She waited for some time without hearing anything more: at last came a rumbling of little cartwheels, and the sound of a good many voices all talking together: she made out the words: ‘Where’s the other ladder?—Why, I hadn’t to bring but one; Bill’s got the other—Bill! fetch it here, lad!—Here, put ’em up at this corner—No, tie ’em together first—they don’t reach half high enough yet—Oh! they’ll do well enough; don’t be particular—Here, Bill! catch hold of this rope—Will the roof bear?—Mind that loose slate—Oh, it’s coming down! Heads below!’ (a loud crash)—’Now, who did that?—It was Bill, I fancy—Who’s to go down the chimney?—Nay, I shan’t! YOU do it!—That I won’t, then!—Bill’s to go down—Here, Bill! the master says you’re to go down the chimney!’
‘Oh! So Bill’s got to come down the chimney, has he?’ said Alice to herself. ‘Shy, they seem to put everything upon Bill! I wouldn’t be in Bill’s place for a good deal: this fireplace is narrow, to be sure; but I THINK I can kick a little!’
She drew her foot as far down the chimney as she could, and waited till she heard a little animal (she couldn’t guess of what sort it was) scratching and scrambling about in the chimney close above her: then, saying to herself ‘This is Bill,’ she gave one sharp kick, and waited to see what would happen next.
The first thing she heard was a general chorus of ‘There goes Bill!’ then the Rabbit’s voice along—’Catch him, you by the hedge!’ then silence, and then another confusion of voices—’Hold up his head—Brandy now—Don’t choke him—How was it, old fellow? What happened to you? Tell us all about it!’
Last came a little feeble, squeaking voice, (‘That’s Bill,’ thought Alice,) ‘Well, I hardly know—No more, thank ye; I’m better now—but I’m a deal too flustered to tell you—all I know is, something comes at me like a Jack-in-the-box, and up I goes like a sky-rocket!’
‘So you did, old fellow!’ said the others.
‘We must burn the house down!’ said the Rabbit’s voice; and Alice called out as loud as she could, ‘If you do. I’ll set Dinah at you!’
There was a dead silence instantly, and Alice thought to herself, ‘I wonder what they WILL do next! If they had any sense, they’d take the roof off.’ After a minute or two, they began moving about again, and Alice heard the Rabbit say, ‘A barrowful will do, to begin with.’
‘A barrowful of WHAT?’ thought Alice; but she had not long to doubt, for the next moment a shower of little pebbles came rattling in at the window, and some of them hit her in the face. ‘I’ll put a stop to this,’ she said to herself, and shouted out, ‘You’d better not do that again!’ which produced another dead silence.
Alice noticed with some surprise that the pebbles were all turning into little cakes as they lay on the floor, and a bright idea came into her head. ‘If I eat one of these cakes,’ she thought, ‘it’s sure to make SOME change in my size; and as it can’t possibly make me larger, it must make me smaller, I suppose.’
So she swallowed one of the cakes, and was delighted to find that she began shrinking directly. As soon as she was small enough to get through the door, she ran out of the house, and found quite a crowd of little animals and birds waiting outside. The poor little Lizard, Bill, was in the middle, being held up by two guinea-pigs, who were giving it something out of a bottle. They all made a rush at Alice the moment she appeared; but she ran off as hard as she could, and soon found herself safe in a thick wood.
‘The first thing I’ve got to do,’ said Alice to herself, as she wandered about in the wood, ‘is to grow to my right size again; and the second thing is to find my way into that lovely garden. I think that will be the best plan.’
It sounded an excellent plan, no doubt, and very neatly and simply arranged; the only difficulty was, that she had not the smallest idea how to set about it; and while she was peering about anxiously among the trees, a little sharp bark just over her head made her look up in a great hurry.