When Alice and Fle (pulling his little cart and its precious cargo behind him) arrived at the aspidistra-bordered path, they wasted no time in feeding the hungry plants, spreading generous amounts of fertilizer around the base of each and every one.
“Heavens above,” said the mother aspidistra, when Alice and Fle began watering it in, “I feel better already.”
“So do I,” said the baby plant, enjoying its first taste of the precious stuff.
“My,” said Alice standing back in astonishment, watching the baby plant’s sudden spurt of new growth, “I can see you growing before my very eyes!”
“They all are,” said Fle, as he finished watering in the last granules of fertilizer. And he was right; every last plant was putting on so much new growth, their strappy green leaves had soon covered the path entirely from view.
“Oh dear,” said Alice, in fright, “now how shall I ever be able to find my way along it?” The plant nearest to Alice (the father plant) began swaying, and very soon all the plants had joined in with his lurching motion, making her feel terribly dizzy. “Oh please do stop it,” she implored, trying to steady herself against Fle’s little cart.
“We can’t stop,” said the father plant.
“But why?” Alice asked, in puzzlement. “Haven’t I fertilised every one of you?”
“You have,” the plant gratefully acknowledged.
“Then what is the problem?” she asked with a flourish of her upturned hands, to emphasise her growing concern.
“We are unhappy, again,” the plant explained. “We are upset that we have overgrown the path, and ruined your chances of ever finding the White Rabbit.” The plants began swaying all the more.
Tugging at the huge leaves, hoping to see a way through, Alice saw nothing but greenery, greenery and yet more greenery. “I see what you mean,” she said. Then turning to Fle, she asked, “Fle, have you any idea how I can find the White Rabbit, if there is no path for me to follow?”
“Ah, the White Rabbit,” Fle replied with a grin. “Why did yous naat say that before?”
Alice thought she had told Fle all about her adventure, including the Rabbit, but being in such a strange place, she knew that anything was possible, including her mind playing tricks on her, so she said, “Do you know where he might possibly be found, Fle? He said we must return to the very top of the world, and I’m terribly afraid I might never find my way up there.”
“That I moight,” Fle replied, taking a notebook from out of his trouser pocket and flicking through its dog-eared pages. “Let me sees,” he said, “would that be under R for Rabbit or W for White?”
“I should think it’s under W,” said Alice, without any hesitation at all.
“Hmm, W, you ses…” Fle worked his way through the notebook, to the section marked W. “Nope,” he said, “nuthing under W.”
“Then is must surely be under R,” Alice insisted. She watched the elf’s little fingers troll their way through the raggedy pages, until he had found the R section.
“Nope, it’s not there, either,” he said, scratching his head, trying to work out where he had actually recorded the Rabbit’s personal details.
As she waited, Alice wondered how Fle managed to find anything, considering his difficulty with something so basic as recording a name and address into a notebook. Then she had an idea, and squealing with delight, she said, “That’s it! Fle, look under B, for Bunny!”
“Hmm, B, yous ses?” The elf began working his way through the pages, again. After a few seconds he stopped, and smiling a mischievous little smile, he said, “Moi God, yous’re right, I haave found it.”
“How do I find him, Fle? Please tell me!” Alice implored.
“Ah,” said Fle, going over the details, to be sure he had them perfectly right.
“Well, Fle?” Alice asked, stamping her foot on the ground, hoping to hurry along the old elf.
“It is never wurth hurryn too much,” he replied, “cos I figure the more yous rush the slower yous will be goin…”
“Oh please, Mr Fle (Alice decided to address him by Mr, thinking it might spur him on, a bit), please tell me where I can find the White Rabbit?”
“Oh, that’s easy,” said Fle, surprised that she did not already know how, “the Rabbit lives in his house…”
“In his house?” Alice replied, aghast by his logic, “What sort of an address is that?”
“It’s his address,” Fle explained, at a loss as to why she would ask so foolish a thing. “Look, it says so here!” he said, showing her the page. Then he added, “All that yous have to do is follow yours nose, and before long yous will see his neat little house – I hear it’s the very same one as the one he has in Wonderland – with a shiny, brass plate on the front door, spelling his name W. Rabbit. Sees, I told yous it wus easy!”
