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The lost chapter from ‘Through the Looking Glass’

A Wasp in a Wig

A wasp in a wig

…and she was just going to spring over, when she heard a deep sigh, which seemed to come from the wood behind her.
“There’s somebody very unhappy there,” she thought, looking anxiously back to see what was the matter. Something like a very old man (only that his face was more like a wasp) was sitting on the ground, leaning against a tree, all huddled up together, and shivering as if he were very cold.
“I don’t think I can be of any use to him,” was Alice’s first thought, as she turned to spring over the brook: – “but I’ll just ask him what’s the matter,” she added, checking herself on the very edge. “If I once jump over, everything will change, and then I can’t help him.”
So she went back to the Wasp – rather unwillingly, for she was very anxious to be a queen.
“Oh, my old bones, my old bones!” he was grumbling as Alice came up to him.
“It’s rheumatism, I should think,” Alice said to herself, and she stooped over him, and said very kindly, “I hope you’re not in much pain?”
The Wasp only shook his shoulders, and turned his head away. “Ah deary me!” he said to himself.
“Can I do anything for you?” Alice went on. “Aren’t you rather cold here?”
“How you go on!” the Wasp said in a peevish tone. “Worrity, Worrity! There never was such a child!”
Alice felt rather offended at this answer, and was very nearly walking on and leaving him, but she thought to herself “Perhaps it’s only pain that makes him so cross.” So she tried once more.
“Won’t you let me help you round to the other side? You’ll be out of the cold wind there.”
The Wasp took her arm, and let her help him round the tree, but when he got settled down again he only said, as before, “Worrity, worrity! Can’t you leave a body alone?”
“Would you like me to read you a bit of this?” Alice went on, as she picked up a newspaper which had been lying at his feet.
“You may read it if you’ve a mind to,” the Wasp said, rather sulkily. “Nobody’s hindering you, that I know of.”
So Alice sat down by him, and spread out the paper on her knees, and began. “Latest News. The Exploring Party have made another tour in the Pantry, and have found five new lumps of white sugar, large and in fine condition. In coming back – ”
“Any brown sugar?” the Wasp interrupted.
Alice hastily ran her eyes down the paper and said “No. It says nothing about brown.”
“No brown sugar!” grumbled the Wasp. “A nice exploring party!”
“In coming back,” Alice went on reading, “they found a lake of treacle. The banks of the lake were blue and white, and looked like china. While tasting the treacle, they had a sad accident: two of their party were engulped – ”
“Where what?” the Wasp asked in a very cross voice.
“En-gulph-ed,” Alice repeated, dividing the word in syllables.
“There’s no such word in the language!” said the Wasp.
“It’s in the newspaper, though,” Alice said a little timidly.
“Let’s stop it here!” said the Wasp, fretfully turning away his head.
Alice put down the newspaper. “I’m afraid you’re not well,” she said in a soothing tone. “Can’t I do anything for you?”
“It’s all along of the wig,” the Wasp said in a much gentler voice.
“Along of the wig?” Alice repeated, quite pleased to find that he was recovering his temper.
“You’d be cross too, if you’d a wig like mine,” the Wasp went on. “They jokes, at one. And they worrits one. And then I gets cross. And I gets cold. And I gets under a tree. And I gets a yellow handkerchief. And I ties up my face – as at the present.”
Alice looked pityingly at him. “Tying up the face is very good for the toothache,” she said.
“And it’s very good for the conceit,” added the Wasp.
Alice didn’t catch the word exactly. “Is that a kind of toothache?” she asked.
The Wasp considered a little. “Well, no,” he said: “it’s when you hold up your head – so – without bending your neck.”
“Oh, you mean stiff-neck,” said Alice.
The Wasp said “That’s a new-fangled name. They called it conceit in my time.”
“Conceit isn’t a disease at all,” Alice remarked.
“It is, though,” said the Wasp: “wait till you have it, and then you’ll know. And when you catches it, just try tying a yellow handkerchief round your face. It’ll cure you in no time!”
He untied the handkerchief as he spoke, and Alice looked at his wig in great surprise. It was bright yellow like the handkerchief, and all tangled and tumbled about like a heap of sea-weed. “You could make your wig much neater,” she said, “if only you had a comb.”
“What, you’re a Bee, are you?” the Wasp said, looking at her with more interest. “And you’ve got a comb. Much honey?”
“It isn’t that kind,” Alice hastily explained. “It’s to comb hair with – your wig’s sovery rough, you know.”
“I’ll tell you how I came to wear it,” the Wasp said. “When I was young, you know, my ringlets used to wave – ”
A curious idea came into Alice’s head. Almost every one she had met had repeated poetry to her, and she thought she would try if the Wasp couldn’t do it too. “Would you mind saying it in rhyme?” she asked very politely.
“It aint what I’m used to,” said the Wasp: “however I’ll try; wait a bit.” He was silent for a few moments, and then began again –
“When I was young, my ringlets waved
And curled and crinkled on my head:
And then they said ‘You should be shaved,
And wear a yellow wig instead.’
But when I followed their advice,
And they had noticed the effect,
They said I did not look so nice
As they had ventured to expect.
They said it did not fit, and so
It made me look extremely plain:
But what was I to do, you know?
My ringlets would not grow again.
So now that I am old and grey,
And all my hair is nearly gone,
They take my wig from me and say
‘How can you put such rubbish on?’
And still, whenever I appear,
They hoot at me and call me ‘Pig!’
And that is why they do it, dear,
Because I wear a yellow wig.”
“I’m very sorry for you,” Alice said heartily: “and I think if your wig fitted a little better, they wouldn’t tease you quite so much.”
“Your wig fits very well,” the Wasp murmured, looking at her with an expression of admiration: “it’s the shape of your head as does it. Your jaws aint well shaped, though – I should think you couldn’t bite well?”
Alice began with a little scream of laughing, which she turned into a cough as well as she could. At last she managed to say gravely, “I can bite anything I want,”
“Not with a mouth as small as that,” the Wasp persisted. “If you was a-fighting, now – could you get hold of the other one by the back of the neck?”
“I’m afraid not,” said Alice.
“Well, that’s because your jaws are too short,” the Wasp went on: “but the top of your head is nice and round.” He took off his own wig as he spoke, and stretched out one claw towards Alice, as if he wished to do the same for her, but she kept out of reach, and would not take the hint. So he went on with his criticisms.
“Then, your eyes – they’re too much in front, no doubt. One would have done as well as two, if you must have them so close – ”
Alice did not like having so many personal remarks made on her, and as the Wasp had quite recovered his spirits, and was getting very talkative, she thought she might safely leave him. “I think I must be going on now,” she said. “Good-bye.”
“Good-bye, and thank-ye,” said the Wasp, and Alice tripped down the hill again, quite pleased that she had gone back and given a few minutes to making the poor old creature comfortable.
The chapter should probably follow after the chapter about the White Knight.

