Sunday, March 15, 2009


Eagerly Alice approached the bookshelf to take a thick volume in her hands. The well-worn cover was impossible to decipher in the poorly lit gloom of the room, so she flipped the cover open to the title page. Disappointingly, everything seemed to be in some nearly indecipherable script with far too many flourishes and, Alice was almost certain, in German.

It was bad enough to have her hopes dashed, but to have them dashed so in such a decisively Teutonic manner was unforgivable. It was probably something dreadful and educational. Whoever this Goethe chap was, Alice was certain he could not possibly be any fun as the letters of the book looked entirely too fussy and particular.

Sighing, she returned the volume to its place and sought another. Imagine her horror up recognizing the dread name of Fielding and knowing that she held yet another copy of the interminably instructive book by that good woman, The Governess.

If I wanted to be educated, Alice thought perhaps a bit unfairly, I shouldn't have bothered to be kidnapped. However, uncertain what else might lurk among the materials, she held the book in reserve. After all, Miss Fielding was better than nothing at all. She would not have credited it while engaged in her seemingly endless lessons with Miss Travers, but Alice actually missed reading and being quizzed about the contents of a story (though not enough to long for writing essays, it must be admitted).

Or Lizzie's interminable questions: with a sigh, Alice wondered yet again what might have become of her fair cousin, who was far more practical and resourceful and could be home already at that very moment. She was probably chatting comfortably with Alice's mother at that very moment, enjoying the scent of some fine orchids from Mr. Radley's greenhouse.

It should be remarked that Alice let a single tear fall thinking longingly of such a comfortable scene, but one should probably note that this was a rather restrained reaction for the young woman who once burst into tears because she could not have orange marmalade on her toast at tea on a particular April day.

With no one to comfort her, Alice turned again to the shelf in hopes of locating a tale of sufficient entertainment value to divert her thoughts from the terrible tediousness of being kidnapped in a strange villa by an unknown assailant.

Once, Alice thought, I would have thought that a very romantic and diverting scenario. The truth was that it had become more than a little tiresome. There were moments of kidnapping that were quite exciting, but there were an awful lot of aspects of the project where time lagged considerably.

The next volume, although slim, looked far more weighted with potential. There was no author listed (always a good sign, as it suggested contents too scandalous to be acknowledged) and the title, while foreign, seemed to be steeped with mystery. And mentioning a Greek god in the subtitle could only be a good thing.

The Greeks, while famous philosophers, had lodged in Alice's mind as a plethora of scandalous figures. Taking the book and the light to her bedside, she felt the choice made had been a good one as the preface spoke of an "impossible occurrence" and a "work of fancy" and "weaving a series of supernatural terrors."

Here is something without any educational value at all, Alice told herself with great satisfaction.

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