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Chapter V. Advice from a Caterpillar
The Caterpillar and Alice looked at each
other for some time in silence: at last the
Caterpillar took the hookah out of its
mouth, and addressed her in a languid,
sleepy voice.
'Who are YOU?' said the Caterpillar.
This was not an encouraging opening for a
conversation.
Alice replied, rather shyly, 'I--I hardly
know, sir, just at present--at least I know
who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I
think I must have been changed several
times since then.'
'What do you mean by that?' said the
Caterpillar sternly.
'Explain yourself!'
'I can't explain MYSELF, I'm afraid, sir'
said Alice, 'because I'm not myself, you
see.'
'I don't see,' said the Caterpillar.
'I'm afraid I can't put it more clearly,'
Alice replied very politely, 'for I can't
understand it myself to begin with; and
being so many different sizes in a day is
very confusing.'
'It isn't,' said the Caterpillar.
'Well, perhaps you haven't found it so
yet,' said Alice; 'but when you have to
turn into a chrysalis--you will some day,
you know--and then after that into a
butterfly, I should think you'll feel it a
little queer, won't you?'
'Not a bit,' said the Caterpillar.
'Well, perhaps your feelings may be
different,' said Alice; 'all I know is, it
would feel very queer to ME.'
'You!' said the Caterpillar contemptuously.
'Who are YOU?'
Which brought them back again to the
beginning of the conversation.
Alice felt a little irritated at the
Caterpillar's making such VERY short
remarks, and she drew herself up and said,
very gravely, 'I think, you ought to tell
me who YOU are, first.'
'Why?' said the Caterpillar.
Here was another puzzling question; and as
Alice could not think of any good reason,
and as the Caterpillar seemed to be in a
VERY unpleasant state of mind, she turned
away.
'Come back!' the Caterpillar called after
her.
'I've something important to say!'
This sounded promising, certainly: Alice
turned and came back again.
'Keep your temper,' said the Caterpillar.
'Is that all?' said Alice, swallowing down
her anger as well as she could.
'No,' said the Caterpillar.
Alice thought she might as well wait, as
she had nothing else to do, and perhaps
after all it might tell her something worth
hearing.
For some minutes it puffed away without
speaking, but at last it unfolded its arms,
took the hookah out of its mouth again, and
said, 'So you think you're changed, do
you?'
'I'm afraid I am, sir,' said Alice; 'I
can't remember things as I used--and I
don't keep the same size for ten minutes
together!'
'Can't remember WHAT things?' said the
Caterpillar.
'Well, I've tried to say "HOW DOTH THE
LITTLE BUSY BEE," but it all came
different!'
Alice replied in a very melancholy voice.
'Repeat, "YOU ARE OLD, FATHER WILLIAM,"'
said the Caterpillar.
Alice folded her hands, and began:--
| 'You are old, Father William,'
| the young man said,
| 'And your hair has become very white;
| And yet you incessantly
| stand on your head--
| Do you think, at your age, it is right?'
| 'In my youth,' Father William
| replied to his son,
| I feared it might injure the brain;
| But, now that I'm perfectly sure
| I have none,
| Why, I do it again and again.'
| 'You are old,' said the youth,
| 'as I mentioned before,
| And have grown most uncommonly fat;
| Yet you turned a back-somersault
| in at the door--
| Pray, what is the reason of that?'
| 'In my youth,' said the sage,
| as he shook his grey locks,
| 'I kept all my limbs very supple
| By the use of this ointment--
| one shilling the box--
| Allow me to sell you a couple?'
| 'You are old,' said the youth,
| 'and your jaws are too weak
| For anything tougher than suet;
| Yet you finished the goose,
| with the bones and the beak--
| Pray how did you manage to do it?'
| 'In my youth,' said his father,
| 'I took to the law,
| And argued each case with my wife;
| And the muscular strength,
| which it gave to my jaw,
| Has lasted the rest of my life.'
| 'You are old,' said the youth,
| 'one would hardly suppose
| That your eye was as steady as ever;
| Yet you balanced an eel
| on the end of your nose--
| What made you so awfully clever?'
| 'I have answered three questions,
| and that is enough,'
| Said his father;
| 'don't give yourself airs!
| Do you think I can listen
| all day to such stuff?
| Be off, or I'll kick you
| down stairs!'
'That is not said right,' said the
Caterpillar.
'Not QUITE right, I'm afraid,' said Alice,
timidly; 'some of the words have got
altered.'
'It is wrong from beginning to end,' said
the Caterpillar decidedly, and there was
silence for some minutes.
The Caterpillar was the first to speak.
'What size do you want to be?' it asked.
'Oh, I'm not particular as to size,' Alice
hastily replied; 'only one doesn't like
changing so often, you know.'
'I DON'T know,' said the Caterpillar.
Alice said nothing: she had never been so
much contradicted in her life before, and
she felt that she was losing her temper.
'Are you content now?' said the
Caterpillar.
'Well, I should like to be a LITTLE larger,
sir, if you wouldn't mind,' said Alice:
'three inches is such a wretched height to
be.'
'It is a very good height indeed!' said the
Caterpillar angrily, rearing itself upright
as it spoke (it was exactly three inches
high).
'But I'm not used to it!' pleaded poor
Alice in a piteous tone.
And she thought of herself, 'I wish the
creatures wouldn't be so easily offended!'
'You'll get used to it in time,' said the
Caterpillar; and it put the hookah into its
mouth and began smoking again.
This time Alice waited patiently until it
chose to speak again.
In a minute or two the Caterpillar took the
hookah out of its mouth and yawned once or
twice, and shook itself.
