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by Lewis Carroll (Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)
The original, squashed down to read in about 25 minutes
Self-portrait of Dodgson and his original manuscript
Dodgson was a mathematics lecturer at Oxford University, a logician and pioneer photographer who delighted in puzzles and nonsense stories. This, probably the most popular children's story of all time, is said to have been invented for Alice Liddell, daughter of the Dean of Christ Church, during a rowing trip on 4th July 1862. Its hallucinogenic style, along with much of Dodgson's private life, remains puzzling.
Abridged: GH. Illustrations by John Tenniel.
Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do; once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, "and what is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations?"
Suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her. There was nothing so very remarkable in that; nor did Alice think it so very much out of the way to hear the Rabbit say to himself: "Oh, dear! Oh, dear! I shall be too late!" But when the Rabbit actually took a watch out of his waistcoat pocket, Alice started to her feet, for she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat pocket or a watch to take out of it, and, burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after him, just in time to see him pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.
In another moment down went Alice after him.
The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so that Alice found herself falling down what seemed to be a very deep well. Down, down, down. Then suddenly, thump! thump! down she came upon a heap of sticks and dry leaves, and the fall was over.
The White Rabbit was still in sight, and away went Alice like the wind, and was just in time to hear him say, as he turned a corner, "Oh, my ears and whiskers, how late it is getting!" She turned the corner, but the Rabbit was no longer to be seen. She found herself in a long narrow hall, which was lit up by lamps hanging from the roof.
In the hall she came upon a little three-legged table, all made of solid glass. There was nothing on it but a tiny golden key. Behind a low curtain, she came upon a little door about fifteen inches high. She tried the little golden key in the lock, and, to her great delight, it fitted.
Alice opened the door, and knelt down and looked along the passage into the loveliest garden you ever saw. But she could not even get her head through the doorway.
So she went back to the table, half hoping she might find a book of rules for shutting people up like telescopes. This time she found a little bottle on it ("which certainly was not here before," said Alice), and tied round the neck of the bottle was a paper label, with the words DRINK ME in large letters. Alice tasted it, and very soon finished it off.
"What a curious feeling!" said Alice. "I must be shutting up like a telescope."
And so it was, indeed; she was now only ten inches high, and soon her eye fell on a little glass box that was lying under the table. She opened it, and found in it a very small cake, on which the words EAT ME were beautifully marked in currants.
She very soon finished off the cake.
"Curiouser and curiouser!" cried Alice. "Now I'm opening out like the largest telescope that ever was. Good-by feet!"
Just at this moment 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! To get through was more hopeless than ever. She sat down and began to cry, shedding gallons of tears, until there was a large pool all round her.
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!"
Alice felt so desperate that she was ready to ask help of anyone; so, when the Rabbit came near her, she began, in a timid voice: "If you please, sir -"
The Rabbit started violently, dropped the gloves and the fan, and scurried away into the darkness.
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! How puzzling it all is!" But presently on looking down at her hands, she 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 soon found out that the cause of this was the fan she was holding, and she dropped it hastily, just in time to save herself from shrinking away altogether. Now she hastened to the little door, but alas, it was shut again. "I declare it's too bad, that it is!" she said aloud, and just as she spoke her foot slipped, and in another moment, splash! she was up to her chin in salt water. It was the pool of tears she had wept when she was nine feet high!
Just then she heard something splashing about in the pool a little way off, and she swam nearer to make out what it was. She soon made out that it was only a mouse that had slipped in like herself.
She began, "O Mouse, do you know the way out of this pool?" The Mouse said nothing.
"Perhaps it doesn't understand English," thought Alice; "I daresay it's a French mouse, come over with William the Conqueror." So she began again, "ou est ma chatte?" which was the first sentence in her French lesson book. The Mouse seemed to quiver all over with fright. "Oh, I beg your pardon!" cried Alice, "I quite forgot you don't like cats."
The pool, by now, 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 other curious creatures. Alice led the way, and the whole party swam to the shore.
A very queer-looking party of dripping birds and animals now gathered on the bank of the Pool of Tears. The Mouse, tried to dry them by telling them frightfully dry stories from history. Then the Dodo proposed a Caucus race. They all started off when they liked, and stopped when they liked. The Dodo said everybody had won, and Alice had to give the prizes. Luckily she had some sweets, which were not wet, and there was just one for each of them. The party were anxious she, too, should have a prize, and as she happened to have a thimble, the Dodo commanded her to hand it to him, and then, with great ceremony, the Dodo presented it to her, saying, "We beg your acceptance of this elegant thimble," and they all cheered.
