Perhaps Marriage Will be Alright
It was time for another party. At least, thought Alice Kinsley, it isn't for me this time. You see, three years ago, Alice had been asked to marry a weasel of a man by the name of Hamish Ascot. That was the day she fell town the rabbit hole and made it to Underland. But that is a different story for a different time. However, when she made it back to her engagement party, she not so politely declined his hand in marriage.
However, that was three years ago. Today she is off to the Ascot's to see Hamish propose to a charming young woman by the name of Ilene Meriwether. Or so she had been told.
"Alice darling!" a voice rang out around the house. "We are going to be late if we do not leave right now!" "Coming, mother!" Alice called back, running out of her room and down the stairs.
Helen Kingsley looked her daughter up and down. Alice was wearing a lovely blue dress she had received from a friend in China. Helen never did learn the name of said friend, but it didn't matter. She sighed. "Alice. You are not wearing your corset."
"Nor am I wearing stockings." Alice replied with a grin. "Come on, mother. I very well can't put them on now, can I? If I do, we will be late."
"Very well," Helen said exasperated. "Let's go."
The party was in full swing and, Helen thought gladly, the Kingsley's were not the last to arrive. Alice went around talking with the twins Faith and Fiona, Lord and Lady Ascot, and finally her sister, Margaret.
"Alice," Margaret began, "when will you find a nice man and settle down? I mean for goodness sake, you are twenty-two years old!"
"And twenty-two is a relatively young age, Margaret. I don't need to be married right now. That is why I am glad mother finally stopped getting me to marry men I haven't even met before!" Margaret went silent. "Margaret…" she turned away, not wanting to look into Alice's eyes. "No! This is another engagement party for me, isn't it?" when Margaret didn't reply, Alice ran to her mother.
"Yes, dear. What is the matter?"
"You promised you would stop finding suitors for me to marry! I am a grown woman! I do not need a man to control my life."
"Alice, you do not understand."
"I understand perfectly well, mother. I do not wish to marry someone I do not love!"
"What do you know about love, child? You are still very young. Very few marriages consist of love, nowadays."
"I know plenty about love, mother." Alice whispered. "I know more about it that you know."
Helen looked at her daughter with a sad smile. "Oh, alright. If you do not wish to marry this man, I will not stop you from finding the man you do love."
"However," a voice said from behind Alice, "I will."
Alice turned around. "Margaret!" she exclaimed.
"Alice, I know how hard it is to find true love out in the world. All I want is for you to be happy. However, you need a man in your life. Therefore, if you do not marry this man, I will cut off all ties with you. You will not see my child and you will be written out of my will."
Alice turned and ran through the garden in tears. Behind her, she could hear her mother scolding Margaret for everything she just said. Alice made it to a bench in front of a water fountain and sat down, tears still streaming down her face. She sat there thinking about the choices she had.
I could always just leave right now and head to Underland. She thought. However, that wouldn't be fair to mother. Then the only other options would be for me to politely decline my hand in marriage and then head to Underland, or marry him. But I can't marry him! I don't even know who he is. It's not live I've ever seen him, or anything.
After a while, Alice stood up. She knew what she had to do. She had to turn him down gently. With that thought in mind, she washed her face in the fountain behind her. When she was satisfied no one would be able to know she had been crying, she headed back to the party.
"Ah, Alice." her mother said cheerily. "Now, the young man who will be asking for your hand in marriage is a bit… different from the others."
"Different how?" Alice asked warily.
"Well he is a bit mad." Helen said.
"All the best people are. Hadn't father taught you anything, mother?"
Helen smiled at the memory of her late husband. "No darling, I haven't forgotten. And that is why I chose this man out of all the young suitors."
"Attention, everyone!" Lady Ascot said, tapping her glass. "Could we all make our way to the gazebo for a very important announcement that should have been made a half hour ago?"
This is it, thought Alice. This is the last time I will ever have to turn someone down. Well at least in the Overland.
Everyone shuffled over to the gazebo where a very peculiar man stood, back towards the party. He turned around and smiled a toothy smile at everyone there.
A gasp was heard from a woman in blue.
"Alice!" the man proclaimed. "You are late! And to your very own proposal. Naughty!"
That got a few chuckles from the audience, and a weak smile from Alice.
"It can't be you." she said, walking up the steps to get a closer look at the man. "It can't be you, but somehow it is!"
She continued to examine thee man standing before her. She heard people behind her asking one another how Alice knew this man.
The man in question gave a slight cough. "Now" he began. "I came here for a reason. And that reason, Miss Kingsley, is to ask for your hand in marriage. I've never proposed to anyone before, so if I do anything wrong, please let me know. Because I would very well like to get it right the first time and-"
"Hatter!" Alice exclaimed, pulling him out of his trance like state.
"I'm fine. Thank you." he coughed. "Anyway as I was saying, I would like to marry you, Alice." he got down on one knee and pulled out a ring. A few gasps were heard from the people who were able to see the beauty this ring had.
"It is tradition in the Hightopp family to hand-make both the engagement and wedding rings, you see." Hatter explained. "The engagement ring is made up of two things. One is part of something both the giver and the receiver love. Something small they can bond over. The other part is something that reminds the giver of the receiver. The first part of this ring, the base you could call it, is made from a tea set my mother gave me when I was a young lad, because both you and I love our tea although I probably love it more than you do. The second part is my favorite. The stone is made of a beautiful blue. You see, Alice, whenever I am in my shop making a hat for Chessur or a dress for the queen, and I come across this most beautiful color blue, of which I have named Alice Blue, I think of you. Hey! I think I just made a rhyme!"
Alice was on the verge of tears. She was so into the story Hatter was weaving, so into the beauty of it, that she forgot where she was. She was abruptly pulled back into reality when some of the crown had chuckled at the Hatter for his exclamation at the end. She looked out to the audience and saw that they, too, were in tears from the beauty of the story and the true love radiating from the strange man.
"Now that I got all that out of the way," Hatter began again. "Alice, mah dear, would you make me the happiest man alive and become my wife?"
The audience was all ears now, for they all knew of Alice's reputation with being ask this question. They all held their breath in anticipation.
"Well I figured you would rather call me by my real name, Tarrant, instead of my nickname."
Alice smiled. "Very well. Tarrant Hightopp, I would be honored to be your wife."
Everyone was shocked to see the man light up and place the ring on her finger. But soon they were all clapping for the happy couple as Tarrant stood and pulled Alice into a hug.
"Alice, dear. Have you any idea why a raven is like a writing desk?" Tarrant asked pulling out of the embrace.
Alice smile got even wider. "I haven't the slightest idea."