“Do not wonder, little maid,” said the great wolf, “but hurry thy little feet as thy mother hath bidden thee, else the sun will be in his bed ere thy journey be ended, and thy little bed will be empty and thy mother’s heart will be heavy with watching.”
So Alice hastened on. Soon again her feet were lagging and once more her eyes turned curiously upon the pail she carried and again she said, “Oh, I wonder, I wonder, I wonder.” “Why do you wonder, little maid?” said a sweet soft voice. On looking up, Alice saw close beside her, not her friend the gaunt gray wolf, but a little child like herself. The boy placed his hand softly upon her arm; and with his great dark eyes looking straight into her own he said, “Why do you wonder, Alice?”
“Ah!” cried the girl crossly, “I wonder what is in this pail. Mamma has promised me a pretty red sash if I do but carry it safely to Grandfather Goodfield, who lives under the hill by the great dark forest yonder, but oh! it has grown so heavy and my feet have grown so tired. I must go quickly and I must not even peep inside. Just listen! such a funny noise.” Alice held the pail close to the boy’s ear,—“Buzz-z z z z z z z” came a muffled sound. “Oh, I wonder what can be inside!” she said.
“Do not wonder but let us look and see,” said the boy. “No! no!” cried Alice. “My mother has forbidden it.” “She will never know,” said the boy. “Only one little peep. Surely it can do no harm. See, I will raise the cover for you.” “No! no!” said Alice and, tightly clasping the pail, she started again upon her journey.
“You are so tired,” called the boy running after, “do but stop and rest awhile. See, your feet are really bleeding from the sharp stones you have traveled over. Look, what a soft green bank yonder under the shade of that great tree. Do but sit down upon it for a moment. You will be able to go on all the faster after a quiet rest, then I will go with you.”
Now Alice was really very tired indeed; and the bank with its cool shade looked so tempting that at last she seated herself upon it, letting her feet sink deep into its mossy side. She clasped the precious pail tightly in her hands, but the noise inside grew louder, and now it had an angry sound. “Oh, I wonder what it can be!” said Alice.
“Do let me take the pail for a moment,” said the boy drawing it gently from her hand. “Now I will peep inside. What harm can it do? See, I will lift the cover ever so gently.” He put his eye to the crack, when suddenly the cover slipped from his hand and rolled away upon the bank. A great swarm of angry, buzzing creatures flew into his face. He struck at them with his hands, but it was of no use. They stung and stung him. “Alice! Alice!” he cried, “oh, I am stung! I am stung!” The girl sprang quickly to help him but the angry bees flew at her also and stung her tender hands and face until she cried out with the pain. “Oh, what have we done! What have we done!” and, snatching the cover, Alice tried to place it upon the pail again—but too late, for not a single bee was left inside. For a little time the air was filled with angry buzzing, but soon the bees flew far away into the wood and Alice and her friend were left alone.