Chapter 3: A Small Detour
Alice continued her travels towards the Queen of Heart’s Palace, all the while pondering over her current situation with Hatter, the March Hare, and the Dormouse. Although Hatter seemed most upset, she knew both the March Hare and the Dormouse would be equally disappointed with the news. Not to mention, she was unsure if she could trust them to keep the secret from Hatter. They were slightly mad, after all.
“How could you possibly keep such a secret from Hatter? That is positively cruel,” Alice reprimanded herself. No, no, the best thing to do was to keep the secret from everyone: at least, those three since she would ultimately tell the Queen of Hearts in order to obtain her advice (plus, there was the fact she had already told the Cheshire Cat). Oh this was awfully confusing!
At some point in between her contemplating, Alice bent down to pick up a few mushrooms from the ground. There was no knowing when she may need to shrink or grow. For now, Alice placed the mushrooms in her pocket as she strolled through the forest. Normally, Alice would take this opportunity to enjoy the scenery. Wonderland forests always contained the most pleasant creatures. Sometimes she would run into a fawn or a rocking-horse-fly during such walks. Though, as mentioned earlier, Alice simply was not in the mood to explore the forest in search of such creatures.
“Oh dear me, I am terribly late!” Alice heard a voice shouting in the distance. She turned her head in different directions, hoping to find the source of the shouting. Off to her left, Alice could see a small figure running towards her. In just a few minutes, it became clearly apparent that it was the White Rabbit running frantically about. He looked down at his watch. “I may be able to just barely make it if I run fast enough!” he cried as he placed the watch in his waistcoat pocket (all the while still running of course).
“Hello there,” Alice said politely as the rabbit ran closer towards her. He was no doubt travelling to the Queen of Heart’s palace as well. It would be rather nice to have a companion along the way. Not to mention, she would like nothing more than to be able to think of other topics instead of the one that was now clouding her mind.
“I shall have to change into the spare tabard when I arrive. Oh dear, this is dreadful! Most dreadful!” the White Rabbit continued chatting with himself as he ran past Alice, not taking the least bit notice in her. Without warning, the White Rabbit suddenly stopped in his tracks, looking more frenzied than ever. “I forgot my white gloves!” Upon this revelation, the White Rabbit turned his body around so that he was once more facing Alice. “But...I shall never get to the palace in time if I run back! Oh, what ever shall I do?”
“Excuse me Mr--,” Alice was about to begin, still hoping she could perhaps travel with the White Rabbit to the palace since the rabbit had been speaking so rapidly, she was unable to understand what he was so worried about.
“You there!” the White Rabbit suddenly exclaimed, pointing towards Alice.
“You know, it really is rather rude to point,” Alice pointed out.
“Alice! My dear, sweet Alice!” the White Rabbit exclaimed though Alice knew very well he was simply buttering her up for some reason for she knew he did not think she was very sweet nor dear. She was lucky enough that the White Rabbit was able to remember her name this time. “Go to my house and fetch my white gloves. Bring them to the palace. And be quick about it!”
“But, I really must be--,” Alice was about to explain her circumstances but before she could finish, the White Rabbit was already gone. Alice attempted to call after him a few times, even running a few paces after him, until eventually he disappeared into the distance. Angrily, Alice placed her hands on her hips. “Well! He is ten times as rude as the Cheshire Cat! Ordering me around like that!”
Just as Alice was about to continuing marching forward, completely ignoring the White Rabbit’s request, she paused. Although the White Rabbit had been rather rude (extremely rude, in fact), she knew better than ever that he served the Queen of Hearts and had every reason to be worried about his tardiness. No one ever knew what sort of mood she would be in. If she were in a bad mood, well, it would not be unusual for the White Rabbit to receive a ridiculous sentence due to his late behavior. That rabbit always seemed to be late for something.
“Well, I suppose I may be able to help the poor fellow,” Alice reasoned. Reluctantly, Alice commenced her small detour towards the White Rabbit’s house. “Oh, I do hope Mary Ann is there.”
Alice became rather irritated to learn that the White Rabbit’s house was not very far away: only a few kilometers at best. The White Rabbit could have very easily taken it upon himself to run back and grab his gloves without much delay. Compared to the distance he had yet to travel to reach the palace, he would have only had to take a small detour himself. Time could not have been that angry with him.
