The Narrative of the White Knight Concerning his Interactions with one Alice Liddell, Part Three.
“I am in your debt Miss?”
“Alice, my name is Alice.”
“Your servant, Miss Alice.”
I bowed deeply, too deeply. The weight of my breastplate caused me to drop rather ignominiously to my knees. Kindly Alice helped me to once more regain my feet, although standing was never easy in my very pointy toed solaret. I began to bow again but the dear child stopped me with a most concerned glance.
Do act your age. You look at least one hundred now I see you closely.”
“Age, in my experience is immaterial. Far more important is the chance of perhaps being mislaid, or ignored, forgotten on misused. After all a piece such as myself however chivalrously inclined is only of any use in a set or as important as the next move.”
Alice looked at me with a new and perhaps wiser perspective.
“I do not play well, I get confused and try to king the pieces by mistake. My dear Charles gets quite unnaturally excited by my silliness. He says I am a terrible distraction to his godly concentration.”
I judged Alice to be a little conflicted in her answer so decided to indulge my inquisitive nature a little further.
“He is you brother this Charles?”
“But no, no indeed. He is my tutor, a most excellent man of clerical collar and very mathematic nature. His care for me, in addition to his remuneration causes him great satisfaction.”
He does indeed sound a splendid chap. Perhaps you might mention me to him in passing.”
“He would have an excuse to make up a ridiculous story about you if I did.”
“How unnecessarily advantageous and rude.”
Not wishing to pry further I collected my noble charger ‘Blanco Balderdash’ from a small clump of weed where he was munching in a most enthusiastic manner. Indeed, the far off look in his eye suggested that his mind was largely transported from this recently ended battlefield.
“Did you note my steed’s custom designed ankle protectors? I am a sort of inventor you know, renowned in these parts some might say.”
“They have a certain rustic charm. What is their purpose?”
“To fend of shark attack of course!”
“A common problem in these lush forests?”
I seemed to recognize a note of sarcasm in Alice’s voice but being of a noble nature ignored the slight.
“One must be prepared for all eventualities when saving ungrateful persons from kidnap and possibly worse.”
The child looked suitably sorrowful and I felt excruciatingly sorry for my cruel jibe.
“A gift, let me give you a gift.”
I retrieved my own unique carpet bag from its place beneath brave ‘Blanco Balderdash’s’ flanchard. The dear child seemed very pleased but somewhat baffled by the ingenious design.
Why are the handles at the bottom?”
I obviously needed to explain the brilliance of my masterstroke.
“But my dear child the handles are on the top. The opening is at the bottom so the rain can’t get in. It’s a waterproof design!”
My chest admittedly puffed a little as I spoke, this was without question the height of my inventing brilliance. Dear Alice rummaged with the bag for several minutes, undoing and refastening the leather straps, balancing the cane handles upon her forearm as if checking for viability.
“Thank you kindly.”
Her answer was perhaps a little short and understated but I bowed in receipt nevertheless.
“I surrender you my prisoner in accordance with the rules of Wonderland Kolbenturnier.”
Chevalier had been quite forgotten in the excitement of my exhibition of imaginative manufacture.
“Sir Red Knight, you are most noble in admitting defeat but I was also propelled to the ground.”
I felt it only fair and chivalrous to admit my own marshal shortcomings. Chevaliers chivalric demonstration in such profoundly apologetic terms had moved me mightily.
“Yes, yes, this true but was my petulant and unworthy strike that caused your downfall. I acknowledge your victory and withdraw from the field vanquished and dishonored.”
I watched my erstwhile opponent limp most disconsolately to his own steed, the diabolical ‘Sanguine’ and climb with some huff and puff into the saddle. He was a sad sight, the poor Chevalier, trotting, head lowered from the geometrically detailed field of combat to once again rest in the wooden overcoat of ignominy. Turning, with some panache I returned my attention to the child-ling who to my dismay had already started to wander off.
“Allow me at least to accompany thee to the eighth square of sixty-four.”
The girl thing tossed her tussled lock-lets almost in derision, but common sense did fortunately overpower her lack of belief in the advantage of my advice and she nodded her acceptance of my company. The journey to the marquetry edge was short but complicated, involving four moves forward and three back, but sure enough I guided her successfully.
“Goodbye sweet Alice. A turn to the left will take you to the Mock turtle’s cavernous home.”
I waved, she departed.
Death is of course the true equalizer. All flesh, with the possible exception of the beatificated corrupts, mankind was is and will ever be an imperfect vessel awaiting putrefaction. Fable, legends, tall tales are the only avenues to immortality, the solitary means of bypassing finality and instead achieving some degree of permanence.
The eternal are ever more fiction than reality, their exploits necessarily shrouded in the same opaque wrappings as their physical remains. Truth is purely arbitrary, having no more solidity than pliable liquid, molding to any desired shape, filling any available void, seeming to fulfill any hope or desire. Gods are not meant to be tangible, their ways discernable, their expectations logical or attainable.
The very best fiction is tainted with the ridiculous, flawed, semitransparent, having the quality of gossamer, at first seeming solid enough but then proving diaphanous. Idols should ever be imperfect; the ideal is but an Athanasian wench and we the ever-insatiable customer in waiting.