Alice shook herself awake in the pallid dawn light. For a moment she still found her thoughts with Victor and his sad story. She had cried when his mother died and bristled with anger at his father's dismissive attitude. It seemed impossible that he should part from his beloved Elizabeth to travel to Ingolstadt, but Alice understood all too well that such partings might well happen despite one's best intentions.
Perhaps he will find much to sustain him in his studies, Alice reflected. Victor is bound to discover some exciting new worlds in his university. It very nearly made her consider the idea of education as something quite romantic.
I could study something, Alice thought, looking out onto the cold dawn light which it lit the wild shrubberies along the crumbling wall. It would be quite charming to know a lot about something useful, she mused. What a refreshing change it would be, when someone asked a question about something terribly complicated for me to be able to say, "I know the answer to that."
Alice pictured herself doing just such a thing, coolly nodding with sage authority as she found the needed answer upon her lips. Of course she had no idea what sort of subject she might be inclined toward, but Alice was suddenly certain that a sense of authority arising from knowledge would be quite pleasing.
But such thoughts were as fruitless today as thoughts of sandy beaches in the West Indies. Neither were within her reach. Alice pressed her nose closer to the cold panes of the window and dully observed the tangled garden below.
How Mr. Radley would despair, she thought. Underneath the chaos one could glimpse the garden that had once been there: statues draped in careless vines, benches now crowded out by overgrown bushes that would allow no one to sit upon them had they been level even for the purpose.
Such a waste, Alice sighed.
Just then she was startled to see a dark shape move furtively through the overgrowth. She drew in a sharp breath, wondering if this were some new danger -- and then just as suddenly felt her spirits rise with hope Perhaps rescue! But the shape disappeared, if it had been there in the first place. Alice could not help wondering if she had only dreamed it.
But the thought evaporated when Alice heard a loud step in the hallway. Someone was coming!
Unconsciously Alice pulled up the covers a little higher and listened to the steps get closer. Would it be her masked kidnapper? Or was there some further disturbing character come to claim her? Suddenly Alice thought about how much worse things might be.
I haven't even had a chance to get used to this place, she thought with a wistful twinge. Yet somehow I feel I shall miss it.
The steps halted outside the door. Alice held her breath. Slowly the door opened and a figure stepped inside.