Continuing Tales

I Love My Love

A Alice in Wonderland Story
by justadram

Part 8 of 22

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I Love My Love

Later that same day…

"Did you tell her?" a voice asked, waking the Hatter from his stupor in the clearing around the Chamber of Mirrors.

He shook his head, clearing it of the cobwebs.

"Chessur?" he asked, as if he did not know to whom he was speaking.

"Are you standing here stupidly, because you didn't tell her? I explicitly told you to…"

"I told her," the Hatter replied, spinning on his heel and beginning to walk purposely from the clearing in the direction of the Hat House.

There were dozens of hats waiting to be made. The hats would quiet the voices. He had one hat in mind that focusing his energies upon would bring him particular pleasure.

"Hmm…" the Cat pondered, floating alongside the Hatter, "you told her, and she left anyway. I thought you would be half-mad by now if that came to pass."

"I am half mad, but that has nothing to do with Alice. She has her reasons," the Hatter said, schooling his emotions carefully. He reminded himself that unruly as his emotions were, he was the teacher, the master, the trainer, the tutor, the professor, the instructor...

"Has she now?" Chessur pressed, his tail held high and flicking. "What reasons would she have to leave you, pray?"

"She has a family," the Hatter explained, as he mentally swatted away the smoke and acrid smell of burnt things that threatened to fill his mind. There was no family. None left now. No Hightopps but himself, and he a rather sorry example of the lineage ever since.

"Ah, she threw that in your face then. Rather unkind, don't you think, Hatter? Given the circumstances?"

"Alice is never unkind," he answered quickly, biting his tongue when it threatened to overwhelm him and spout nonsense. "She didn't explicitly say that she was leaving to go back to her family. She didn't have to. I was being slurvish." The Hatter cast a sideways glance at the floating feline. "You should know all about that."

"I take offense at that: I saved your neck, you know. Otherwise you wouldn't have a head with which to say sweet nothings to Alice," Chessur reminded him, rolling through the air languidly.

"Your one moment," the Hatter conceded, "for which I, the Resistance, and the Queen thank you."

The Cheshire Cat grinned before licking a paw. "Do you think she will return to you, Tarrant Hightopp, Royal Hatter to the White Queen?"

"She has always come back before," the Hatter responded brightly, trying to sound more certain than he felt.

"After several years, I suppose she did," the Cheshire Cat acknowledged. "If you don't mind waiting who knows how many years for her return, then I suppose Hiblisch Day will not be recorded as a terrible day after all." He mostly disappeared except for his ears and his tail. "I wonder if you will recognize the Alice if she comes back aged fifty-two?"

The Hatter was not so mad that he could not tell when he was being made out to be a fool. "If ye'r nae cautious, Chessur, A'll knock that smile aff yer flindrikin face," he gritted out, clenching his hands as he continued to march towards his home.[1]

"Love makes you awfully uffish, Hatter," Chessur observed before disappearing altogether from the path.[2]

Yes, it was true, Hatter observed, detachedly. He was a very poor match for Alice. His feelings for her were wrong. They must be. He had known Beautiful Adult Alice since she was Lively Little Alice, and during all of the Time in between he had been an Old Mad Hatter. Never mind that his feelings, which were tied up with his madness, were dangerous. They made him dangerous, when all he wanted was to keep her safe and happy. With him. Always with him. Sitting at the tea table; leaning out the balcony of the Hat House; staring up at the moon; in his arms. His hand flew to his cheek, where her lips had pressed briefly. The spot still tingled with Aliceness. Alice, Alice kissing, Alice touching…

He roughly shook his head, slightly dislodging his hat, so that he had to straighten it. "That wilnae dae," he spoke aloud, chastising himself, "old man." He had forgotten momentarily that it was one thing to love Alice and another to Desire her. It would appear he needed reminding of the chasm that separated him from her. It was more than a rabbit hole.

He whistled to himself, before beginning to recite:

""You are old, Father William," the young man said,
"And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head—
Do you think, at your age, it is right?"

"In my youth," Father William replied to his son,
"I feared it might injure the brain;
But now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again."…"[3]

The Hatter approached his house, his mind threatening to give in to Memory. Memories of Alice flitted just behind the curtains of his mental theater. On Gaelig Day he had brought Alice to the Hat House. She had admired his work space, admired his work, touched his hands, and offered to treat them. Her soft hands against his, Hatter thought, squinting his eyes shut tight as he pulled the door open.

No Alice here. Alice had gone home.

She had admired the dress he had made for her, but the form now lay bare. She had worn the dress home. Alice had gone home.

She had worn the dress home, because he had soiled her Otherland dress—the one that made it difficult for her to act upon her muchness, as he remembered. The dress had covered her from her neck to her wrists to the tips of her toes. Alice and her muchness had been entombed within that dress. Yet, while draped in an excess of fabric that he would never employ when there were such lovely shoulders and wrists to be shown, he had still thought her very pretty, handsome, winsome, feminine, attractive, and womanly. Those Otherlanders certainly were keen on exaggerating certain aspects of the female form, he reflected.

That Thought left the station, but another arrived in its wake, whistling and screeching loudly on the tracks: where was that dress? The soiled dress that she had discarded in favor of the one he had made for her?

"My bedchamber!" he exclaimed aloud to the walls, who were unlikely to answer, but one never knew, so it would be Rude to never give them the chance.

He strode towards the bedchamber with renewed purpose. Alice had changed out of her spoiled dress Inside while he had tried not to pace Outside the door. He had held up a pewter plate—the only reflective surface handy at the time—and peered at his reflection, hoping that his eyes were not betraying him. But they had: blue, bright betraying blue. How could they not? Alice had been just behind the door, in his bedchamber, removing…

The Hatter shook his head, clearing his muddled mind. That was before. Now Alice was not here. He was alone in his bedchamber, where he had not been since that remembered day.

