“But then,” thought Alice, “shall I never get any older than I am now? That’ll be a comfort, one way–never to be an old woman–but then– always to have lessons to learn! Oh, I shouldn’t like that!”
“Oh, you foolish Alice!” she answered herself. “How can you learn lessons in here? Why, there’s hardly room for you, and no room at all for any lesson-books!”
And so she went on, taking first one side and then the other, and making quite a conversation of it altogether; but after a few minutes she heard a voice outside, and stopped to listen.
“Mary Ann! Mary Ann!” said the voice. “Fetch me my gloves this moment!” Then came a little pattering of feet on the stairs. Alice knew it was the Rabbit coming to look for her, and she trembled till she shook the house, quite forgetting that she was now about a thousand times as large as the Rabbit, and had no reason to be afraid of it.
Presently the Rabbit came up to the door, and tried to open it; but, as the door opened inwards, and Alice’s elbow was pressed hard against it, that attempt proved a failure. Alice heard it say to itself, “Then I’ll go round and get in at the window.”
“That you won’t!” thought Alice, and, after waiting till she fancied she heard the Rabbit just under the window, she suddenly spread out her hand, and made a snatch in the air. She did not get hold of anything, but she heard a little shriek and a fall, and a crash of broken glass, from which she concluded that it was just possible it had fallen into a cucumber-frame, or something of the sort.
Next came an angry voice–the Rabbit’s–“Pat! Pat! Where are you?” And then a voice she had never heard before, “Sure then I’m here! Digging for apples, yer honour!”
“Digging for apples, indeed!” said the Rabbit angrily. “Here! Come and help me out of this!” (Sounds of more broken glass.)
“Now tell me, Pat, what’s that in the window?”
“Sure, it’s an arm, yer honour!” (He pronounced it “arrum.”)
“An arm, you goose! Who ever saw one that size? Why, it fills the whole window!”
“Sure, it does, yer honour: but it’s an arm for all that.”
“Well, it’s got no business there, at any rate: go and take it away!”
There was a long silence after this, and Alice could only hear whispers now and then; such as, “Sure, I don’t like it, yer honour, at all, at all!” “Do as I tell you, you coward!” and at last she spread out her hand again, and made another snatch in the air. This time there were two little shrieks, and more sounds of broken glass. “What a number of cucumber-frames there must be!” thought Alice. “I wonder what they’ll do next! As for pulling me out of the window, I only wish they could! I’m sure I don’t want to stay in here any longer!”
She waited for some time without hearing anything more: at last came a rumbling of little cartwheels, and the sound of a good many voices all talking together: she made out the words: “Where’s the other ladder?–Why, I hadn’t to bring but one; Bill’s got the other–Bill! Fetch it here, lad!– Here, put ’em up at this corner–No, tie ’em together first–they don’t reach half high enough yet–Oh! they’ll do well enough; don’t be particular–Here, Bill! catch hold of this rope–Will the roof bear?–Mind that loose slate–Oh, it’s coming down! Heads below!” (a loud crash)–“Now, who did that?–It was Bill, I fancy–Who’s to go down the chimney?—Nay, I shan’t! You do it! –That I won’t, then!–Bill’s to go down–Here, Bill! the master says you’ve to go down the chimney!”
“Oh! So Bill’s got to come down the chimney, has he?” said Alice to herself. “Why, they seem to put everything upon Bill! I wouldn’t be in Bill’s place for a good deal: this fireplace is narrow, to be sure; but I think I can kick a little!”
She drew her foot as far down the chimney as she could, and waited till she heard a little animal (she couldn’t guess of what sort it was) scratching and scrambling about in the chimney close above her: then, saying to herself, “This is Bill,” she gave one sharp kick, and waited to see what would happen next.