However, Alice’s frown quickly faded away as she approached the outskirts of his home. Unlike the Hatter (or even the March Hare for that matter) the White Rabbit’s house was rather lovely as well as tidy. A small vegetable garden rested close to the house where no doubt the White Rabbit took most of his food supply from. The fence looked as though it had just been painted appropriately white. This was no doubt thanks to Bill the Lizard. Alice always did feel rather sorry for Bill for having to do such labor for the White Rabbit yet at the same time she could not help but to admire his handy work. Luckily the fence was open most likely due to the fact the White Rabbit had to rush out just moments before so Alice had no trouble walking through. For, she would hate to accidently break the fence or some sort of other misfortune to occur. After kicking Bill out of the chimney and treating him rather poorly at the trial, Alice felt terribly guilty any time some sort of misfortune should befall Bill. Unfortunately for Bill, it was rather frequent that something should go terribly wrong for him.
The door was still open as Alice approached the quaint household. A tall young woman (perhaps a year or two older than Alice) was busy dusting a few knick knacks that lay quietly on a mantelpiece.
“I was attempting to tell you you left your gloves before you rushed off,” the woman said absentmindedly as she heard someone come in, mistaking Alice for the White Rabbit. She turned her head towards the direction of the door. “Oh, Alice! I’m terribly sorry,” the woman said, now moving away from her current chore to greet the new guest.
“It’s all right Mary Ann,” Alice said, giving a small smile. Mary Ann brushed a loose piece of her long, dark brown hair behind her ear that had escaped from her bun before exchanging the favor with a smile of her own. She then proceeded to brush a bit of dust that had fallen on her white pinafore. Unfortunately, the dust ended up rubbing into the fabric. Though Mary Ann did not seem to mind seeing as it was only her housekeeping uniform. She then looked back at Alice, her almond eyes showing a rather puzzled expression.
“Alice, I am glad that you decided to visit but I can’t help but wonder why you are here,” Mary Ann commented. Her feet carried her to a chair not too far away from where she had been working just moments before. Gracefully, Mary Ann sat down, folding her hands neatly in her lap. Mary Ann never seemed to enjoy working when Alice came to visit.
“I’m here for a pair of white gloves,” Alice replied. Mary Ann rolled her eyes at the mention of them.
“Oh yes, they’re over there,” Mary Ann remarked as she pointed to a small table where two white gloves lay. “He never remembers them.”
“What was he late for this time?” Alice inquired as she went to pick up the white gloves.
“Oh,” Mary Ann sighed. “I don’t know all the details. There is some sort of concert occurring this evening at the palace. ‘Lolita the Lori, Jack the Dodo, Beddor the Frog, Basil the Mouse, and everyone else that is important will be there’,” Mary Ann continued, quoting and mocking the White Rabbit. “To be honest, I have no clue as to why Beddor is there to begin with. He nearly had his head cut off the last time he was at the palace.”
“That’s dreadful,” Alice remarked. “What did he do wrong?”
“I believe it had something to do with a piece of writing he was working on,” Mary Ann offered. She began to trace her fingers over her black dress. “But, enough about that, how have you been Alice? How is your world?” Mary Ann added, clearly not wanting to have to think about Wonderland society (if it could even be called such). She would much rather learn of the adventures in Alice’s world, a place that seemed too good to be true.
However, Mary Ann’s new topic forced Alice to once again think about the complications of her world and its relationship with Wonderland. Although Mary Ann was probably the least mad citizen of Wonderland, Alice was unsure if she should bring her dilemma up in the conversation. It was true, though, that if there was anyone who could provide reasonable advice on such topics in Wonderland, it would be Mary Ann.
“Well, things are going all right I suppose,” Alice replied, still unsure if she should embark on such a conversation. Unfortunately, it was already too late for Alice: Mary Ann was beginning to suspect some sort of trouble had occurred as she raised her eyebrow at Alice’s tone of voice.
“You suppose?” Mary Ann inquired, her voice calm. Alice steadied her gaze as she was prepared to nod her head in response to Mary Ann. However, Mary Ann’s intense stare was taking its toll on Alice as she desperately attempted to keep a poker face. It was a futile attempt of course: Mary Ann simply knew her all too well. Just a few minutes later, Alice was sighing as her mask disappeared.
“Mary Ann, what happened to you when you grew older?” Alice inquired. Since there was no doubt Mary Ann had gone through such a change recently, perhaps her experiences would be able to assist Alice. Not to mention, it did not directly tackle Mary Ann’s suspicion.
“Nothing,” Mary Ann answered, rather puzzled. “I matured as you have done and I began to work for the White Rabbit. Why?” The mention of her employment under the White Rabbit reminded Mary Ann that she really must be working. Once she had finished her statement, she rose from her seat and began to once again clean the various knick knacks on the White Rabbit’s mantelpiece.
“I guess it must be different in Wonderland,” Alice replied, disappointed that Mary Ann did not have to go through a similar transformation as Alice.
“What must you do to become an adult in your world?” Mary Ann inquired as she noticed Alice’s disappointed tone.
“According to my sister,” Alice began, “I must leave Wonderland...permanently.”
