Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

by English, Fantasy, Lewis Carroll

It was, no doubt: only Alice did not like to be told so. ‘It’s really dreadful,’ she muttered to herself, ‘the way all the creatures argue. It’s enough to drive one crazy!’

The Footman seemed to think this a good opportunity for repeating his remark, with variations. ‘I shall sit here,’ he said, ‘on and off, for days and days.’

‘But what am I to do?’ said Alice.

‘Anything you like,’ said the Footman, and began whistling.

‘Oh, there’s no use in talking to him,’ said Alice desperately: ‘he’s perfectly idiotic!’ And she opened the door and went in.

The door led right into a large kitchen, which was full of smoke from one end to the other: the Duchess was sitting on a three-legged stool in the middle, nursing a baby; the cook was leaning over the fire, stirring a large cauldron which seemed to be full of soup.

‘There’s certainly too much pepper in that soup!’ Alice said to herself, as well as she could for sneezing.

There was certainly too much of it in the air. Even the Duchess sneezed occasionally; and as for the baby, it was sneezing and howling alternately without a moment’s pause. The only things in the kitchen that did not sneeze, were the cook, and a large cat which was sitting on the hearth and grinning from ear to ear.

‘Please would you tell me,’ said Alice, a little timidly, for she was not quite sure whether it was good manners for her to speak first, ‘why your cat grins like that?’

‘It’s a Cheshire cat,’ said the Duchess, ‘and that’s why. Pig!’

She said the last word with such sudden violence that Alice quite jumped; but she saw in another moment that it was addressed to the baby, and not to her, so she took courage, and went on again:—

‘I didn’t know that Cheshire cats always grinned; in fact, I didn’t know that cats COULD grin.’

‘They all can,’ said the Duchess; ‘and most of ’em do.’

‘I don’t know of any that do,’ Alice said very politely, feeling quite pleased to have got into a conversation.

‘You don’t know much,’ said the Duchess; ‘and that’s a fact.’

Alice did not at all like the tone of this remark, and thought it would be as well to introduce some other subject of conversation. While she was trying to fix on one, the cook took the cauldron of soup off the fire, and at once set to work throwing everything within her reach at the Duchess and the baby—the fire-irons came first; then followed a shower of saucepans, plates, and dishes. The Duchess took no notice of them even when they hit her; and the baby was howling so much already, that it was quite impossible to say whether the blows hurt it or not.

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