“Now,” said the little girl, “you have grown to be such big pussies that it is time you learned to work. You must earn your dinner. What do you say to that?”
“Meow! meow!” said Tipkins. “Meow! meow!” said Trotkins. “Meow! meow!” said Tipkins and Trotkins together. Which seemed to mean, “That we will, little mistress; only show us how.”
Alice took a tiny bit of meat in her fingers and let one of the kittens smell of it; then she said very slowly, “Now, pussy, roll over.” The kitten liked the smell of the meat very much, so he said, “Meow! meow!” but he did not know in the least what “roll over” meant, so he did nothing. “Roll over, kitty,” said his little mistress again, but he only said, “Meow! meow! meow!” once more. Then Alice made pussy lie down, and she gently rolled him over with her hand, saying very slowly as she did so, “Roll over.” After this she gave him the bit of meat.
Then it was the other kitten’s turn. He had no more idea than his brother what “roll over” meant; but after Alice had said the words two or three times, she gently rolled his plump little body over, too, and then gave him the nice bit of meat also. Then she set a big saucer of milk down in front of her pets, and so ended the first lesson of Tipkins and Trotkins.
This was only the first of many lessons, however. Alice worked patiently with the kittens every day for a whole month and, at the end of that time, both Tipkins and Trotkins knew just what she meant and would roll over every time she told them to, even though they got not a scrap of anything good to eat in return.
Tipkins seemed to think it was great fun, and he would sometimes roll over five or six times without stopping, just as Alice herself often rolled on the grass when at play. But Trotkins never seemed to like doing it, and would turn round and round until he was fairly dizzy before finally lying down. Then, as he rolled over, he would give a funny meow, as much as to say, “I don’t like to; but, if I must, I will.”
Tipkins learned to ring a small bell by striking it with one of his front paws. Trotkins could never be coaxed to touch this bell; but he would sit by while his brother rang it and cry, “Meow! meow! meow!” Alice thought that this was very funny, and she said that Trot sang while Tip did the playing.
Both the kittens learned to jump over a stick when their mistress held one out in her hand, about a foot from the floor; and Alice taught Tipkins to jump through a small wooden hoop; but she could never persuade Trotkins even once to try to jump through the hoop.
As Tipkins and Trotkins grew older, their mother, Topsy, taught them to hunt for mice in the big, dark barn, and to catch moles and grasshoppers in the field. They had less and less time, as the days went by, to play with their little mistress; and Alice found them so sleepy, when they did have time, that at last she gave up trying to teach them any new antics.