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... Alice, slipping the coins into her purse.  ‘That is very kind of you.’

‘Kindness, my lucky rabbit’s foot!’ spluttered the Rabbit, as he suppressed a cough.  ‘The Queen will have my head if she thinks that I am hiding anything remarkable from her! 

 

‘But don’t worry,’ he added quickly, ‘she will be fine if you catch her on a good day.’

‘I hope that today is a good day,’ said Alice, putting on her best face.

‘Bound to be,’ said the Rabbit, smiling.  ‘She is always in the sweetest of tempers, is the Queen.  Either that or …’ his voice trailed off.

‘Or what?’ asked Alice.

‘… or she isn’t,’ replied the Rabbit.  ‘Not much choice there, I am afraid.  Now off with you or you will miss the next train,’ and with that he bundled Alice out of the door and hurried her off down the garden path.

Alice turned to say her goodbyes at the gate but, by that time, the Rabbit had already returned to the house and shut the door firmly.

‘Such a nervous creature!’ thought Alice, as she made her way out onto the road.

She looked back one more time at the Rabbit’s cottage and then set off towards the railway station.

‘Well,’ she said to herself, once she was on her way, ‘that was a strange encounter.  But now I have been given some clear directions and if anyone knows how to help me then it would surely have to be the Queen!’

To be continued next week 

‘Kindness, my lucky rabbit’s foot!’ spluttered the Rabbit, as he suppressed a cough.