At the entrance to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Lute let go of his watch fob leash. Mr. Grahame took Lute’s hand and pulled him along the track. In front, the ride’s decoration consisted of the familiar colorful illustrations from the 1949 cartoon showing Toad Hall’s Victorian style library and sitting room. As soon as Mr. Grahame and Lute turned the corner, the dark ride became completely dark, no light at all. Lute’s feet touched the ground. He began walking with the author, not on a hard wooden or concrete surface but over a soft surface like dirt or lawn. In the near distance, he could see soft light like a sunset’s. He could smell the woods around him, and sensed that, just ahead, flowed a river.
“This is from a chapter in my book that Milne and Disney left out.”
Ahead, on the riverbank, Lute saw Ratty and Mole standing by a narrow rowboat. He heard Ratty say, “Otter’s child little Portly is missing again; and you know what a lot his father thinks of him, though he never says much about it.” The two well-dressed same size animals climbed into the boat, Mole sitting in the stern and Ratty taking up the oars.
“Let’s follow them,” said Mr. Grahame. “Surely they will lead us to Mouse.”
Maybe Lute hadn’t seen it at first, but another boat, one sized for humans, came into viewing. Mr. Grahame climbed aboard first, facing backwards on the rowing thwart, and Lute sat on the aft thwart.
“The moon will be out soon,” said Mr. Grahame as he quietly stroked the wine dark water. “And then you’ll see some of the most beautiful countryside there is to be seen. Well, of course, there’s Cornwall with its charming nook-in-the-rocky-cliffs sort of harbors. Have you ever been to Cornwall?”
“Is that in England?”
“No, not according to the Cornish. But close enough.”
“Who is Mouse?” asked Lute guessing that Mr. Grahame wasn’t referring to a rodent.
“Is he lost?”
“In a way, he is. He… I mean, somehow, I lost my connection to him. Though, upon decades of reflection, I have to admit I never really possessed the essentials required for the difficult job. For a period in my life, I thought I should’ve easily possessed those, what with my child’s manifesto for the Olympians. But after he was born, and I was faced with the prospect of being the grownup, it – I mean the parenting part of our relationship – all the childhood charm disappeared. It all became so odd, and so terribly difficult.”
Lute stared at the man and reminded himself that he was being rowed down a nighttime river by a ghost. He wondered if Grahame had died young, because his ghost looked to be no older than his own father. Grahame who hadn’t been looking at Lute as he talked, but then, as if he could read the boy’s question in his eyes, looked straight at Lute and said, “No, this is the way I appeared in 1908, the year The Wind in the Willows was published. Mouse was just eight, then. We lived apart for much of that time, but in my letters to him he loved reading about Mr. Toad, Ratty, Mole, and Badger. I would describe their adventures… in my letters.” Mr. Grahame’s focus on Lute drifted away. The only sound to be heard was the wooden oars in the brass oarlocks. Not looking at Lute, the young man said, “Mouse was a difficult boy.”
“What happened to him?”
Grahame resumed gazing at the shore banks as he rowed. An angel’s breath of quietness ensued for seconds. The rising full moon cleared the tops of the trees and by its light they could see the landscapes that lined the river. “See my Elysian Fields. Look – meadows widespread, and quiet gardens, and the river itself, all softly disclosed, all washed clean of mystery and terror – it’s a silent, silver kingdom.”
Lute felt like he should say something, make a polite compliment, and not say what was on his mind, that even for ghosts this ride, though pretty, was… well, it was a bit boring. Silence dominated the boat ride – except for the gurgling of the river, and then, faintly and distantly heard, the sound of a musical instrument. Lute guessed it to be clarinet or flute notes.
“It’s a pan flute,” said Grahame softly. “Have Rat and Mole landed their boat yet?”
Lute, who was facing forward, peered around the body of the man, and could see the two characters climbing out of their beached boat and onto a small island. “Yes, do you think they found the little otter?”
“Yes, they will in a minute. And they’ll find something just as important.”
What’s more important than a lost child? Lute asked himself. Another angel’s breath and then Lute realized that Mr. Grahame had been on this ride many times before. He well knew what to expect, and exactly how the dark ride’s storyline would end.
