6th April 2020

The mill was quite as picturesque close up as it was far away. The only thing that might have improved its chocolate box lid appearance was the actual existence of tasty treats scattered about the dark green grass that surrounded the mill pond. The great mill wheel was driven by a rather fierce stream that descended from atop the very hill Humpty Dumpty was inclined perpendicularly to oversee.

“Nelly? Nelly, is that you?”

Alice looked around, near and far, even standing on tippy toe and then crouching very close to the ground, but not one soul came into view whom might match the questioning voice. Alice decided to be the facilitator and begin a conversation just like a real grown up person might do.

“Hello, my name is Alice.”

“Not Nelly then?”

Alice glanced at her reflection in the millpond mirror like surface. Sure enough apart from a few ripples she looked very much the same as yesterday.

“No, I am definitely Alice, I just checked.”

The voice began to sing in a most melodious tone but nearing the chorus the amplification was enough to make a parakeet respond from a nearby coolabah tree.

There's an old mill by the stream, Nellie Dean
Where we used to sit and dream, Nellie Dean
 And the waters as they flow,
 Seem to murmur sweet and low
You are my heart's desire; I love you, Nellie Dean.

By the time the waters had begun to murmur Alice had traced the singer quite easily but out of politeness she waited for the last note to end before addressing the lad.

“I am sorry you have lost your sweetheart.”

“No matter, I am sure she didn’t drown or anything.”

“That would be most unfortunate.”

“I agree, I agree. But I have heard said such things are inclined to happen when there is an R in the month.”

“But it is May!”

Alice interposed quite cantankerously. If there was one thing that aggravated her more than any other it was bad month keeping.

At the old mill stream I'm dreaming, Nellie Dean
Dreaming of your bright eyes gleaming, Nellie Dean
As they used to fondly glow
When we sat there long ago
Listening to the waters flow, Nellie Dean.

“I don’t think I have ever heard that verse before.”

“There are several more, you know. Nelly was verses many a thing, but four a lot as well.”

Stamping her feet with ire Alice glared at the boy with all her might.

“That remark makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.”

“But there are definitely five verses in all, so the one you knew and four more.”

Alice swallowed hard. One must always be so careful questioning the obvious in Wonderland, far more often than not the correct answer is nonsensical.

“Have you seen Boy Blue?”

Putting her hands upon her hips Alice spun to face the new interrogator preparing a suitably cutting reply. Naturally, her words rather stuck in the throat when she realized her addressee was none other than the White King.

“Your Majesty.”

Alices curtsey was most definitely improving, this time even including a little apron grasp with each hand. The King looked quite embarrassed at such a fuss.

“Yes, Yes, very kind my dear, but Boy Blue?”

Alice leaped aside with a suitable dramatic flourish exposing the lad still reclined in the shade of the Buddleja where she had first discovered him.

“Well young fellow my lad, whatever is your excuse this time?”

Boy Blue got to his feet sheepishly, brushing the grass and foliage from his jerkin and knee breeches.

“Sorry papa, I was walking with Nelly and just had to have a lay down for a few moments.”

“Where is Nelly?”

Shutting her eyes tightly Alice tried to control her tongue. This whole episode was going around and around like the perpetual goldfish in a glass bowl.

At the old mill stream I'm dreaming, Nellie Dean
Dreaming of your bright eyes gleaming, Nellie Dean
As they used to fondly glow
When we sat there long ago
Listening to the waters flow, Nellie Dean.

The Kings baritone gravitas suited the counterpoint quite perfectly.

“Well?”

“I am trying to recall, father mine.”

I recall the day we parted Nellie Dean
How you trembled broken hearted, Nellie Dean
And you pinned a rose of red
On my coat of blue and said
That's a soldier boy you'd wed, Nellie Dean. 

Even Alice, much to her irritation, was inexplicably drawn to join in the last ‘Nelly Dean’.

“What are you three doing moping around here?”

Boy Blue sprang forward attempting to put his arms around Miss Deans waist. Nelly was far too nimble for such a clumsy move; Alice was most impressed.

“I must remember how to do that; deacon Dodgson is inclined to be overly affectionate on occasion.”

Alice suddenly realized she had been speaking out loud and blushed profusely. Nelly did her best to ignore Alices faux pas and continued her thought.

“Anyways… There are sheep in the meadow, and cows in the corn, you really do need to blow your horn, Blue boy!”

The King, Boy Blue and Nelly strode off in the direction of the meadow, humming as they walked.

All the world seems sad and lonely, Nellie Dean
For I love you and you only, Nellie Dean
And I wonder if on high
You still love me, if you sigh
For the happy days gone by, Nellie Dean.

For the first time that day Alice suddenly felt very much alone.

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