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Chapter I, Looking-Glass House. Part II
‘Now, if you’ll only attend, Kitty, and not talk so much, I’ll tell you all my ideas about Lookingglass House. First, there’s the room you can see through the glass – that’s just the same as our drawingroom, only the things go the other way. I can see all of it when I get upon a chair – all but the bit behind the fireplace. Oh! I do so wish I could see that bit! I want so much to know whether they’ve a fire in the winter: you never can tell, you know, unless our fire smokes, and then smoke comes up in that room too – but that may be only pretence, just to make it look as if they had a fire. Well then, the books are something like our books, only the words go the wrong way: I know that , because I’ve held up one of our books to the glass, and then they hold up one in the other room.
‘How would you like to live in Lookingglass House, Kitty? I wonder if they’d give you milk in there? Perhaps Lookingglass milk isn’t good to drink – but oh, Kitty! now we come to the passage. You can just see a little peep of the passage in Lookingglass House, if you leave the door of our drawingroom wide open: and it’s very like our passage as far as you can see, only you know it may be quite different on beyond. Oh, Kitty, how nice it would be if we could only get through into Looking-glass House! I’m sure it’s got, oh! such beautiful things in it! Let’s pretend there’s a way of getting through into it, somehow, Kitty. Let’s pretend the glass has got all soft like gauze, so that we can get through. Why, it’s turning into a sort of mist now, I declare! It’ll be easy enough to get through–’ She was up on the chimneypiece while she said this, though she hardly knew how she had got there. And certainly the glass was beginning to melt away, just like a bright silvery mist.
In another moment Alice was through the glass, and had jumped lightly down into the Lookingglass room. The very first thing she did was to look whether there was a fire in the fireplace, and she was quite pleased to find that there was a real one, blazing away as brightly as the one she had left behind. ‘So I shall be as warm here as I was in the old room,’ thought Alice: ‘warmer, in fact, because there’ll be no one here to scold me away from the fire. Oh, what fun it’ll be, when they see me through the glass in here, and can’t get at me!’
Then she began looking about, and noticed that what could be seen from the old room was quite common and uninteresting, but that all the rest was as different as possible. For instance, the pictures on the wall next the fire seemed to be all alive, and the very clock on the chimneypiece (you know you can only see the back of it in the Lookingglass) had got the face of a little old man, and grinned at her.
‘They don’t keep this room so tidy as the other,’ Alice thought to herself, as she noticed several of the chessmen down in the hearth among the cinders; but in another moment, with a little ‘Oh!’ of surprise, she was down on her hands and knees watching them. The chessmen were walking about, two and two!
‘Here are the Red King and the Red Queen,’ Alice said (in a whisper, for fear of frightening them), ‘and there are the White King and the White Queen sitting on the edge of the shovel – and here are two Castles walking arm in arm – I don’t think they can hear me,’ she went on, as she put her head closer down, ‘and I’m nearly sure they can’t see me. I feel somehow as if I were invisible–’
Here something began squeaking on the table behind Alice, and made her turn her head just in time to see one of the White Pawns roll over and begin kicking: she watched it with great curiosity to see what would happen next.
‘It is the voice of my child!’ the White Queen cried out, as she rushed past the King, so violently that she knocked him over among the cinders. ‘My precious Lily! My imperial kitten!’ and she began scrambling wildly up the side of the fender.
‘Imperial fiddlestick!’ said the King, rubbing his nose, which had been hurt by the fall. He had a right to be a little annoyed with the Queen, for he was covered with ashes from head to foot.
Alice was very anxious to be of use, and, as the poor little Lily was nearly screaming herself into a fit, she hastily picked up the Queen and set her on the table by the side of her noisy little daughter.
The Queen gasped, and sat down: the rapid journey through the air had quite taken away her breath and for a minute or two she could do nothing but hug the little Lily in silence. As soon as she had recovered her breath a little, she called out to the White King, who was sitting sulkily among the ashes, ‘Mind the volcano!’
‘What volcano?’ said the King, looking up anxiously into the fire, as if he thought that was the most likely place to find one.
‘Blew – me – up,’ panted the Queen, who was still a little out of breath. ‘Mind you come up – the regular way – don’t get blown up!’