Instead of landing their boat on the island, Grahame rowed the boat close and parallel to its shore. They passed by Rat and Mole who had frozen in their tracks, evidently their stare fixed on something just ahead of them, something hidden by bushes from Lute’s view. Grahame stopped rowing and let the boat drift.
“This is the place of my song-dream,” he said, “the place the music played to me. Here, in this holy place, here if anywhere, surely we shall find Him.”
“The little otter, Mr. Grahame? Or did you mean, your son, Mouse.”
“Shh, listen and look. As we drift pass these rushes… Now! See his backward sweeping and curving horns.”
Lute stared at what was slowly being revealed as a man-creature he’d never seen before. It had horns, but a man’s face and torso. Its legs were covered with shaggy fur. To Lute’s eyes, experienced to horror movie monsters and other fantasies, the man-creature appeared no more than mildly interesting.
“Are you filled with a sense of awe?” asked Grahame.
“Well, kind of, I guess.” Lute saw that Mr. Grahame’s attention was far away and so Lute’s answer didn’t really matter. But, even so, Lute felt compelled to ask, “Mr. Grahame, are we going to search some more for your son?”
“Watch Rat and Mole. Watch them crouch to the earth, bow their heads and worship.”
Worship? thought Lute. Not like in Saint Joe’s.
The boat drifted past the end of the island. Mr. Grahame took up the oars and pulled the boat to the riverbank where he beached it. He climbed out and dragged the bow well onto the shore. Lute stepped out and walked toward an old-fashioned automobile, one like Mr. Toad’s cartoon version. He expected they would finally have a wild ride, but Mr. Grahame put a hand on his shoulder to halt him. The car, facing away from them, started to drive off. From the back, Lute could just see the green toad-like top of a creature’s head. On the passenger side, they could only see a boy’s arm waving goodbye. The car raced down the road. In the distance, a train moved along its track.
“Don’t we get to ride with Mr. Toad in his wild motorcar?”
“Oh, I just wrote that to entertain Mouse. It has little to do with the eternal charm of childhood, and especially nothing to do with the majesty of Pan.”
Mr. Grahame looked down at Lute. “In a few years from now, the author of this kingdom will create a haunted house dark ride filled with illusionary ghosts. You’ll like it. You’ll especially admire the special effect of a crystal ball. In that glass globe will be the head of a gypsy fortune teller. You can see a preview as you leave here.”
Unnoticed by Lute, the river disappeared and they now stood on a cobblestone street outside of an English pub. Yards ahead on the street, a man-sized badger waved his cane at Lute, indicating for him to come along which he did. A door in a nearby shop, had a red exit sign above it. The shop’s window displayed the crystal ball. But inside the ball, instead of the head of a gypsy fortune-teller, floated the 3-D image of a boy’s head and shoulders. Lute could hear the boy plaintively repeat, “Father, tell me another story about Toad, and Mole and Ratty, too.”
Lute turned away and looked questioningly at the badger.
“Aye, laddie,” said the badger. “Be careful what you write. It can come back to haunt you.”
Lute nodded, started to exit, but then turned to the badger and asked, “I was supposed to get a clue for which ride I need to get on next so I can get home.”
“Go ask the wee lassie, Alice.”
Lute exited the dark ride into the twilight of a just set sun. The degree of faint light in the sky hadn’t changed since he’d regained consciousness in the kingdom of authorial ghosts. Mr. Barrie, standing by the carousel, waved to get Lute’s attention. Feeling a little dazed by his Wind in the Willows experience, Lute slowly walked toward the bright lights of the carousel. Part of the way there, he sensed something out of the corner of his eye, he looked up to see a sparkling ember flying down at his head like a dive bomber. He winched as a shower of sparkles fell upon him. He felt himself rise into the air and muttered at the retreating fairy, “Thanks a lot, Tinker Bell.”
“She only does that because she likes you,” shouted Mr. Barrie. “She prefers boys to girls. The great irony is that modern little girls like her better than Peter. Even the corporation values her more than my most memorable creation, Peter. Poor little fellow, he just keeps fading away in this park while Tinker Bell ascends.”
Mr. Barrie came over to the boy who now floated not just two inches above solid ground but about five feet in the air, his body parallel to the ground. Mr. Barrie held out the end of a string to Lute. “Here, tie this around your belt. I took it off a balloon.”
