Monday, June 16, 2008


"Mama thinks we should always take some air after eating," Constance said with an air of uncertainty, for she half-feared, half-hoped that Alice would renew the rebellious proclamations she had made prior to their very fine luncheon of braised scallops and yummy red peppers. Constance was still in a dither of excitement about red peppers, if that was any indication of her state of mind. Heretofore having only seen green peppers, she was already in raptures about the wonders of the French experience. Her mother, naturally enough, considered this a bad sign of a potentially libertine nature and decided that henceforth luncheons would need to prove more instructively bland.

None of this had registered with Alice, however, for her thoughts throughout the luncheon had been a slightly petulant study of the same great lady's profile. Who is Mrs. Forward, Alice mused with a resentment tinged slightly by the red peppers' sweetness, to command me? I have sailed the seven seas with pirates, Alice told herself with a shake, who am I to fear this woman? Faithful readers, of course, will recognize that here Alice is fibbing slightly, or at the very least exaggerating, as she had sailed but one sea and that not for long. Perhaps Alice imagined the seas to be rather smaller than they are, believing that she had traveled more than her share. However, it would be difficult -- even for a rather poor student of geography, which certainly Alice was -- to imagine there were very many seas between England and France. One can only assume that truth had fallen by the wayside for this headstrong young woman, along with gratitude, geography and propriety.

I do not need to do as I am told, Alice continued, her words sounding a little prickly even in her own head, as if in response to some perceived criticism, although all was silent as far as she could tell. By silent one must understand that there was a constant chatter on the behalf of the young Miss Forward throughout the meal, punctuated by the occasional reproving murmur from her mother. It was a noisy sort of silence, but one for which no audience was required nor attention from the participants.

I shall do as I please. She is not my mother, Alice said with decision. Not aloud of course, but she felt all the better for voicing the thought firmly in her head. It was as good as saying it out loud with out the inconvenience of having to answer for one's words. When Mrs. Forward announced the required after-luncheon airing, Alice knew she must seize upon the opportunity. Her smile would have seemed crafty and mysterious to a careful reader of a thrilling novel, Alice was certain, then drew her mouth down suddenly in fear of discovery. Must not give away the plan.

Although there was not yet a plan to give away, Alice felt a decided thrill of excitement that she might be hatching a scheme. Now that they were out of sight of the inn, Alice ventured a glance at her companion, whose open face registered only the simple pleasure of walking with her new companion in the cheery seaside sunshine.

"Constance," Alice said with sudden decision, "Would you like to have an adventure?"

Constance beamed. "Yes, please!"

"Then we shall," Alice said with all the confidence of a well-traveled young explorer.

"Where shall we go?" Constance asked, clapping her hands in delight.

"Er," Alice said somewhat deflating her own burgeoning self-importance, "I -- I don't know."

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