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When I found it, I thought it first to be a waste, as I often don’t read such books as romantics. My father was a very realistic man, and in turn every sort of magical, surreal book was strictly taboo in our household. Now that I look back upon it, it really is such a mystery to me how one of those books came to be in our house, though I knew then, and of course know now that I shouldn’t ever dare to ask my father, knowing such a thing was forbidden, I would have likely been beaten considerably for having it, and undoubtedly more for not giving it to him sooner than I did. And now I can stronger recall the memory of when I had first spotted a book: it was the fourteenth of February, around the time of noon when we were strolling out in the plaza of Oxford. I saw a small little bookstore and had pleaded for much a time before Father let me go in. The book, I distinctly remember, was “Pride and Prejudice”. Even after I had begged unstoppably for a considerable amount of time, and most fathers would have caved in half that, my father remained stoic, and I was told staunchly: “Ecilla, young women are not meant to read books. They are only meant to balance them upon their heads.” I let it be after that. I knew my father well, and he was as stubborn as he was strict.

Still, I wanted nothing more than to read, despite what my father said. I would often hide in the dark stairwell with a candelabra to read any book I could find in my father’s vast library, while he was out to work. And I did not fancy it very much at all when it rained, because it meant that Father could not work. That saddened me, for I could not read a book while he was inside. But I loved my father an awful much, however strict he was.

So then. on rainy days, I spent my time well breathing on the cold windows, and drawing a picture before the fog disappeared. When I found myself drowsy of boredom, I would get into the kitchen and watch the maids cook. Father’s mother very often stayed with us, and once or twice she had spent patient time trying to teach me to knit. However much I tried, I never got the hang of such a tedious hobby. I would then find my mind wandering back to reading, and I had once or twice feigned illness or fatigue, and sent myself to bed, only hoping I would be able to hide under the covers and read a book I had very discretely taken from the library--but with every intention of bringing it back--and brought up to my room when it was very late one night, and the moon was exceptionally bright.

But this book I had now, this book... I didn’t know if it was really allowed here. “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, by Lewis Carroll. This particular book was inevitably obscure, and I did wish nothing more than to read it when I spotted its forest green cover with the golden letters upon the top shelf that held the books in my father’s infrequently used study.

I had taken the time one Sunday morning when I was bedridden with fever, to take the book while father was away at Sunday morning church service. I recall it was very high up, and I had to climb upon Father’s wooden desk chair and many other books piled upon that to reach it. I did, and just barely so, and took off to my room before a maid came by to clean it. Father never noticed it had ever gone missing.

This book was so curious to me, and was really nothing I had ever read. Alice and I had much in common, however, I found out after I had read. Both her and I lived in Oxford and both of us were confined to the simple minded people of our families. But I had never fallen down the rabbit hole, though often I wish I had.

But alas, I was caught reading and my days of fantasy were soon over. I was punished severely for going against my father’s orders. My books were all burned, and my heart grew heavy with all the broken pieces.

Perhaps those who listen wish so much to hate my father, and for me in turn to do so. But I thank him. It was the only push I needed to make up my mind and become an English teacher. He inspired me, and I made my dreams to come true.


Ecilla Dougason, 1870





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