And like a balloon, Mr. Barrie pulled Lute over to the carousel where he ran alongside the moving horses and hopped aboard but this time he simply held on to the other end of the string while the boy like a balloon got dragged along. To steady himself Lute reached over to grab hold of a horse’s tail. Unfortunately, the horse moved up and down and so did Lute. Mr. Barrie stood facing backward to the ride’s direction and his eyes looked up and down as he spoke to the boy. “Tell me: What great life lesson did you learn from Mr. Grahame’s ride?”
“The badger told me to be careful about what I write. He told me that it could come back to haunt me.”
“Did he tell you that? Sounds like good advice, though I am left wondering if that bit of beastly wisdom applies more to Grahame than to yours truly.”
Lute waited for Mr. Barrie to finish his wondering which he suddenly seemed to have done with a brightened attitude and by asking, “Apropos of Mr. Grahame’s wise and poetic vision: what did you think of the classical god, Pan? Were you awe inspired? Frightened? Too spell bound for words?”
“Not a heck of a lot. I’ve seen weirder monsters.”
“My boy, Pan is not a monster. He’s terrifying, yes, but at the same time, he is magnificent. He is a force of nature. He is nature.”
Lute’s expression looked a little blank to Mr. Barrie. “Have you ever wondered why I named my eternally feral boy, Peter Pan?”
“Harumph, I say. Is all curiosity dead in modern youth? Although, perhaps after you finish my ride, you’ll understand. Anyway, it’s on to your next ride, Alice in Wonderland. There’s certainly no Pan presence in that work. Are you familiar with Mr. Carroll’s books?”
“Have you now? You are an advanced reader for a boy your age. But I suppose that’s why you were chosen. Not every guest who knocks himself insensate in Walt’s park gets to visit our realm.”
“The cartoon kind of borrowed from both books. I suppose the ride does too.”
“Walt’s ride did. But you’ll be entering the dark ride that Mr. Carroll has created.”
“Don’t you wanna come along?”
“Not that I fear the Jabberwock, but I have a few Neverland details requiring my attention. By the way, as in the film The Wizard of Oz, there’s an end-of-the-story lesson to be learned before you depart from our kingdom. And from what I know of the man, Walt would want it stated in no uncertain terms. Let go of the horse, please.”
Mr. Barrie hopped down from the turning carousel taking a couple of quick steps and pulling Lute along. One thing about floating four feet in the air that pleased Lute was that his head floated at nearly the same height as grownups, especially Mr. Barrie who wasn’t that tall.
Mr. Carroll stood leaning against a post in front of the colorful façade of Alice in Wonderland. His arms folded, his eyes downcast gave him the appearance of a kind teacher slightly amused by a befuddled student. He barely lifted his eyes up to acknowledge their approach. Sans salutation he took the balloon string from Mr. Barrie’s hand and pulled Lute toward the ride’s entrance, not a rabbit hole, but a fireplace, its mantel just beneath a large mirror. Though all around them were the colorfully painted cartoon scenes, the reflection of everything in the mirror had no color. Everything looked like line drawings. Lute’s reflection in the mirror consisted of black lines upon white.
“I asked for John Tenniel because his work depicted grotesqueness so well.”
“Why did you want the drawings to be grotesque?”
“If the world an author depicts isn’t logical, then it surely must be whimsical, silly, or grotesque. Dreams can be grotesque, can they not?”
“Nightmares sure can, and I guess just regular dreams can be too.”
“Without a doubt. Come now, let us travel through the looking glass.”
“In the cartoon, Alice falls down a rabbit hole.”
“Yes, and in my book the entrance to Wonderland is via that method, but tonight I’ve of a mood to see the Jabberwock and in order to do that we must transit through the looking glass.”
Mr. Carroll ran straight at the fireplace and mirror pulling the floating Lute behind him. He leapt up and dove into the mirror which shimmered like a mist as they passed through it. The room they landed in looked normal enough in spite of the lack of color and the absence of electronic devices like a radio, a stereo record player, or a boxy television set. On the floor Lute spied a chessboard and its pieces, looking as if an unhappy player had tipped it over. Some of the pieces were walking about on the Oriental carpet. Mr. Carroll picked up the chessboard and after setting it on the table began picking up the pieces, one by one. He handed each one to Lute who floated near to the table and the chessboard. Lute examined each piece, fascinated by each animated expression.
