"Serpent!" cried the Pigeon.
"I'm not a serpent!" said Alice indignantly. "Let me alone!"
"I've tried the roots of trees, and I've tried banks, and I've tried hedges," the Pigeon went on, "but those serpents! There's no pleasing them!"
Alice was more and more puzzled.
"As if it wasn't trouble enough hatching the eggs," said the Pigeon, "but I must be on the look-out for serpents, night and day! And just as I'd taken the highest tree in the wood," continued the Pigeon, raising its voice to a shriek, "and just as I was thinking I should be free of them at last, they must needs come wriggling down from the sky! Ugh, Serpent!"
"But I'm not a serpent, I tell you!" said Alice. "I'm a—I'm a—I'm a little girl," she added rather doubtfully, as she remembered the number of changes she had gone through that day.
"You're looking for eggs, I know that well enough," said the Pigeon; "and what does it matter to me whether you're a little girl or a serpent?"
"It matters a good deal to me," said Alice hastily; "but I'm not looking for eggs, as it happens, and if I was, I shouldn't want yours—I don't like them raw."
"Well, be off, then!" said the Pigeon in a sulky tone, as it settled down again into its nest. Alice crouched down among the trees as well as she could, for her neck kept getting entangled among the branches, and every now and then she had to stop and untwist it. After awhile she remembered that she still held the pieces of mushroom in her hands, and she set to work very carefully, nibbling first at one and then at the other, and growing sometimes taller and sometimes shorter, until she had succeeded in bringing herself down to her usual height.
It was so long since she had been anything near the right size that it felt quite strange at first. "The next thing is to get into that beautiful garden—how is that to be done, I wonder?" As she said this, she came suddenly upon an open place, with a little house in it about four feet high. "Whoever lives there," thought Alice, "it'll never do to come upon them this size; why, I should frighten them out of their wits!" She did not venture to go near the house till she had brought herself down to nine inches high.