Alice stepped from the geometrically patterned marquetry chess board directly onto a silver sanded path leading between two large rocks. The sound of deep and unmelodious sobs filled the air causing the seagulls circling high above to weep in unison.
“Wheres do you thinks you is going?”
Her correspondent was leaning casually against a pillow shaped boulder in a small depression quite obviously sheltering from the endless caterwauling.
“I am looking for the Mock Turtle.”
The creature she addressed was both fearsome and forlorn, being made up of the lower torso of a lion topped by an eagle’s wings, talons and beak embellished head.
“You’re a Griffon.”
“I is, that’s true and what be YOU?”
My name is Alice and…….”
“Oh Alice is it, We’ve heards all about Alices, they can be means and inconsiderates.”
Alice was surprised and hurt by such a remark. She really had no idea who might have told the Griffin such untruths.
“Who told you such things? Who told you such nonsense?”
Poor Alice was beside herself and it took all her self-control not to roll on the ground screaming.
“Well I suppose you have better meets the Mock Turtle then.”
From all appearances the Griffin had no idea anything he had said might be considered unsavory. He seemed completely oblivious to any common understanding of the rules of etiquette and civilized language and was inclined to blurt out exactly what he thought as he thought it, a very dangerous and unsocial way of being entirely. Alice followed him between the rocks and onto a rather splendid beach that was caressed on a very regular basis by foaming surf. A four-four rhythm Alice surmised from her rudimentary lessons in theoretic musicology.
“Please don’t be inconsiderates to the poor chaps, he is a most inconsolables you knows!”
I most certainly will be both polite and respectful Mister Griffin. It is the height of human decency to be so.”
“The experiences of us fantastical creatures might make such gross assumptions quite illogicals my dears.”
The Mock Turtle was indeed a sad and pitiful site. A weeping, snuffling mess of a poor unfortunate surrounded all around with piles of wet and discarded handkerchiefs, sufficient enough to make a set of sails for a three-mast schooner Alice surmised.
“My dears Mocky Turtle I have bought a guest to cheers you.”
The Mock Turtle seemed to be oblivious to all but his own unending woes.
“Dear chaps, pleases to pulls oneselves togethers.”
Alice had started to notice the strange and seeming irregular form of Griffin’s vocabulary. At first she had with some logic assumed it was the result of his beak. The hissesssssss at the end of the oddest words and combinations had seemed to point to such a conclusion but further evidence proved her assumption wrong. He was simply a bumble-brain lacking the most rudimentary of linguistic skills.
“Oh yes Mister Turtle do please calm yourself and relay what is I am sure a most fascinating origin and life story.”
The Mock Turtle glanced wet eyed in Alices direction and with a great explosion blew his dripping nostrils into a clean cotton hanky that he drew from a pocket under his right armpit.
“I was born…………”
Alice waited upon his continuation avidly, however patience is apparently not a virtue rewarded by Mock Turtles. After ten minutes Alice felt obliged to speak.
“Well thank you sir, that was both erudite and truly worth my calling.”
Griffin tutted at Alices sarcasm loudly and the Mock Turtle startled by the noise from whatever place he was mentally visiting continued his tale.
“I was born, or so I have been told, a natural turtle with all the attributes and qualities of that fair breed. Why I was changed I cannot fathom except perhaps to suit the will of the designer of my malformation, that monster who would have me call him father or creator as if he were a god opposed to just a man. His goal it would appear was to supersede through scientific and anatomical manipulation divine thought and at the same time improve my taste to the general palate.
In some strange irony he left my body still shaped as the vessel of my final disposition, not as might be kindly thought the noble metal casing on the cuirassiers imperious brow, but a soup tureen plain and simple, to de dipped in and stirred for naught beyond another’s mean appetite. My body was created for the perfection of ingredient, a calf’s head with fully formed cartilage infused ears, hooves for extra gelatinous jelly and a wondrously long tail totally unsuited to swimming or turtling of any kind but having excellent muscular flesh. The remains of my carcass, excepting my intimate core is soft and tender to the teeth as finest sixth month old veal.
My eyes are but a constant stream of tears, much due to my constant melancholy but also as a clever measure against the dangers of unwholesome reduction, ensuring a goodly proportioned stock ever remains. My diet he adapted to leak and carrot with perhaps occasional onions and celery, salt and pepper as required.”
Alice pondered this sad and poignant tale in the heavy silence that followed and wondered unsurprisingly if dear Mrs Shelley had ever heard the same. Even taking into account the considerable similarities to that other tale Alice decided it unlikely as a well grown and bustled woman would never manage to pass through the rabbit warren.
“Tell the girl about your education, Prometheus!”
Alice was fascinated by this further strange and inexplicable coincidence.
“Your name is Prometheus?”
“It is. Because I love to walk, to promenade of this isthmus.”
“Not because of the Greek titan?”
“Oh no hedgehog stew is born from clay not Mock Turtle soup.”
Alice recalled that particular usage of hedgehog from a previous encounter in a gypsy encampment involving croquet potatoes, but decided that any discussion was largely pointless in this very topsy-turvy universe. Changing the subject rapidly Alice gave vent to her observational skills.
“The tide seems to be both coming in and going out! That is quite ridiculous.”
“Perhaps you have no understanding of basic oceanography my dear. The tide goes out on one shore as it comes in on another.”
“Well yes, I know that of course, I learned that in class at school.”
“Well, Wonderland has but a single one shore.”