“The odd benefit about being an authorial ghost in this kingdom, is that all of us writers have been able to learn what became of our books after we died… and our reputations. In a way, it has been hellish. Still, it has been interesting to witness artistic adaptations of my books. Unfortunately, some of my books haven’t weathered the vagaries of time so well. I am especially downhearted about Sylvie and Bruno.”
“Who were they?”
“That is exactly my point. Sylvie and Bruno is a less popular book I wrote. I once considered it the best book I’d ever written. However, it was the Alice books that endured in the popular imagination.”
“Did you like the Disney cartoon?”
“I didn’t at first, but then, as I witnessed children loving it, I began to appreciate its merits and was very impressed by the advancements in films and animation – amazing technological advancements. I was also an inventor, you know.”
“And a mathematician.”
“You know that? I’m flattered. In my Alice books I teased little Alice about not knowing her lessons. Quick. State the commutative law of addition.”
“Um, it doesn’t matter the order when you add. I mean, for instance, one plus two is the same as two plus one.”
“Not elegantly expressed but I’ll give you passing marks.” Mr. Carroll waited as Lute put the red queen in the first rank. The red queen smiled and nodded her satisfaction with being set upon her rightful place. “Good, and now, we should take a stroll in the flower garden.”
“I can’t walk when I’m floating in the… Hey, I’m sinking.” Lute touched his toes to the ground and then settled his whole feet flat. “That’s better. Now I can walk like normal.”
They exited the black and white room by way of French doors. The garden as seen through the doors’ windows had appeared normal sized, but after stepping onto the path, the flower stems had become as large as palm tree trunks. The petals of the flowers hung far above their heads. Some of the flowers leaned their faces down to see who passed amongst them. Mr. Carroll began to softly sing a song.
“That’s from the cartoon movie,” Lute blurted out.
“As I said, I learned to like the film. And I like to sing its songs.” Mr. Carroll continued with the song and as he did the flowers hummed along. When he finished singing, he said, “The very odd truth of the matter is that I like Walt’s animated adaptation more than he does. In fact, I think he said of his own creation that it lacked warmth. But maybe he didn’t like the movie version because it lost him a lot of money, at first. And I’d go so far as to state that he doesn’t really like my Alice books because they had become tamper proof classics. In short, he’s a storyteller par excellence that prefers telling his own stories, or at least his versions. Say, how do you like my dark ride so far?”
“Er, it’s not really a ride, Mr. Carroll,” said Lute cautiously.
“Walt had originally planned this Alice in Wonderland to be a walk-through, but if you’d prefer to ride something, how about this train carriage?”
Almost imperceptibly, their surroundings had morphed into the interior of a train carriage. Across from a sheep knitting contentedly, Mr. Carroll sat and so did Lute.
“Transitions in dreams happen so naturally, don’t you think? When depicting such a transition in books, it must be done subtly and seamlessly. However, stage plays in my day could not accomplish a smooth transition.”
“No, they certainly did not,” said a beetle sitting across from the man and boy.
“Motion pictures have done a slightly better job,” said Mr. Carroll. “By the way, have you seen any of the live action films based on my Alice books?”
“I’ve seen one. It was in black and white, and had a lot of old time actors. It was okay, but it was kind of weird.”
“Undoubtedly it was weird, as you say. It lacked the charm and the dream-like quality I achieved in my books. No one, no medium, has successfully depicted my written words.”
“But you like Walt’s cartoon,” said a fly.
Looking at the talking insects made Lute a little nervous, so he looked out the window and was surprised to see that the passing scenery had become still, not rushing by. Yet, he hadn’t felt the carriage or train slowing to a stop. Outside a familiar figure caught his eye.
“It’s the white knight!” exclaimed Lute who was now standing on a dirt path. The train carriage had vanished and now Mr. Carroll and he stood outdoors and to the side of the mounted knight.
“Are you on the way to Tulgey Wood?” Mr. Carroll looked up at the armored man on a horse. A girl of about ten or eleven sat sidesaddle behind him.
“No, frightfully dismal over there. Rather think the little girl would prefer avoiding it. She wants to be escorted to the seventh rank, you know. It’s my duty.”