The Mouse began to tell Alice why it hated C- and D-, but when Alice mentioned Dinah, her cat, the birds got uneasy, and one by one the whole party gradually went off and left her all alone. Just when she was beginning to cry, she heard a pattering of little feet.
It was the White Rabbit, trotting slowly back again, and looking anxiously about as he went, as if he had lost something and she heard him muttering to himself, "The Duchess! The Duchess!"
Very soon the Rabbit noticed Alice, 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!"
Alice ran off as hard as she could, and soon found herself safe in a thick wood.
Peeping over a mushroom, she beheld a large blue caterpillar 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. At length, in a sleepy sort of way, it began talking to her, and she told it what she wanted so much - to grow to her right size again.
"Three inches" she said, "is such a wretched height to be."
"It is a very good height indeed," said the Caterpillar angrily, (it was exactly three inches high).
"You'll get used to it in time," said the Caterpillar; and it put the hookah into its mouth and began smoking again.
Then it got down off the mushroom, and crawled away into the grass, merely remarking as it went, "One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter."
"The other side of what?" thought Alice to herself.
"Of the mushroom," said the Caterpillar, just as if she had asked it aloud and in another moment it was out of sight.
Alice broke off a bit of the edge with each hand, and nibbled a little of the right-hand bit to try the effect. The next moment she felt a violent blow underneath her chin; it had struck her foot!
She managed to swallow a morsel of the left-hand bit. The next minute she had grown so tall that her neck rose like a stalk out of a sea of green leaves, and these green leaves were the trees of the wood. But, by nibbling bits of mushroom, she at last succeeded in bringing herself down to her usual height. But, oh dear, in order to get into the first house she saw, she had to eat some more of the mushroom from her right hand and bring herself down to nine inches. Outside the house she saw a Fish-footmen and a Frog-footmen with invitations from the Queen to the Duchess, asking her to play croquet. The Duchess lived in the house, and a terrible noise was going on inside, and when the door was opened a plate came crashing out. But Alice got in at last, and found the Duchess and her cook quarrelling because there was too much pepper in the soup.
The Duchess had the baby in her lap, and tossed it about ridiculously, finally throwing it in the most heartless way to Alice. She took it out of doors, and behold, it turned into a little pig, jumped out of her arms, and ran away into the wood.
"If it had grown up," she said, "it would have made a dreadfully ugly child; but it makes rather a handsome pig, I think."
She was a little startled now by seeing a Cheshire-Cat sitting on a bough of a tree. The Cat grinned when it saw Alice. She felt that it ought to be treated with respect.
"Cheshire Puss," she said, "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."
There was a table set out under a tree in front of the house, and the March Hare and the Hatter were having tea at it; a Dormouse was sitting between them fast asleep, and the other two were using it as a cushion, resting their elbows on it, and talking over its head.
The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner.
"No room! No room!" they cried out when they saw Alice coming.
"There's plenty of room!" said Alice indignantly. And she sat down in a large armchair at one end of the table.
"What day of the month is it?" asked the Hatter, turning to Alice.
He had taken his watch out of his pocket and was looking at it uneasily, shaking it every now and then, and holding it to his ear.
Alice considered a little, and said, "The fourth."
"Two days wrong," sighed the Hatter. "I told you butter wouldn't suit the works," he added, looking angrily at the March Hare.
"It was the best butter," the March Hare meekly replied.
"It's always tea-time with us here," explained the Hatter, "and we've no time to wash the things between whiles."
"Then you keep moving round, I suppose?" said Alice.
"Exactly so," said the Hatter; "as the things get used up."
"But when you come to the beginning again?" Alice ventured to ask.
The March Hare interrupted, yawning. "I vote the young lady tells us a story."
"I'm afraid I don't know one," said Alice, rather alarmed at the proposal.
"Then the Dormouse shall!" they both cried. "Wake up the Dormouse!" And they pinched it on both sides.
The Dormouse slowly opened its eyes. "I wasn't asleep," it said, in a hoarse, feeble voice.
"Tell us a story," said the March Hare.
"Yes, please do!" pleaded Alice.
