Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Alice's Wonderland: Redux

The return to London did not bring much respite. Reginald was going to have to visit Alice's parents sooner or later. Although they had been informed through letters, there was only so long he could put off visiting them personally. Meanwhile, his mother who had by now heard what happened - although he had been trying to keep it from her - was waiting for him upon his return from the country. Apparently the servants had let her in while he'd been away.

It was no secret his mother had never approved of Alice. Reginald had arranged the matter himself and the lack of consultation and an abyss in dispositions between the two had evidently grated on his mother. After the initial outpouring of grief and kind words he expected a scene, and lunch provided just the opportunity it seemed.

"I told you she was unsuitable. I just had that feeling. Remember when you were twelve? Remember that oh... Hirschfield boy? I had the same feeling about him too. Your father, God rest his soul, said it was just my imagination. But I knew! Oh I knew, a mother always knows..." He really didn't have the strength to argue right now and - interrupting her - excused himself to the study. The last thing he needed reminding of was that his wife had gone mad.

The study was, by this time, filled with many of Alice's correspondance and writings; boxes of them. The servants had brought them down here as they had been collecting up her things for her move. Opening a window, he settled into his favourite reading chair with a sigh. He could hear the his mother pacing upstairs following his withdrawl.

A year into blissful matrimony - to think things had come to this. He looked over at the nearest stack of folded correspondance: he could see his name written there. Leaning back he took up the letter. It was something sent from Alice's younger sister, Edith, and judging from where the conversation picked up it must have been written soon after their marriage.

Edith was full of questions about how things were going. Reginald had sensed from Edith the same sort of disapprova; Alice recieved from his mother and the letter did not disappoint him in his expectations. He did smile a little when he read Edith's characterization of himself as 'dreadfully dreary' and 'possessing all the excitement and imagination as a granite block.' Alice's reply was absent; she rarely wrote letters in drafts and he had recieved enough letters with words scratched out in scribbled ink to know. He read through a few more of Edith's letters, which comprised the bulk of Alice's correspondance, followed shortly thereafter by her mother and one of her old friends, Elizabeth Mosley, from back home.

Before long it was past dark and Reginald, finding himself squinting through the onset of night, was forced to light a lantern. Turning away from a sizeable stack of papers on his endside table he could no longer hear movement or noise from within the house, and the candle glow helped create a nice reading atmosphere. The last letter by Edith he read must have been recent, because it expressed concern for Alice and referenced a few of the ravings Reginald had witnessed himself in the last few days. It ended by suggesting that Alice should burn 'the papers' if she didn't want to end up like Lorina.

Reginald set the letter down. He could feel his brow furrowing on its own. He didn't know many Lorina's, and none at all as acquaintances of Alice - but then she kept a number of acquantainces and he didn't know them all. He made a mental note that he'd have to pry answers from Edith, for now though he went looking through the boxes of papers for these mysterious 'papers' on a hunch that the Alice he knew probably couldn't bring herself to burn written material of any form.

He paused when he spotted the first page of a series of writings, written in the bombastic flourish of handwriting that Alice typically used when she was particularly excited about something. The words caught his eye, because he had heard them mentioned by Alice in the broken-down semi-coherent rambling that she had been reduced to in her final days: 'nor did Alice think it so VERY much out of the way to hear the Rabbit say to itself, 'Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!'' - a white rabbit with pink eyes.

He read on about Alice's 'adventure' in this 'wonderland' pausing sometime after she - Alice - had begun to recieve advice from a caterpillar. It was now quite late. Reginald checked his pocket-watch: it was well past midnight now and he rubbed his eyes tiredly.

It was then, he would have sworn, that he spotted something out of the corner of his eye near the entrance to the study.

It looked a little like a white rabbit.

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