Alice watched the White King as he slowly struggled up from bar to bar, till at last she said, ‘Why, you’ll be hours and hours getting to the table, at that rate. I’d far better help you, hadn’t I?’ But the King took no notice of the question: it was quite clear that he could neither hear her nor see her.
So Alice picked him up very gently, and lifted him across more slowly than she had lifted the Queen, that she mightn’t take his breath away; but, before she put him on the table, she thought she might as well dust him a little, he was so covered with ashes.
She said afterwards that she had never seen in all her life such a face as the King made, when he found himself held in the air by an invisible hand, and being dusted: he was far too much astonished to cry out, but his eyes and his mouth went on getting larger and larger, and rounder and rounder, till her hand shook so with laughing that she nearly let him drop upon the floor.
‘Oh! please don’t make such faces, my dear!’ she cried out, quite forgetting that the King couldn’t hear her. ‘You make me laugh so that I can hardly hold you! And don’t keep your mouth so wide open! All the ashes will get into it – there, now I think you’re tidy enough!’ she added, as she smoothed his hair, and set him upon the table near the Queen.
The King immediately fell flat on his back, and lay perfectly still; and Alice was a little alarmed at what she had done, and went round the room to see if she could find any water to throw over him. However, she could find nothing but a bottle of ink, and when she got back with it she found he had recovered, and he and the Queen were talking together in a frightened whisper – so low, that Alice could hardly hear what they said.
The King was saying ‘I assure, you my dear, I turned cold to the very ends of my whiskers!’
To which the Queen replied ‘You haven’t got any whiskers.’
‘The horror of that moment,’ the King went on, ‘I shall never, never forget!’
‘You will, though,’ the Queen said, ‘if you don’t make a memorandum of it.’
Alice looked on with great interest as the King took an enormous memorandum-book out of his pocket, and began writing. A sudden thought struck her, and she took hold of the end of the pencil, which came some way over his shoulder, and began writing for him.
The poor King look puzzled and unhappy, and struggled with the pencil for some time without saying anything; but Alice was too strong for him, and at last he panted out, ‘My dear! I really must get a thinner pencil. I can’t manage this one a bit: it writes all manner of things that I don’t intend–’
‘What manner of things?’ said the Queen, looking over the book (in which Alice had put ‘The White Knight is sliding down the poker. He balances very badly’) ‘That’s not a memorandum of your feelings!’
There was a book lying near Alice on the table, and while she sat watching the White King (for she was still a little anxious about him, and had the ink all ready to throw over him, in case he fainted again), she turned over the leaves, to find some part that she could read, ‘– for it’s all in some language I don’t know,’ she said to herself.
It was like this.
sevot yhtils eht dna ,gillirb sawT’
:ebaw eht ni elbmig dna eryg diD
,sevogorob eht erew ysmim llA
.ebargtuo shtar emom eht dnA
She puzzled over this for some time, but at last a bright thought struck her. ‘Why, it’s a Lookingglass book, of course! And if I hold it up to a glass, the words will all go the right way again.’
This was the poem that Alice read.
’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
‘Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!’
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought –
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.
And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
‘And, hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
He chortled in his joy.
‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
‘It seems very pretty,’ she said when she had finished it, ‘but it’s rather hard to understand!’ (You see she didn’t like to confess, even to herself, that she couldn’t make it out at all.) ‘Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas – only I don’t exactly know what they are! However, somebody killed something: that’s clear, at any rate –’
‘But oh!’ thought Alice, suddenly jumping up, ‘if I don’t make haste I shall have to go back through the Lookingglass, before I’ve seen what the rest of the house is like! Let’s have a look at the garden first!’ She was out of the room in a moment, and ran down stairs – or, at least, it wasn’t exactly running, but a new invention of hers for getting down stairs quickly and easily, as Alice said to herself. She just kept the tips of her fingers on the handrail, and floated gently down without even touching the stairs with her feet: then she floated on through the hall, and would have gone straight out at the door in the same way, if she hadn’t caught hold of the doorpost. She was getting a little giddy with so much floating in the air, and was rather glad to find herself walking again in the natural way.