“Thank you so much,” said Alice as she stepped off the path, again following her nose. Then waving to the aspidistras, she said, “Goodbye plants.” And with that she disappeared from sight behind a fat Castor Oil Plant.
No sooner had Alice rounded the fat plant, a whole new landscape appeared before her. And as landscapes go, this one, although a bit peculiar, was certainly nice. “How strange a place,” she thought as she gazed out across it, in wonder. And it was a strange place, with waterfalls absolutely everywhere, not large ones, though, just nice, small ones, with little pools beneath them, the right size for refreshing one’s tired feet.
“What a great idea,” said Alice, “I shall take off my shoes and socks and bathe my tired feet.” With that she sat on the soft, grassy bank close to a particularly beautiful waterfall, took off her shoes and socks and plunged her aching feet into the refreshing waters of the pool.
It was relaxing, dangling her feet in the cool waters, so relaxing that before long Alice felt herself getting sleepy. “No, I mustn’t fall asleep,” she said, struggling to keep her eyelids open. “No, I mustn’t….” she said as she leant back onto the lush grass and fell fast asleep.
“Excuse me! I said, excuse me!” a voice barked out. Alice, however, heard nothing for she was fast asleep. “Little girl, can you hear me?” it said, barking again.
“Pardon?” Alice muttered, struggling to open her sleepy eyes.
“If you had been paying attention, as you should have been,” the voice scolded, “you might have heard me, when I said excuse me!”
Sitting up, rubbing her eyes, Alice tried to focus on the person addressing her. And when she saw who it was, she was absolutely and utterly flabbergasted, for standing in front of her, on four sturdy flippers, was a majestic white coloured
sea lion, with a red, spinning ball balanced precariously on the end of its shiny black nose.
“Mind you don’t drop that onto me,” Alice warned, shuffling away.
“You do me an injustice, to even suggest that I am capable of such a thing,” the sea lion replied, unsmilingly.
Feeling that she might have been a wee bit abrupt, Alice apologised, saying, “I am sorry if I offended you, but I am not in the habit of seeing balls spinning so close to my face, especially so when I have just awoken.”
Happy to have received an apology, the sea lion said, “Oh, it’s all right, really, everyone says that to me…”
“Yes,” he coyly admitted. “Ball-spinning comes as second nature to me, and half the time I don’t remember that I am actually doing it.”
“Now that we have settled that,” said Alice, “please allow me to introduce myself.”
“You didn’t,” the sea lion blankly replied.
“I didn’t what?”
Confused by his words, Alice apologised again, saying, “I am getting so frightfully forgetful, since my arrival, to wherever I am. I might wonder if I had remembered to bring my own head, if it were not still attached to my body.”
Seeing that she had once again forgotten to introduce herself, the sea lion took the initiative, saying, “I am King Tut, king of the white sea lions.”
Alice struggled to contain a laugh, for the only person she had ever heard of with so strange name was one of the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt (though she wasn’t too sure how to spell that, thinking it might possibly be ‘Faerows’), and they had lived an awfully long time ago. She also wondered how many white sea lions there
were in existence, to be king over, but thinking the number to be low, Alice decided to keep that observation to herself.
“I am happy to meet you, King Tut,” Alice replied with a curtsy (to make up for her rude little laugh). Then remembering her own name, she said, “And I am Alice, if it pleases your royal highness.”
It obviously did please, because the King stopped spinning his ball, and with a quick flick of his nose he tossed it to Alice who, despite catching it, struggled to hold on to the slippery object.
“That is for you,” said the King, his shiny black nose reminding Alice of a dog she had once owned.
“Thank you, your royal highness,” Alice replied, almost dropping the ball as she spoke.
“It’s Tut,” said the King, “I have never been one for formalities, just call me Tut.”
“Thank you – Tut,” said Alice, dropping the ball as she curtsied again.