"Once upon a time there were three little sisters," the Dormouse began, "and their names were Elsie, Lacie, and Tillie and they lived at the bottom of a well - "
"What did they live on?" said Alice.
"They lived on treacle," said the Dormouse, after thinking a minute or two.
Alice gently remarked, "They'd have been ill."
"So they were very ill."
"I want a clean cup," interrupted the Hatter. "Let's all move one place on."
"They were learning to draw," the Dormouse went on, yawning and rubbing its eyes, "and they drew all manner of things - everything that begins with an M. such as mouse-traps, and the moon, and memory, and muchness - you know you say things are 'much of a muchness' - did you ever see such a thing as a drawing of a muchness?"
"Really," said Alice, confused, "I don't think- "
"Then you shouldn't talk," said the Hatter.
This piece of rudeness was more than Alice could bear; she got up in disgust, and walked off. The Dormouse fell asleep instantly, and the last time she saw them, they were trying to put the Dormouse into the teapot.
Alice got into the beautiful garden at last, but she had to nibble a bit of the mushroom again to bring herself down to twelve inches, so as to get through the little door. It was a lovely garden, and in it was the Queen's croquet-ground. The Queen of Hearts was very fond of ordering heads to be cut off. "Off with his head!" was her favourite phrase whenever anybody displeased her. She asked Alice to play croquet with her, but they had no rules; they had live flamingoes for mallets, and the soldiers had to stand on their hands and feet to form the hoops. It was extremely awkward, especially as the balls were hedgehogs, who sometimes rolled away without being hit. The Queen had a great quarrel with the Duchess, and wanted to have her head off.
After the game of croquet, the Queen said to Alice, "Have you seen the Mock Turtle yet?"
Said Alice. "I don't even know what a mock turtle is."
"It's the thing mock turtle soup is made from," said the Queen, "and he shall tell you his history."
They came upon a gryphon, lying fast asleep in the sun.
"Up, lazy thing!" said the Queen; "and take this young lady to see the Mock Turtle. I must go back and see after some executions I have ordered."
Alice and the Gryphon had not gone far before they saw the Mock Turtle in the distance, sitting sad and lonely on a little ledge of rock, and, as they came nearer, Alice could hear him sighing as if his heart would break.
"This here young lady," said the Gryphon, "she wants for to know your history."
"Once," said the Mock Turtle at last, with a deep sigh, "I was a real turtle. When we were little, we went to school in the sea. The master was an old turtle - we used to call him Tortoise."
'Why 'Tortoise', if he wasn't one?' Alice asked.
"Because he taught us," said the Mock Turtle angrily: "really you are very dull!"
We had the best of educations. Reeling and Writhing, of course, to begin with, and then the different branches of Arithmetic - Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision."
"I never heard of 'Uglification,'" Alice ventured to say.
"Well, then," the Gryphon went on, "if you don't know what to uglify is, you are a simpleton."
Alice said, "What else had you to learn?"
"Well, there was Mystery," the Mock Turtle replied, counting out the subjects on his flappers - "Mystery, ancient and modern, with Seaography; then Drawling - the Drawling-master was an old conger-eel, that used to come once a week; he taught us Drawling, Stretching, and Fainting in Coils. The Classical master taught Laughing and Grief."
"And how many hours a day did you do lessons?" said Alice, in a hurry to change the subject.
"Ten hours the first day, nine the next, and so on."
"What a curious plan!" exclaimed Alice.
"That's the reason they're called lessons," the Gryphon remarked; "because they lessen from day to day."
"That's enough about lessons," the Gryphon interrupted, "Tell her something about the games."
The Mock Turtle sighed deeply, and drew the back of one flapper across his eyes.
"Would you like to see a little of a Lobster Quadrille?" said he to Alice.
"Very much indeed," said Alice.
"Let's try the first figure," said the Mock Turtle to the Gryphon. "We can do without lobsters, you know. Which shall sing?"
"Oh, you sing!" said the Gryphon. "I've forgotten the words."
So they began solemnly dancing round and round Alice, every now and then treading on her toes, and waving their fore-paws to mark the time while the Mock Turtle sang this, very slowly and sadly.
"Will you walk a little faster?" said a whiting to a snail,
"There's a porpoise close behind us, and he's treading on my tail.
See how eagerly the lobsters and the turtles all advance!
They are waiting on the shingle-will you come and join the dance?
Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, will you join the dance?
Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, won't you join the dance?"
