Chapter 6: Tweet Dee Dum
Alice awoke with the smell of butter and tarts filling her nostrils. She slowly opened her eyes as Hatter's guest room came into view. The sun peeked through a nearby window, casting light across the bedroom. Alice sat up in her bed, gazing around. She did not look for very long as the smell in the air was luring her towards its source.
Alice crawled out of bed as she stretched her arms into the air, yawning. She then calmly walked to the window where light was seeping in. Normally she'd stare out into the distance, admiring the view (especially since she was now in Wonderland). However, after the rather embarrassing event the prior evening, Alice quickly drew the curtains forward. Lucky for her, she did not bother to point out to herself that the curtains had been opened the night before while she had changed into her sleeping attire.
It only took a few minutes for Alice to change into yesterday's attire. She then turned her attention to a mirror hanging above the dresser (which happened to be hanging upside down). Her hair was rather messy. Alice stared disapprovingly at the image she saw before her. She searched through some of the drawers in hopes of finding a brush of some sort. Along the way, she came across teacups, hats, plates, forks, clocks, and other such objects. Unfortunately, among the treasures hidden in the drawers, a brush was not one of them. Instead of continuing her search, for the smell was causing Alice to become very impatient, Alice simply stroked her hair with her fingers before exiting her room.
The smell was leading Alice to what she assumed was Hatter's kitchen. Surprisingly, the kitchen was rather spacious. Hatter, who was fully clothed-hat and all-, was busy preparing a meal when Alice finally arrived. She recognized the chairs from the large table in Hatter's garden were now positioned in their proper places by the kitchen table. Alice was not surprised to find tea accessories decorating the kitchen table.
Before Alice took a seat at the table, she made sure to wash her hands. This action finally caused Hatter to notice someone else was in the room with him. He smiled brightly upon seeing Alice.
"You're just in time for breakfast," Hatter remarked.
"I suppose I am," Alice replied, returning the smile.
"How did you sleep?" Hatter inquired politely. He did not dare to bring up the incident that had taken place just before the two had departed for the night.
"Very well, thank you for asking," Alice answered as she watched Hatter continuing to prepare breakfast. At the moment, he was busy mixing some ingredients but the mixture was so obscure, Alice had no clue as to what he was concocting. "Is there anything I can do to help?"
"Actually, would you kindly fetch some eggs for me?" Hatter inquired as he pointed in the direction of the eggs. It was then that Alice noticed there was yet another creature present in the room: a chicken! A chicken was sitting calmly in a nest that hung in the corner of the room. The chicken clucked upon seeing Alice's gaze fixed on her: she thought it very rude to be stared at. Normally, she would point this little fact out to people however she knew it was not very polite to be rude to guests even if they themselves were rude.
"How curious!" Alice exclaimed as she fixated on the chicken, drawing closer. "How am I supposed to fetch eggs from a chicken?" Alice wondered.
"Simply ask her for some eggs Alice. And do be kind, she has been known to deny a request," Hatter answered, as though reading Alice's mind. Unless, of course, Alice had unknowingly spoken her last statement aloud in which case, Hatter's statement was not so unusual. Timidly, Alice stepped just a bit closer so that she was face to face with the chicken.
"Umm...pardon me miss but may I please have an egg?" Alice asked as politely as possible. The chicken clucked once more as if to answer Alice but Alice was unable to speak in the same language chickens do and thus was unaware of what the chicken had said. However, in just a few short minutes, an egg was falling from the nest (as there was a small hole) and into a basket located just a few inches away from the chicken's sleeping quarters. Alice waited another few minutes for a second egg to fall before taking them both out of the basket. "Thank you very much," Alice made sure to add as she cautiously traveled across the kitchen to hand Hatter the eggs.
"Well done," Hatter remarked upon seeing the eggs. "Normally, I am only able to get half an egg out of her." Alice was rather puzzled by Hatter's statement. How was it possible to acquire only half an egg from a chicken? Then again, she was in Wonderland.
Alice noticed Hatter was rather busy with his current task and thus took it upon herself to crack the eggs for Hatter. She was rather pleased that she managed to allow no eggshells to pass into the dish considering she was forced to crack them at such an awkward position.
"Why did you do that?" Hatter inquired after Alice had finished.
"Do what?" Alice returned confusingly.
"Why did you crack the eggs?" Hatter asked, now being the one confused.
"Are you not supposed to crack the eggs before you place them in a dish?" Alice inquired.
"Well, I've never heard of such a thing," Hatter answered. This left Alice once again puzzled by Hatter's cooking techniques. Yet, at the same time, she could not help but to laugh a little.
