Alice had found herself shivering as she read of Mr. Walton's journey north. The frozen climate was too horrible to consider as the night grew colder and colder. She looked up from the candle-lit pages. Was no one coming to make her fire?
She pulled the duvet up close around her. It seemed odd to be reading in bed like this with the covers pulled up tight, but Alice had thought she might simply read a few pages and then feel sleepy. However, Mr. Walton's careful descriptions of the frozen north chilled her exceedingly and his longing for a bosom companion awakened a similar hunger in her.
Poor Constance! Alice wondered what she might be doing without her careful guidance. They had parted at a most inopportune moment, when Constance might well have needed her assistance in negotiating the rough waters of propriety with some natural flair. Doubtless Mrs. Forward would see to it that Constance had no further adventures in that foreign land with such dubious possibilities.
Well, it did nearly come to disaster, Alice remembered, somewhat abashed. The unpleasantness with the Count and Tricheor had almost come to something quite awkward. She shivered with an even more profound cold at the memory of that situation. On top of the artic descriptions from her book, it was enough to make tears well in her eyes.
Where is my companion? Alice thought, turning back a few pages to find those words that had so moved her. Ah, there: "I have no one near me, gentle yet courageous, possessed of a cultivated as well as of a capacious mind, whose tastes are like my own, to approve or amend my plans."
It would not be so bad to be thus misused, kidnapped, taken from family and friends, Alice assured herself, if I had such a friend. I did have once, she thought, and I used her ill. How I would hang about poor Lizzie, complaining and wailing! What a poor companion I must have been for her. Alice looked out into the moonlit night. Where was Lizzie now? Did she know how sorry Alice was? Perhaps she is glad I am not with her, Alice told herself, feeling more wretched by the moment. If she is home already, she may well be enjoying the quiet and the peace.
With that thought, little Alice burst into real tears, her sobs echoing in the big room. No one heard her cries, or if they did, nothing came of them, for she was not disturbed by any sound or movement outside the room.
If you keep crying like this, Alice finally convinced herself, you will fill the room with tears and simply float away. That will not do. Stop crying at once, she said trying to be severe with herself. You don't want to find yourself swimming in a pool of tears.
Besides, she said with a little shake, won't it be interesting to find out who this curious man is who's just come up to Walton's ship in the middle of the frozen ice. Who could be lurking in such a place? Would Walton and his men perish where they were, rooted to the spot by the treacherous ice surrounding them?
I must find out, Alice decided and turned back to her novel as the night grew darker.