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“I shall sit here,” the Footman remarked, “till to-morrow-” At this
moment the door of the house opened, and a large plate came
skimming out, straight at the Footman’s head: it just grazed his
nose, and broke to pieces against one of the trees behind him.
“-or next day, maybe,” the Footman continued in the same tone,
exactly as if nothing had happened.
“How am I to get in?” asked Alice again, in a louder tone.
“Are you to get in at all?” said the Footman. “That’s the first
question, you know.” 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 two
creatures in the kitchen, that did not sneeze, were the cook, and a
large cat, which was lying on the hearth and grinning from ear to
“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