Alice was stirred awake by the arrival of a flock of penguins, some of whom seemed to be in nigh on tropical colors. "How very curious," Alice muttered to her self as their nimble hands lifted her from the waves and into the blinding sun. I shall sleep extra late, Alice thought with a firm resolution, and no one shall make me stir until tea time. I simply won't move.
"Bring her into the shade," the chief penguin ordered with admirable sternness. Alice could tell that this was not a bird with whom one would trifle. The thought was a comforting one and she had vague thoughts of Mrs. Perkins' tough but soothing ways, and her extraordinary blueberry scones.
It seemed odd that Lizzie was not here to remark upon something so odd as penguins. There was a reason she was absent Alice thought as gentle hands carried her drenched form to the welcoming shade of a gazebo. Why, Alice realized suddenly, there was that man. The man who wrote letters to her. Who was he? There had been something nearly revealed… but it was so tiring to think. "Thank you," she murmured to the stork at her left who leaned toward her with a tall beaker of water.
A small voice in her head said no, the water should not be drunk, though her lips and tongue cried out with fervor for a taste of the forbidden nectar. "Is it safe?" Alice inquired of the stork who nodded and urged the glass upon her. Alice hesitated a moment longer, but why should the semi-aquatic bird lie to her? Gratefully she drank the tepid water with relish, tipping the glass upward to drain every drop.
Holding the beaker away from her, Alice was startled to find that there was no stork before her but a very pleasant looking young gentleman smiling at her. Behind him peeped a handful of others including the matronly woman whom she had mistaken for a penguin. Alice could see the woman did not much resemble the avian species (indeed she was much larger) but was indeed looking with interest -- the edges of which had been politely concealed -- at Alice where she lay. She looked wonderingly about to find herself in a beach gazebo surrounded by what could only be English tourists on holiday.
"How very odd," Alice said, then recalling her duties as guest, continued, "Thank you so much for rescuing me."
"Our pleasure!" called one young man, who was immediately suppressed by a second, who undoubtedly thought him a bit too keen. Alice smiled to herself. Surely she was looking anything but her best, yet it was quite agreeable to make young gentlemen forget their manners.
"Please, where are we?" Alice asked, determined to find a polite topic with which to begin acquaintance.
"You are not far from La Teste-du-Buch," the penguin-lady explained, then added with what Alice felt sure was unnecessary severity, "Where is your governess?"