hold of this rope—Will the roof bear? Mind that loose slate—oh, here it comes! Look out. (A loud crash.)—Now who did that? It was Bill, I guess—Who's to go down the chim-ney? Nay, I shan't! You do it!—That I won't then!—Bill's got to go down—Here, Bill, you've got to go down the chim-ney!"

"Oh, so Bill's got to come down, has he?" said Al-ice to her-self. "Why, they seem to put all the work on Bill. I wouldn't be in Bill's place for a good deal; this fire-place is small, to be sure, but I think I can kick some."

She drew her foot as far down as she could, and wait-ed till she heard a small beast (she couldn't guess of what sort it was) come scratch! scratch! down the chim-ney quite close to her; then she said to her-self: "This is Bill," gave one sharp kick and wait-ed to see what would hap-pen next.

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The first thing she heard was, "There goes Bill!" then the Rab-bit's voice, "Catch him, you by the hedge!" Then all was still, then the voices—"Hold up his head—Wine now—Don't choke him—How was it, old fel-low? What sent you up so fast? Tell us all a-bout it!"

Last came a weak voice ("That's Bill," thought Al-ice), "Well, I don't know—no more, thank'ye, I'm not so weak now—but I'm a deal too shocked to tell you—all I know is, a thing comes at me like a Jack-in-the-box, and up I goes like a rocket."

"So you did, old fel-low," said the oth-ers.

"We must burn the house down," said the Rab-bit's voice, and Al-ice called out as loud as she could, "If you do, I'll set Di-nah at you!"

At once all was still as death, and Al-ice thought, "What will they do next? If they had an-y sense, they'd take the roof off."

Then she heard the Rab-bit say, "One load will do to start with."

"A load of what?" thought Al-ice, but she had not long to doubt, for soon a show-er of small stones came in at the win-dow, and some of them hit her in the face. "I'll put a stop to this," she said to her-self, and shout-ed out, "You stop that, at once!" A-gain all was still as death.

Al-ice saw that the stones all changed to small cakes as they lay on the floor, and a bright thought came to her. "If I eat one of these cakes," she said, "it is sure to make some change in my size; and as it can't make me larg-er, I hope it will change me to the size I used to be."

So she ate one of the cakes and was glad to see that she shrank quite fast. She was soon so small that she could get through the door, so she ran out of the house and found quite a crowd of beasts and birds in the yard. The poor liz-ard, Bill, was in the midst of the group, held up by two guin-ea pigs, who gave it some-thing to drink out of a bot-tle. They all made a rush at Al-ice, as soon as she came out, but she ran off as hard as she could, and was soon safe in a thick wood.

"The first thing I've got to do," said Al-ice to her-self, as she walked round in the wood, "is to grow to my right size again; and the next thing is to find my way to that love-ly gar-den. I think that will be the best plan."

It was a fine scheme, no doubt, and well planned, but the hard thing was that she did not in the least know how she should start to work it out; and while she peered round through the trees, a sharp bark just o-ver her head made her look up in great haste.

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A great pup-py looked down at her with large round eyes, stretched out one paw and tried to touch her. "Poor thing!" said Al-ice in a kind tone and tried hard to show it that she wished to be its friend, but she was in a sore fright, lest it should eat her up.

Al-ice could not think what to do next, so she picked up a bit of stick and held it out to the pup-py. It jumped from the tree with a yelp of joy as if to play with it; then Al-ice dodged round a large plant that stood near, but the pup-py soon found her and made a rush at the stick a-gain, but tum-bled head o-ver heels in its haste to get hold of it. Al-ice felt that it was quite like a game with a cart horse, and looked at each turn to be crushed 'neath its great feet. At last, to her joy, it seemed to grow tired of the sport and ran a good way off and sat down with its tongue out of its mouth and its big eyes half shut.

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This seemed to Al-ice a good time to get out of its sight, so she set out at once and ran till she was quite tired and out of breath, and till the pup-py's bark sound-ed quite faint.

"And yet what a dear pup-py it was," said Al-ice, as she stopped to rest and fanned her-self with a leaf: "I should have liked so much to teach it tricks, if—if I'd been the right size to do it! Oh dear! I've got to grow up a-gain! Let me see—how am I to do it? I guess I ought to eat or drink some-thing, but I don't know what!"

Al-ice looked all round her at the blades of grass, the blooms, the leaves, but could not see a thing that looked like the right thing to eat or drink to make her grow.

There was a large mush-room near her, a-bout the same height as she was, and when she had looked all round it, she thought she might as well look and see what was on the top of it. She stretched up as tall as she could, and her eyes met those of a large blue cat-er-pil-lar that sat on the top with its arms fold-ed, smok-ing a queer pipe with a long stem that bent and curved round it like a hoop.