Chapter 12: Scrambled Eggs With a Ghost
"Alice," Alice heard someone called her. For a moment, she thought perhaps she was waking from a dream and she would find herself in her room with her sister pestering her to wake up. However, this idea was quickly dismissed as the voice who was urging her to wake was clearly a man's voice. Perhaps it was her father who had decided to venture into her room and disturb her slumber. She wondered where Dinah or Snowdrop or Kitty was: it was normally their job to wake her up. A gentle hand shook her shoulder a bit in hopes of coaxing her awake. Alice slowly opened her eyes to find Hatter staring down at her. He was fully dressed in a gray frock coat with lavender patches covering holes located on the coat's sleeves. "We're going to be leaving soon," Hatter continued gently once he saw Alice was awake. Alice merely nodded in acknowledgment as she rubbed her eye. Hatter was now moving away from her, proceeding towards the door frame. "Your dress is at the edge of the bed. Mary Ann sends her regards," Hatter concluded before leaving Alice so that she may prepare for the day.
Once Hatter was gone, Alice sat up in bed. She stretched for a moment, yawning. Just at the edge of her bed, a light blue dress was resting as Hatter had said. Alice crawled out of bed and lifted the dress curiously. It was a rather long dress, reaching down to Alice's ankles. A white lace connected with black thread was trimmed at the very top of her dress. Black buttons trailed from where the blue portion of the dress began to where her belly button was located. Pleased with her new garment, Alice hurriedly tried it on. Once she had finished placing it on, she stared down admiringly at her new dress. Twirling around, Alice gazed into the mirror so that she may see the dress from afar. Remembering what Hatter had said, Alice stopped the praise she was giving her outfit and proceeded downstairs where new adventures awaited her.
"No, no, no, the rabbit hole is this way!" Hatter insisted as he pointed on the map the March Hare was currently holding out. The small party had decided to take a momentary break and was currently enjoying some butterfly bread. At least, Alice was still enjoying her bread: Hatter and the March Hare had been bickering for about five minutes now over which direction they ought to go while the Dormouse and Milo sat quietly next to her. It was strange to find Hatter and the March Hare so enthusiastic upon reaching the rabbit hole. Hadn't they been upset to see Alice leave just hours before? Alice felt slightly saddened by this despite the fact she knew the only reason they were acting as mad as ever was so not to have the entire journey surrounded by the dark atmosphere that festered over them the night before.
"Look at the compass: it's clearly stating we must go East," the March Hare countered.
"That compass isn't pointing East," Hatter argued.
"Of course it is! East is the direction you hold your teacup."
"It's North," the March Hare insisted.
"South," Hatter countered.
"Confound it! I can't read this blasted map!" the March Hare cried in agitation, nearly throwing the map to the ground only to stop himself at the last instant. Hatter then took the map from the March Hare and began to scan its contents.
"Nor can I!" Hatter cried out in agreement. "Who made this map anyway?" Hatter furiously began to explore all corners of the map as he hunted for who was responsible for creating such a ludicrous documentation. "Of course this map is useless! It's from the White King's palace and they never know where they're going!"
"Let's look at another map then," the March Hare replied, taking another one of his many maps out. The two gazed at it together. However, their expressions once again slipped into confusion as they stared at the odd symbols covering the piece of paper.
"Perhaps I should have a look," Alice offered upon seeing their confused expressions.
"There's no need: we have everything under control," Hatter insisted, pulling the map away from her direction as though she might have a peek of its contents.
"Oh really?" Alice remarked.
"Yes," Hatter replied, gazing once more upon the map.
"Besides, I'm fairly sure Wonderland maps are quite different than your maps," the March Hare added, looking up for a brief moment to address Alice before returning to his work. "I must confess I can't read this one either."
