23 August, 2009 by katelaity

After some time had passed, Alice peeked up over the bedclothes. All was silent. More light shone through the window now and its slightly cheerier ambiance helped to strengthen her resolve. Perhaps it was a dream, Alice told herself.

But she knew it was no dream. It was comforting, though, to try to make the incident turn hazy in her mind — as unpleasant things should become as quickly as possible. However, the fear still made her heart beat a little bit faster just thinking about the strange vision that had appeared in the doorway.

It did no harm, Alice thought with some relief. Perhaps it did not mean to frighten her. As she recalled its spooky black garments she could not suppress a shudder which roamed through her limbs like a gypsy wagon. Picturing the way its weeds moved to a wind that was not there made her feel distinctly unwell.

But it had done no harm. It had not even spoken to her. Perhaps it was seeking help. Alice tried to dredge up from her memory stories of ghosts and whether they had caused injury to anyone. Surely Mrs. Radcliffe had presented more than a few ghosts, many of whom seemed to be more suffering that suffered from.

Alice looked out the window at the breaking morning and could feel hope and confidence return to her. A blackbird whistled merrily and the sound revived her spirits. Perhaps, like so many of Mrs. Radcliffe’s ghosts, this one was offering a warning to her.

What sort of warning?!

Alice’s heart began to race again, fear propelling her thoughts and veins. What if she were in some kind of danger?

Foolish girl, told herself with a shake. You’ve been kidnapped: of course you’re in some kind of danger. But how much? Alice fretted for a moment, but the combination of the bright sunlight pouring in through the window, the blackbird’s cheerful song and the complete lack of breakfast conspired to distract her thoughts from their morbid course.

Where is my breakfast, Alice thought. It should have been here by now. Even though it was generally a simple and entirely unexciting repast, the habit of breakfasting was one she was keen to keep, even if it had not yet included kippers much as she might keep hoping.

It must surely be kippers one day, she sighed. Even kedgeree would be a welcome respite from the sad porridge and toast. If one were going to go to the trouble of kidnapping a person, Alice speculated, it would be a welcome gesture to also plan for the kidnappee’s keeping with a reasonable kitchen and some kind of staff.

Alice glanced out the window at the rather sad and unkempt garden, and thought for the hundredth time that it would be very nice indeed to be able to walk out in that garden, even if it had few delights for the eye. Alice had come to regard her mother’s constant reminders about the importance of daily exercise as surprisingly well-chosen.

She had nearly forgotten her fright when the sound of footsteps in the hallway jolted her back to contemplation of the door. As the steps grew louder and their maker closer, Alice sunk behind the bedclothes again, fearful and trembling as her anticipation grew. A knock came at the door and she gasped.


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