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The Cheshire


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Alice in Wonderland & the Cheshire Cat
Excerpted From Chapter 6
Pig and Pepper

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

`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.

Excerpted from Chapter 8
The Queen's Croquet-Ground

Alice was just beginning to think to herself, `Now, what am I to
do with this creature when I get it home?' when it grunted again,
so violently, that she looked down into its face in some alarm.
This time there could be no mistake about it: it was neither more
nor less than a pig, and she felt that it would be quite absurd
for her to carry it further.

So she set the little creature down, and felt quite relieved to
see it trot away quietly into the wood. `If it had grown up,' she
said to herself, `it would have made a dreadfully ugly child: but
it makes rather a handsome pig, I think.' And she began thinking
over other children she knew, who might do very well as pigs, and
was just saying to herself, `if one only knew the right way to
change them--' when she was a little startled by seeing the
Cheshire Cat sitting on a bough of a tree a few yards off.

The Cat only grinned when it saw Alice. It looked good-natured,
she thought: still it had very long claws and a great many teeth,
so she felt that it ought to be treated with respect.

`Cheshire Puss,' she began, rather timidly, as she did not at all
know whether it would like the name: however, it only grinned a
little wider. `Come, it's pleased so far,' thought Alice, and she
went on. `Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from

Alice speaks to Cheshire Cat

`That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the

`I don't much care where--' said Alice.

`Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat.

`--so long as I get somewhere,' Alice added as an explanation.

`Oh, you're sure to do that,' said the Cat, `if you only walk
long enough.'

Alice felt that this could not be denied, so she tried another
question. `What sort of people live about here?'

`In that direction,' the Cat said, waving its right paw round,
`lives a Hatter: and in that direction,' waving the other paw,
`lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they're both mad.'

`But I don't want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.

`Oh, you can't help that,' said the Cat: `we're all mad here. I'm
mad. You're mad.'

`How do you know I'm mad?' said Alice.

`You must be,' said the Cat, `or you wouldn't have come here.'

Alice didn't think that proved it at all; however, she went on
`And how do you know that you're mad?'

`To begin with,' said the Cat, `a dog's not mad. You grant that?'

`I suppose so,' said Alice.

`Well, then,' the Cat went on, `you see, a dog growls when it's
angry, and wags its tail when it's pleased. Now I growl when I'm
pleased, and wag my tail when I'm angry. Therefore I'm mad.'

`I call it purring, not growling,' said Alice.

`Call it what you like,' said the Cat. `Do you play croquet with
the Queen to-day?'

`I should like it very much,' said Alice, `but I haven't been
invited yet.'

`You'll see me there,' said the Cat, and vanished.

Alice was not much surprised at this, she was getting so used to
queer things happening. While she was looking at the place where
it had been, it suddenly appeared again.

`By-the-bye, what became of the baby?' said the Cat. `I'd nearly
forgotten to ask.'

`It turned into a pig,' Alice quietly said, just as if it had
come back in a natural way.

`I thought it would,' said the Cat, and vanished again.

Alice waited a little, half expecting to see it again, but it did
not appear, and after a minute or two she walked on in the
direction in which the March Hare was said to live. `I've seen
hatters before,' she said to herself; `the March Hare will be
much the most interesting, and perhaps as this is May it won't be
raving mad--at least not so mad as it was in March.' As she said
this, she looked up, and there was the Cat again, sitting on a
branch of a tree.

`Did you say pig, or fig?' said the Cat.

`I said pig,' replied Alice; `and I wish you wouldn't keep
appearing and vanishing so suddenly: you make one quite giddy.'

`All right,' said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite
slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the
grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.

Cheshire Cat fading to smile

`Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin,' thought Alice; `but
a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in
my life!'

The players all played at once without waiting for turns, quarrelling
all the while, and fighting for the hedgehogs; and in a very short
time the Queen was in a furious passion, and went stamping about,
and shouting `Off with his head!' or `Off with her head!' about
once in a minute.

Alice began to feel very uneasy: to be sure, she had not as yet
had any dispute with the Queen, but she knew that it might
happen any minute, `and then,' thought she, `what would
become of me? They're dreadfully fond of beheading people
here; the great wonder is, that there's any one left alive!'

