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Lewis Carroll
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland 01
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Chapter One
DOWN THE RABBIT-HOLE

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the
bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into
the book her 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 conversations??

So she was considering in her own mind (as well as she could, for
the hot day made her 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 her.

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 she thought it over afterwards, it occurred
to her that she 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 waistcoat-pocket, and looked at it, and then hurried on, Alice
started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never
before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket, or a watch to take
out of it, and burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and 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 she 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 herself before she found herself falling down what seemed
to be a very deep well.

Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had
plenty of time as she went down to look about her and to wonder what
was going to happen next. First, she tried to look down and make out
what she was coming to, but it was too dark to see anything; then she
looked at the sides of the well, and noticed that they were filled with
cupboards and book-shelves; here and there she saw maps and
pictures hung upon pegs. She took down a jar from one of the shelves
as she passed; it was labelled ?ORANGE MARMALADE', but to her great
disappointment it was empty: she did not like to drop the jar for fear
of killing somebody underneath, so managed to put it into one of the
cupboards as she fell past it.

?Well!? thought Alice to herself, ?after such a fall as this, I shall
think nothing of tumbling down stairs! 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?? she 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 her lessons in the schoolroom,
and though this was not a very good opportunity for showing off her
knowledge, as there was no one to listen to her, still it was good
practice to say it over) ??yes, that's about the right distance?but
then I wonder what Latitude or Longitude I've got to?? (Alice had not
the slightest idea what Latitude was, or Longitude either, but she thought
they were nice grand words to say.)

Presently she 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 downward! The Antipathies, I think?? (she 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 she tried to curtsey as she spoke?fancy curtseying
as you're falling through the air! Do you think you could manage it?)
?And what an ignorant little girl she'll think me for asking! 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 her 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
herself, in a dreamy sort of way, ?Do cats eat bats? Do cats eat bats??
and sometimes, ?Do bats eat cats?? for, you see, as she couldn't
answer either question, it didn't much matter which way she put it.
She felt that she was dozing off, and had just begun to dream that
she was walking hand in hand with Dinah, and was saying to her very
earnestly, ?Now, Dinah, tell me the truth: did you ever eat a bat??
when suddenly, thump! thump! down she came upon a heap of
sticks and dry leaves, and the fall was over.

Alice was not a bit hurt, and she jumped up on to her feet in
a moment: she looked up, but it was all dark overhead; before her
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!? She was
close behind it when she turned the corner, but the Rabbit was no
longer to be seen: she found herself 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, she walked sadly down the middle,
wondering how she was ever to get out again.

Suddenly she came upon a little three-legged table, all made
of solid glass; there was nothing on it but a tiny golden key,
and Alice's first idea was that this 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, on the second time round, she came upon a low curtain
she had not noticed before, and behind it was a little door about
fifteen inches high: she tried the little golden key in the lock, and
to her great delight it fitted!

Alice opened the door and found that it led into a small
passage, not much larger than a rat-hole: she knelt down and
looked along the passage into the loveliest garden you ever saw.
How she longed to get out of that dark hall, and wander about
among those beds of bright flowers and those cool fountains, but
she could not even get her head though 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
she went back to the table, half hoping she might find another key
on it, or at any rate a book of rules for shutting people up like
telescopes: this time she found a little bottle on it, (?which certainly
was not here before,? said Alice,) and tied round the neck of the bottle
was 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,? she said,
?and see whether it's marked "poison" or not'; for she had read
several nice little stories about children who had got burnt, and
eaten up by wild beasts and 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 she 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,) she very soon finished it off.

?What a curious feeling!? said Alice; ?I must be shutting up
like a telescope.?

And so it was indeed: she was now only ten inches high,
and her face brightened up at the thought that she was now
the right size for going through the little door into that lovely
garden. First, however, she waited for a few minutes to see if
she was going to shrink any further: she felt a little nervous
about this; ?for it might end, you know,? said Alice to herself,
?in my going out altogether, like a candle. I wonder what I
should be like then?? And she tried to fancy what the flame of
a candle looks like after the candle is blown out, for she could not
remember ever having seen such a thing.

After a while, finding that nothing more happened, she
decided on going into the garden at once; but, alas for poor
Alice! when she got to the door, she found she had forgotten
the little golden key, and when she went back to the table for it,
she found she could not possibly reach it: she could see it quite
plainly through the glass, and she tried her best to climb up one
of the legs of the table, but it was too slippery; and when she
had tired herself out with trying, the poor little thing sat down
and cried.

?Come, there's no use in crying like that!? said Alice to
herself, rather sharply; ?I advise you to leave off this minute!?
She generally gave herself very good advice, (though she very
seldom followed it), and sometimes she scolded herself so
severely as to bring tears into her eyes; and once she
remembered trying to box her own ears for having cheated
herself in a game of croquet she was playing against herself,
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 her eye fell on a little glass box that was lying under
the table: she 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 grow larger, I
can reach the key; and if it makes me grow smaller, I can creep
under the door; so either way I'll get into the garden, and I
don't care which happens!?

She ate a little bit, and said anxiously to herself, ?Which
way? Which way??, holding her hand on the top of her head to
feel which way it was growing, and she was quite surprised to
find that she remained the same size: to be sure, this is what
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 she set to work, and very soon finished off the cake.

(from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" - 1865)

Narrator: Adam Frank
Alice: Ellie Wen
White Rabbit: Mark Eckardt
The Label Reader: Alexander Gard-Murray

Click above to listen to this quote!
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Read by: Mark Eckardt, Adam Frank, Alexander Gard-Murray, & Ellie Wen
 

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