Once upon a time, the Queen of Fairyland, finding her own subjects far too well-behaved to be amusing, took a sudden longing to have a mortal or two at her Court. So, after looking about her for some time, she fixed upon two to bring to Fairyland.
But how were they to be brought?
“Please your majesty,” said at last the daughter of the prime-minister, “I will bring the girl.”
The speaker, whose name was Peaseblossom, after her great-great-grandmother, looked so graceful, and hung her head so apologetically, that the Queen said at once,–
“How will you manage it, Peaseblossom?”
“I will open the road before her, and close it behind her.”
“I have heard that you have pretty ways of doing things; so you may try.”
The court happened to be held in an open forest-glade of smooth turf, upon which there was just one mole-heap. As soon as the Queen had given her permission to Peaseblossom, up through the mole-heap came the head of a goblin, which cried out,–
“Please your majesty, I will bring the boy.”
“You!” exclaimed the Queen. “How will you do it?”
The goblin began to wriggle himself out of the earth, as if he had been a snake, and the whole world his skin, till the court was convulsed with laughter. As soon as he got free, he began to roll over and over, in every possible manner, rotatory and cylindrical, all at once, until he reached the wood. The courtiers followed, holding their sides, so that the Queen was left sitting upon her throne in solitary state.
When they reached the wood, the goblin, whose name was Toadstool, was nowhere to be seen. While they were looking for him, out popped his head from the mole-heap again, with the words,–
“So, your majesty.”
“You have taken your own time to answer,” said the Queen, laughing.
“And my own way too, eh! your majesty?” rejoined Toadstool, grinning.
“No doubt. Well, you may try.”
And the goblin, making as much of a bow as he could with only half his neck above ground, disappeared under it.
No mortal, or fairy either, can tell where Fairyland begins and where it ends. But somewhere on the borders of Fairyland there was a nice country village, in which lived some nice country people.
Alice was the daughter of the squire, a pretty, good-natured girl, whom her friends called fairy-like, and others called silly.
One rosy summer evening, when the wall opposite her window was flaked all over with rosiness, she threw herself down on her bed, and lay gazing at the wall. The rose-colour sank through her eyes and dyed her brain, and she began to feel as if she were reading a story-book. She thought she was looking at a western sea, with the waves all red with sunset. But when the colour died out, Alice gave a sigh to see how commonplace the wall grew. “I wish it was always sunset!” she said, half aloud. “I don’t like gray things.”
“I will take you where the sun is always setting, if you like, Alice,” said a sweet, tiny voice near her. She looked down on the coverlet of the bed, and there, looking up at her, stood a lovely little creature. It seemed quite natural that the little lady should be there; for many things we never could believe, have only to happen, and then there is nothing strange about them. She was dressed in white, with a cloak of sunset-red–the colours of the sweetest of sweet-peas. On her head was a crown of twisted tendrils, with a little gold beetle in front.
“Are you a fairy?” said Alice.
“Yes. Will you go with me to the sunset?”
“Yes, I will.”
When Alice proceeded to rise, she found that she was no bigger than the fairy; and when she stood up on the counterpane, the bed looked like a great hall with a painted ceiling. As she walked towards Peaseblossom, she stumbled several times over the tufts that made the pattern. But the fairy took her by the hand and led her towards the foot of the bed. Long before they reached it, however, Alice saw that the fairy was a tall, slender lady, and that she herself was quite her own size. What she had taken for tufts on the counterpane were really bushes of furze, and broom, and heather, on the side of a slope.