Chapter 9: The Cheshire-Cat

ALL alone, all alone! Poor Alice! No Baby, not even a Pig to keep her company!

So you may be sure she was very glad indeed, when she saw the Cheshire-Cat, perched up in a tree, over her head.

The Cat has a very nice smile, no doubt: but just look what a lot of teeth it’s got! Isn’t Alice just a little shy of it?

Well, yes, a little. But then, it couldn’t help having teeth, you know: and it could have helped smiling, supposing it had been cross. So, on the whole, she was glad.

Doesn’t Alice look very prim, holding her head so straight up, and with her hands behind her, just as if she were going to say her lessons to the Cat!

And that reminds me. There’s a little lesson I want to teach you, while we’re looking at this picture of Alice and the Cat. Now don’t be in a bad temper about it, my dear Child! It’s a very little lesson indeed!

Do you see that Fox-Glove growing close to the tree? And do you know why it’s called a Fox-Glove? Perhaps you think it’s got something to do with a Fox? No indeed! Foxes never wear Gloves!

The right word is “Folks-Gloves.” Did you ever hear that Fairies used to be called “the good Folk?

Now we’ve finished the lesson, and we’ll wait a minute, till you’ve got your temper again.

Well? Do you feel quite good-natured again? No temper-ache? No crossness about the corners of the mouth? Then we’ll go on.

“Cheshire Puss!” said Alice. (Wasn’t that a pretty name for a Cat?) “Would you tell me which way I ought to go from here?”

And so the Cheshire-Cat told her which way she ought to go, if she wanted to visit the Hatter, and which way to go, to visit the March Hare. “They’re both mad!” said the Cat.

And then the Cat vanished away, just like the flame of a candle when it goes out!

So Alice set off, to visit the March Hare. And as she went along, there was the Cat again! And she told it she didn’t like it coming and going so quickly.

So this time the Cat vanished quite slowly, beginning with the tail, and ending with the grin. Wasn’t that a curious thing, a Grin without any Cat? Would you like to see one?

If you turn up the corner of this leaf, you’ll have Alice looking at the Grin: and she doesn’t look a bit more frightened than when she was looking at the Cat, does she?

<< Chapter 8                               Chapter 10 >>