Advice from a Caterpillar
THE CATERPILLAR AND Alice looked at each other in silence: at last the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth, and addressed her in a languid, sleepy voice.
“Who are you?” said the Caterpillar.
This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied rather shyly, “I—I hardly know, sir, just at present—at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”
“What do you mean by that?” said the Caterpillar sternly. “Explain yourself.”
“I cannot explain myself, I'm afraid, sir,” said Alice, “because I'm not myself, you see.”
“I don't see,” said the Caterpillar.
“I'm afraid I can't put it more clearly,” Alice replied very politely, “for I can't understand it myself to begin with; and being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing.”
“It isn't,” said the Caterpillar.
“Well, perhaps you haven't found it so yet,” said Alice; “but when you have to turn into a chrysalis—you will some day, you know—and then after that into a butterfly, I should think you'll feel it a little queer, won't you?”
“Not a bit,” said the Caterpillar.
“Well, perhaps your feelings may be different,” said Alice; “all I know is, it would feel very queer to me.”
“You?” said the Caterpillar contemptuously. “Who are you?”
Which brought them back again to the beginning of the conversation. Alice felt a little irritated at the Caterpillar's making such very short remarks, and she drew herself up and said, very gravely, “I think you ought to tell me who you are, first.”
“Why?” said the Caterpillar.
Here was another puzzling question; and, as Alice could not think of any good reason, and as the Caterpillar seemed to be in a very unpleasant state of mind, she turned away.
“Come back!” the Caterpillar called after her. “I've something important to say!”
This sounded promising, certainly: Alice turned and came back again.
“Keep your temper,” said the Caterpillar.
“Is that all?” said Alice, swallowing down her anger as well as she could.
“No,” said the Caterpillar.
Alice thought she might as well wait, as she had nothing else to do, and perhaps after all it might tell her something worth hearing. For some minutes it puffed away without speaking, but at last it unfolded its arms, took the hookah out of its mouth again, and said, “So you think you're changed, do you?”
“I'm afraid I am, sir,” said Alice; “I can't remember things as I used—and I don't keep the same size for ten minutes together!”
“Can't remember what things?” said the Caterpillar.
“Well, I've tried to say ‘How doth the little busy bee,’ but it all came different!” Alice replied in a very melancholy voice.
“Repeat, ‘You are old, Father William,’ ” said the Caterpillar.
Alice folded her hands, and began:—
“That is not said right,” said the Caterpillar.
“Not quite right, I'm afraid,” said Alice timidly; “some of the words have got altered.”
“It is wrong from beginning to end,” said the Caterpillar decidedly, and there was silence for some minutes.
The Caterpillar was the first to speak.
“What size do you want to be?” it asked.
“Oh, I'm not particular as to size,” Alice hastily replied; “only one doesn't like changing so often, you know.”
“I don't know,” said the Caterpillar.
Alice said nothing: she had never been so much contradicted in her life before, and she felt that she was losing her temper.
“Are you content now?” said the Caterpillar.
“Well, I should like to be a little larger, sir, if you wouldn't mind,” said Alice: “three inches is such a wretched height to be.”
“It is a very good height indeed!” said the Caterpillar angrily, rearing itself upright as it spoke (it was exactly three inches high).
“But I'm not used to it!” pleaded poor Alice in a piteous tone. And she thought of herself, “I wish the creatures wouldn't be so easily offended!”
“You'll get used...
(The entire section is 2,171 words.)