Alice in Wonderland: Down the rabbit hole (1/12)

Alice had sat on the bank (de oever) by her sister till she was tired. Once or twice she had looked at the book her sister held in her hand, but there were no pictures in it, “and what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures?” She asked herself as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel quite dull, if it would be worth while to get up and pick some daisies to make a chain. Just then a white rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her.

To Alice it was not such a strange thing, nor did Alice think much of it when the Rabbit said, “Oh dear! Oh, dear! I shall be late!” But when the Rabbit took a watch out of its pocket, and looked at it and then ran on, Alice got on her feet, because it was the first time she had seen a Rabbit with a watch. She jumped up and ran to get a look at it, and was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit hole near the hedge.

As fast as she could go, Alice went down the hole after it, and did not once stop to think who she was to get out. The hole went straight on for some way and then turned down with a sharp bend, so sharp that Alice had no time to think to stop till she found herself falling in what seemed a deep well.

She must not have moved fast, or the well must have been quite deep, for it took her a long time to go down, and as she went she had time to look at the strange things she passed. First she tried to look down and make out what was there, but it was too dark to see; then she looked at the sides of the well and saw that they were piled with book-shelves; here and there she saw maps hung on pegs. She took down a jar from one of the shelves as she passed. On it was the word Jam, but there was no jam in it, so she put it back on one of the shelves as she fell past it.

“Well,” thought Alice to herself, “after such a fall as this, I won’t mind a fall down the stairs at all. How brave they’ll all think me at home! Why, I wouldn’t say a thing if I fell off the top of the house.”

Down, down, down. Would the fall never come to an end? “I should like to know,” she said, “how far down I’ve gone. Wouldn’t it be strange if I fell right through the earth and come out where the folks walk with their feet up and their heads down?”

Down, down, down. “Dinah will miss me tonight,” Alice went on. (Dinah was the cat.) “I hope they’ll think to give her her milk at dinner time. Dinah, my dear! I wish you were down here with me! There are no mice in the air, but you might catch a bat, and that’s much like a mouse, you know. But do cats eat bats?” And here Alice must have gone to sleep, for she dreamed that she walked hand in hand with Dinah, and just as she asked her, “Now, Dinah, tell me the truth, do you eat bats?” all at once, thump! thump! down she came on a heap of sticks and dry leaves, and the long fall was over.

Alice was not a bit hurt and jumped to her feet. She looked up, but all was dark there. At the end of a long hall in front of her the white rabbit was still in sight. There was no time to be lost, so off Alice went like the wind, and was just in time to hear it say, “Oh, my ears, how late it is!” then it was out of sight. She found she was in a long hall with a low roof, from which hung a row of lighted lamps.

There were doors on all sides, but when Alice had been all round and tried each one, she found they were all locked. She walked back and forth and tried to think how she was to get out. At last she came to a stand made all of glass. On it was a tiny key of gold, and Alice’s first thought was that this might be a key to one of the doors of the hall, but when she had tried the key in each lock, she found the locks were too large or the key was too small—it did not fit one of them. But when she went round the hall once more she came to a low curtain which she had not seen at first, and when she drew this back she found a small door, not much more than a foot high; she tried the key in the lock, and to her great joy it fitted!

Alice found that the door led to a hall the size of a rat hole; she knelt down and looked through it into a garden of beautiful flowers. How she longed to get out of that dark hall and near those bright blooms; but she could not so much as get her head through the door; “and if my head would go through,” thought Alice, “it would be of no use, for the rest of me would still be too large to go through. Oh, how I wish I was small!”

There seemed to be no use to wait by the small door, so she went back to the stand with the hope that she might find a key to one of the large doors, or maybe a book of rules that would teach her to grow small. This time she found a small bottle on it (“which I am sure was not here just now,” said Alice), and tied round the neck of the bottle was a tag with the words “Drink me” printed on it.

It was all right to say “Drink me,” but Alice was too wise to do that in haste: “No, I’ll look first,” she said, “and see if it’s marked ‘poison’ or not,” for she had been taught if you drink much from a bottle marked ‘poison,’ it is sure to make you sick. This had no such mark on it, so she dared to taste it, and as she found it nice (it had, in fact, a taste of pie, ice-cream, roast fowl, and hot toast), she quickly drank it all.

“How strange I feel,” said Alice. “I am sure I am not so large as I was!”

And so it was; she was about 30 centimeters high, and her face light up at the thought that she was now the right size to go through the small door and get out to that lovely garden.

Poor Alice! When she reached the door she found that she had left the key on the stand, and when she went back for it, she found she could by no means reach it. She could see it through the glass, and she tried her best to climb one of the legs of the stand, but it was too sleek, and when she was quite tired out, she sat down and cried.

“Come, there’s no use to cry like that!” Alice said to herself as stern as she could. “Stop it right now!”

Soon her eyes fell on a small glass box that lay on the floor. She looked in it and found a tiny cake on which were the words “Eat me,” marked in grapes. “Well, I’ll eat it,” said Alice, “and if it makes me grow tall, I can reach the key, and if it makes me shrink up, I can creep under the door; so I’ll get out some way.”

So she set to work and soon ate all the cake.