After finishing the cake that says “EAT ME,” Alice grows to nine feet tall and finds that she can barely get an eye down to the doorway. She begins to cry, and her massive tears form a sizable pool at her feet. The White Rabbit reappears and mutters to himself about keeping a Duchess waiting. Alice attempts to speak to him, but he scuttles away, leaving behind his gloves and fan. Alice picks up the fan and begins fanning herself. She muses on the possibility that she may not be Alice but someone else entirely. To determine if she knows all that Alice is supposed to know, she starts to recite her lessons. She finds that she gets the recitations wrong and considers the idea that she may not be Alice, but possibly a girl she knows named Mabel. Since Mabel knows very little, it makes sense to Alice that her confusion over the lessons must indicate that she has somehow become Mabel. If she is Mabel, there is no reason for her to find her way out of the well to rejoin society. Even though she’s confused about her identity, she knows that she must find a way out of the well and back to the world aboveground.
Alice realizes that the fanning motion causes her to shrink, so she fans herself down to a size that will allow her to fit through the door. Once again, Alice has forgotten the key, but before she can become upset, she tumbles into a pool of salt water. She thinks she has fallen into the sea, but quickly realizes that she is swimming in her own giant tears. As she swims, she comes across a Mouse, whom she asks for help. The Mouse doesn’t understand Alice, so she tries to speak French to him. She recites a line from her French lessons, inquiring after a cat. At the mention of the cat, the Mouse leaps with fright. Alice apologizes but then absentmindedly chatters about her cat Dinah. The Mouse becomes offended, so she changes the subject to dogs. The talk of dogs only frightens the Mouse more, and he begins to swim away. Alice promises to stop talking about cats and dogs if the Mouse will come back. The Mouse swims back to Alice, telling her to follow it to shore, where he will tell his history to explain his hatred for cats and dogs. Now accompanied by several other animals that have fallen into the pool, including a Duck, a Dodo, a Lory, and an Eaglet, Alice and the Mouse swim to shore.
Alice in Wonderland 2: The Pool of Tears – Listen and Read
Chapter Two of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol (abridged)
This Librivox Recording is in the Public Domain.
Chapter Two – The pool of tears
“Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice (she was so much surprised that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English). “Now I’m opening out like the largest telescope that ever was! Good-by, feet! Oh, my poor little feet, I wonder who will put on your shoes and stockings for you now, dears? I shall be a great deal too far off to trouble myself about you.”
Just at this moment her head struck against the roof of the hall; in fact, she was now rather more than nine feet high, and she at once took up the little golden key and hurried off to the garden door.
Poor Alice! It was as much as she could do, lying down on one side, to look through into the garden with one eye; but to get through was more hopeless than ever. She sat down and began to cry again.
She went on shedding gallons of tears, until there was a large pool all ’round her and reaching half down the hall.
After a time, she heard a little pattering of feet in the distance and she hastily dried her eyes to see what was coming. It was the White Rabbit returning, splendidly dressed, with a pair of white kid-gloves in one hand and a large fan in the other. He came trotting along in a great hurry, muttering to himself, “Oh! the Duchess, the Duchess! Oh! won’t she be savage if I’ve kept her waiting!”
When the Rabbit came near her, Alice began, in a low, timid voice, “If you please, sir” The Rabbit started violently, dropped the white kid-gloves and the fan and skurried away into the darkness as hard as he could go.
Alice took up the fan and gloves and she kept fanning herself all the time she went on talking. “Dear, dear! How queer everything is today! And yesterday things went on just as usual. Was I the same when I got up this morning? But if I’m not the same, the next question is, ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle!”
As she said this, she looked down at her hands and was surprised to see that she had put on one of the Rabbit’s little white kid-gloves while she was talking. “How can I have done that?” she thought. “I must be growing small again.” She got up and went to the table to measure herself by it and found that she was now about two feet high and was going on shrinking rapidly. She soon found out that the cause of this was the fan she was holding and she dropped it hastily, just in time to save herself from shrinking away altogether.
“That was a narrow escape!” said Alice, a good deal frightened at the sudden change, but very glad to find herself still in existence. “And now for the garden!” And she ran with all speed back to the little door; but, alas! the little door was shut again and the little golden key was lying on the glass table as before. “Things are worse than ever,” thought the poor child, “for I never was so small as this before, never!”
As she said these words, her foot slipped, and in another moment, splash! she was up to her chin in salt-water. Her first idea was that she had somehow fallen into the sea. However, she soon made out that she was in the pool of tears which she had wept when she was nine feet high.
Just then she heard something splashing about in the pool a little way off, and she swam nearer to see what it was: she soon made out that it was only a mouse that had slipped in like herself.
“Would it be of any use, now,” thought Alice, “to speak to this mouse? Everything is so out-of-the-way down here that I should think very likely it can talk; at any rate, there’s no harm in trying.” So she began, “O Mouse, do you know the way out of this pool? I am very tired of swimming about here, O Mouse!” The Mouse looked at her rather inquisitively and seemed to her to wink with one of its little eyes, but it said nothing.
“Perhaps it doesn’t understand English,” thought Alice. “I dare say it’s a French mouse, come over with William the Conqueror.” So she began again: “Où est ma chatte?” which was the first sentence in her French lesson-book. The Mouse gave a sudden leap out of the water and seemed to quiver all over with fright. “Oh, I beg your pardon!” cried Alice hastily, afraid that she had hurt the poor animal’s feelings. “I quite forgot you didn’t like cats.”
“Not like cats!” cried the Mouse in a shrill, passionate voice. “Would you like cats, if you were me?”
“Well, perhaps not,” said Alice in a soothing tone; “don’t be angry about it. And yet I wish I could show you our cat Dinah. I think you’d take a fancy to cats, if you could only see her. She is such a dear, quiet thing.” The Mouse was bristling all over and she felt certain it must be really offended. “We won’t talk about her any more, if you’d rather not.”
“We, indeed!” cried the Mouse, who was trembling down to the end of its tail. “As if I would talk on such a subject! Our family always hated cats — nasty, low, vulgar things! Don’t let me hear the name again!”
“I won’t indeed!” said Alice, in a great hurry to change the subject of conversation. “Are you — are you fond — of — of dogs? There is such a nice little dog near our house, I should like to show you! It kills all the rats and — oh, dear!” cried Alice in a sorrowful tone. “I’m afraid I’ve offended it again!” For the Mouse was swimming away from her as hard as it could go, and making quite a commotion in the pool as it went.
So she called softly after it, “Mouse dear! Do come back again, and we won’t talk about cats, or dogs either, if you don’t like them!” When the Mouse heard this, it turned ’round and swam slowly back to her; its face was quite pale, and it said, in a low, trembling voice, “Let us get to the shore and then I’ll tell you my history and you’ll understand why it is I hate cats and dogs.”
It was high time to go, for the pool was getting quite crowded with the birds and animals that had fallen into it; there were a Duck and a Dodo, a Lory and an Eaglet, and several other curious creatures. Alice led the way and the whole party swam to the shore.
Alice in Wonderland – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 1: Down the Rabbit-Hole – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 2: The Pool of Tears – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 3: A Caucus Race and a Long Tale – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 4: The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 5: Advice from a Caterpillar – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 6: Pig and Pepper – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 7: A Mad Tea Party – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 8: The Queen’s Croquet Ground – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 9: Who Stole the Tarts? – Listen and Read
- Alice in Wonderland 10: Alice’s Evidence – Listen and Read
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video: Listen and Read – Youtube
audio: LibriVox: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (dramatic reading)
transcript: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland