Monday, 21 December 2015

More pages from the Alice manuscript: Alice meets a man lying in a doorway

Another find from Christ Church College, Oxford - the Alice manuscript - more pages:

Alice was walking down the street when she came across a lump in a doorway.
She bent down to look closer and saw that it wasn't really a lump, it was a person.
'Are you a person?' said Alice.
'Only in a manner of speaking,' said the man - for it was a man.
'Why are you lying in this doorway?' Alice said.
'Where else do you suggest I go?' the man said.
'Home.' said Alice, 'Why don't you go home?'
'Well, now,' said the man. 'I would most certainly go home right now, if I had one.'
'You haven't got a home?' asked Alice.
'Let me explain,' said the man, 'some people deliberately lose their home so that they can get money from the Blatherment, but they're putting a stop to all that.'
'Is that good?' said Alice.
'That puts things right,' said the man.
'Now what?' said Alice.
'Well,' said the man, 'now I don't have a home and I don't have money. That evens things up nicely. I used to have no money but I had a home and that can't be right, can it?'
'Have you got anything to eat?' said Alice.
'Nope,' said the man, 'you see: that matches too - no home, no money, no food.'

Alice felt in her pocket and she still had some of the cake she found earlier. She hoped it wasn't any of that funny food that made her bigger. Or was it smaller? She was just about to hand some to the man, when he stopped her.
'No, no, no, no,' he said, 'that just encourages me.'
'Encourages you to do what?' said Alice.
'Encourages me to live,' said the man.
'Oh, I see,' said Alice, but then she thought that encouraging someone to live sounded like quite a good idea.
'I'm not sure that what you're saying makes sense,' said Alice.
'Look, the way to make people better off,'  said the man, 'is to make them poorer. At the moment, I'm doing the poorer bit and at some time later, I'll be better off. Just you see.'
'How long till then?' said Alice.
'Maybe a couple of years,' said the man.
'Won't you need to eat in that time?' Alice asked, 'and it's getting cold. It's not good for you getting cold.'
Just then the door opened. Alice and the man looked in and they could see now that it was some kind of bank.
Maybe they'll let him go in there, thought Alice, but just then two men came out, talking:
'We've turned the corner,' said one.
'Things are getting better,' said the other.
They closed the door of the bank behind them, locked the door several times and walked on.
Alice sat down next to the man in the doorway.
'You see, it's what I said' he said to her, 'things are getting better. Good news, eh?'
'Yes,' said Alice...'I'
But she couldn't finish what she was saying. She wasn't sure that 'getting better' quite said it all.
She looked at the man.
He was lying down again and he had shut his eyes.