Alice's Adventures in Wonderland "Oh My Fur And Whiskers!"

Lewis Carroll

"Oh My Fur And Whiskers!"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Carroll's familiar masterpiece of delightful nonsense begins with Alice sitting beside her sister on the riverbank; the sister is reading a book and Alice is growing drowsy when a white rabbit rushes past her, looking at his watch and exclaiming that he is late. She follows him down a rabbit hole and falls into a magical room which is continually changing and from which she cannot seem to escape. There are various substances lying about which she eats and drinks; each of these either increases or decreases her size. Though either state might help her out of her prison, she is never able to arrive at the proper combination. While she is a giant she weeps, and a large pool of tears gathers on the floor. Then she sees the white rabbit again; her size frightens him. He drops a fan and a pair of gloves he has been carrying and rushes away. Alice finds that she cannot follow him and then discovers that she is growing smaller. She continues to shrink; soon she is the size of a mouse and is swimming about in the pool of tears. A mouse swims past and she seizes his tail. He is nervous, and it seems that no matter what Alice tries to say she manages to touch on the subject of cats, thereby shattering her rescuer's equanimity. Presently they reach shore, accompanied by a crowd of birds and other small creatures which have also fallen in the water. The room that had imprisoned Alice has now disappeared. The group now engages in solemn debate on the question of how they are to dry themselves; here Carroll satirizes a committee meeting. After several lengthy addresses composed of windy nonsense, they find that the problem has solved itself. Then Alice inadvertently mentions cats again and the party breaks up. At this point the white rabbit reappears, hunting desperately for the articles he has lost. He is Carroll's caricature of a fussy, elderly person, officious, nervous and timid; like all cowards he is used to ordering his inferiors about–and in a state of perpetual anxiety over what his superiors may do to him.

It was the White Rabbit, trotting slowly back again, and looking anxiously about as it went, as if it had lost something; and she heard it muttering to itself, "The Duchess! The Duchess! Oh my dear paws! Oh my fur and whiskers! She'll get me executed, as sure as ferrets are ferrets! Where can I have dropped them, I wonder?" Alice guessed in a moment that it was looking for the fan and the pair of white kid gloves, and she very good-naturedly began hunting about for them, but they were nowhere to be seen–everything seemed to have changed since her swim in the pool; and the great hall, with the glass table and the little door, had vanished completely.
Very soon the Rabbit noticed Alice, as she went hunting about, and called out to her, in an angry tone, "Why, Mary Ann, what are you doing out here? Run home this moment, and fetch me a pair of gloves and a fan! Quick, now!" And Alice was so much frightened that she ran off at once in the direction it pointed to, without trying to explain the mistake that it had made.
"He took me for his housemaid," she said to herself as she ran. "How surprised he'll be when he finds out who I am! But I'd better take him his fan and gloves–that is, if I can find them." As she said this, she came upon a neat little house, on the door of which was a bright brass plate with the name "W. RABBIT," engraved upon it. She went in without knocking, and hurried upstairs, in great fear lest she should meet the real Mary Ann, . . .