"Try another one," Hatter instructed. And so the March Hare opened yet another map. Not to Alice's surprise, the two stared at it for a moment before they consented to draw yet another map out. By this time, Alice was convinced neither of them knew how to read a map properly. Becoming impatient, Alice rose from her seat on the soft grass and walked towards the two. She practically swiped the map from Hatter's clutches (who luckily let go on time otherwise Alice and Hatter would have ripped the map in two). However, once Alice finally got a hold of the Wonderland map, she could see it was quite different than a normal map. Odd squiggly lines covered the entire surface of the map; the coloring made little to no sense. Even the compass rose was quite strange: North and South were where Southwest and Northeast should have been respectively while East and West were where North and South should have been. Alice still strained to make sense of the map, much too proud to admit the March Hare had been correct. "Well?" Hatter finally persisted.
"I can't read it either..." Alice clenched through her teeth.
"So now what do we do?" the March Hare wondered aloud.
"I suppose we'll have to get directions from someone," Alice suggested as she gazed around in hopes that someone could be in the area. However, the only thing Alice was able to see were the unusually high mushroom trees and the strange hedges shaped into various animals.
"We'll just have to keep walking until we find someone," Hatter remarked as he too was searching for someone who could possibly guide them. He then walked over towards where the Dormouse was currently sleeping. Lifting him up, Hatter began to stroll in a random direction. Following him, Alice picked Milo up; walking towards the direction Hatter had begun to take. Still convinced he could figure out how to read the map, the March Hare trailed behind Alice as he gazed down upon the map's contents.
"Oh! Over there!" Alice cried as she could see a figure off in the distance. The small group was now coming to a large wall covered in vines. Sitting on the wall was what appeared to be a man as it was clear his legs were dangling over the edge of the wall. However, once the group drew closer, it was clear the man was not a man but instead an overly large egg.
"Why, it's Humpty Dumpty!" Hatter exclaimed once his brain was able to register who the citizen of Wonderland was.
"If that is Humpty Dumpty, then we are certainly going to the wrong way," Alice declared knowing full well the rabbit hole was no where near Humpty Dumpty and his wall.
"Either way, we should ask him for directions," the March Hare interjected, hopping a little at the sight of him with joy.
"Who goes there?" Humpty Dumpty called as it was very hard not to hear such a large group as Alice, Hatter, and the March Hare. His voice was a little panicked for there were simply too many people near him to his liking.
"Don't you remember me, Mr. Dumpty?" Alice inquired once they were directly in front of the wall.
"No," Humpty Dumpty replied flatly.
"But...do you not recognize me?" Alice further persisted. She was certain this was the same Humpty Dumpty she had met in her childhood. It was true he now had multiple cracks encompassing his egg-shaped body that were clearly glued together but he was still the same Humpty Dumpty none the less.
"No," Humpty Dumpty replied once more, more irritated than before. "You and that man next to you look the same. The shorter one's a bit different." Alice, Hatter, and the March Hare exchanged glances, clearly thinking they all looked very different from one another.
"Perhaps he doesn't recognize you because you've grown older and look slightly different now," the March Hare offered sympathetically.
"That must be it," Alice replied, trying to cheer herself up.
"Even if you don't recognize us, my name is Hatter. This is Alice, and the March Hare," Hatter remarked, motioning to both Alice and the March Hare when he mentioned them. "And this is Dormy and Milo...though they don't talk much," Hatter added.
"Ah, Hatter. I'm fairly certain I recognize the name," Humpty Dumpty replied. "Never heard of the rest of you."
"But we've met before!" Alice exclaimed, now quite irritated with Humpty Dumpty.
"Well, you mustn't have created a very good impression on me for I don't recall you at all," Humpty Dumpty replied.
"Alice..." Hatter attempted to calm her down, wanting to remain on task with finding directions to the rabbit hole.
"Well, you should remember me: you fell off the wall right after we met!" Alice cried out. Humpty Dumpty jingled a bit at the mention of falling off the wall as though Alice's statement seemed to trigger a series of memories Humpty Dumpty wished to forget.
