Looking down past her muddy boots Rosalie could see, far below her, bright green meadows and a silver river winding through them. Although still tiny she could make out a boat tied up by the riverbank and a lone figure seated by a picnic blanket on the ground and what looked to be a cross between a silver car and a hovercraft parked nearby. She wondered if she were going to land in the river or on the grass. At the speed she was falling it might be that the river would be better. As she looked back to the riverbank the car rose into the air and rushing upwards went right past her without a sound and vanished.
The slipstream from the air car was pushing her away from the riverbank. She let out a subdued whimper. This might hurt, a lot. At the sound of her whimper the figure by the blanket below looked up and shielding his eyes from the glare of the sky stood and stared at her. As the ground came closer the breeze caught the umbrella and her fall slowed considerably. She bent her knees and came to a dignified landing, just a few feet from the incredulous spectator,
Rosalie straightened her self up, brushed down her skirt modestly, closed and furled the umbrella and turned to smile at the scholarly gentleman and wished him, “Good afternoon, sir.”. He stammered in reply, “Miss, certainly it is afternoon, but more perplexing than good, if I may say so.”
Though she had been trying to behave as if falling from the sky was a normal occurrence she could feel that her knees were about give way, so she asked,. “Sir, if I may take a seat on the grass perhaps you could tell me more of your perplexity?”. He replied promptly, “Of course you may young lady, but first I should introduce myself, I am the Reverend Charles Dodgson of Christ Church College, and you are?”. Rosalie thought for a moment about how to introduce herself without causing too much consternation. She said carefully, “Sir, I am Rosalie Appleton, a final year student at Cheltenham Ladies College. I am pleased to meet you. I already know you by reputation.”
They both took seats on the green velvet grass and the Reverend offered her a small glass of Madeira, “To settle her nerves.”. As she sipped the fortified wine Rosalie prompted him to explain why he felt perplexed. He settled himself down with his own glass of wine and began his story.
“Young lady, this was supposed to be a relaxing picnic with one of my students and two young charges who are the daughters of the College Dean. After luncheon the younger of the sisters went off to explore the little copse over towards the bridge. When she did not return within the half hour she had agreed to, my student and her elder sister, Lorina, went in search of her while I remained here to keep an eye on the boat and the picnic. They had been gone nearly another half an hour and I was getting considerably concerned. It was then that with a sudden rush of wind a most peculiar conveyance came to rest a few yards away. You can see in the grass the depression it made in the soft ground, so it was no illusion. Four most interestingly attired individuals decamped from the vehicle and came to talk with me.” With this he paused, as Rosalie caught his eye, “You have a question?”. he enquired.
“These travellers would not have been called Deety, John, Jake and Hilda by any chance?”, Rosalie asked. In a surprised tone the Reverend asked, “Indeed! You are acquainted with these most curious people?” Rosalie phrased her reply carefully, “I have never met them in person. I know them only by reading about them, as I have read about you and one of your charges.”
The scholar looked at her intently, “Then you too are a time traveller?” Rosalie hesitated before replying, “I'm not sure I can be described as a traveller. I do not know how I arrived here and have no way, I know of, to return to my own time. Perhaps I might better be described as being marooned in time.” . With this a tear formed in her eye and rolled down her cheek.