"Well, you are supposed to crack the egg. I don't believe eggshells taste very pleasant," Alice remarked. Hatter frowned at her remark, no doubt offended as he wholeheartedly believed his cooking was superb. "But...I do suppose eggshells can taste delicious when used properly," Alice added upon seeing Hatter's frown.
"Now Alice, since the table is all set and I am nearly finished, I'd greatly appreciate it if you relaxed for a bit. You are my guest after all," Hatter insisted. Alice was unsure if Hatter said this to be hospitable or if he no longer wanted her criticizing his cooking. Either way, Alice decided it best to find her seat at the table as she waited for Hatter to finish.
Alice's fingers traced lightly against the wooden table as she looked over to see how Hatter was coming along. A part of her was still fascinated with his cooking and wished to learn more. Yet, at the same time she knew she would end up condemning Hatter once more and that was not a very polite way to treat a host.
It turned out Hatter had been telling the truth: breakfast was ready in just a few short moments. Hatter brought forth a teapot ("For, what breakfast is complete without tea?" he said) filled to the brim with the warm liquid Hatter adored. He graciously poured three cups (why three instead of two Alice did not know). Once beverages had been served, Hatter placed a plate of pancakes on the table. They were the most delicious looking pancakes Alice had ever seen! The pancakes appeared light and fluffy with whipped cream and strawberries decorating the top. Their smell seemed ten times more wonderful than when Alice had first come into contact with the scent.
Alice guiltily (for the pancakes looked ever so pretty) took the top pancake and placed it on her plate. Hatter followed the same gesture. Alice kindly offered Hatter a bit of her whipped cream and strawberries to which Hatter received gratefully. He managed to place a bit of his share of whip cream and strawberries on the third plate with an empty chair.
"Hatter, I will never doubt your cooking ever again," Alice remarked after she had taken the first bite of her meal.
"Well, to be honest, they do taste a bit better without the eggshells," Hatter confessed after he had taken his own bite. "Though I am glad you like them."
"Like them? I love them," Alice teased.
"I'm even gladder now," Hatter returned playfully. Some time passed before either one made a notion to say anything. The two were much too busy engaging in their current meal (which was so delicious I wish I could have had a bit of it!). Hatter made sure to provide a portion of the meal to the chicken. The chicken clucked with glee at the taste so much so that a few eggs fell into the small basket located under the nest. Alice laughed at this: she only wished the chickens in England were this happy. It had been a rather cheerful morning: and a mad one at that. "Alice," Hatter finally said. "I am sorry for what happened last night."
"There's no need to apologize. It was entirely my fault," Alice replied though she could not help but to blush at Hatter's comment.
"Oh no, I was not referring to that," Hatter remarked frantically. "I was talking about what happened on the way here."
Alice grimaced at the reminder. She had nearly forgotten all about it. A part of her wished Hatter had not brought it up despite his intentions for now she was remembering what she had told herself last night: that she would tell Hatter about leaving Wonderland in the morning. But it had been such a lovely morning and now such thoughts were bringing it to ruin.
"Maybe later," Alice thought.
"Not later, now. You've got to tell him now," she argued.
Alice must have been frowning during this small argument with herself for Hatter then stated, "It really was not my intention to upset you Alice. Really." He slumped in his chair a bit as he said this, afraid he had upset her once more by bringing the subject up again. But she had been terribly upset. The last time he saw her cry was when she was nine or so after the White Rabbit was in such a rush, he knocked a gift Alice had made for her mother into the mouth of a dangerous dandelion. The only thing left to do was retrieve it and of course this left Hatter with cuts and bruises for weeks.
"I know," Alice finally said. It was an awkward statement as the two had been traveling within their own thoughts and had nearly forgotten the conversation at hand. "Either way, it was not your fault. I'm just…upset about the whole situation."
"I can imagine," Hatter replied. Alice was about to continue speaking until Hatter arose from his seat. "Well, now if we continue to dilly-dally here, we shall be late for the March Hare's tea party.
"Hatter…" Alice was about to tell him everything, everything about leaving Wonderland and her growing up and the two of them never being able to see each other. But Hatter's insistence that the conversation be moved to something happier caused Alice to change her mind once more. Now, Alice was stuck midway through a statement, her mouth still open. "…I'm afraid I shan't be able to attend the tea party. The Queen of Hearts has sent me on an important mission."