"Now, come, let's hear some of your adventures," said the Gryphon to Alice, after the dance.
So Alice began telling them her adventures from the time when she first saw the White Rabbit. After a while a cry of "The Trial's beginning!" was heard in the distance.
"Come on!" cried the Gryphon. And, taking Alice by the hand, it hurried off.
"What trial is it?" Alice panted, as she ran, but the Gryphon only answered, "Come on!" and ran the faster.
The King and Queen of Hearts were seated on their throne when they arrived, with a great crowd assembled about them - all sorts of little birds and beasts, as well as the whole pack of cards. The Knave was standing before them, in chains, with a soldier on each side to guard him; and near the King was the White Rabbit, with a trumpet in one hand, and a scroll of parchment in the other. In the very middle of the court was a table, with a large dish of tarts upon it. They looked so good that it made Alice quite hungry to look at them. "I wish they'd get the trial done," she thought, "and hand round the refreshments." But there seemed to be no chance of this, so she began looking at everything about her to pass away the time.
"Herald, read the accusation!" said the King.
On this the White Rabbit blew three blasts on the trumpet, and then unrolled the parchment scroll, and read as follows.
The Queen of Hearts, she made some tarts,
All on a summer's day;
The Knave of Hearts, he stole those tarts,
And took them quite away.
"Consider your verdict," the King said to the jury.
"Not yet, not yet!" the Rabbit hastily interrupted. "There's a great deal to come before that!"
"Call the first witness," said the King.
The first witness was the Hatter. He came in with a teacup in one hand and a piece of bread-and-butter in the other. "I beg pardon, your Majesty," he began, "I hadn't quite finished my tea when I was sent for."
"Take off your hat," the King said to the Hatter.
"It isn't mine," said the Hatter.
"Stolen!" the King exclaimed.
"I keep them to sell," the Hatter added; "I'm a hatter."
"Give your evidence," said the King, "and don't be nervous, or I'll have you executed on the spot."
Just at this moment Alice felt a very curious sensation, which puzzled her a good deal until she made out what it was. She was beginning to grow larger again.
"I'm a poor man, your Majesty," the Hatter began in a trembling voice, "only the March Hare said- "
"I deny it!" said the March Hare.
"Just take his head off outside," the Queen said to one of the officers; but the Hatter was out of sight before the officer could get to the door.
"Call the next witness!" said the King.
Imagine her surprise when the White Rabbit read out, at the top of his shrill little voice, the name "Alice!"
"Here!" cried Alice, quite forgetting how large she had grown in the last few minutes, she jumped up in such a hurry that she tipped over the jury-box with the edge of her skirt, upsetting all the jurymen on to the heads of the crowd below, and there they lay sprawling about, reminding her very much of a globe of gold-fish she had accidentally upset the week before.
"Oh, I beg your pardon!" she exclaimed, and began picking them up again as quickly as she could.
"What do you know about this business?" the King said.
"Nothing," said Alice.
"That's very important," the King said, turning to the jury. They were just beginning to write this down on their slates, when the White Rabbit interrupted.
"Unimportant, your Majesty means, of course," he said, in a very respectful tone.
Presently the King, who had been for some time busily writing in his notebook, called out "Rule Forty-two. All persons more than a mile high to leave the court."
Everybody looked at Alice.
"I'm not a mile high," said Alice.
"You are," said the King.
"Nearly two miles high," added the Queen.
"Well, I shan't go, at any rate," said Alice. "Besides, that's not a regular rule; you invented it just now."
"It's the oldest rule in the book," said the King.
"Then it ought to be Number One," said Alice.
The King turned pale, and shut his notebook hastily. "Consider your verdict," he said to the jury, in a low, trembling voice.
"No, no!" said the Queen. "Sentence first - verdict afterwards."
"Stuff and nonsense!" said Alice loudly. "The idea of having the sentence first!"
"Hold your tongue!" said the Queen.
"I won't!" said Alice.
"Off with her head!" the Queen shouted at the top of her voice. Nobody moved.
"Who cares for you?" said Alice (she had grown to her full size by this time). "You're nothing but a pack of cards!"
At this the whole pack rose up into the air, and came flying down upon her; she gave a little scream, and tried to beat them off, and found herself lying on the bank, with her head in the lap of her sister, who was gently brushing away some dead leaves that had fluttered down from the trees on her face.
"Oh, I've had such a curious dream!" said Alice.
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