Mary Ann nearly dropped the clock she had been dusting in response to Alice’s reply. Immediately, she spun around so that she was able to face Alice completely. Her steady expression changed to one of shock.
“But why? I have never heard of such a thing,” Mary Ann stated, still unable to fully grasp what Alice was telling her.
“Well...it happens to everyone,” Alice replied though she faltered as she attempted to answer this question. Why did she have to leave Wonderland? After all, her sister had never told her why, just that she did. Perhaps, there really was a way to grow older and stay in Wonderland at the same time. Though, from what her sister had said, it seemed rather impossible.
“When do plan on departing?” Mary Ann inquired. Alice bit her lip at this particular question.
“I was hoping that this would be my last visit...” Alice finally managed to say. Although she considered Mary Ann to be one of her good, dear friends, surprisingly it was not as difficult to inform her of this information as it had been with the others. “I was on my way to see the Queen of Hearts.”
“So soon?” Mary Ann commented, slightly upset at this bit of information. “Does it have to be this way?”
“I believe so,” Alice answered rather sadly for although she did not know the true reason as to why she was forced to leave Wonderland, she could not help but to feel in her gut that there was no other way. If there had been another method, to keep both Wonderland and adulthood, surely her sister would have told her. These suddenly new thoughts confused poor Alice greatly: her opinion was constantly transforming and she had no clue which one to choose. It was as though her mind was at war with itself and she wasn’t entirely sure which side was winning.
“Your customs are quite strange,” Mary Ann said as she shook her head. “Have you told anyone else?”
“...No,” Alice answered, rather reluctantly as once again guilt began to consume her. “I did try to tell Hatter, the March Hare, and the Dormouse but they all seemed rather upset when I brought it up.”
Mary Ann did not reply to Alice’s remark right away. Instead, she commenced her cleaning once more, leaving Alice to stand awkwardly with the gloves still in her hands. Normally, Alice would have said something to break such a silence but she could tell from Mary Ann’s expression that she was pondering what she had just heard, preparing to bestow Alice the advice she had been seeking.
“Alice, if you really wish this to be your last visit to Wonderland, I think it is best if you possess no regrets,” Mary Ann finally said gently, not looking up towards Alice as she said this. “Do you really want to leave Wonderland with your friends wondering where you have gone?”
Once more, the image of Hatter sitting alone at his table (even though in real life he would most likely be sitting at the March Hare’s table), waiting for her, filled Alice’s mind. Slowly, an image of the March Hare filled a seat followed by the Dormouse. They were all waiting for her. And yet, where was she?
The thought sickened her as she begged the image to disappear. She grimaced as she realized Mary Ann was right: she couldn’t possibly leave Wonderland without telling her closest friends the truth. Still, Alice dreaded the thought of having to confront them.
“What if I am unable to tell them?” Alice wondered aloud, recalling how she simply could not bare to do it just a little while ago.
“Then you will hurt them even more,” Mary Ann answered simply. Alice sighed knowing Mary Ann was right. She would have to muster up courage and tell them. However, fear still loomed over her as well. “You have been here for a rather long time. I expect the White Rabbit is wondering where you are.”
Alice squeezed the gloves in her hand a bit, a part of her not wanting to leave the White Rabbit’s house. She wished more than ever for time to stand still so she would not have to continue on this gloomy journey.
“Yes, I suppose I should go,” Alice replied quietly. Mary Ann rose from her position once more.
“Goodbye Alice, I shall miss you,” Mary Ann said.
“And I you,” Alice answered. Mary Ann gave Alice a brief hug before Alice stepped out of the White Rabbit’s house. Bill the Lizard was working in the garden as Alice stepped out of the house. Bill gazed over hesitantly as Alice strode by. As Alice passed Bill, a small idea came to her.
“I could tell Bill I am leaving Wonderland as practice,” Alice reasoned to herself: for the more times she said it, the easier it would become. “Hello Bill,” Alice said, stopping in front of the edge of the garden. Bill jumped slightly upon hearing his name.
“Alice,” was all Bill managed to say due to his nerves. Clearly, he had never been able to completely get over Alice’s kicking him out of the chimney.
“I...just thought you should know this is my last visit to Wonderland,” Alice said, surprised by how simple it was to tell Bill this information. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so hard to tell Hatter after all.
“Really?” Bill asked, unsure how to reply to such a comment.
“Yes,” Alice replied, feeling slightly uncomfortable with the conversation as it seemed as though Bill was relieved that she was leaving.
“Well...goodbye then,” Bill finally said.
“Goodbye.”Alice left the White Rabbit’s home feeling rather odd due to the small conversation she had just had with Bill the Lizard. Then again, when did she not feel odd in Wonderland?