'Talking of axes,' said the Duchess, 'chop
off her head!'
Alice glanced rather anxiously at the cook, to see if she meant to take the hint; but the cook was busily stirring the soup, and seemed not to be listening, so she went on again: 'Twenty-four hours, I THINK; or is it twelve? I--'
'Oh, don't bother ME,' said the Duchess; 'I never could abide figures!' And with that she began nursing her child again, singing a sort of lullaby
to it as she did so, and giving it a violent shake at the end of every line:
'Speak roughly to your little boy, And beat him when he sneezes: He only does it to annoy, Because he knows it teases
CHORUS. (In which the cook and the baby joined):-- 'Wow! wow! wow!'
While the Duchess sang the second verse of the song, she kept tossing
the baby violently up and down, and the poor little thing howled so, that Alice could hardly hear the words:--'I speak severely to my boy, I beat him when he sneezes; For he can thoroughly enjoy The pepper when he pleases!'
CHORUS. 'Wow! wow! wow!'
'Here! you may nurse it a bit, if you like!' the Duchess said to Alice, flinging
the baby at her as she spoke. 'I must go and get ready to play croquet with the Queen,' and she hurried out of the room. The cook threw a frying-pan after her as she went out, but it just missed her.
Alice caught the baby with some difficulty, as it was a queer- shaped little creature, and held out its arms and legs in all directions, 'just like a star-fish,' thought Alice. The poor little thing was snorting
like a steam-engine when she caught it, and kept doubling itself up and straightening itself out again, so that altogether, for the first minute or two, it was as much as she could do to hold it.
As soon as she had made out the proper way of nursing it, (which was to twist it up into a sort of knot, and then keep tight hold of its right ear and left foot, so as to prevent its undoing itself,) she carried it out into the open air. 'IF I don't take this child away with me,' thought Alice, 'they're sure to kill it in a day or two: wouldn't it be murder to leave it behind?' She said the last words out loud, and the little thinggrunted
in reply (it had left off sneezing by this time). 'Don't grunt,' said Alice; 'that's not at all a proper way of expressing yourself.'
The baby grunted again, and Alice looked very anxiously into its face to see what was the matter with it. There could be no doubt that it had a VERY turn-up nose, much more like a snout
than a real nose; also its eyes were getting extremely small for a baby: altogether Alice did not like the look of the thing at all. 'But perhaps it was only sobbing
,' she thought, and looked into its eyes again, to see if there were any tears.
No, there were no tears. 'If you're going to turn into a pig, my dear,' said Alice, seriously, 'I'll have nothing more to do with you. Mind now!' The poor little thing sobbed again (or grunted, it was impossible to say which), and they went on for some while in silence.
Alice was just beginning to think to herself, 'Now, what am I to do with this creature when I get it home?' when it grunted again, so violently, that she looked down into its face in some alarm. This time there could be NO mistake about it: it was neither more nor less than a pig, and she felt that it would be quite absurd for her to carry it further.