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A Dozen Different Hours

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Alice laughed. "There's no use trying," she said: "one can't believe impossible things."
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen.

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"The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never never forget!'
"You will, though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it."


His name, or one of his names, is Lewis Carroll. We've never met, and yet I know him intimately - everyone does. He's thirty-two, or he was thirty-two, or something rather like that. And he's greying now (though he isn't greying now), and of course I don't mean his hair. Don't judge him too harshly for this; you would be greying, too, if you'd gone through what he's about to.

He has a peculiar habit of sitting motionless at his writing desk, gazing into the backwards depths of the mirror on the wall. He's at it now, in fact. His pale hands with their bitten-down nails are folded meticulously on the scarred surface before him, his shabby gown ill-fitting enough not to cover his bony wrists with its threadbare sleeves. Outside, it's winter - inside, too, but the cheerless hearth is dark and provides no warmth. He's probably been sitting there a while; his green eyes barely blink, and then only slowly, as though under the influence of a drug or a dream.

He doesn’t react to their arrival when the officers burst through the door, crowding in with unnecessary violence. Maybe he predicted it, or maybe he just doesn't care. They salivate for him, though, and bark their useless words like over-excited dogs. There are only two syllables in the whole cacophony that mean anything, and at last they seem to ferret them out; they hold on to the word like a bone, trumpeting it, over and over - "Alice! Alice!" It's certainly the only word he hears.

He told me after (or was it before?) that the cold metal bracelets felt like judgment against his wrists; and he goes without protest when they pull him away, even though they've caught him for the wrong crime.

'Where's Alice?' he wonders as they hustle him down the stairs.

"Where's Alice?" they howl at him furiously as they shove him into the waiting Maria. Tomorrow the newspapers will demand it in their bold black headlines, and all of London will query each other about it while they sip their afternoon tea.

Where's Alice? Where's Alice?

Well. Wouldn't you like to know?