Alice in Wonderland in Words of One Syllable/Chapter 6


CHAPTER VI.

PIG AND PEP-PER.

Illustration d'origine (1865), par John Tenniel du roman de Lewis Carroll, Alice au pays des merveilles.png
For a while Al-ice stood and looked at the house and tried to think what to do next, when a foot-man ran out of the wood (from the way he was dressed, she took him to be a foot-man; though if she had judged by his face she would have called him a fish) and knocked at the door with his fist. A foot-man with a round face and large eyes, came to the door. Al-ice want-ed to know what it all meant, so she crept a short way out of the wood to hear what they said.

The Fish-Foot-man took from un-der his arm a great let-ter and hand-ed it to the oth-er and said in a grave tone "For the Duch-ess; from the Queen." The Frog-Foot-man said in the same grave tone, "From the Queen, for the Duch-ess." Then they both bowed so low that their heads touched each oth-er.

All this made Al-ice laugh so much that she had to run back to the wood for fear they would hear her, and when she next peeped out the Fish-Foot-man was gone, and the oth-er sat on the ground near the door and stared up at the sky.

Al-ice went up to the door and knocked.

"There's no sort of use for you to knock," said the Foot-man, "I'm on the same side of the door that you are, and there is so much noise in the room that no one could hear you." There was, in-deed, a great noise in the house—a howl-ing and sneez-ing, with now and then a great crash, as if a dish or a pot had been bro-ken to piec-es.

"Please, then," said Al-ice, "how am I to get in?"

"There might be some sense in your knock-ing," the Foot-man went on, "if we were not both on the same side of the door. If you were in the room, you might knock and I could let you out, you know." He looked up at the sky all the time he was speak-ing, which Al-ice thought was quite rude. "But per-haps he can't help it," she thought, "his eyes are so near the top of his head. Still he might tell me what I ask him—How am I to get in?" she asked.

"I shall sit here," the Foot-man said, "till to-mor-row—"

Just then the door of the house flew o-pen and a large plate skimmed out straight at his head; it just grazed his nose and broke on one of the trees near him. "—or next day, may-be," he went on in the same tone as if he had not seen the plate.

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"How am I to get in?" Al-ice asked as loud as she could speak.

"Are you to get in at all?" he said. "That's the first thing, you know."

It was, no doubt; but Al-ice didn't like to be told so.

The Foot-man seemed to think this a good time to say a-gain, "I shall sit here on and off, for days and days."

"But what am I to do?" said Al-ice.

"Do what you like," he said.

"Oh, there's no use to try to talk to him," said Al-ice; "he has no sense at all." And she o-pened the door and went in.

The door led right in-to a large room that was full of smoke from end to end: the Duch-ess sat on a stool and held a child in her arms; the cook stood near the fire and stirred a large pot which seemed to be full of soup.

"There's too much pep-per in that soup!" Al-ice said to her-self as well as she could for sneez-ing. There was too much of it in the air, for the Duch-ess sneezed now and then; and as for the child, it sneezed and howled all the time.

A large cat sat on the hearth grin-ning from ear to ear.

"Please, would you tell me," said Al-ice, not quite sure that it was right for her to speak first, "why your cat grins like that?"

"It's a Che-shire cat," said the Duch-ess, "and that's why. Pig!"

She said the last word so loud that Al-ice jumped; but she soon saw that the Duch-ess spoke to the child and not to her, so she went on:

"I didn't know that Che-shire cats grinned; in fact, I didn't know that cats could grin."

"They all can," said the Duch-ess; "and most of 'em do."

"I don't know of an-y that do," Al-ice said, quite pleased to have some one to talk with.

"You don't know much," said the Duch-ess; "and that's a fact."

Al-ice did not at all like the tone in which this was said, and thought it would be as well to speak of some-thing else. While she tried to think of what to say, the cook took the pot from the fire, and at once set to work throw-ing things at the Duch-ess and the child—the tongs came first, then pots, pans, plates and cups flew thick and fast through the air. The Duch-ess did not seem to see them, e-ven when they hit her; and the child had howled so loud all the while, that one could not tell if the blows hurt it or not.

"Oh, please mind what you do!" cried Al-ice, as she jumped up and down in great fear, lest she should be struck.

"Hold your tongue," said the Duch-ess; then she be-gan a sort of song to the child, giv-ing it a hard shake at the end of each line.

