Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass Wonderland, Chapter 2
By Lewis Carroll
Wonderland, Chapter 2
The Pool of Tears
The cake that Alice just ate starts to take effect: she grows and grows until her feet seem too far away for her to put on her own shoes.
Alice starts to worry that, if she isn't nice to her now-distant feet, they won't walk where she wants them too. She decides she'll give them a new pair of boots every Christmas, and imagines how she'll have to address the package so that the postman can deliver the boots to her feet.
Alice's head hits the roof of the hall; she's now more than nine feet tall. She takes the golden key off the table and goes back to the tiny door.
Alice unlocks the door and looks through. If she lies on her side and puts her eye to the door, she can see the garden, but she's definitely way too big to go through.
Alice starts crying again. Because she's so big, her tears are enormous, and she quickly cries herself a big puddle about four inches deep.
Alice hears footsteps in the distance. She dries her tears and looks up to see the White Rabbit coming back, dressed in a fancy outfit and carrying a fan and a pair of white kid gloves. (Kid is a very soft kind of leather, so these are expensive leather gloves.) The Rabbit mutters to himself that the Duchess (whoever that is) is waiting for him.
When the White Rabbit sees Alice, he jumps in surprise, drops his fan and gloves, and runs off.
Alice picks up the Rabbit's fan and gloves. She begins fanning herself as she muses on the weirdness of her day so far.
Remembering that yesterday seemed relatively normal, she wonders if she has changed in the night. She decides that she does feel different, so she starts running through the list of all the other girls she knows to figure out which of them she has turned into.
Alice starts to worry that she might be Mabel, a really ignorant little girl. To prove she's not Mabel, she starts reciting multiplication tables, but messes up right away. Then she tries to go through a geography lesson, but once again she mixes things up.
Verse Alert: Alice tries to recite a poem she had to memorize, "How doth the little," but it goes all wrong, too. There's a lot of nonsense poetry in the Alice books, but don't worry – we'll tip you off with a Verse Alert whenever it begins!
After reciting the poem wrong, Alice decides that she must indeed be Mabel.
Alice doesn't want to be Mabel. It sounds like Mabel is somewhat poor and doesn't have many toys or a very nice house. So Alice decides that she'll stay in Wonderland and won't go back to England unless she's someone she likes being.
Suddenly Alice notices that she has absent-mindedly put on one of the White Rabbit's gloves. She realizes that she must be shrinking again, and figures out that the fan is making her shrink. She drops the fan, but now she's less than two feet high and can probably get into the garden.
Of course, once again the little door is locked and the key is on top of the glass table, out of her reach. You didn't think she was going to make it into the garden in Chapter 2, did you?
Alice slips on a wet spot and falls into a pool of salt water. At first she thinks she's in the ocean, but then she realizes that she's in the pool of tears she cried when she was nine feet tall.
Alice swims toward the sound of splashing nearby and finds a mouse. She asks the Mouse if it knows the way out of the pool, but it doesn't answer.
Alice wonders if the Mouse is French – she knows that the French once conquered England (the Norman Conquest), but doesn't realize how long ago it happened (1066, or about nine hundred years before Alice's time). She asks the Mouse a question from her French textbook. Unfortunately, the question she remembers is "Où est ma chatte?" which means "Where's my cat?" It's not really the ideal question to ask a mouse.
The Mouse is offended and frightened by Alice's question. Alice apologizes and tries to explain how wonderful her cat, Dinah, really is. But she simply makes things worse as she describes Dinah catching mice.
Alice tries to change the subject and asks the mouse if it likes dogs. She's really put her foot in it this time, though – she starts talking about the terrier that lives next door to her, which catches rats.
The Mouse, thoroughly offended, starts swimming away. Alice calls out an apology. The Mouse comes back and offers to tell Alice its life story, to explain why it dislikes cats and dogs so much.
Alice and the Mouse, along with a group of other animals that have fallen into the pool, swim to the shore and gather together. The other animals include a group of birds: a Duck, a Dodo, a Lory, and an Eaglet.