Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by eir sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice ey had peeped into the book eir sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, "and what is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversation?"
So ey was considering in eir own mind (as well as ey could, for the hot day made em feel very sleepy and stupid) whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by em.
There was nothing so very remarkable in that; nor did Alice think it so very much out of the way to hear the Rabbit say to itself, "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!" (when ey thought it over afterwards, it occurred to em that ey ought to have wondered at this, but at the time it all seemed quite natural); but when the Rabbit actually took a watch out of its waist-coat pocket, and looked at it, and then hurried on, Alice started to eir feet, for it flashed across eir mind that ey had never before seen a rabbit with either a waist-coat pocket or a watch to take out of it, and burning with curiosity, ey ran across the field after it, and fortunately was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.
In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world ey was to get out again.
The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping eirself before ey found eirself falling down a very deep well.
Either the well was very deep, or ey fell very slowly, for ey had plenty of time as ey went down to look about em, and to wonder what was going to happen next. First, ey tried to look down and make out what ey was coming to, but it was too dark to see anything; then ey looked at the sides of the well, and noticed that they were filled with cupboards and book-shelves: here and there ey saw maps and pictures hung upon pegs. Ey took down a jar from one of the shelves as ey passed; it was labeled "ORANGE MARMALADE," but to eir great disappointment it was empty: ey did not like to drop the jar for fear of killing somebody, so managed to put it into one of the cupboards as ey fell past it.
"Well!" thought Alice to eirself. "After such a fall as this, I shall think nothing of tumbling downstairs! How brave they'll all think me at home! Why, I wouldn't say anything about it, even if I fell off the top of the house!" (Which was very likely true.)
Down, down, down. Would the fall never come to an end? "I wonder how many miles I've fallen by this time?" ey said aloud. "I must be getting somewhere near the centre of the earth. Let me see: that would be four thousand miles down, I think -- " (for, you see, Alice had learnt several things of this sort in eir lessons in the schoolroom, and though this was not a very good opportunity for showing off eir knowledge, as there was no one to listen to em, still it was good practice to say it over) " -- yes, that's about the right distance -- but then I wonder what Latitude and Longitude I've got to ?" (Alice had no idea what Latitude was, or Longitude either, but thought they were nice grand words to say.)
Presently ey began again. "I wonder if I shall fall right through the earth! How funny it'll seem to come out among the people that walk with their heads downwards! The Antipathies, I think -- " (ey was rather glad there was no one listening, this time, as it didn't sound at all the right word) " -- but I shall have to ask them what the name of the country is, you know. Please, Ma'am, is this New Zealand or Australia?" (and ey tried to curtsey as ey spoke -- fancy curtseying as you're falling through the air! Do you think you could manage it?) "And what an ignorant little girl ey'll think me! No, it'll never do to ask: perhaps I shall see it written up somewhere."
Down, down, down. There was nothing else to do, so Alice soon began talking again. "Dinah'll miss me very much to-night, I should think!" (Dinah was the cat.) "I hope they'll remember eir saucer of milk at tea-time. Dinah, my dear, I wish you were down here with me! There are no mice in the air, I'm afraid, but you might catch a bat, and that's very like a mouse, you know. But do cats eat bats, I wonder?"
And here Alice began to get rather sleepy, and went on saying to eirself, in a dreamy sort of way, "Do cats eat bats? Do cats eat bats?" and sometimes, "Do bats eat cats?" for, you see, as ey couldn't answer either question, it didn't much matter which way ey put it. Ey felt that ey was dozing off, and had just begun to dream that ey was walking hand in hand with Dinah, and saying to em very earnestly, "Now, Dinah, tell me the truth: did you ever eat a bat?" when suddenly, thump! thump! down ey came upon a heap of dry leaves, and the fall was over.
Alice was not a bit hurt, and ey jumped up on to eir feet in a moment: ey looked up, but it was all dark overhead; before em was another long passage, and the White Rabbit was still in sight, hurrying down it. There was not a moment to be lost: away went Alice like the wind, and was just in time to hear it say, as it turned a corner, "Oh, my ears and whiskers, how late it's getting!" Ey was close behind it when ey turned the corner, but the Rabbit was no longer to be seen: ey found eirself in a long, low hall, which was lit up by a row of lamps hanging from the roof.