At the end of the song she threw the child at Al-ice and said, "Here, you may nurse it a bit if you like; I must go and get read-y to play cro-quet with the Queen," and she left the room in great haste. The cook threw a pan after her as she went, but it just missed her.

Al-ice caught the child, which held out its arms and legs on all sides, "just like a star-fish," Al-ice thought. The poor thing snort-ed like a steam en-gine when she caught it, and turned a-bout so much, it was as much as she could do at first to hold it.

As soon as she found out the right way to nurse it, (which was to twist it up in a sort of knot, then keep tight hold of its right ear and left foot), she took it out in the fresh air. "If I don't take this child with me," thought Al-ice, "they're sure to kill it in a day or two; wouldn't it be wrong to leave it here?" She said the last words out loud, and the child grunt-ed (it had left off sneez-ing by this time). "Don't grunt," said Al-ice, "that is not at all the right way to do."

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The child grunt-ed a-gain and Al-ice looked at its face to see what was wrong with it. There could be no doubt that it had a turn-up nose, much more like a snout than a child's nose. Its eyes were quite small too; in fact she did not like the look of the thing at all.

"Per-haps that was not a grunt, but a sob," and she looked to see if there were tears in its eyes.

No, there were no tears. "If you're go-ing to turn in-to a pig, my dear," said Al-ice, "I'll have no more to do with you. Mind now!" The poor thing sobbed once more (or grunted, Al-ice couldn't say which).

"Now, what am I to do with this thing when I get it home?" thought Al-ice. Just then it grunt-ed so loud that she looked down at its face with some fear. This time there could be no doubt a-bout it—it was a pig!

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So she set it down, and felt glad to see it trot off in-to the wood.

As she turned to walk on, she saw the Che-shire Cat on the bough of a tree a few yards off. The Cat grinned when it saw Al-ice. It looked like a good cat, she thought; still it had long claws and large teeth, so she felt she ought to be kind to it.

"Puss," said Al-ice, "would you please tell me which way I ought to walk from here?"

"That de-pends a good deal on where you want to go to," said the Cat.

"I don't much care where——" said Al-ice.

"Then you need not care which way you walk," said the Cat.

"——so long as I get somewhere," Al-ice add-ed.

"Oh, you're sure to do that if you don't stop," said the Cat.

Al-ice knew that this was true, so she asked: "What sort of peo-ple live near here?"

"In that way," said the Cat, with a wave of its right paw, "lives a Hat-ter; and in that way," with a wave of its left paw, "lives a March Hare. Go to see the one you like; they're both mad."

"But I don't want to go where mad folks live," said Al-ice.

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"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!" asked Al-ice.

"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."

Al-ice didn't think that proved it at all, but she went on; "and how do you know that you are mad?"

"First," said the Cat, "a dog's not mad. You grant that?"

"Yes."

"Well, then," the Cat went on, "you know 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 an-gry. So you see, I'm mad."

"I say the cat purrs; I do not call it a growl," said Al-ice.

"Call it what you like," said the Cat. "Do you play cro-quet with the Queen to-day?"

"I should like it, but I haven't been asked yet," said Al-ice.

"You'll see me there," said the Cat, then fa-ded out of sight.

Al-ice did not think this so queer as she was now used to strange things. While she still looked at the place where it had been, it came back a-gain, all at once.

"By-the-by, what be-came of the child?" it asked.

"It turned in-to a pig," Al-ice said.

"I thought it would," said the Cat, then once more fa-ded out of sight.

Al-ice wait-ed a while to see if it would come back, then walked on in the way in which the March Hare was said to live.

"I've seen Hat-ters," she said to her-self; "so I'll go to see the March Hare." As she said this, she looked up, and there sat the Cat on a branch of a tree.

"Did you say pig, or fig?" asked the Cat.

"I said pig; and I wish you wouldn't come and go, all at once, like you do; you make one quite gid-dy."

"All right," said the Cat; and this time it faded out in such a way that its tail went first, and the last thing Al-ice saw was the grin which stayed some time af-ter the rest of it had gone.

"Well, I've seen a cat with-out a grin," thought Al-ice; "but a grin with-out a cat! It's the strang-est thing I ev-er saw in all my life!"

She soon came in sight of the house of the March Hare; she thought it must be the right place, as the chim-neys were shaped like ears, and the roof was thatched with fur. It was so large a house, that she did not like to go too near while she was so small; so she ate a small piece from the left-hand bit of mush-room, and raised her-self to two feet high. Then she walked up to the house, though with some fear lest it should be mad as the Cat had said.