Crying is usually upsetting but not particularly dangerous. However, the particular circumstances of Alices sudden outpouring was a wholly different kettle of fish. The fact that she was quite so big, making the rest of the universe quite so small caused what might appear but a few tear drops fall to the courtroom floor as an absolute torrent of water.
After just a few moments the level of moisture had risen sufficiently that the smaller creatures were already almost having to float and the larger beasts were submerged to their waistlines. Alice of course was totally unaware of the predicament she was imposing on the world below and even if she had her frightening rapid growth was momentarily her only focus.
The waters continued to rise causing more and more creatures to be set adrift, the surface of the growing lake becoming rapidly filled with floating wooden flotsam and jetsam being used as rafts by those fortunate enough to find a piece within grasp. The level had reached Alices knees before she really comprehended the disaster and when she did notice the terrible pandemonium simply redoubled her tears.
“Do pull yourself together dear!”
The magical Cheshire smile appeared by her left ear.
“You do need to stop wailing or we will have to start whaling!”
Cheshire could never resist a clever quip.
“What… am… I… to… do….?”
Alices voice was so full of sobs it was very hard to discern. Luckily Cheshire’s have particularly good hearing considering they often have no visible ears.
“Look in your pocket my dear girl.”
Alice felt around in her apron and to her surprise found a small silver pill box inscribed with the words ‘eat me’. In a flash she opened the hinged lid popped one of the rainbow colored pills in her mouth and swallowed. As suddenly as she had grown Alice now found herself shrinking.
“Make sure you remember to swim de……….”
Alice missed the last part of Cheshire’s advice as she found herself beginning to sink towards the bottom of the lake. Purely by chance a lifeboat was passing at that exact moment and two off the occupants, an Eaglet and a Lory were considerate enough to quickly grab Alice with their beaks and pull her aboard the already crowded vessel.
“Thank you so much.”
Alice spluttered the words between taking large gulps or air into her lungs.
“No more passengers, no more passengers.”
A large, very strange looking bird at the rudder was making all the fuss. Alice studied the creature for some time, noting its very large hooked beak, deep crop, rotund body and tiny pointless wings.
“You’re a Dodo!”
“I am the last Dodo no less.”
The Duck sitting between the Dodo and a Pink Flamingo was obviously not that impressed.
“I am terribly endangered you know.”
“Well if you’re the last one probably a little worse off than that actually.”
Alice was always a stickler for factual accuracy but her pointing out the hopelessness of the Dodo species continued long-term survival was probably ill timed.
“Yes, quite. Should I shoot myself now? Would that make you happy?”
Alice decided that the Dodo was a very huffy bird indeed.
“That’s quite enough of that sort of thing Dodo, you really can’t cry over spilt milk forever. If you had bothered to learn to fly, you would have lasted a bit longer.”
Alice decided the Lory was a very sensible bird as well as being quite the prettiest Parrot she had ever seen.
“Well said Mister Lory, well said.”
If Alice had though she would be thanked for her kind words she was quite mistaken.
“I suppose you are surprised I can say more that ‘who’s a pretty Polly’ or ‘pieces of eight’. That’s racist that is if you ask me.”
The fact that the Lorys accent was pure east London was the strangest part of all.
“Watch out for the weir!”
During the multitude of events happening Alice had failed to notice that the lifeboat had left the vicinity of the courtroom and was now barreling with the full force of a rip current down a very windy river. Just ahead in the evening gloom she could make out the raised edges of a weir that circumnavigated a lowering lock. Unfortunately, they seemed doomed to head directly over.
“Steer for the lock Dodo, you …DODO!”
The Eaglet was squawking very loudly and tearing with his beak at the gunnels but all his shouting and flapping couldn’t stop the prow of the boat hitting the sluice and toppling everyone into the foaming torrent some twenty feet below. The melee was quite extraordinary, Eaglet, Lory, Flamingo, Duck, Dodo and a half dozen other occupants including Alice suddenly forced to swim for their lives. How they all survived was quite miraculous, luck most certainly was on their side and after much stroking and paddling the sandy beach at the edge of the river was covered in soaked, but happily alive survivors.
