THE POOL OF TEARS.
"How strange! Oh my!" said Alice, "how tall I am, and all at once, too! Goodby, feet." (For when she looked down at her feet they seemed so far off, she thought they would soon be out of sight.) "Oh, my poor feet, who will put on your shoes for you now, dears? I'm sure I shan't do it. I shall be a great deal too far off to take care of you; you must get on the best way you can; but I must be kind to them," thought Alice, "or they won't walk the way I want to go! Let me see: I'll give them a pair of new shoes each, Christmas."
She stopped to think how she would send them. "They must go by the mail," she thought; "and how fun-ny it'll seem to send shoes to one's own feet. How odd the ad-dress will look!
Al-ice's Right Foot, Esq.,
Near the Fire.
(With Al-ice's love.)
Oh dear, there's no sense in all that."
Just then her head struck the roof of the hall; in fact she was now more than nine feet high, and she at once took up the small key and went back to the door.
Poor Al-ice! It was as much as she could do, when she lay down on one side, to look through to the gar-den with one eye: but to get through was not to be hoped for, so she sat down and had a good cry.
"Shame on you," said Al-ice, "a great big girl like you" (she might well say this) "to cry in this way! Stop at once, I tell you!" But she went on all the same, and shed tears till there was a large pool all round her, and which reached half way down the hall.
At last she heard the sound of feet not far off, then she dried her eyes in great haste to see who it was. It was the White Rab-bit that had come back, dressed in fine clothes, with a pair of white kid gloves in one hand, and a large fan in the other. He trotted on in great haste, and talked to himself as he came, "Oh! the Duchess, the Duchess! Oh! won't she be in a fine rage if I've made her wait?"
Alice felt so bad and so in need of help from some one, that when the Rabbit came near, she said in a low timid voice, "If you please, sir—" The Rabbit started as if shot, dropped the white kid gloves and the fan and ran off into the dark as fast as his two hind feet could take him.
Al-ice took up the fan and gloves and as the hall was quite hot, she fanned her-self all the time she went on talking. "Dear, dear! How queer all things are today! Could I have been changed in the night? Let me think: was I the same when I got up today? Seems to me I didn't feel quite the same. But if I'm not the same, then who in the world am I?" Then she thought of all the girls she knew that were of her age, to see if she could have been changed for one of them.
"I'm sure I'm not Ada," she said, "for her hair is in such long curls and mine doesn't curl at all; and I'm sure I can't be Mabel, for I know all sorts of things, and she, oh! she knows such a little! Then, she's she, and I'm I, and—oh dear, how strange it all is! I'll try if I know all the things I used to know. Let me see: four times five is twelve, and four times six is thirteen, and four times seven is—oh dear! that is not right. I must have been changed for Mabel! I'll try if I know 'How doth the little—'" and she placed her hands on her lap, as if she were at school and tried to say it, but her voice was hoarse and strange and the words did not come the same as they used to do.
"I'm sure those are not the right words," said poor Al-ice, and her eyes filled with tears as she went on, "I must be Mabel after all, and I shall have to go and live in that poky house and have next to no toys to play with, and oh! such hard things to learn. No, I've made up my mind; if I'm Mabel, I'll stay down here! It'll be no use for them to put their heads down and say, 'Come up, dear!' I shall look up and say, 'Who am I, then? Tell me that first, and then if I like it, I'll come up; if not, I'll stay down here till I'm some one else'—but, oh dear," cried Al-ice with a fresh burst of tears, "I do wish they would put their heads down! I am so tired of this place!"
As she said this she looked down at her hands and saw that she had put on one of the Rabbit's white kid gloves while she was talking. "How can I have done that?" she thought. "I must have grown small once more." She got up and went to the glass stand to test her height by that, and found that as well as she could guess she was now not more than two feet high, and still shrinking quite fast. She soon found out that the cause of this, was the fan she held and she dropped it at once, or she might have shrunk to the size of a gnat.
Al-ice was, at first, in a sad fright at the quick change, but glad that it was no worse. "Now for the gar-den," and she ran with all her speed back to the small door; but, oh dear! the door was shut, and the key lay on the glass stand, "and things are worse than ever," thought the poor child, "for I never was so small as this, never! It's too bad, that it is!"
As she said these words her foot slipped, and splash! she was up to her chin in salt water. At first she thought she must be in the sea, but she soon made out that she was in the pool of tears which she had wept when she was nine feet high.
"I wish I hadn't cried so much!" said Al-ice as she swam round and tried to find her way out. "I shall now be drowned in my own tears. That will be a queer thing, to be sure! But all things are queer to-day."
Just then she heard a splash in the pool a little way off, and she swam near to make out what it was; at first she thought it must be a whale, but when she thought how small she was now, she soon made out that it was a mouse that had slipped in the pond.
"Would it be of an-y use now to speak to this mouse? All things are so out-of-way down here, I should think may-be it can talk, at least there's no harm to try." So she said: "O Mouse, do you know the way out of this pool? I have swum here till I'm quite tired, O Mouse!" The Mouse looked at her and seemed to her to wink with one of its small eyes, but it did not speak.
"It may be a French Mouse," thought Al-ice, so she said: "Où est ma chatte?" (Where is my cat?) which was all the French she could think of just then. The Mouse gave a quick leap out of the water, and seemed in a great fright, "Oh, I beg your par-don," cried Al-ice. "I quite for-got you didn't like cats."
"Not like cats!" cried the Mouse in a shrill, harsh voice. "Would you like cats if you were me?"
"Well, I guess not," said Al-ice, "but please don't get mad. And yet I wish I could show you our cat, Di-nah. I'm sure you'd like cats if you could see her. She is such a dear thing," Al-ice went on half to her-self as she swam round in the pool, "and she sits and purrs by the fire and licks her paws and wash-es her face—and she is such a nice soft thing to nurse—and she's a fine one to catch mice—Oh, dear!" cried Al-ice, for this time the Mouse was in a great fright and each hair stood on end. "We won't talk of her if you don't like it."
"We talk!" cried the Mouse, who shook down to the end of his tail. "As if I would talk of such low, mean things as cats! All rats hate them. Don't let me hear the name a-gain!"
"I won't," said Al-ice, in great haste to change the theme. "Are you fond—of—of dogs?" The mouse did not speak, so Al-ice went on: "There is such a nice dog near our house, I should like to show you! A tiny bright-eyed dog, you know, with oh! such long curly brown hair! And it'll fetch things when you throw them, and it'll sit up and beg for its meat and do all sorts of things—I can't tell you half of them. And it kills all the rats, and m—oh dear!" cried Al-ice in a sad tone, "I've made it mad a-gain!" For the Mouse swam off from her as fast as it could go, and made quite a stir in the pool as it went.
So she called it in a soft, kind voice, "Mouse dear! Do come back and we won't talk of cats or dogs if you don't like them!" When the Mouse heard this it turned round and swam back to her; its face was quite pale (with rage, Al-ice thought), and it said in a low, weak voice, "Let us get to the shore, and then I'll tell you why it is I hate cats and dogs."
It was high time to go, for the pool was by this time quite crowded with the birds and beasts that had slipped in-to it. Al-ice led the way and they all swam to the shore.