“We shall meet you there,” said Mr. Carroll. “First, I must liven up this ride for the boy.”
“Tulgey Wood should fit the bill, frightfully so.” The knight urged his horse onward. The girl turned to wave goodbye.”
“Is that Alice?” asked Lute. They began walking down another path, one which led to a dark grove of trees. A sign on a post stated, “Turn back Jabberwock dead ahead.”
Lute, who hadn’t much interest in girls, had to admit, “I guess she’s pretty.”
“Children, especially girls, can be the most beautiful incarnation of God’s special creation.”
“What’s God’s special creation?” asked Lute.
“Why, we are. And God gave us the faculties and inclination to appreciate beauty and purity. You have three beautiful sisters, if I’m not mistaken?”
“Well, yeah, I guess.” Lute, by now, no longer wondered how the authorial ghosts knew so much about his life.
“Why depict them as witches?”
“Because they’re mean to me and… What was that?” asked Lute after hearing the distant but distinct roar of an unidentified beast.
Mr. Carroll inclined his head as if to better hear, but then as if he’d heard nothing of import said. “Be the first to make a peace offering, is my advice. Write a story depicting them as beautiful as they are and kind as they can be. Family can be the most important element of anyone’s life. I, myself, had seven dear sisters. Now, keep a careful watch. There are grotesqueries about.”
“Was that a gro-thingamajig’s roar?”
“Um, no. That was me, throwing my voice. In order to keep my singing voice in good pitch, I, upon occasion, need to throw it.”
Lute knew that Mr. Carroll, in some way, joked, but he didn’t bother himself with dissecting the young man’s words in order to find the humor. He wasn’t in the mood. To Lute it felt like the surrounding thick and dark woods leaned into the two walkers, hemming them in spooky darkness. These woods must be haunted in a real bad way, thought Lute to himself. Little figures could be half seen in the undergrowth. Scurrying in the bushes, unseen, others could be heard.
“’Beware the Jabberwock, my son’ isn’t quite accurate,” said Mr. Carroll while staring at the almost visible creatures in the darkness of the bushes. “It’s the mimsy borogoves and the mome raths that fear the Jabberwock.”
“I remember mome raths from the cartoon,” said Lute, “but these don’t look anything like the cartoon creatures.”
“I won’t begrudge Mr. Disney’s artists their inventions. Modern children seem to be amused by the colorful visual puns. And I suppose they would find Mr. Tenniel’s drawings a bit nightmarish. However, this is my special Tulgey Wood that I imagined just for the discomfort of certain twentieth century writers who slandered me most foully; despicable men and women who without a shred of evidence wrote books accusing me of unmentionable crimes against God.”
“Sounds like you really don’t like those guys.”
“Not in the least. Watch, I’ll call their names and you can see them in all their filth. First the borogoves: Goldschmidt! Thomas! Bakewell!”
Three bedraggled creatures crept into the open. They looked like parrots except their beaks turned upward and they had no wings. Their eyes darted about nervously.
“Now, the raths: Skinner! Robson! Rankin! Lemmon!”
Four more miserable looking creatures emerged from the darkness. For the most part they resembled turtles except their heads were shark like and their forelegs curved forward as if the legs had grown on backwards.
“Why do they look so scared?”
Mr. Carroll leaned his head down and into Lute’s ear whispered, “The Jabberwock. I trained the beast to hunt and hound the little fellows. Dante was kinder to his tormentors.”
High above the eight odd creatures and in the darkness of the woods behind them, Lute could see, at first, two red glowing eyes, and then the head of the beast, open mouthed with drool dripping out between its rows of fang like teeth. The head slowly waved back and forth, then, like a rattlesnake striking, its head and long neck lunged forward. Its teeth nipped into the tail feathers of a borogove causing it to squawk and flee away. The other borogoves darted away. The raths began moving as quickly as they could. The heavy footsteps of the Jabberwock shook the ground as it lumbered into the clearing. It stepped on two of the raths using them for pedestals as it picked up the third in its mouth and flung it into the air. Lute froze, but Mr. Carroll took his hand and led him away.
“I hope that scene didn’t upset you too much.”
“Heck, yeah, it was really scary. But it was kind of neat, too. I mean, I like being scared by horror movies and stuff. But that was way scary.”
