“I know you are a friend,” the little voice went on; “a dear friend and an old friend, And you won’t hurt me, though I am an insect.”
“What kind of insect?” Alice inquired a little anxiously. What she really wanted to know was, whether it could sting or not, but she thought this wouldn’t be quite a civil question to ask.
“What then you don’t — ” the little voice began, when it was drowned by a shrill scream from the engine, and everybody jumped up in alarm, Alice among the rest.
The Horse, who had put his head out of the window, quietly drew it in and said, “It’s only a brook we have to jump over.” Everybody seemed satisfied with this, though Alice felt a little nervous at the idea of trains jumping at all. “However, it’ll take us into the Fourth Square, that’s some comfort!” she said to herself. In another moment she felt the carriage rise straight up into the air, and in her fright, she caught at the thing nearest to her hand, which happened to be the Goat’s beard. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * But the beard seemed to melt away as she touched it, and she found herself sitting quietly under a tree — while the Gnat (for that was the insect she had been talking to) was balancing itself on a twig just over her head, and fanning her with its wings.
It certainly was a very large Gnat: “about the size of a chicken,” Alice thought. Still, she couldn’t feel nervous with it, after they had been talking together so long.
” — then you don’t like all insects?” the Gnat went on, as quietly as if nothing had happened.
“I like them when they can talk,” Alice said.
“None of them ever talk, where I come from.”
“What sort of insects do you rejoice in, where you come from?” the Gnat inquired.
“I don’t rejoice in insects at all,” Alice explained, “because I’m rather afraid of them — at least the , large kinds. But I can tell you the names of some of them.”
“Of course they answer to their names?” the Gnat remarked carelessly.
“I never knew them to do it.”
“What’s the use of their having names,” the Gnat said, “if they won’t answer to them?”
“No use to them,” said Alice; “but it’s useful to the people that name them, I suppose. If not, why do things have names at all?”
“I can’t’ say,” said the Gnat. “In the wood down there, they’ve got no names — however, go on with your list of insects.”
“Well, there’s the Horse-fly,” Alice began, counting off the names on her fingers.
“All right,” said the Gnat: “half-way up that bush, you’ll see a Rocking-horse-fly, if you look. It’s made entirely of wood, and gets about by swinging itself from branch to branch.”
“What does it live on?” Alice asked, with great curiosity.
“Sap and sawdust,” said the Gnat. “Go on with the list.”
Alice looked at the Rocking-horse-fly with great interest, and made up her mind that it must have been just repainted, it looked so bright and sticky ; and then she went on.
“And there’s the Dragon-fly.”
“Look on the branch above your head,” said the Gnat, “and there you’ll find a Snap-dragon-fly. Its body is made of plum-pudding, its wings of holly-leaves, and its head is a raisin burning in brandy.”
“And what does it live on?” Allce asked, as before.
“Frumenty and mince-pie,” the Gnat replied; “and it makes its nest in a Christmas-box.”
“And then there’s the Butterfly,” Alice went on, after she had taken a good look at the insect with its head on fire, and had thought to herself, “I wonder if that’s the reason insects are so fond of flying into candles — because they want to turn into Snap-dragon-flies!”
“Crawling at your feet,” said the Gnat (Alice drew her feet back in some alarm), “you may observe a Bread-and-butter-fly. Its wings are thin slices of bread-and-butter, its body is a crust, and its head is a lump of sugar.”