Sunday, May 11, 2008


Alice quailed before the sudden interrogation and felt a whimper coming on. Yet under the clearly admiring gazes of the young gentlemen, she felt a tad bit more courageous and -- holding the fine example of the pirate queen before her -- Alice worked up the courage to declare, "I have no governess! I have been kidnapped!"

There was a pleasing gasp from all in attendance and Alice could sense a crowd growing about the small gazebo. Why did we not pack any hairbrushes in our little satchels, Alice thought wistfully. Practical Lizzie would never have made it a priority, but she should had thought about it herself. With all the eager eyes upon her, Alice considered how she might make herself somewhat more presentable in her wet clothes, which suddenly struck her as shockingly indecent.

The penguin lady seemed to be coming to the same conclusion, perhaps helped along by this sudden declaration which appeared to suggest her to be a rather more salacious young woman than her genteel demeanour might imply. Alice was quite cheered by the thought.

"Kidnapped?! How very odd," the penguin woman said with some apparent distaste. "Constance, do move away from this alarming child." She took out a very ornate lorngette and peered at Alice through its focusing lens. "Kidnapped, child? By whom? One cannot afford to be purloined by any common folk!"

Alice drew herself up fully as one helpful young gentleman set a mantle about her shoulders, which was extremely kind if a bit stifling. "I was aboard the Bonny Read with the dread pirate Black Ethel."

More gasps met that statement and Alice could feel herself expand with a great deal of satisfaction. The mantle, while well-intentioned made her rather warm with the damp heat of the strand.

"May I have a fan with which to cool myself," Alice asked with admirable meekness, or so it seemed to her. The penguin woman, however, seemed as hard to please as Lizzie with her hard-headed practicality.

"Child, what is your name?"

Alice drew herself up to her full height -- well, full as she could manage in the lounging chair in which she sat. "I am Caroline Alice Mangrove, daughter of Lady Millicent and Lord Grenville Mangrove -- the late Lord Grenville," Alice added with a somber note of remembrance. "My friends call me Alice."

The young gentlemen surrounding her added their immediate hope that they might call her Alice without any unwarranted sense of familiarity. The young woman in question was beginning to feel quite comfortable despite the unaccustomed heat, although a thought was beginning to nag at the back of her mind.

"That sounds reasonably sufficient," the penguin woman admitted, "However, it does not reconcile your singular state upon this deserted strand." She looked rather disapprovingly through the lorngette and Alice contemplated the fact that it was only possible to look quite that disapproving by means of a lorngette.

"My dear cousin," Alice recalled at last, "she too is missing from the storm that threw us from the pirate's ship. Oh, my Lizzie! I am quite lost without her." Alice got herself quite suddenly into a swoon and fainted dead away without another thought. It was a wise move.

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