"Yes, yes! You were she who caused me to fall off my wall!" Humpty Dumpty now exclaimed, pointing towards Alice as though she were a little demon. Defensively, Alice placed her hands on her hips.
"I did not!" Alice retorted. "You fell off on your own accord!"
"Alice..." Hatter repeated for she was now moving closer to the wall. He reached out to stop her, nearly dropping the Dormouse in the process. But Alice was moving much too quickly for him to stop her. As soon as Humpty Dumpty saw Alice moving towards him, he hastily attempted to back away from her. In doing so, he lost his balance momentarily.
"He's going to fall!" the March Hare exclaimed as he noticed Humpty Dumpty was about to fall backward. But before anyone could help the poor creature, he had already fallen. Everyone stood there in silence as he plopped to the ground, his shell no doubt flying in multiple directions. Immediately, the party heard someone (no doubt one of the King's men) blow a horn in the distance.
"Oh are we having eggs for breakfast?" the Dormouse questioned as he opened his eyes momentarily upon hearing the egg splat on the ground.
"I think it's best if we leave now..." Hatter remarked, ignoring the Dormouse's comment. Alice and the March Hare nodded in unison before the group was running at top speed away from the severely injured Humpty Dumpty. As cruel as their abandonment seemed, there was really nothing they could do for if they chose to stay Humpty Dumpty would surely accuse them of crime and they had no time to stand trial (not to mention, they would most likely be found guilty and thus be sentenced to jail). Fortunately, the King's men had such difficulty placing Humpty Dumpty back together again that by the time Humpty Dumpty was fully assembled, his head had been so scrambled he was unable to recall who it was that forced him to come tumbling off the wall.
"Well now what are we to do?" Hatter questioned to no one in particular, a hint of annoyance present in his voice. He wiped the sweat off his brow with a handkerchief, having exerted a good bit of energy from the running. After the sweat vanished from his face, Hatter pulled another lavender handkerchief out of his pocket and gave it to Alice who was nearly out of breath. She received the token graciously to clean her own face which was also a bit sweaty though nowhere near as bad as Hatter who was forced to lug the Dormouse with him while Alice only had to worry about Milo.
"I suppose we will have to look for someone else to give us directions," the March Hare offered, no hint of agitation or discomfort in his voice. Running fast was one of his specialties; it was in his blood to run at exceptionally fast rates.
"But that could take hours," Alice complained as she handed back Hatter's handkerchief. While Alice was still upset to be leaving Wonderland forever, she could not help but to feel a bit homesick. This was the longest amount of time she had ever spent in Wonderland. Normally, she never dreamed of spending the night in Wonderland, merely staying there quite late (sometimes until two in the morning) before returning home. But, she had spent two nights in Wonderland during this trip and, to be frank, she was becoming irritated with the heavy amount of madness she was forced to sit through. It was simply too much for a civilized girl such as herself.
"Well at least it will give some people time to get their affairs in order," the March Hare could not help but to comment even if Alice was able to understand what he was referring to. They had traveled for what the March Hare deemed as a decent amount of distance and yet Hatter still refused to say anything to Alice regarding his feelings for her. What the devil was he waiting for? What angered him more was the fact Hatter was not showing even the slightest bit of emotion. But emotion was the key component in convincing Alice to stay! There was nearly no time left. The March Hare was beginning to think Hatter would never tell Alice and this worried him very much. What was to become of his friend once Alice was gone forever? Would he be nothing more than an empty shell?
Hatter, having heard the March Hare's comment, was about to step on his foot in order to silence the hare. However, luckily, he remembered the March Hare was barefoot therefore if Hatter stepped on the March Hare, he would surely crush the poor creature's foot! Hatter had no intention of doing this to his best friend and stopped himself from committing the vicious act. Had the March Hare been wearing shoes, that would have been another story altogether. Instead, Hatter merely glared down upon the March Hare, his eyes commanding him to be silent. But it was too late: Alice was already tilting her head at the March Hare's remark.
