“Now then! Show your ticket, child!” the Guard went on, looking angrily at Alice. And a great many voices all said together (“like the chorus of a song,” thought Alice), “Don’t keep him waiting, child! Why, his time is worth a thousand pounds a minute!”
“I’m afraid I haven’t got one,” Alice said in a frightened tone : “there wasn’t a ticket-office where I came from.” And again the chorus of voices went on. “There wasn’t room for one where she came from. The land there is worth a thousand pounds an inch!”
“Don’t make excuses,” said the Guard: “you should have bought one from the engine-driver.” And once more the chorus of voices went on with “The man that drives the engine. Why, the smoke alone is worth a thousand pounds a puff!” Alice thought to herself, “Then there’s no use in speaking.” The voices didn’t join in this time, as she hadn’t spoken, but, to her great surprise, they all thought in chorus (I hope you understand what thinking in chorus means — for I must confess that I don’t), “Better say nothing at all. Language is worth a thousand pounds a word!”
“I shall dream about a thousand pounds tonight, I know I shall!” thought Alice.
All this time the Guard was looking at her, first through a telescope, then through a microscope, and then through an opera-glass. At last he said, “You’re travelling the wrong way,” and shut up the window and went away.
“So young a child,” said the gentleman sitting opposite to her (he was dressed in white paper), “ought to know which way she’s going, even if she doesn’t know her own name!”
A Goat, that was sitting next to the gentleman in white, shut his eyes and said in a loud voice, “She ought to know her way to the ticket-office even if she doesn’t know her alphabet!”
There was a Beetle sitting next the Goat (it was a very queer set of passengers altogether), and, as the rule seemed to be that they should all speak in turn, he went on with “She’ll have to go back from here as luggage!”
Alice couldn’t see who was sitting beyond the Beetle, but a hoarse voice spoke next. ’”Change engines — -” it said, and there it choked and was obliged to leave off.
“It sounds like a horse,” Alice thought to herself. And an extremely small voice, close to her ear, said, You might make a joke on that — something about ’horse and hoarse’, you know”
Then a very gentle voice in the distance said, “She must be labelled “Lass, with care,’ you know — — ”
An after that other voices went on (“What a number of people there are in the carriage!” thought Alice), saying, “She must go by post, as she’s got a head on her — -” “She must be sent as a message by the telegraph — -” “She must draw the train herself the rest of the way — -” and so on.
But the gentleman dressed in white paper leaned forwards and whispered in her ear, “Never mind what they all say, my dear, but take a return-ticket every time the train stops.”
“indeed I shan’t!” Alice said rather impatiently. “I don’t belong to this railway journey at all — I was in a wood just now — and I wish I could get back there!”
“You might make a joke on that,” said the little voice close to her ea : “something about ’you would, if you could’, you know.”
“Don’t tease so,” said Alice, looking about in vain to see where the voice came from ; “if you’re so anxious to have a joke made, why don’t you make one yourself?”
The little voice sighed deeply: it was very unhappy, evidently, and Alice would have said something pitying to comfort it, “if it would only sigh like other people!” she thought. But this was such a wonderfully small sigh, that she wouldn’t have heard it at all, if it hadn’t come quite close to her ear. The consequence of this was that it tickled her ear very much, and quite took off her thoughts from the unhappiness of the poor little creature.