 

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A new Alice in Wonderland story

Alice in Wonderland on Top of the World

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First, she discovered Wonderland…

Then, she slipped through that fascinating Looking Glass..

Now, she’s on Top of the World.

THE CONTINUING ADVENTURES OF A GIRL NAMED ALICE

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Chapter One

Into The Abyss

 

It was many years later when Alice had her next adventure, and whilst she was quite surprised to be having one at all, after the passing of so many years, she was even more surprised to see that she was a child again, no older than when she had first entered Wonderland and slipped through that fascinating Looking Glass.

“How curious,” she whispered, trying to recall the child she had once been.

“You took your time getting here,” said the White Rabbit who suddenly appeared in front of her.

“I beg your pardon?” Alice replied, remembering how rude he could be, if he felt so inclined.

 “I said you took your time getting here. You should have been here fourteen years ago,” the Rabbit huffed indignantly as he began hopping quickly away from Alice.

“But,” Alice spluttered, running after him, “I have no idea how I arrived, let alone why I am so late!”

“We accept no ifs or buts, here – you should know that by now,” said the Rabbit, as he opened a door which had appeared as suddenly as he. Stepping through, he said, “Hurry up, please don’t dawdle.”

As she followed him through the doorway, trying her to keep up with the fast-hopping Rabbit, Alice surmised that he must have got out his bed on the wrong side, this morning, to be so grumpy on so wonderful a day. And it really was a wonderful day, with a warm sun shining brightly upon them.

‘I wonder where I might possibly be?’ thought Alice, as she admired the pink forget-me-nots skirting a winding path before her.   “Am I in Wonderland?” she asked, just as another door, the same as the first one, appeared.

Giving Alice a most peculiar look, the Rabbit said, “Of course we are not in Wonderland.”  Opening the door, he told her, “We are on the top of the world.” Having said that, he scurried off, hopping down another winding path, also bordered by pink forget-me-nots.

“The top of the world?” Alice cried out, quite in surprise. “Why, that’s impossible!”

