Alice was finally all grown up, and she couldn’t wait to see what the world would offer her for being a good girl. After all; she had grown up like it was expected of her. She wandered through the world garden, searching for all the gems she read about in stories. As she looked around her, she fell down and into a hole! Poor little Alice fell a long way down a dark tunnel with sharp edges that scratched at her. She couldn’t tell what was up and what was down! Alice closed her eyes and formed into a little ball, hoping she would soon wake up from her nightmare. Alice felt a little pat on her shoulder and opened her eyes and behold; she was lying on the ceiling! Below her on the floor stood a white rabbit, eyes red as blood. He was patting her with a broom like she was a spider!
“Why are you poking me as if I were a spider?” Alice cried, but the white rabbit didn’t stop.
“Why are you on my ceiling as if you were a spider?” He asked, and Alice saw her hair rise above her, or drop below as it were. She felt herself become lighter and lighter until she began to float. She was floating towards the ground above her quickly! It hit her hard and she began to cry. The white rabbit wiped at the tears on her cheek roughly with his handkerchief.
“Stop your crying; there is no time for that! And it makes you look oh so ugly!” She rose to her feet and put her hands on her hip.
“Who are you, you nasty rabbit?” He removed two pouches out of his pocket and dumped the content of it in front of her. The right was a small heap of gold, the left had clear marbles that held tiny blue novas inside them.
“You must choose.”
“Choose what?” Alice asked.
“Choose what is most important to you, foolish girl!” Alice wanted to cry again, but she bit her lip and swallowed her tears.
“Which heap is more valuable?”
“That depends on who you ask.”
Alice hadn’t seen marbles like those before, and they were indeed pretty. But gold could buy you so much, and the heap was awfully big.
“I want the gold.” As soon as Alice spoke, the Hare was moving with the two pouches and she ran after him. “Come back! You have my gold!” She ran after him through the woods until he stopped. There was a desk next to him as he waited for her to arrive, out of breath and thirsty.
“You must count the 34 sticks in this container, then put them into this container and count them again. Do this for today until you count 40 sticks.”
Alice didn’t understand. “Why would I do that? There will never be 40 sticks by the end of the day simply by counting!” The Hare grabbed a stick and hit Alice on the leg.
“Sit down and count!” Alice sat in the chair, but she was oh so thirsty.
“Could I have some water?”
“Do you have marble?”
“No, I chose the gold.”
“Then you can’t afford your water. Now count the sticks and I will give you your gold when the sticks are 40.” The hare left in a hurry.
So Alice began counting the sticks in the container. She lost count of how many times she counted each stick and placed it in another container, but finally, the Hare came back.
“How many sticks have you counted?” Alice counted out the 40 sticks in her hand, only realising it had become 40 as she spoke out.
“Yes, yes. Very good.” He took the pouch from his pocket and dumped the gold in front of her again. She scooped her hand under it but the Hare hit her hand and she flinched away.
“Ow!” she yelled and comforted her hands.
The rabbit reached down and took a third of the coins and put it in his pouch.
“What are you doing? You are stealing my gold!”
“I’m not stealing; this gold belongs to the kings of the country! They need this gold to build the roads.”
Alice looked around her and saw no roads. The hare began to run and Alice ran after him. Far ahead she saw two fat men sleeping under a tree, gold piling up below and next to them. The rabbit stopped next to them and threw the gold onto the pile.
“What are you doing?!” Alice was outraged. As she spoke, a fat hand grabbed some of the coins and thrust it into a gaping mouth.
“They are the kings of the country. I told you; the gold must go to them for the roads and for the houses and food.”
“But there are no roads or buildings!” Alice was feeling hungry and thirstier than ever.
“That’s why they need the gold!” Her stomach growled and the hare heard it.
“You can now buy food and drink with your gold.” He took two pieces from Alice’s hand and right before her eyes it turned into bread and milk! She ate and drank happily until she yawned; counting all those sticks was tiring. He took another piece and it turned into a bed! She was so thankful and climbed under the covers, instantly falling asleep.
When the birds hadn’t woken up yet, Alice was shaken awake by the hare again.
“Leave me alone, vile creature! I’m exhausted.”
“You must count sticks today or you won’t eat tonight.” Alice was horrified! She couldn’t bear the thought of sitting at that damnable desk again for a whole day, doing nothing of import.
“What could I do if today I chose the marbles?”
“You can smell the flowers, swim in the river and make friends, of course!” Alice was delighted.
“I choose the marbles!”
“Very well, then.” He removed the pouch from his pocket and handed it to her. Alice was overjoyed that she had it in her own hands, unlike the gold the day before. She went around the day smelling the flowers, having tea parties with guests that would have her, swam in the broad rivers and took a nap. Content in her day, she took out the pouch to admire the beautiful marbles but there was only two left! She hadn’t opened the pouch at all during the day, but a fine blue powder came out and blew away in the wind.
“Where are all my marbles?!” Alice cried out in dismay.
“I’m afraid you’ve lost them.” The Hare had appeared out of nowhere.
“But I’ve looked after them, and I didn’t open the pouch even once until now!”
“Yes, that is how time flies. If those two marbles are gone, you will die.”
Alice’s little heart could hardly take the weight of such a truth.
“I wish I had some milk to calm my nerves.”
“But you don’t have any gold.”
“Can I give you a marble for a gold piece?”
The hare agreed to the exchange and Alice drank her milk slowly. When she was done, she lay down on the ground and dreamed of a time when she was still a child and didn’t have to sit at a desk just to eat or to exchange her time for a glass of milk.