Laughing at Alice’s dilemma, trying to keep hold of so slippery an object, the King offered to mind it for her. Returning the ball, Alice threw it in the direction of the King’s nose. He caught all too easily, and began spinning the ball again. This was a far better arrangement for Alice, and she smiled a thanks. Somehow, she thought, Tut’s nose looked so much better with a ball balanced upon it…
Remembering the White Rabbit, and her quest to find him, Alice began following her nose. Seeing this, the King asked, “May I be so bold as to ask where you are going?”
“I am off to find the White Rabbit,” she explained, turning awkwardly this way and then that. “But I am having some difficulty…” she admitted with a sigh.
“And what might that be?” asked the King, the ball spinning feverishly as he spoke.
“The directions that I was given,” she explained, “were to follow my nose – but I am getting so confused…”
“Pray, why?” Tut asked.
“I am wondering,” she said, “if it is the left or the right-hand side of my nose that I should be following? Oh, Tut, can you see what a peculiar quandary I am in?”
The King laughed at poor Alice, in fact he laughed so much she became embarrassed, and stamping her foot (as was her habit when annoyed) Alice demanded it cease.
“I am sorry,” the King chuckled, wiping a tear from his eye with a flipper. “But don’t you know that left is right and right is left, when you are in this part of the world?”
“Left is right and right is left – how can that be?” she asked, touching her nose, to see if the sides had somehow swapped with each other.
“Everything’s different at the top of the world,” Tut chuckled. “Look at my compass (Alice had no idea where he had procured it from), see how the needle spins – didn’t the White Rabbit tell you anything?”
“I see what you mean,” she said, watching the needle spinning erratically. Trying her best to work it out, Alice stared down her nose, deciding that the way forward must surely be up. “I have it,” she cried out, “I must go up – but to where?” she sighed, getting confused all over again.
“Remember what I have told you, Alice,” said Tut, feeling quite sorry for her torment.
“Oh, you are such a dear,” she exclaimed when she heard these last words and finally understood how to proceed. “Looking down my nose means I must travel upwards,” she said, “and if this is indeed right, the direction I must go is surely over to the left.” Shrieking with joy at having finally worked it all out, Alice clapped her hands with excitement.
Clapping his flippers, showing his approval of Alice’s hypothesis, Tut span his ball faster and faster until it was a red blur at the tip of his nose.
“But how shall I travel up and over to the left?” Alice wondered gloomily, looking across the waterfall-strewn countryside stretching far into the distance.
After tossing the spinning ball onto a nearby rock, where it continued to spin all by itself, King Tut dived into the pool and disappeared under the water. Seeing this, Alice feared that she had seen the last of him, but when he reappeared, holding a kipper in his mouth, she was, to say the least, a bit surprised, and she said, “A kipper? You can’t possibly have caught a kipper in there! Don’t you know that kippers are made in smoky old sheds?”
Grinning, Tut asked, “So how did I get it?”
“You wished it, didn’t you?” Alice cried out, in her growing excitement. “That’s what I must do – isn’t it? I must wish for help – to get me up and over to the left!”
Grinning like a Cheshire Cat, the king promptly swallowed his kipper and let out a loud burp, then flicking the ball up and onto his nose with one of his flippers, he swam away from Alice without saying another word.
Watching the king disappear into the distance, Alice said, “It took me a while to work it out, all of those confusing directions. But I got there in the end… Now, how shall I begin? I know, I will close my eyes and make a wish. Yes, that’s
a good place to start. But what shall I wish for? Let’s see…” Alice thought and thought and then thought some more, and when she had finished thinking, she decided that the White Rabbit’s house must surely be above and over to the left. “But how can I get all the way up there?” she asked, her eyes gazing skyward. Then shrieking again, she said, “I have it! I wish, I wish – I wish for an escalator, an escalator to take me all the way up to the top of the world.”
Alice had no sooner finished speaking, when a tall, shiny escalator appeared directly in front of her. She looked up, trying to see how high it went, but it was just so high, twisting left and right and then left again it disappeared into the clouds.
“This must surely lead to the top of the world,” she said. “I shall step onto it at once, perhaps then I shall catch up with the White Rabbit at his neat little house…”