Then it got down off the mushroom, and
crawled away in the grass, merely remarking
as it went, 'One side will make you grow
taller, and the other side will make you
grow shorter.'
'One side of WHAT?
The other side of WHAT?' thought Alice to
herself.
'Of the mushroom,' said the Caterpillar,
just as if she had asked it aloud; and in
another moment it was out of sight.
Alice remained looking thoughtfully at the
mushroom for a minute, trying to make out
which were the two sides of it; and as it
was perfectly round, she found this a very
difficult question.
However, at last she stretched her arms
round it as far as they would go, and broke
off a bit of the edge with each hand.
'And now which is which?' she said to
herself, and nibbled a little of the right-
hand bit to try the effect: the next moment
she felt a violent blow underneath her
chin: it had struck her foot!
She was a good deal frightened by this very
sudden change, but she felt that there was
no time to be lost, as she was shrinking
rapidly; so she set to work at once to eat
some of the other bit.
Her chin was pressed so closely against her
foot, that there was hardly room to open
her mouth; but she did it at last, and
managed to swallow a morsel of the lefthand
bit.
'Come, my head's free at last!' said Alice
in a tone of delight, which changed into
alarm in another moment, when she found
that her shoulders were nowhere to be
found: all she could see, when she looked
down, was an immense length of neck, which
seemed to rise like a stalk out of a sea of
green leaves that lay far below her.
'What CAN all that green stuff be?' said
Alice.
'And where HAVE my shoulders got to?
And oh, my poor hands, how is it I can't
see you?'
She was moving them about as she spoke, but
no result seemed to follow, except a little
shaking among the distant green leaves.
As there seemed to be no chance of getting
her hands up to her head, she tried to get
her head down to them, and was delighted to
find that her neck would bend about easily
in any direction, like a serpent.
She had just succeeded in curving it down
into a graceful zigzag, and was going to
dive in among the leaves, which she found
to be nothing but the tops of the trees
under which she had been wandering, when a
sharp hiss made her draw back in a hurry: a
large pigeon had flown into her face, and
was beating her violently with its wings.
'Serpent!' screamed the Pigeon.
'I'm NOT a serpent!' said Alice
indignantly.
'Let me alone!'
'Serpent, I say again!' repeated the
Pigeon, but in a more subdued tone, and
added with a kind of sob, 'I've tried every
way, and nothing seems to suit them!'
'I haven't the least idea what you're
talking about,' said Alice.
'I've tried the roots of trees, and I've
tried banks, and I've tried hedges,' the
Pigeon went on, without attending to her;
'but those serpents!
There's no pleasing them!'
Alice was more and more puzzled, but she
thought there was no use in saying anything
more till the Pigeon had finished.
'As if it wasn't trouble enough hatching
the eggs,' said the Pigeon; 'but I must be
on the look-out for serpents night and day!
Why, I haven't had a wink of sleep these
three weeks!'
'I'm very sorry you've been annoyed,' said
Alice, who was beginning to see its
meaning.
'And just as I'd taken the highest tree in
the wood,' continued the Pigeon, raising
its voice to a shriek, 'and just as I was
thinking I should be free of them at last,
they must needs come wriggling down from
the sky!
Ugh, Serpent!'
'But I'm NOT a serpent, I tell you!' said
Alice.
'I'm a--I'm a--'
'Well!
WHAT are you?' said the Pigeon.
'I can see you're trying to invent
something!'
'I--I'm a little girl,' said Alice, rather
doubtfully, as she remembered the number of
changes she had gone through that day.
'A likely story indeed!' said the Pigeon in
a tone of the deepest contempt.
'I've seen a good many little girls in my
time, but never ONE with such a neck as
that!
No, no!
You're a serpent; and there's no use
denying it.
I suppose you'll be telling me next that
you never tasted an egg!'
'I HAVE tasted eggs, certainly,' said
Alice, who was a very truthful child; 'but
little girls eat eggs quite as much as
serpents do, you know.'
'I don't believe it,' said the Pigeon; 'but
if they do, why then they're a kind of
serpent, that's all I can say.'
This was such a new idea to Alice, that she
was quite silent for a minute or two, which
gave the Pigeon the opportunity of adding,
'You're looking for eggs, I know THAT well
enough; and what does it matter to me
whether you're a little girl or a serpent?'
'It matters a good deal to ME,' said Alice
hastily; 'but I'm not looking for eggs, as
it happens; and if I was, I shouldn't want
YOURS: I don't like them raw.'
'Well, be off, then!' said the Pigeon in a
sulky tone, as it settled down again into
its nest.
Alice crouched down among the trees as well
as she could, for her neck kept getting
entangled among the branches, and every now
and then she had to stop and untwist it.
After a while she remembered that she still
held the pieces of mushroom in her hands,
and she set to work very carefully,
nibbling first at one and then at the
other, and growing sometimes taller and
sometimes shorter, until she had succeeded
in bringing herself down to her usual
height.
It was so long since she had been anything
near the right size, that it felt quite
strange at first; but she got used to it in
a few minutes, and began talking to
herself, as usual.
'Come, there's half my plan done now!
How puzzling all these changes are!
I'm never sure what I'm going to be, from
one minute to another!
However, I've got back to my right size:
the next thing is, to get into that
beautiful garden--how IS that to be done, I
wonder?'
As she said this, she came suddenly upon an
open place, with a little house in it about
four feet high.
'Whoever lives there,' thought Alice,
'it'll never do to come upon them THIS
size: why, I should frighten them out of
their wits!'
So she began nibbling at the righthand bit
again, and did not venture to go near the
house till she had brought herself down to
nine inches high.
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Chapter 05 - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll - Advice from a Caterpillar

7181 Folder Collection
Bryan published on July 25, 2014
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