Continuing Tales

Bonkers To Be Late

A Alice in Wonderland Story
by RosieLilyIce93

Part 41 of 48

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Alice awoke the next morning feeling less than optimistic. She had not missed London's grey skies and smoggy air, but they had to sleep with the window open last night. The last dregs of summer had filtered into September and it had been unbearably hot.

She ran a hand through her tangled curls and rubbed her eyes. She was apprehensive about seeing Margaret today and had wanted to bring Tarrant with her but feared upsetting her sister with a husband when she had just so recently lost her own.

Her glance darted over to Tarrant, who continued to snore peacefully, unaware of her inner turmoil. Alice sighed and scrubbed her hand over her face.

It would do no good to linger on what might happen if she never actually got to what was to happen.

With that thought in mind she eased off the bed and began to dress. Margaret was in mourning and she didn't wish to cause her sister more unwanted grief so she chose a sedate grey gown with red trim. She knew Tarrant would hate it but for the first time in what felt like forever, she wasn't too concerned with her husband's opinion on clothing.

With her face washed, dress buttoned, and hair pulled back into a loose bun, Alice almost didn't recognize herself in the vanity mirror. She looked like a married London lady.

"It's a part of why you left in the first place isn't it?" She turned around to see Tarrant propped on an elbow watching her. He was shirtless as per his usual sleeping attire and his bright orange hair was terribly mussed. Alice smiled at him sadly.

"Yes. Even with my own reflection staring back at me, I still can't see myself as the proper London wife my mother always aspired for me to be."

"Well I'm glad you're not." He rose, came to stand before her, and grasped her shoulders. "You're a Champion and a dreamer. More importantly you are yourself my Alice and I love you all the more for it." He kissed her forehead tenderly and looked back down at her.

Alice blinked back the sudden tears that his words brought and cradled his face in her palms.

"Thank you husband. I needed to hear that."

He flashed her a gape toothed smile and darted in for a quick kiss.

"I'll see you downstairs after you break your fast." Alice nodded and left for the breakfast parlor at the back of the house.

She found her mother there already buttering a slice of toast. Alice paused in the door way to admire her mother. Helen Kingsleigh had always been the model of grace and warmth for her. She looked around the room, noting the mirror her mother had replaced the old oil painting of the hogs with.

"I'm glad you found a better use for that spot than that nasty painting. It always disturbed me as a child." She said as she moved to take her seat next to the older woman. Mrs. Kingsleigh smiled indulgently at her youngest daughter and shrugged.

"Yes I know, my father was quite determined to remind me of where I came from when I married your father though." Alice nodded. Her Grandfather Daniels had been the founder of the largest and most successful bristle brush company in England. Hogs were a thing of beauty to him because of the bristles they provided, but Alice had always found their dark, beady eyes and loud slurping noises highly disconcerting.

"How was your afternoon with Tarrant yesterday?" Her mother asked after they had each poured their morning tea.

"Quite nice. You were right of course, he was fascinated by everything and appreciated being out in the open air."

Her mother nodded thoughtfully and sipped her tea. Alice took the time to do the same, savoring the delicate lemon flavor. Her eyes strayed back to the mirror and a string of errant thoughts entered her mind.

A mirror had worked to get her and Tarrant here and it would (hopefully!) get them home. Would it be possible to continue visiting her family here in Above? If so, what would happen to Underland? Could she have both worlds? Both lives?


Startled by her mother's sharp call, Alice jumped sideways in her seat. Her mother wore an expression of amused resignation. Alice smiled sheepishly and Helen shook her head.

"I'm sorry Mother, were you saying something?"

"Indeed. I was asking when you planned on visiting your sister today?"


Helen waited as patiently as she could for Alice to answer. Her daughter was chewing her lip in thought, a habit she hadn't seen from the young woman in many years.

At last it became too much.

"Alice darling?" She questioned gently. Alice looked up into her mother's concerned stare.

"Do you think I should bring Tarrant when I meet with Margaret? With the situation being as it is, I don't want to hurt either of them."

Helen reached over and held Alice's hand.

"Take him with you. Do not deny your own happiness for the sake of another's. Margaret made her choices and if I know her as well I think I do, she will be happy for you."

Alice smiled in relief and nodded at her mother's assessment.

"Besides, he's quite the character. He'll be amusing for the children."

"I'm glad you think so madam!"

Helen and Alice both turned to see Tarrant enter the room with his gap tooth grin. He bent over Mrs. Kingsleigh's hand and brushed a quick kiss on Alice's cheek before taking his seat next to her.

"Would you care for some toast and eggs Tarrant?" Mrs. Kingsleigh inquire politely.

"No, thank you madam. Just tea for me. I've never been terribly partial to breakfast foods."

"Helen please Tarrant." She reminded him gently as she poured him a cup of tea.

Before long, the meal was finished and Mrs. Kingsleigh was bundling them off into the family carriage. In a short while, London was behind them and the sweet open air of the English countryside was around them.


Alice gripped Tarrant's hand a little tighter as the Manchester estate came into view. The large Georgian mansion had been in the Manchester family for the past century, having replaced the old decrepit castle that had once stood in its place. Alice had often wondered why they had not just rebuilt the castle. It would have been a fantastical place to grow up in.

But that was no matter now.

Now she had to remember to breathe as she walked up to the giant front doors. Tarrant banged on the door and in a matter of seconds the somber butler had opened it and ushered them inside.