The Rabbit stopped hopping. Turning around, facing Alice, he said, “Then how can you be here, if it’s impossible?”

Flummoxed by the Rabbit’s question, Alice found herself struggling to find a reply. The only thing she was able to come up with was, “I bet you are mad!”

“That all depends,” the Rabbit replied quite matter-of-factly.

“It all depends on what?”

“On whether you mean mad or mad.”

“That’s silly,” said Alice. “They both mean the very same thing.”

“If you were mad number one,” said the White Rabbit, with full conviction of the soundness of his case, “and someone happened to tell you that you were mad number two, you might be very mad indeed, at so fundamental a mistake.”

“But I’m not mad!” Alice insisted, becoming ever more frustrated at so silly a conversation.

“How do you know that you aren’t mad,” asked the Rabbit, who appeared to be enjoying flummoxing Alice, so “when you can’t tell the difference between mad number one and mad number two, I might ask?”

“I just know that I’m not mad!” Alice insisted, stamping her foot, displaying her annoyance at what she considered was questionable logic. Changing the subject, from her possible madness or claimed sanity, Alice informed the Rabbit that another door had appeared and was awaiting his attention.

Turning round, the White Rabbit took hold of the handle and tried to open the door, but it remained stubbornly shut.

“Might I try?” Alice asked, feeling very un-mad. Standing away from the door, the White Rabbit said nothing, but his pink, beady eyes watched her intently.

The door opened easily for Alice. Feeling vindicated, she said, “Could a mad person have done that?” Without waiting for a reply, she stepped through the doorway and fell into a gaping hole on the far side.

“No, they mightn’t,” said the Rabbit, laughing as she disappeared into the hole. “But would they have fallen down there?” Laughing again, he hopped through doorway and into the hole, following Alice…

After a long fall in near to total darkness, a fall that reminded Alice of the time she had fallen down the rabbit hole, into Wonderland, the speed of her descent began to slow. In fact it slowed so much it stopped altogether, and she began rising again. “I don’t want to return up there, even if it is to the top of the world,” she insisted. Staring at the speck of light high above her, she said, “It’s far too far!”

Hearing something passing her by (she had no idea what it could be, for it was far too dark to see properly), Alice jumped onto its back. Holding on tightly, she rode out from the well.

Alice was surprised to see that she was riding a baby hippopotamus, whose skin was as smooth as silk. She wondered how she had been able to stay upon it for second let alone long enough to escape from the dark, dreary place. Alice had so sooner begun thinking about this, when she felt herself slipping, sliding off the baby hippopotamus. Landing with a bump on the hard, dusty ground, she moaned, “I don’t like this place I don’t like it at all.” 

 “You don’t like it!” said the baby hippopotamus, in a surprisingly high-pitched voice for such an extreme animal. “How do you think I feel? There’s not a drop of water to be seen – anywhere. And we hippos need so much of it!”

Brushing her dress, removing the dust from it, Alice said, “Mr Hippopotamus, I would like to thank you for the ride from out of that cave, or whatever it happens to be. Moreover, it was the most comfortable hippopotamus ride I have ever had (Alice omitted to tell the hippopotamus that it was the only one she had had), thank you, again.”

“My dear child,” it answered, “you are so light I hardly noticed you there. Any time you feel the need to take a ride from out of that dark space, please feel free to jump on my back as I pass you by.”

“Thank you, thank you so much,” she told him. “I shall keep your invitation in my invitation book, and if I don’t find a need for it, I will treasure it always.”

After that the hippopotamus returned to the darkness, searching for some water. However, before he had a chance to begin, Alice heard another soft landing (though it has to be said that it was not as soft as hers). Before she could say Jack Robinson, the White Rabbit appeared, sitting back to front on the baby hippo’s back, riding out, into the bright light.

After the White Rabbit had thanked the baby hippopotamus for the ride (Alice felt he was nowhere near as grateful as she had been), he scolded Alice for having fallen down the hole, before him. He said, “If there is to be any hole-falling done around here, we must first have a vote, to decide who shall be first and who second. Is that clear?”

Although Alice nodded in agreement, she harboured a suspicion that he was quite possibly mad number one, and if not that he was most certainly mad number two.

Another winding path suddenly appeared before them, but this one, although also bordered by flowers, was in no way as inviting as the previous ones. You see, instead of pink forget-me-nots, giant aspidistras sporting green, snapping beaks awaited them.

“Come on, Alice, we have to find our way up, to the very top of the world” said the Rabbit as he hurried past the plants with their snap, snapping beaks.