"Where, where, where," he mused, turning about the room. Where had Alice put her things?

He knew where everything was in the mess of his home, and given enough time, he could place his finger on it. It should not be too hard to find the one thing that had not been here before, he reasoned. Yet, as his eyes scanned the room, he did not see the dress. Perhaps it is hidden on the other side of the bed, he thought, jumping atop the bed and running across the bedcovers. He leapt down to the other side of the bed and bent over. Not here either, he acknowledged.

"Bother!" he grumbled, jumping atop the bed and running across it once more.

Landing with a thump on the wooden floor, he began to walk the edge of the room, examining each crowded surface.

"I am sometimes strong and sometimes weak, but I am nobody's fool. For there is no language that I cannot speak, though I never went to school. What am I?" he loudly asked the empty echoing room. "Excellent! Very good," he congratulated the room. "An echo is correct!"

He reached the wooden crooked shelves where he sometimes stacked his shoes. The shelves were now empty, since acting on a whim he had stacked his shoes outside on the grass several weeks earlier. He had imagined they would like to see the out of doors more often, and not just when he chose to wear a pair. He ran his hands over the worn wood, eyeing up the should be empty shelves, which were decidedly not.

Navy blue fabric trimmed in red folded atop white cotton underclothes called to his fingers. They twitched to touch the fabric as they had done when she had slid through his hands, as he had lifted her from the tea table. When one rarely had someone to be proper for, one sometimes forgot elements of propriety, he thought, as his fingers twitched mere inches from the carefully folded fabric. Yet, he knew that he should not have held her so close that day.

He seized the dress first, pulling it from the shelf to hungrily examine the piping, lace, and stitches. Fine work, but not fine enough for Alice, he determined. The red was bright and happy, but it was not bright enough, and the blue was much too somber. It was not Alice Blue. With a start he realized that the little fasteners for the covered buttons were torn. Shoddy work, he frowned. But, no, that was not right. He would have noticed if Alice's dress had been coming apart in the back. Cringing, he realized that she must have had difficulty getting the gown off without someone to assist her. Someone to unbutton this long row of buttons down her neck and back…

He swallowed, overcome with a Sensation he dared not name. Best put this aside, he thought, as he draped the dress over his arm and reached for the white underclothes. His hands trembled. He was a professional, he argued with himself: there was nothing inherently Wrong with his touching women's underclothes. Except these were Alice Underclothes. A giggle escaped from his lips so as to prevent a rush of improper Emotion, as he ran his hands over the first white cotton item. A tournure attached to a petticoat, he realized. Alice had called it a bustle.

He carefully slid the petticoat to the side, uncovering the next item: a corset. Almost immediately he stepped back, letting it slip from his fingers. His brain was foggy with the faint lingering perfume of Alice, but he belatedly became conscious of one thing. It was one thing to hold her dress, but—professional or no—he had no right to touch these things. Especially considering how he felt about her, what he desired. He refolded the dress, replaced it, and patted it reverently. It would be waiting right where she left it if…

He rushed from his bedchamber and approached his work table, pushing aside several bolts of fabric, looking for the blue silk he wanted for the One Particular Hat. The diminutive top hat that he had in mind in that particular shade of blue that reminded him of her. His fingers settled on the fabric. It would look so fetching atop her blond tresses, angled just so. The dress would be waiting for her and he would have a new hat to give her when she came back to him.

Alice had gone home, he thought once more. He did not need a mirror to know his eyes would reflect back the loathsome yellow he despised so much. He grasped a spool of thread and walked his fingers across the table, searching for the shears.

Alice had gone home.

The voices were very loud. He would have to drown them out:

""Where are you going to, my pretty maid?
Where are you going to, my pretty maid?"
"I'm going a-milking, Sir," she said,
"Sir," she said, "Sir," she said,
"I'm going a-milking, Sir," she said.

"Shall I go with you, my pretty maid?"
"Yes, if you please, kind Sir," she said,
"Sir," she said, "Sir," she said,
"Yes, if you please, kind Sir," she said.

"What is your fortune, my pretty maid?"
"My face is my fortune, Sir," she said,
"Sir," she said, "Sir," she said,
"My face is my fortune, Sir," she said."

The Hatter stopped, having sliced through the tip of an un-thimbled finger.

"Drat," he swore. Being a hatter and a digitabulist, he should have been better prepared.[4] It would not do to bleed all over Alice's lovely blue silk. He grabbed a piece of linen and hastily wound it around his throbbing finger. If his madness did not make him so careless, he might not constantly be hacking at his own hands. Or threatening harm to others.

He began again, his voice somewhat strangled in the back of his throat:

""Then I can't marry you, my pretty maid."
"Nobody asked you, Sir," she said,
"Sir," she said, "Sir," she said,
"Nobody asked you, Sir," she said."[5]

Nor would they ever. Alice had gone HOME.

[1] flindrikin — flimsy

[2] uffish – state of mind when the voice is gruffish, the manner roughish, and the temper huffish

[3] Like many poems in Carroll's work, this poem is a parody of what was then a well-known children's poem: Robert Southey's "The Old Man's Comforts and How He Gained Them", originally published in 1799.

[4] digitabulist – a collector of thimbles (Note: How much do I *love* this word!)

[5] "Where Are You Going, My Pretty Maid" is a traditional folk song or nursery rhyme from England. It appeared in A Baby's Opera by Walter Crane in 1877. In certain rural areas of England, to ask a maid if you could go 'milking with her' was akin to a marriage proposal.

I Love My Love

A Alice in Wonderland Story
by justadram

Part 8 of 22

<< Previous     Home     Next >>