"Affairs?" Alice inquired. Hatter demonstrated an alarming look as though Alice really knew exactly what the March Hare had been referring to, as if she could see right through him. Oh, she knew, she most certainly knew (which, of course, she did not know and found Hatter's expression to be quite puzzling).
"Yes, you know, it gives us plenty of time to say our goodbyes," the March Hare answered swiftly. "And enjoy our time together… and that sort of thing."
"Oh," Alice replied though she could not help but to feel a bit confused.
"Enough of this talk," Hatter said, desperately trying to diverge the subject before Alice continued to ask more questions about the matter. "We really need to get a move on. Especially since we must stop for tea at noon soon."
"Ah yes, we can't forget that," the March Hare replied as though it were the most important thing in the world. Alice decided it was best to merely consent to their schedule and proceed along their journey.
However, the party was not able to walk very far before the March Hare stopped dead in his tracks. It took Alice and Hatter a few minutes before they realized the March Hare was far behind them, completely still.
"What's the matter?" Alice inquired, a bit frightened by his nature. His beady eyes were wide as he sniffed occasionally as though danger was approaching.
"Did you not hear that?" the March Hare questioned as he looked around for a source to the mysterious noise he had heard.
"Heard what?" Hatter replied as he too attempted to listen, placing a hand to his ear as though this would assist him. The three were silent for a moment as they strained their ears.
"Boo!" they heard a small voice exclaim.
"That!" the March Hare cried.
"It appears to be coming from below," Alice said thoughtfully. Upon looking down at the ground, she realized the three were standing in a large flowerbed. Flowers of different shapes and colors surrounded them, talking softly amongst themselves. It was no doubt the three were standing in a hard bed, causing the flowers to remain awake. Gently, Alice went down to the ground, hoping not to step on any of the poor flowers. "Why, which one of you said that?" Alice inquired as she gazed upon the flowers, attempting to pick out the culprit. It was rather curious: she saw flowers that she knew could not possibly live in such terrain as this. Why, there were violets and roses living together even though a rose would require a bush to grow.
"Boo!" the voice exclaimed again. Hatter now knelt down carefully, scrutinizing all the flowers. "Boo!" another exclamation came.
"It was this one right here!" the March Hare stated, pointing towards a white flower. The small white creature had four equally sized petals surrounding the upper portion of it while a large, lower petal created two tendrils which twisted downward, resembling the shape of a heart. The flower merely gazed up at the group, acknowledging that it was the one who had called for their attention.
"Boo!" it called again.
"Why do you keep saying that?" Hatter inquired.
"Because," the flower replied, its voice sweet, resembling the chime of bells, "I'm a ghost!"
"You're not a ghost," Alice laughed. "You're a flower."
"Oh, but I am a ghost," the flower insisted innocently. "And I must haunt you."
"I say, don't try to be something you simply are not," Hatter replied, attempting to reason with the delicate flower.
"I am merely trying to be what I am," the flower answered. "Boo!"
"I think perhaps we should leave the poor flower be," Alice offered. The flower's beauty was mesmerizing to her and had it not been speaking as though it were a person, Alice would have liked nothing more than to pick the gentle flower from the ground and place it in her hair or some other place where she might be able to admire it.
"You will permanently scar this flower if you just leave it," Hatter replied, acting as though he knew what he was talking about. After all, it was highly unlikely you could inflict a psychological wound upon a flower that hardly anyone spoke to.
"But she isn't hurting anyone," Alice countered, trying to be as calm as possible though she was becoming quite irritated.
"She is as harmless as a flower," the March Hare offered though his instincts instructed him to stay out of the conversation as he could feel the tension rising between the group. He only felt sorry for the little flower who was probably very confused by what was occurring around her. Though luckily the flower showed no sign of discomfort for its petals did not wilt in the slightest nor did it appear to look down upon the ground.