"May I help you sir?" The man had focused his gaze on Tarrant who looked helplessly at Alice. She gritted her teeth and cleared her throat loudly. The butler slowly turned his gaze toward her. It was obvious that Lowell had worked hard to turn the staff against the youngest Kingsleigh girl.

"I would like to see my sister. Now." She didn't care if her voice had a bite in it. She was not in the mood to humor the butler's rudeness.

"Forgive me Miss Kingsleigh, but Mrs. Manchester is occupied at the moment. Perhaps you could return another time? And send a note ahead of you next time?"

Tarrant released what sounded like a low growl but Alice held up a hand to silence him. She took a deep breath and pinched the bridge of her nose as she released it. She then rolled up the sleeves of her dress and, quite firmly, pushed the obstinate man out of her way.

She marched down the corridor, searching for the stairs to the second and third levels. She could hear the butler's protests behind her followed by a quick thunk. As Tarrant came after her she noticed him rubbing his knuckles. She smiled and shook her head at her husband's eagerness to defend her honor.

Silly man, as if she hadn't dealt with such people all her life.

Two turns and a staircase later, they were outside the room that had been Andrew's nursery and what she could only assume was now little Joseph's nursery. She hesitated before knocking, sending a wary glance toward Tarrant. He smiled and nodded encouragingly at her. Alice nodded to herself and knocked softly.

"Enter." Her sister's voice called. Alice didn't hesitate this time and quickly stepped into the room. Her sister sat with her back to her, her widow's weeds the only bleak sight in the otherwise cheerful, yellow room.

"Hello Margaret." Alice greeted her gently.

Margaret jumped up and spun around. Her mouth hung agape and she was blinking rapidly. Alice had to stifle a giggle at her sister's confused expression.

"Alice?" She asked uncertainly. Alice smiled and opened her arms invitingly.

"Alice!" Margaret flew across the room and swept her sister up into her arms. After several minutes of hysterical crying, Alice finally demanded that Margaret let her breathe. Laughing as she stepped away, Margaret took the time to examine her younger sibling.

"You look … proper." She said with a puzzled expression. Alice roller her eyes and shook her head.

"It is in deference to your … situation." She watched her sister's mouth flatten into a very Helen-ish line.

"I am sorry Margaret." She stroked her sister's cheek comfortingly. Margaret heaved a sigh and squeezed Alice's hand in response.

"It is what it is. I had known what he'd been up to since I became pregnant with Joseph. It's my own –"

"Don't you dare say his actions were your fault!" Alice cut in hotly.

"Hush sister. No, Lowell's actions were not my fault. It is my fault however for not separating from him beforehand. But I couldn't risk him taking Andrew and my unborn child from me. You know how the law works."

Alice nodded but still felt the heat of her anger simmering beneath the surface. She felt a cool touch on her cheek and looked up to see her sister regarding her affectionately.

"Truly Alice, I'm alright. Lowell's father has settled a generous inheritance on me and Andrew will take the Manchester fortune when he is old enough. I am settled and won't even have to remarry if I don't want to."

Alice raised her eyebrows at the last statement.

"Are you saying you do want to remarry?" She asked curiously. Margaret smiled and laughed.

"No, not yet. But maybe someday. I'd like to find the love Father always used to read to us about." Her sister had a faraway look on her face.

"I have." Alice whispered quietly.

"What?" Margaret seemed to have trouble coming back down to Earth. Alice took a deep breath and raised her left hand for her sister to see her wedding band.

"I said I have. I found that type of love." Alice watched the expressions on her sister's face bleed from confused to incredulous to joyful.

"Oh Alice!" Margaret swept her up into another rib cracking hug that had Alice laughing aloud.

"Well, where is he?" She demanded.

"Right outside the door." She said simply. Margaret groaned and pinched the bridge of her nose.

"Alice, why didn't you invite him in?" She demanded.

"I wasn't sure how you would react! I was being cautious for once thank you very much!"

Margaret sighed and shook her head. Alice grinned unrepentantly and went to open the door. Tarrant had apparently been listening through the key hole as he practically fell into the room. He quickly righted himself and brushed off his hat before bowing to her sister.

"Good day Madame! I am Tarrant Hightopp, happy husband of your dear sister!" He grinned at her.

Alice watched Margaret's eyes widen slightly at Tarrant's appearance but a warm smile lit her face at his enthusiastic greeting.

"A pleasure Mr. Hightopp! Please, do call me Margaret."

"As you wish! Tarrant for me if you please!"

And with that, they fell into an easy visit. The children were brought forward and after much cheek pinching and cooing over the two towheaded boys, they went to tea. Tarrant and Alice danced around the details of Underland, while Margaret spoke about the proceedings of the Manchester family business. She had apparently become essential to Lowell's father in dealing with the child labor laws.

Alice tampered down her surprise at her sister's involvement in a business, but felt a small glow of pride in her older sibling.

Before returning to her mother's home, Alice and Margaret strolled through the rose garden while Tarrant played with little Andrew. Alice tried to follow her sister's ramblings about the younger branch of London society, but quickly grew bored.

Before long, they were exchanging hugs, kisses, and promises to visit again soon. As the carriage rolled back toward London, Tarrant fell into a light doze. But Alice contemplated her visit with her sister. She was ecstatic that Margaret was at least somewhat happy and that she and Tarrant had gotten on well together.

But once again, the name of Hamish Ascot had remained missing from the conversation.

Bonkers To Be Late

A Alice in Wonderland Story
by RosieLilyIce93

Part 41 of 48

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