She was looking about for some way of escape, and wondering
whether she could get away without being seen, when she
noticed a curious appearance in the air: it puzzled her very much
at first, but, after watching it a minute or two, she made it out
to be a grin, and she said to herself `It's the Cheshire Cat: now
I shall have somebody to talk to.'

`How are you getting on?' said the Cat, as soon as there was
mouth enough for it to speak with.

Alice waited till the eyes appeared, and then nodded. `It's no
use speaking to it,' she thought, `till its ears have come, or at
least one of them.' In another minute the whole head appeared,
and then Alice put down her flamingo, and began an account
of the game, feeling very glad she had someone to listen to her.
The Cat seemed to think that there was enough of it now in
sight, and no more of it appeared.

`I don't think they play at all fairly,' Alice began, in rather a
complaining tone,' and they all quarrel so dreadfully one
can't hear oneself speak--and they don't seem to have
any rules in particular; at least, if there are, nobody attends
to them--and you've no idea how confusing it is all the
things being alive; for instance, there's the arch I've got to
go through next walking about at the other end of the
ground--and I should have croqueted the Queen's
hedgehog just now, only it ran away when it saw mine coming?'

`How do you like the Queen?' said the Cat in a low voice.

`Not at all,' said Alice: `she's so extremely--' Just then
she noticed that the Queen was close behind her, listening:
so she went on, `--likely to win, that it's hardly worth
while finishing the game.'

The Queen smiled and passed on.

`Who ARE you talking to?' said the King, going up to Alice,
and looking at the Cat's head with great curiosity.

`It's a friend of mine--a Cheshire Cat,' said Alice: `allow
me to introduce it.'

`I don't like the look of it at all,' said the King: `however,
it may kiss my hand if it likes.'

`I'd rather not,' the Cat remarked.

`Don't be impertinent,' said the King, `and don't look at
me like that!' He got behind Alice as he spoke.

`A cat may look at a king,' said Alice. `I've read that in some
book, but I don't remember where.'

`Well, it must be removed,' said the King very decidedly,
and he called the Queen, who was passing at the moment,
`My dear! I wish you would have this cat removed!'

The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great
or small. `Off with his head!' she said, without even looking round.

`I'll fetch the executioner myself,' said the King eagerly,
and he hurried off.

Alice thought she might as well go back, and see how the
game was going on, as she heard the Queen's voice in the
distance, screaming with passion. She had already heard her
sentence three of the players to be executed for having
missed their turns, and she did not like the look of things
at all, as the game was in such confusion that she never
knew whether it was her turn or not. So she went in
search of her hedgehog.

The hedgehog was engaged in a fight with another hedgehog,
which seemed to Alice an excellent opportunity for croqueting
one of them with the other: the only difficulty was, that her
flamingo was gone across to the other side of the garden,
where Alice could see it trying in a helpless sort of way
to fly up into a tree.

By the time she had caught the flamingo and brought it back,
the fight was over, and both the hedgehogs were out of sight:
`but it doesn't matter much,' thought Alice, `as all the arches
are gone from the side of the ground.' So she tucked it away
under her arm, that it might not escape again, and went
back for a little more conversation with her friend.

When she got back to the Cheshire Cat, she was surprised
to find quite a large crowd collected round it: there was a
dispute going on between the executioner, the King, and
the Queen, who were all talking at once, while all the rest
were quite silent, and looked very uncomfortable.

The moment Alice appeared, she was appealed to by all three
to settle the question, and they repeated their arguments to her,
though, as they all spoke at once, she found it very hard
indeed to make out exactly what they said.

The executioner's argument was, that you couldn't cut off a
head unless there was a body to cut it off from: that he had
never had to do such a thing before, and he wasn't going
to begin at HIS time of life.

The King's argument was, that anything that had a head
could be beheaded, and that you weren't to talk nonsense.

The Queen's argument was, that if something wasn't done
about it in less than no time she'd have everybody executed,
all round. (It was this last remark that had made the whole
party look so grave and anxious.)

Alice could think of nothing else to say but `It belongs to
the Duchess: you'd better ask HER about it.'

`She's in prison,' the Queen said to the executioner: `fetch
her here.' And the executioner went off like an arrow.

The Cat's head began fading away the moment he was gone,
and, by the time he had disappeared; so the King and the
executioner ran wildly up and down looking for it, while
the rest of the party went back to the game.

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