"She is hurting the flowers around her that care about her," Hatter replied, his voice reaching a small crescendo.
"And what's that supposed to mean?" Alice retorted, angry now as she rose from her current position. Hatter rose up to meet her, nearly towering over Alice, a frown spread across his face.
"Boo!" the flower suddenly exclaimed again just as Hatter was about to say something. The innocent plant caused Hatter to gaze down upon it, his eyebrow raised as though he clearly was not expecting such an outburst. "See, I am a ghost. I scared you so!" the flower laughed lightly. Hatter glanced towards Alice before staring down at the flower once more, sighing.
"You're right," he replied as though his anger had completely vanished. "you are a ghost."
"And you are a monster," the flower replied, her tone no different than before, as though she were merely stating facts. Alice laughed at the flower's comment, her own anger now subsiding while Hatter stood still, clearly offended by the ghost's comment. The March Hare managed to laugh as well and even the Dormouse produced a bit of a chuckle through his sleep.
"He's not a monster, he's Hatter," Alice teased.
"Boo!" the flower exclaimed again as though it did not know what else to say.
"Well, I think it's best if we go on our way now," the March Hare stated now that the tension was gone. Not to mention, being surrounded by all these beautiful, delicious flowers was beginning to take its toll on the March Hare. He knew very well he could not eat a new acquaintance and even if he could there was no possible way for Alice and Hatter to understand his actions, being an entirely different species from himself. The March Hare wondered how Milo was able to merely look upon these flowers with indifference and was half expecting him to jump out of Alice's arms and gobble the flowers up one by one.
"Yes, goodbye little ghost," Alice said down to the flower for there would be no point in asking a flower for directions since they could not see very far and most likely never managed to travel except when they were very young, too young to remember such things.
"Farewell," Hatter added though he would prefer to put some reason into the flower and make sure she did not really think Hatter was a monster.
"Take good care of yourself," the March Hare continued, nearly pressing for Alice and Hatter to get a move on.
"Goodbye," the flower replied, soaking in the showering of attention she was now receiving. How jealous the surrounding flowers must be! They must be wishing they were currently ghosts instead of flowers right about now.
Carefully, Alice, Hatter, and the March Hare slowly departed the ghost flower and left the flowers to talk amongst themselves about the unusual events that had just occurred.
After walking aimlessly for what appeared to be eternity, the group was forced to stop for their afternoon tea. The tea party was not as sweet as it usually was for annoyance, anger, and other potential negative feelings still lingered amongst the group even though they did manage to avoid conflicts with one another. It was during the tea party that the Dormouse suggested everyone required a good amount of sleep before the journey continued since their impatience was clearly due to their lack of sleep. Of course, the Dormouse pointed out he did not have such problems because he had gotten a nice, long, peaceful sleep the night before. Everyone consented to the Dormouse's suggestion and after noontime tea was finished, the group managed to find a soft bed of earth where lilacs were sleeping in utter tranquility. After finding a small area of segregation from one another, everyone gradually began to drift to sleep. The Dormouse was out cold within seconds. Milo merely stared forward as always though never made the notion to say anything leading the March Hare and Hatter to believe that perhaps Milo was able to sleep with his eyes open. The March Hare only lasted a few minutes after Milo had fallen asleep before his eyes were closed and his breathing became steady, leaving only Hatter and Alice to lie awake. Alice found it rather peculiar that the two who had the least amount of sleep the night before were the last to fall under the spell of the soft bed of dirt. However, almost instantly after this thought passed through her mind, Hatter lay still so that only Alice remained conscious.
