Sunday, May 27, 2007


Lizzie was relieved to close the shutter on their window (although she had a brief wonder about whether it was still called a shutter on board the ship -- everything else had a different name) and no longer see the rictus grin of the top-hatted bosun who reminded her more and more of some evil portent despite his smile (or perhaps because of it). Alice had lain down in her bunk and was whimpering softly in her sleep. At least she was not vomiting at the moment.

It was a strange thing to be at sea -- literally in this case, although Lizzie could not help remembering that they were very much at sea metaphorically too. It was with this sense of melancholy that she slipped unobtrusively into the world of dreams without even sensing the change of location.

She may have been tipped off by the strange aroma of roses but it did not seem odd to her just then, nor was it at all unexpected to find herself in the Regent's Park (why only two days a week, Lizzie groused to herself, it should be open to the public at all times and filled with roses all the year). Indeed at that moment, it was and she wandered her way among them, smelling the intoxicating blooms and letting her fingers trail over their velvet blossoms.

All at once she heard a voice; his soft accents betrayed an Italian influence and Lizzie knew it was the King of Naples. She turned swiftly but could not see him, so she began to run. As she did, the rosebushes -- which had seemed so lovely and soft moments before began to grow large thorns and pluck at her dress as she sought to follow the dulcet tones ahead of her. This is ridiculous, Lizzie thought, redoubling her determination but the roses began to climb and the thickets impeded her way. Before she knew it, she was trapped and the sweet smell of the roses had turned to a fetid swampy air. Lizzie gasped for breath and began to feel a sense of being trapped. How woudl she get out? Panic rose in her breast and she cried out.

"Oh dear," Alice said suddenly. "I do beg your pardon, but I believe I have purged myself again."

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