"Please would you tell me," said Alice, a little timidly, "why your cat grins like that?"
"It's a Cheshire-Cat," said the Duchess, "and that's why."
"I didn't know that Cheshire-Cats always grinned; in fact, I didn't know that cats could grin," said Alice.
"You don't know much," said the Duchess, "and that's a fact."
Just then the cook took the caldron of soup off the fire, and at once set to work throwing everything within her reach at the Duchess and the baby—the fire-irons came first; then followed a shower of saucepans, plates and dishes. The Duchess took no notice of them, even when they hit her, and the baby was howling so much already that it was quite impossible to say whether the blows hurt it or not.
"Oh, please mind what you're doing!" cried Alice, jumping up and down in an agony of terror.
"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.
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. "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 thing grunted in reply.
"If you're going to turn into a pig, my dear," said Alice, "I'll have nothing more to do with you. Mind now!"
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 Alice 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; so she set the little creature down and felt quite relieved to see it trot away quietly into the wood.
Alice was a little startled by seeing the Cheshire-Cat sitting on a bough of a tree a few yards off. The Cat only grinned when it saw her. "Cheshire-Puss," began Alice, rather timidly, "would you please tell me which way I ought to go from here?"
"In that direction," the Cat said, waving the right paw 'round, "lives a Hatter; and in that direction," waving the other paw, "lives a March Hare. Visit either you like; they're both mad."
"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat; "we're all mad here. Do you play croquet with the Queen to-day?"
"I should like it very much," said Alice, "but I haven't been invited yet."
"You'll see me there," said the Cat, and vanished.
Alice had not gone much farther before she came in sight of the house of the March Hare; it was so large a house that she did not like to go near till she had nibbled some more of the left-hand bit of mushroom.