I Don't Think So, Mother
Disclaimer: The Alice books and the 2010 film do not belong to me. This is only for fun.
Helen Kingsleigh paced up and down the carpeted floor of the drawing room, her mood alternating between anger and worry. She glanced again at the clock on the mantelpiece. Ten to midnight and still her impossible younger daughter had not returned. The girl was becoming totally unmanageable, but Helen had plans to change that.
Just then she heard the front door open and a moment later Alice walked past the open drawing room door, obviously on her way upstairs to her room.
"Alice," Helen called out. "Come here!"
A second later Alice reappeared and came into the room
"Yes Mother, what is it?" She enquired curiously.
Helen stared at her daughter grimly. It was as she had expected; no corset and a skirt barely reaching her ankles that made it obvious she had once again neglected to wear stockings.
Helen briskly ordered her to shut the door and then sit down. Alice looked at her quizzically but did as she was told, seating herself on one of the overstuffed armchairs that littered the room.
"Alice," Helen began. "I have been discussing your future with Lady Ascot and her son."
"Well that's very interesting," Alice replied. "But I don't see that my future is any of their concern."
Helen ignored her. "Both have generously agreed to overlook your regrettable behaviour at the engagement party two years ago and Hamish has renewed his offer to marry you."
"I'm sure it's very kind of them to forgive me," Alice said. There was a hint of sarcasm in her tone. "But if Hamish wishes to propose again he should do so to my face. Not that it will make any difference as I have no intention of accepting."
Helen Kingsleigh took a deep breath to control her anger. "I have already accepted on your behalf."
Alice rose to her feet and walked to the mantelpiece before turning to face her mother.
"So you intend to force me to marry him, Mother?" There was no trace of anger or distress in her voice or manner. Instead she seemed rather amused. "How do you intend to accomplish this? Of course you could hire half a dozen strong men – and I assure you it would require at least that number – to carry me forcibly to the church and drag me down the aisle. But there are certain formalities that must be observed before a wedding is legal. Both of us must publicly agree to take the other as a spouse, vows must be recited and the register signed. Do you intend to hold a gun to my head to make me cooperate? Somehow I doubt the vicar would approve! In any case it would do you no good as I would prefer to die than marry Hamish!"
Once again Helen needed to take a deep breath to control herself. "If you do not agree Alice, I will disown you and throw you out of this house, leaving you destitute."
Helen was prepared for several possible reactions to this announcement. She was prepared for Alice to scream at her, to cry, to beg her to reconsider. What she was not prepared for was Alice throwing her head back and laughing merrily.
"Oh Mother!" Alice managed to gasp at last, between fits of giggles. "And you accuse me of living in a fantasy world? In case you were unaware of it, Lord Ascot's generous rewards for my help and my careful investments have made me one of the richest women in London. I could buy this house many times over!" Alice's laughter stopped abruptly and her expression became serious. "But even if this were not the case I would remain unmoved by your threat. I said I would rather die than marry Hamish and I meant that. And even without any money I'm sure I would survive somehow. I'm good at sewing so I might obtain work as a seamstress. And as a last resort I could always sell myself on the streets!"
Helen was so horrified by her daughter's words that she could not even speak.
Alice chuckled. "No need to look so horror struck, Mother. After all what real difference would there be between prostitution and marrying Hamish? Only that in the former I would be selling my body for my own benefit rather than yours!"
Before she realised what she was doing, Helen drew her arm back and swung it round, intending to slap her daughter's face.
But the blow never landed. With incredible speed Alice's arm shot out, grasping her mother's arm by the wrist and effortlessly forcing it down. Helen whimpered in pain at the fierce grip but an instant later she was released. She stared at the younger woman in astonishment; Helen had never realised Alice was so strong and for the first time felt afraid of her own daughter. But when Alice spoke her voice was gentle.
"I'm sorry I had to do that Mother, but I will not permit you to strike me. Neither will I allow you to decide my future or dictate how I live my life. I decide my own path and no one else. I trust that the question of marriage to Hamish is now settled and you will not trouble me on the matter again. Now if you will excuse me, it's time I retired to bed. Good night, Mother."
And with those words, Alice quietly left the drawing room, leaving an utterly flabbergasted Helen Kingsleigh behind her.