"What sort of mission?" Hatter inquired out of curiosity. The idea of an adventure was rather exciting. "Do you need to send a message because if that's the case, I should accompany you. We need one for going and one for coming back after all."
"No, no, it isn't a delivery," Alice said as she fumbled with her words. "It's…it's a top secret mission and only I'm allowed to go. I may get in trouble just by mentioning it. You mustn't tell anyone or the Queen will surely have my head," Alice fabricated.
"My lips are sealed," Hatter replied.
"Now I best be going if I wish to complete the mission," Alice stated as she was now arising from her seat and exiting Hatter's house. "Oh, do give everyone my regards."
"Yes, of course, but Alice I do believe…" Hatter began but once more Alice was gone. Hatter sighed then looked towards the seat in which he had placed another meal. "I suppose she has forgotten you again," he said to the stuffed bunny named Milo who was sitting silently in the seat. Alice had not been able to see him due to his small stature. Still, Hatter expected Alice to at least remember Milo considering she was his guest. Clearly, she was not being a very good hostess. "I am a little disappointed you failed to offer anything to the conversation or at least try the meal I made for you," Hatter pointed out. "It is rather rude you know. Though I suppose it is a rabbit thing or whatever the March Hare said yesterday." Hatter then took Milo by the hand and began to walk out the door just as Alice had done moments ago. "Now, we best be off or we shall be terribly late for the March Hare's tea party."
"Alice, you are being quite rude if I do say so myself," Alice nagged to herself as she was leaving Hatter's house with only a brief goodbye.
But what else was she supposed to do? Every time she felt ready to tell him, something inside her took over to the point where she was no longer able to confront Hatter. And it was always when Hatter was present. When he was playing away at the piano during the concert, her confession to Dormy was painful but at the same time it felt as though the confession passed through her like a light breeze. It always felt easier to tell someone about her departing Wonderland when he wasn't around.
"He makes everything so difficult," Alice reasoned.
"You make everything so difficult," she chastised back to herself.
Still, she could not help but wonder why telling Hatter was so complex. Perhaps it was because she did not want to hurt someone she loved. But she loved Dormy, Mary Ann, the White Knight, and everyone else in Wonderland. A part of her even loved the dangerous Queen of Hearts and the rude White Rabbit in a queer sort of way. So, what made Hatter any different?
"He is rather curious, I declare," Alice stated aloud.
Before Alice could ponder any longer, the Dormouse was coming into view. It was strange to see the Dormouse awake much less walking. He looked to be in a dreamlike state with his eyes barely open, his paws in front of him as though to prevent him from hitting anything. He yawned, rubbing his eyes as his mouth came to a close. But above all, the Dormouse was moving very slow. His appearance reminded Alice of a person who is sleepwalking.
"Hello, Alice," the Dormouse said, his eyes now shut completely.
"Hello," Alice replied. "Are you going to the March Hare's tea party?"
"That I am…," the Dormouse replied, trailing off. Alice's first guess was the Dormouse had fallen asleep during the conversation however it did not take long before Alice concluded the Dormouse was thinking about what to say next. "And where might you be off to?"
Alice paused at the question before answering, "I am on my way in search of the Caterpillar."
"…Alice, have you told Hatter and the March Hare yet?" Alice bit her lip at the Dormouse's question. For a while, she refused to answer. It was rather shameful of her to have left such important matters go this far without informing Hatter and the March Hare. Yet, as shameful as it was, she could not lie to the Dormouse. That would offer far worse consequences.
"No," Alice finally stated. The Dormouse sighed heavily at Alice's answer. "I will tell them," Alice insisted, "I just need more time."
"Well, you haven't got much time left, Alice," the Dormouse pointed out. "Either way, there is no point arguing over the matter. It is your choice after all. Now, if you'll excuse me, my own time is running out."
"Once I have finished speaking with the Caterpillar, I will come straight to the tea party and I will inform everyone then," Alice insisted gently. However, the Dormouse said nothing. He merely nodded to indicate she had his trust. "Please, don't tell them where I am going. I don't want to worry them."
"I shan't tell them a word," the Dormouse replied. "Besides…I am feeling rather drowsy…" It was now that the Dormouse was beginning to slip into a deep sleep. "I must be hurrying," he said as he continued to walk on for it would be dreadful if he fell asleep on the way there. "Good day Alice."
"Good day," Alice replied. She watched as the Dormouse gradually left her view as she was worried about him falling asleep in a dangerous location. Luckily, he appeared to be just fine and Alice was marching forward.
