Curiouser and Curiouser: The Pool of Tears

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Chapter 2

Walking down the hall, led by even more paintings, Alice entered a room with glass cases everywhere. They were filled with all kinds of trinkets and curiosities. There were fans, bonnets, and an extravagant dress her sister would have fawned over for hours.  

Before she had chance to go further, she heard a little pattering of feet in the distance and turned to see what was coming. It was the White Rabbit, splendidly dressed, with a pair of white kid gloves in one hand and a large fan in the other, muttering under his breath as he went. “Oh! The Duchess, the Duchess! Oh! Won’t she be savage if I’ve kept her waiting!”

When the Rabbit came near enough, Alice decided to ask for his help. “If you please, sir–” The Rabbit jumped violently, dropped the gloves and the fan, and scurried away into the darkness as hard as he could go.

Alice took up the fan and gloves, the former of which came in very handy, as the hall was very hot, so she kept fanning herself. It was very rude of the Rabbit to run away!

Pursuing the rabbit, Alice continued through the room. Each case was more intriguing than the last. Clay shells. A strange pig-like creature. Giant chestnuts! She stopped when she saw the case that contained a doll’s house; it was full of rooms, beautifully decorated and a small family were seated together. Alice wondered what her family would do this evening if she didn’t make it home, thinking of suppertime also made her hungry. She reached into her pocket, ignoring the signs of ‘NO FOOD OR DRINK’ scattered along the walls, and hastily stuffed the small cake into her mouth.

As she approached a statue of a small child, Alice began to feel odd. Looking down, she also noticed that the fan in her hand was becoming bigger. Or maybe she was getting smaller? The thought of which upset her. Alice began to cry, not noticing the pool of tears forming around her feet – nor did Alice notice that with every tear shed, she was beginning to get smaller and smaller, until all at once, she was small enough to be swept up by the river of tears and carried away.

All kinds of unusual objects floated past Alice in the river of tears, she gasped out loud when porcelain creatures that had multiple heads and human features passed her by. She was so caught up in the magical beings that she didn’t notice the mouse until he had already passed her by. She called out to him hoping he could help: “Mouse, do you know the way out of this pool? I am very tired of swimming about here”. The mouse sniffed but said nothing. “If only I hadn’t gotten so upset about my cat Dinah” the mouse leapt out of the water with fright and Alice realized her mistake as he went.

“Mouse, dear! Come back! And we won’t talk about cats if you don’t like them!”

The mouse thought for a second and replied, “Let us get to the shore, and then I’ll tell you my history, and you’ll understand why I hate cats and dogs.”

Along the way, they gathered many other animals that had been caught in the stream of Alice’s tears. There was a Duck and a Dodo, a Lory and an Eaglet, and several other creatures.

“Curiouser and curiouser!” exclaimed Alice as they all climbed out of the river. The Mouse, who seemed to be a person of authority among them, called out:

“Sit down, all of you, and listen to me!”

They all sat down at once, in a large ring, with the Mouse in the middle. But everybody was awfully wet and not at all ready for a story. It was decided they would have a Caucus race to get themselves dry.

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Discover and Play

Chapter 2 Featured Objects:

Folding Fan
J. Duvelleroy, London
white satin with wooden sticks

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, as the hall was very hot, she kept fanning herself all the time she went on talking: `Dear, dear! How queer everything is to-day!

The history of the fan stretches back at least 3,000 years. The folding type of fan dropped by the White Rabbit was originally developed in China and Japan. From the 17th century onwards, folding fans were exported in large numbers to Europe, where they became an important fashion accessory. Often highly decorative and made of silk, lace, feathers or wood, fans followed the fashion trends of the day. Painting and decorating your own fan was very popular in the late 19th century and plain white fans such as this example were sold by famous firms such as Duvelleroy for this purpose

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