There were doors all round the hall, but they were all locked; and when Alice had been all the way down one side and up the other, trying every door, ey walked sadly down the middle, wondering how ey was ever to get out again.
Suddenly ey came upon a little three-legged table, all made of solid glass; there was nothing on it except a tiny golden key, and Alice's first thought was that it might belong to one of the doors of the hall; but, alas! either the locks were too large, or the key was too small, but at any rate it would not open any of them. However, the second time round, ey came upon a low curtain ey had not noticed before, and behind it was a little door about fifteen inches high: ey tried the little golden key in the lock, and to eir great delight it fitted!
Alice opened the door and found that it led into a small passage, not much larger than a rat-hole: ey knelt down and looked along the passage into the loveliest garden you ever saw. How ey longed to get out of that dark hall, and wander about among those beds of bright flowers and those cool fountains, but ey could not even get eir head through the doorway; "and even if my head would go through," thought poor Alice, "it would be of very little use without my shoulders. Oh, how I wish I could shut up like a telescope! I think I could, if I only knew how to begin." For, you see, so many out-of-the-way things had happened lately, that Alice had begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible.
There seemed to be no use in waiting by the little door, so ey went back to the table, half hoping ey might find another key on it, or at any rate a book of rules for shutting people up like telescopes: this time ey found a little bottle on it ("which certainly was not here before," said Alice), and round its neck a paper label, with the words "DRINK ME" beautifully printed on it in large letters.
It was all very well to say "Drink me," but the wise little Alice was not going to do that in a hurry. "No, I'll look first," ey said, "and see whether it's marked poison or not"; for ey had read several nice little histories about children who had got burnt, and eaten up by wild beasts, and many other unpleasant things, all because they would not remember the simple rules their friends had taught them: such as, that a red-hot poker will burn you if you hold it too long; and that, if you cut your finger very deeply with a knife, it usually bleeds; and ey had never forgotten that, if you drink much, from a bottle marked "poison," it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later.
However, this bottle was not marked "poison," so Alice ventured to taste it, and finding it very nice (it had, in fact, a sort of mixed flavour of cherry tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffee, and hot buttered toast), ey very soon finished it off.
"What a curious feeling!" said Alice. "I must be shutting up like a telescope."
And so it was indeed: ey was now only ten inches high, and eir face brightened up at the thought that ey was now the right size for going through the little door into that lovely garden. First, however, ey waited for a few minutes to see if ey was going to shrink any further: ey felt a little nervous about this; "for it might end, you know," said Alice to eirself, "in my going out altogether, like a candle. I wonder what I should be like then?" And ey tried to fancy what the flame of a candle is like after it is blown out, for ey could not remember ever having seen such a thing.
After a while, finding that nothing more happened, ey decided on going into the garden at once; but, alas for poor Alice! when ey got to the door, ey found ey had forgotten the little golden key, and when ey went back to the table for it, ey found ey could not possibly reach it: ey could see it quite plainly through the glass, and ey tried eir best to climb up one of the table-legs, but it was too slippery; and when ey had tired eirself out with trying, the poor little thing sat down and cried.
"Come, there's no use in crying like that!" said Alice to eirself, rather sharply. "I advise you to leave off this minute!" Ey generally gave eirself very good advice (though ey very seldom followed it), and sometimes ey scolded eirself so severely as to bring tears into eir eyes; and once ey remembered trying to box eir own ears for having cheated eirself in a game of croquet ey was playing against eirself, for this curious child was very fond of pretending to be two people. "But it's no use now," thought poor Alice, "to pretend to be two people! Why, there's hardly enough of me left to make one respectable person!"
Soon eir eye fell on a little glass box that as lying under the table: ey opened it, and found in it a very small cake, on which the words "EAT ME" were beautifully marked in currants. "Well, I'll eat it," said Alice, "and if it makes me larger, I can reach the key; and if it makes me smaller, I can creep under the door; so either way I'll get into the garden, and I don't care which happens!" Ey ate a little bit, and said anxiously to eirself, "Which way? Which way?" holding eir hand on the top of eir head to feel which way it was growing, and ey was quite surprised to find that ey remained the same size: to be sure, this generally happens when one eats cake, but Alice had got so much into the way of expecting nothing but out-of-the-way things to happen, that it seemed quite dull and stupid for life to go on in the common way.
So ey set to work, and very soon finished off the cake.