Alice gasped as the first plant, snapping hungrily at his thick fur, tore a large wad from his back. “Come on, we must return to the top of the world,” he ordered, seemingly oblivious to the dangers posed by the snapping beaks. Having no intention of admitting that she was afraid of some silly old flowers that the Rabbit considered quite harmless, and having even less intention of asking him for his help, Alice got ready to pass down the dangerous path.

By now the White Rabbit was so far ahead of her, Alice doubted she might ever catch up with him. Closing her eyes, taking a first tentative step, she began her way down the aspidistra-bordered path, hoping, just hoping to catch up with the fast hopping Rabbit.

Alice hadn’t finished taking her first step, when one of the snapping beaks tried to remove a piece from her left ear. A second beak, sensing an easy target, pulled violently at her hair, while a third green beak tried to bite off her nose.

“Stop that!” Alice told the bad-mannered plants. “Stop that this instant or I shall be forced to dig you all up, and replant you with rhubarb,” she warned.

Like a switch had been turned, the beaks stopped attacking. Inspecting her head, Alice made sure that it was intact. After she was satisfied that everything was as it had previously been, she said, “Thank you. I can’t ever imagine what has got into you, to behave so rudely. Don’t you know that plants are supposed to be nice, not terrible, awful things?”

As she studied the giant plants, with their green beaklike mouths close in front of her, Alice thought she heard a cry, so she asked, “Who is crying?”

Despite listening intently, Alice heard no reply, as all the while the cry from somewhere deep within the group of plants continued. Then they began swaying, their beak mouths on stalks high above them, also swaying.

“Stop it, stop it,” Alice ordered. “Tell me which of you is crying?”

Although it was still swaying, one of the plants began speaking, it said, “She is crying, the little offshoot, close to my wife – see.” One of its long strappy leaves pointed across to the right.

“Your wife?” Alice asked, in surprise that a plant might actually be married.

“Yes,” the aspidistra replied, swaying some more. “Can you see them?”

“I might, if you stopped swaying,” she said. “I am beginning to feel quite sick from it all.”

“I can’t,” the plant told her. “None of us can. When we are upset, we sway. That’s why we sway so much in the wind, because we don’t like it, because it upsets us so.”

“Oh, I am so sorry to hear that. Is there anything I can do to help?”

“You can promise that you won’t dig us up…” a baby voice sobbed.

“Of course I won’t dig you up,” Alice promised. “I only said that because of the terrible way you were treating me.”

The plants stopped swaying, allowing Alice to see the child aspidistra tucked lovingly under its mother’s green leaves. Showing no fear for her safety, disappearing beneath the huge plants (she now trusted them unquestionably), Alice approached the baby plant and its doting mother.

“I am sorry,” she said, “if I upset you. Will you please forgive me?”

“Yes, I will,” said the baby plant, trying to hold back sob. “And we are sorry, so sorry that we frightened you. We are like this because we are so hungry… we are usually happy, with smiling beaks to welcome the weary traveller.”

Confused, Alice asked, “Hungry? How can you be hungry when your roots can find all the food that you need?”

“Fertilizer, all plants need fertilizer at some time in their lives,” the baby aspidistra explained. “None of us have had any fertilizer for ages. I have never had any – ever! I don’t even know what it looks like!”

“This is a most terrible state of affairs,” said Alice, scratching her head, trying to work out what could be done to remedy the unfortunate situation. Raising a finger, she asked, “Can I go fetch you some?”

If their beaks had been able to smile, every last beak skirting that path would have been smiling radiantly at Alice. They became so excited at the prospect of getting some fertilizer they began talking furiously amongst themselves. In fact, the plants’ conversation became so loud, so noisy Alice could hardly hear herself think. In the end she had to ask them to stop. “Stop, stop talking, please,” she said, “my ears are hurting from it all.”

It stopped; the excited talking stopped, except for one of the plants, the mother aspidistra, who said, “Do you know where you can find us some fertilizer?”

“I, I don’t know,” Alice replied uncertainly.

Smiling, Alice was sure she saw the beak smiling, when it said, “Go to the fertilizer mine, there you will find all the fertilizer we need.”

“Where is it, the mine?” Alice asked.

“I am sorry, I don’t know, none of us know where it is located,” the mother aspidistra confessed. “But we do know that it most surely exists.”

Seeing how sad the mother plant had become, Alice said, “I will find you some fertilizer, I will find enough fertilizer to feed you all – I promise.”
CONTD

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