`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.
An enormous puppy was looking down at her with large round eyes, and feebly stretching out one paw, trying to touch her. `Poor little thing!' said Alice, in a coaxing tone, and she tried hard to whistle to it; but she was terribly frightened all the time at the thought that it might be hungry, in which case it would be very likely to eat her up in spite of all her coaxing.
Hardly knowing what she did, she picked up a little bit of stick, and held it out to the puppy; whereupon the puppy jumped into the air off all its feet at once, with a yelp of delight, and rushed at the stick, and made believe to worry it; then Alice dodged behind a great thistle, to keep herself from being run over; and the moment she appeared on the other side, the puppy made another rush at the stick, and tumbled head over heels in its hurry to get hold of it; then Alice, thinking it was very like having a game of play with a cart-horse, and expecting every moment to be trampled under its feet, ran round the thistle again; then the puppy began a series of short charges at the stick, running a very little way forwards each time and a long way back, and barking hoarsely all the while, till at last it sat down a good way off, panting, with its tongue hanging out of its mouth, and its great eyes half shut.
This seemed to Alice a good opportunity for making her escape; so she set off at once, and ran till she was quite tired and out of breath, and till the puppy's bark sounded quite faint in the distance.
`And yet what a dear little puppy it was!' said Alice, as she leant against a buttercup to rest herself, and fanned herself with one of the leaves: `I should have liked teaching it tricks very much, if--if I'd only been the right size to do it! Oh dear! I'd nearly forgotten that I've got to grow up again! Let me see--how IS it to be managed? I suppose I ought to eat or drink something or other; but the great question is, what?'
The great question certainly was, what? Alice looked all round her at the flowers and the blades of grass, but she did not see anything that looked like the right thing to eat or drink under the circumstances.