Alice's eyes lazily glanced over her sleeping friends. Her quick glances fixated on the March Hare as his nose twitched and his right foot kicked occasionally. She wondered what the March Hare might be dreaming about or if it was possible the March Hare was having a nightmare. Whatever it was, Alice was too tired to attempt and imagine the events playing through the March Hare's mind. Without realizing it, Alice was focusing on Hatter. As she watched his steady breathing, Alice could not help but to ponder Hatter's angry retort in the presence of the ghost flower. She had no doubt Hatter had been referring mostly to her rather than the flower when he made such a remark. Yet, what could she possibly do? It was not like she had many other options: leave Wonderland now or later. That was it. One or the other. Either way, there was no winning solution. Couldn't Hatter understand that? At the same time, Alice marveled at how peaceful Hatter looked. The innocent expression upon his face caused Alice to feel guilty for being angry with him. She did not want to be angry with her friends before she left. That simply would not do. She would have to apologize to him once they awoke.
Alice closed her eyes, no longer wishing to contemplate the matter. After all, perhaps Hatter was merely cranky and would feel better after their nap and once she apologized all would be well again. With that, Alice permitted the soft, silver snores of the lilacs to draw her into a slumber as tranquil as their own.
Alice opened her eyes to find everyone still snoozing. She forced herself to sit up, stretching her arms as she yawned. Feeling much better, Alice gazed up at the sun in hopes of being able to calculate the approximate time of day. She supposed they had been sleeping for about an hour or so.
"Hatter," Alice called, who was the closest companion near her, hoping this would be enough to wake him. However, he merely continued to sleep. "Hare?" Alice continued, staring towards the sleeping March Hare. The March Hare's ears twitched slightly at her comment but he refused to process the information in his lucid state and instead proceeded to continue sleeping. Alice sluggishly moved towards Hatter, not even bothering to wake up the Dormouse or Milo. "Hatter," she called again, shaking him a bit. Hatter groaned in response though, despite this, opened his eyes.
"Yes?" he inquired, still laying down, staring up at her. Just as Alice was prepared to apologize to Hatter as planned, a strange sensation came over her as she stared back at him. A flush of energy passed over her body yet Alice could not identify why she was feeling this way.
"We've been asleep for quite a while now," Alice replied, at a loss for words, the peculiar sensation catching her off guard.
"And I was having such a nice sleep," Hatter said, sighing. It was then that it occurred to Hatter that he was alone with Alice. At least, he was alone as he would ever be for the rest of the day. As he looked towards her, Hatter was beginning to consider the March Hare's advice from the night before. He should tell her, tell her now while he still had the chance. Yet, he did not possess the nerve to tell her such things.
"Hatter, I wanted to apologize for our argument from before. It really wasn't very proper," Alice remarked, pushing the strange feelings away for the moment so that she may stay focused with what she set out to do before falling asleep. "And I really don't want us to be angry with another before I leave." An enormous weight lifted from Alice upon her remark. However, Hatter's silence only caused Alice to feel uneasy. Perhaps it was a silly thing to be saying now that they had had their rest.
"You're right," Hatter replied, disappointed with himself that he was unable to say anything to her. "We shouldn't be angry with one another. And I am also sorry."
"Well, it's about time you two apologized," the March Hare remarked. Alice and Hatter turned to see the March Hare was now standing up, preparing to leave.
"How long have you been awake?" Hatter inquired, his heart thumping. He was glad he decided not to confess to Alice if it meant the March Hare might have been listening.
"Long enough," the March Hare replied, a hint of mischief in his tone of voice. In actuality, he had been awake for some time, shortly after Alice had called to him. However, the March Hare remained as still as possible in hopes of giving Hatter the chance he needed to talk with Alice privately. Clearly though, Hatter was getting nowhere and this once again disappointed the March Hare very much.
"Well, now that you are awake, we can leave and hopefully find someone who can give us directions," Alice offered. Normally, she would have pointed out that it was very rude to eavesdrop on conversations but Alice did not want to get in an argument with the March Hare after she had just finished making amends with Hatter. She then rose from her position, walking over to Milo to pick him up. Hatter did the same, lifting the Dormouse before he was leading everyone away from the soft flower bed and on the prowl for someone who knew where the rabbit hole was.