Alice waited until she was well away from Hatter's house before she removed a mushroom from her pocket. It was a small, white mushroom and she gazed at it for a while as she attempted to determine whether this particular mushroom would make her grow larger or smaller for she had forgotten which pocketful of mushrooms created the appropriate size. Realizing this was not going to answer her question, Alice nibbled lightly at the mushroom in her hand. She paused, lingering to see which size would overtake her. Luckily, the mushroom caused Alice to grow an inch or two. Seeing as how this was the correct mushroom, Alice bit into it once more.
Alice continued to nibble at the mushroom until she was high in the air. She slowly allowed her eyes to travel amongst her new surroundings in search of the Caterpillar. A frown began to form as the Caterpillar was not in sight. Only a few minutes of searching had passed before Alice was becoming impatient. She tapped her foot in irritation, forgetting this may hurt some poor creature passing by.
"This will take forever," Alice thought as her eyes desperately continued searching.
Finally, after some time, Alice's frown literally turned upside down as her eyes came upon the Caterpillar.
"There he is!" Alice exclaimed even though there was no one to tell this information to. "Why, he's just past the forest." As quickly as she could, Alice bit into the other mushroom so that she may be able to shrink. She did not have much time before the Caterpillar may decide to move. Once she had retained her normal size, Alice practically plunged herself into the depths of the forest.
Hatter sat in a chair that most likely came from the March Hare's living room. To his left sat the March Hare who was seated in a large, comfortable, brown chair. The March Hare was busy applying butter to a slice of butterfly bread. To Hatter's right sat the ever silent Milo, staring fixated at the scenery before him, not daring to gaze around. The Dormouse sleepily sat next to Milo, his head resting against the pink tablecloth.
"So...you say Alice told you she couldn't attend the tea party due to the fact she was on an important mission for the Queen of Hearts?" the March Hare repeated once he finished buttering his bread. Hatter had told the tale of Alice's absence just moments ago.
"That's right," Hatter replied shortly before taking a sip of his tea.
"But Hatter, that doesn't make any sense!" the March Hare exclaimed. "Why would the Queen of Hearts send Alice on an important mission? Why not send one of the high ranking soldiers?"
"Well, how should I know why the Queen of Hearts chose Alice?" Hatter returned.
"Hatter, I hate to say this but I believe Alice lied to you," the March Hare said frankly, frowning.
"Alice would never lie to me," Hatter immediately responded defensively not to mention slightly hurt at such a ridiculous suggestion.
"Well then, explain to me why the Queen of Hearts would send Alice on a top secret mission when she isn't even fond of Alice to begin with," the March Hare pointed out. Hatter opened his mouth to provide an answer but was forced to close it upon realizing he had no answer. He took some time to think over what the March Hare had offered. As the March Hare's hypothesis became more logical, Hatter's expression changed from one of joy to grim.
"But...why would she lie to me?" Hatter thought aloud. Alice had never done such a thing like that. Then again, she clearly had not been acting herself lately. Yet, why she was acting strangely, Hatter had no clue.
"I don't know," the March Hare replied sadly. "But the real question is where did Alice go?"
The Dormouse's heart began to beat rapidly upon hearing the conversation now taking form. He only hoped the March Hare and Hatter were unable to notice the nervousness beginning to consume him.
"There must be someone who knows..." Hatter trailed off, attempting to think of anyone who could possibly offer them information. The Dormouse felt his legs quiver slightly. He wanted desperately to open his eyes and see his surroundings; however, he was too terrified to draw suspicion to himself.
"Yes...now that you mention it, I believe someone here may know the answer we're seeking," the March Hare continued. The Dormouse gulped at this last remark.
"I mustn't tell, I mustn't tell. No matter what they do, I mustn't tell!" the Dormouse frantically thought to himself. He could no longer help it: he must open his eyes to see what was happening. Slowly, his eyelids lifted above his beady eyes, terrified to find Hatter and the March Hare staring directly at him.
"Well Milo, what do you have to say for yourself?" Hatter inquired as the Dormouse was able to comprehend his surroundings. Both Hatter and the March Hare were staring in Milo's direction, awaiting his answer. The Dormouse sighed with relief, once again drifting off into sleep.
Alice was now deep within the forest. She gazed among the various vegetation in hopes of finding some sort of way to navigate through the forest. Unfortunately for her, Wonderland vegetation is quite different than England's vegetation. For instance, moss never points north but instead south east. Of course, Alice was unaware of this fact thus her attempt to navigate using moss was futile. Alice then tried to use the sky as a guide. However, the forest was now so dense she could barely see the sky above her.
