A smile can be a wonderful thing, full of joy and good humor. Imagine then how really terribly disconcerting it might be to come across a smile that has no expression at all. In fact, it had no face.
Alices previous experiences with smiles had been exactly as one might expect in a fairly well educated middle class girl. They had been adequate in number and mystifying by generality. Certainly she had fathomed the shallowness of the snarky smile, suggesting one thing and meaning something completely different and of course the innocent smile that indicated in all probability that the head so decorated was really very hollow indeed. Sin, she had been instructed was the thing that painted the human soul, a sad and yet profound observation by her beloved and strangely awkward tutor.
Alice had been trying desperately to get some measure of the rules that allowed Wonderland to function but as with all asylums run by the occupants the rhymes had very little reason at all. The smile was perhaps the most illuminating of all lessons to date, proving the proposition that an expression had very little bearing apart from its purely obvious characteristic.
“Well do say something if you insist on opening your mouth so wide.”
The smile would always indicate an eagerness for Alices words, which was a truly stupendous change in this usually very deaf land. Sometimes the smile would grow, magically enlarging to a fur covered face with darting quizzical green eyes, black capped glistening nose and reddish gingery hair from pointy chin too ever eager ears. Rarely would the head become anything more, the Cheshire seemed to find semi appearance far to pleasurable and anyway it saved the necessity to sit upon any particular thing at all.
A Cheshire cat the creature was for sure, recognizable by both for its very rotund proportions and enigmatic grin, properties Alices eyes had previously witnessed on her family’s summer travels between Oxford and the Lake District. Alice had purchased several cheeses formed in the shape of moggies whilst passing through Runcorn at that well known cheesery ‘Le Fromage de le Chat’. The fact that Alices family crest had three such grinning creatures had absolutely no connection to the matter whatsoever.
“Could you kindly advise me the best path to take kind sir?”
Alice guessed the Cheshire was a Tom and by some good fortune was correct.
“Where do you wish to go?”
Now this seemed to Alice a very sensible answer and she sighed a great sigh.
“Are you used to less sensibility in your conversations? I can be intellectually obtuse if you prefer. Something in your voice suggests a varsity town so highfalutin pointless vagary and twaddle would decidedly be your staple fodder.”
“I very much appreciate your straightforward and informative speech sir. I am in your debt.”
The Cheshire’s grin broadened to such a degree Alice was concerned his teeth might totally pop right out if false dentures. Gladly they proved to be quite real and remained suitable affixed.
“There are any number of paths that lead from here to there, depending on which there you wish to eventually be.”
Such wonderfully clear and concise reasoning obliged Alice to sit down in amazement an adjacent rock. The rock unfortunately proved to be a rather disgruntled tortoise that tutted at her unmercifully.
“Pay no attention to him dear child, he is just refusing to come out of his shell today.”
Alice was undecided if the Cheshire was being witty or factual so simply moved to another rock having first checked it was indeed fused to the ground.
“Perhaps, if you would consider being so kind, you could suggest a good way for me to go? I am very much enjoying my adventures so far and would like to see all I can. I would prefer to keep within the realms of sanity if at all possible.”
“Unfortunately that particular wish is highly improbable, for you must have noticed everyone here is bonkers. I am, you are, we all are.”
Alice realized to disagree might be perceived as rude but felt obliged nevertheless.
“Why do you think I am mad?”
“Because you are here.”
On the surface that logic was both calculated and well weighted.
“Perhaps you are right kind sir, but if I recognized I was mad I would prove myself quite sane.”
Cheshire giggled so loudly that if he had been sitting on a tree branch he would most certainly have immediately fallen off.
“The path to the right goes directly to the Queen of Hearts castle and passes the dear Duchesses bakery, but I heard a whisper you have already been there.”
“I have indeed, a very strange bakery indeed. Every time the Duchess produced tarts the Knave stole them before they could be delivered to the Queen.”
“Tis a very odd tadoo tisn’t it?”
Alice found the colloquialism quite charming.
“Where does the Knave take the tarts?”
“Know that is a very sensible question and to my recollection no one has ever asked it before. The road to the right leads through the woods to the seashore. You will find the chess pieces there and of course the Griffin and Mock Turtle.”
“I met them both. The Mock Turtle sang a song for me you know?”
“He sings for everyone actually. Now if he had not sung that would have been a very special day.”
“Well I am glad he did it was very beautiful and poignant.”
“A recipe for success no doubt.”
The Cheshire giggled again but managed to keep his balance.
“Did you hear the Walrus and the Carpenter yet?”
“No I can’t say I did.”
“Can you say you didn’t?”
“Yes I can, I think, I mean, well?”
“Such a complicated thing conversation isn’t it? Enough to make you quite lose your head.”
The Cheshire grinned broadly and then was gone.
“I can still see you. Spooky isn’t it.”
The existence of an entirely discombobulated Cheshire Cat grin is something that many might find decidedly strange, but of course within the confines of Wonderland seems a subject hardly worthy of mention. The fact that the main raison d’être of the realms reigning authority is to remove the napper of any and every other individual creature at the least provocation is inclined to slant the percentile somewhat.
As has been noted on several occasions Alice herself ever seems exempted from this general mayhem quite probably due to the exceeding sweet and beauteous nature of her facial arrangements, particularly her very well-defined blonde curls and Bambi like blue eyes.
Alice could so easily be a southern peach!