“What way do we go now?”
Alice was keen to get to somewhere she might find some dry stockings.
“That’s a really interesting question, requiring careful consideration.”
The Dodo was very purposefully dividing his feathers from one another, using his beak to tease them straight and then back into some semblance of a coat.
“Seems the prefect time for a caucus to me. The very bestest way to feathers dry after a nice dip.”
The Duck was obviously a stickler for grammar as he punctuated all his remarks with very obvious quacks.
“I have been to a caucus before.”
The collection of birds gathered around seemed somewhat surprised that this human had the slightest inkling of their rules.
“You were in a caucus?”
“Well not in one exactly, I saw one. They were electing a representative for something or other at the seashore.”
“Seems a very strange kind of caucus to me? Why were they voting? Why only one winner?”
“Yes that’s terribly unfair.”
“I don’t like that idea!”
The cumulative flock were starting to get restless and unruly and some had gone as far as to ruffle their feathers.
“Please don’t get angry, I probably got the whole thing round the wrong way.”
The Dodo held his very short wings out to the side to get some hush. Eventually the birds quietened sufficiently for Dodo to set the whole procedure in motion.
“Duck and Eaglet please set up a starting line.”
The two birds retrieved a pair of oars from the lifeboat and set them into the sand with a torn length of sail affixed between them.
“That’s the starting line.”
The Flamingo, being one of the few birds to know his ABC’s wrote the words ‘start line’ on the cleverly manufactured banner with a wing tip dipped in some handy tar. The collection of feathery companions lined up between the oars, Dodo making sure Alice had a prominent position near the middle.
“So this is a race?”
“A caucus race!”
For the present the difference was lost on Alice so she attempted to make some sense of the rules.
“Could you tell me where the course goes?”
“Well that’s totally up to you my dear child. I would be the last person to try and sway your opinion on such a personal decision.”
Alice thought this very democratic indeed.
“And the finish line?”
“Wherever you like of course. Your choice is as always totally free and without censure.”
Once again this seemed perfectly rational but seemed to suggest some intrinsic problems.
“So the caucus is of indiscriminate length or direction?”
“Exactly! Clever child!”
“Then how do we know who wins?”
“Why everybody wins my sweets; all are equally rewarded for their vital participation in the process.”
Alice was still pondering on this latest titbit when the Lory started the countdown.
The birds bristled with steely athleticism.
Alice could feel the excitement overtake the lineup as they strained to explode into movement.
“Wait for it!”
Lory held them a moment longer to enable the too eager beavers to get back on the right side of the line.
The competitors stormed, dribbled and teetered away from the line in a pattern that was to Alices poor interpretation total higgeldy-piggeldy-ness.
The race, if such an odd contest could be so labeled came to an end when everyone stopped moving because of lack of wind, confusion or just general malaise.
“Prizes for everyone!”
Alice was somewhat concerned when all the participants looked in her direction for reward. Luckily Alice was able to rescue just enough boiled sweets from her apron pockets to give one to all.
“What about your prize?”
“Oh I don’t need a prize, just participating was quite sufficient reward.”
The Dodo was not impressed.
“You have to have a prize or it makes all of us seem very shallow indeed.”
Alice searched her pockets again and found a rather rusty old thimble. She placed it on her finger and showed the gathered crowd.
“That will do quite nicely. Well done Alice well done.”
The importance of prizes in caucuses cannot be overemphasized. The first shall indeed be ever last and the last eternally first or the whole system might commence to make some sort of sense and the actual results have significance. Long as the rules are vague, somewhat ridiculous and without any form of audit all will be perfectly satisfied that the results are a true representation of the peoples, voters, participants will. The whole operation, its vagary, its duplicity is to ensure that the machinations of the great puppeteers in the sky can pull strings unhindered and undetected. Politics is after all nothing but cloaks and mirrors, nothing means what it seems or seems what it means.