"I do believe I am lost," Alice said aloud. She was now beginning to think she should have attended the tea party instead of attempting this wild goose chase. If she was lost now, she would never get to the Caterpillar in time. "Well, there must be someone in this forest who will be able to help me."
Alice continued through the forest in hopes of finding someone, anyone, to aid her. Eventually, she was able to hear a clanging sound in the far distance. Alice paused to make sure she had not imagined the sound. Sure enough, a few seconds later, more clanging could be heard.
"I wonder who that could be," Alice thought as she traveled towards the source of the noise. The closer she reached, the louder the noise became. It began to sound as though metal was clashing against metal along with shouts of anger. The detail of the sounds only made Alice the more curious.
Finally, Alice was able to see two people sparring with one another. The two figures looked to be the same height with one wearing a pan on his head, the other a pot. Both the pan and pot covered their eyes so they were both unable to see her approaching much less one another. Alice was amazed they were able to make contact with one another at all. One figure hit the other in the stomach (which was protected with a barrel) with the flat side of a sword. The other was forced a few paces back from the blow only to strike his opponent with another sword (he too, hit his opponent with the flat side of the weapon). Luckily, the opponent did not appear injured as he was wearing a pillow for protection.
"Excuse me," Alice eventually stated, hoping to gain their attention. However, the two were much too busy fighting to hear Alice's meek statement. "Excuse me!" Alice called a little louder, this time grabbing their attention. Both figures ceased fighting and removed their helmets (at least what they were using as helmets). Once their helmets had been removed, it was clear Alice was in the presence of twins with auburn hair. Their bright, emerald eyes beamed at Alice.
"Alice!" both exclaimed in unison.
"Hello," Alice replied as she smiled at Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. "May I inquire as to why you two were fighting?"
"Well, he started it," one of the twins replied. Alice was not entirely sure if this was Tweedle Dee or Tweedle Dum who had spoken. She did know it was the one who was wearing a pillow for protection.
"Did not!" the other insisted.
"You did too!" the first one to speak retorted.
"Perhaps this was not the best question to ask," Alice said. The two ceased their bickering having heard Alice's comment. For now, the twins decided it was best to set aside their differences in order to speak with Alice. After all, many people did not visit the two in the forest. It was rather refreshing to have someone to talk to besides each other.
"So tell us Alice..." the one twin wearing the pillow began.
"...what brings you here?" the other finished.
"Well, I'm attempting to reach the end of the forest but I've seemed to have lost my way. Would you be so kind as to show me the exit?" Alice answered.
"Of course we can help you..." the one twin with the barrel for a shield replied.
"..but first..." the other continued.
"Let's play a game!" both exclaimed in unison. Alice could not help but to smile at their enthusiasm. Yet at the same time, she prayed this game would not take up too much of her time. Knowing them, the game could take a substantial amount of time due to their constant arguing with one another.
"I would love to play a game but I really must be getting to the edge of the forest," Alice replied as politely as possible.
However, both twins merely provided a devilish grin as they chanted:
"Oh Alice, Alice,
Can't you see?
We wish to play
The which one of us
Is Tweedle Dee
"Oh, but I don't know which one of you is Tweedle Dee," Alice replied, her impatience growing.
"Then guess!" both cried. Alice attempted to study the twins in hopes of finding some sort of clue as to who was who. However, both were simply too identical. It did not further help that their bodies were covered with armor so there was no way for her to see their name tags.
"Are you Tweedle Dee?" Alice inquired, pointing to the twin on her left seeing as there was no way for her to make an educational guess. The twin she pointed to grinned widely at her answer.
"I'm Tweedle Dum!" Tweedle Dum exclaimed.
"Well, then I suppose I was wrong," Alice replied. "Now will you please direct me out of the forest?"
"You weren't wrong Alice, I'm Tweedle Dum," the other twin who was Tweedle Dee but now Tweedle Dum stated.
"But he just said..." Alice began, becoming rather puzzled.
"No, no, he's Tweedle Dee and I'm Tweedle Dum," the original Tweedle Dum insisted.
"Brother, I am ever so certain that you are Tweedle Dee and Alice has guessed correctly," Tweedle Dee who was not Tweedle Dee but Tweedle Dum persisted.
"Oh, I don't have time for this," Alice finally stated once she realized the two were not going to cease their argument. It was rather strange watching the two argue for this long. Sometimes, Alice felt as though they were both one person arguing with themselves all the time. "Such a silly thing to argue with oneself," Alice thought as she left Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum to argue over who was who as she continued her search for the Caterpillar.