“Mr. Disney, in his creation of new rides and movies will struggle with that same issue. All children’s book authors do. No decent person wants to harm a child and beyond a certain point gruesome villains and monsters cause young children lifelong trauma. Older children, on the other hand, grow immune to artistic depictions of horror. That’s because, regrettably, their childish imagination loses its power.”
While Mr. Carroll had been speaking the dark woods had become better lit, the thick undergrowth sparse, and the ground underfoot covered with a soft lawn. Ahead stretches of a river could be seen in between groves of willows.
“Fancy a bit of rowing on the Thames?” asked Alice.
The sudden appearance of Alice on the other side of Mr. Carroll didn’t surprise Lute. It was just that kind of ride or dream – he wasn’t sure what to call it. It was all so… Twilight Zone like.
“As much as he is welcome to join us and the others, I’m afraid he hasn’t the time. He’s scheduled for one more authorial lesson. With Mr. Barrie, I believe?” Mr. Carroll looked down at Lute as if waiting for a confirmation.
“I guess so,” began Lute, “but I was supposed to…”
“Ask me for the next clue,” said Alice. “When you visit Neverland, you mustn’t let the witches frighten you. Trust the witches. At the ride’s end you will receive your final clue from an incidental stereotype.”
Alice came around Mr. Carroll to face Lute who was about the same height as her. After taking each of his hands in hers, she learned her face forward and kissed him on his cheek. “Goodbye, Lute. I wish you luck and a safe return home.”
“You’ve learned a lesson here,” said Mr. Carroll.
“Be careful about what you write?” Lute waited for reaction but seeing none on Mr. Carroll’s face continued. “Because you might hurt somebody’s feelings, or… or someone might hurt your feelings?”
“What you say will suffice. It is an elementary understanding of the special situation we departed writers of classical children’s stories face. Now, you must recite.”
“How doth the little lad make his sisters sad …” A sudden realization halted Lute: Where did those words come from?
“A good beginning; however, you might find the couplet’s truth easier expressed in plain English.”
“Family, including sisters, is important?”
“Exactly. I enjoyed your company, Lute. I hope that you found mine if not enjoyable then, at the least, illuminating. You’ll find the exit just to your right.”
Lute looked to his right and the countryside scenery that looked so real a second ago shimmered like a burning hot day’s mirage and became a realistic looking backdrop with a door. He opened the door and exited onto the quiet concrete pathway. Mr. Barrie stood before him. The hour of the day hadn’t changed; twilight dominated the sky above. The carousel was to his left and the Matterhorn to his right.
“Can we ride the bobsleds?” asked Lute. “Maybe I can learn something from that ride.”
“Mr. Ullman’s Matterhorn? Not in this illuminating unconscious experience. That’ll have to keep for some other knockout session.” With Lute walking, not floating, by his side Mr. Barrie hurried toward his ride’s entrance. “Finally, it’s my turn. Are you eager and ready to ascend to Neverland?”
“Sure. I’ve sort of seen what it looks like from the cartoon.”
“As with your previous two rides, the experience will be quite different. So, in addition to the animated motion picture, have you read the Peter Pan books or seen my play.”
“Is your play the one Hallmark shows every year, the one on TV with all the songs?”
“To be precise, that is the musical version of my play. The major elements – the characters, the setting, the developed themes – those are near identical. The ending is a little different, but even I changed the ending of my play when I made it into a novel.”
“I mean you no disrespect, Jaime, but shouldn’t a well-crafted storyline dictate its ending?” The voice behind them was that of Mr. Carroll. Turning around, Lute and Mr. Barrie watched as Mr. Carroll and Mr. Grahame approached.
“On the other hand,” said Mr. Grahame, “It is perfectly possible that a story’s theme lies so close to the musings of one’s heart that a true resolution is not knowable to our mortal form. But enough philosophizing; Mind if we accompany you?”
Mr. Barrie nodded at the two men and said, “Of course, Kenneth, you and Charles are certainly welcome to experience my version of the ride.” Mr. Barrie – Jamie to his friends – turned to Lute and explained, “Do you know Lewis Carroll’s real name? It is Charles.”
Lute shook his head, but he was glad for the company of two people he knew at least a little. Though his regard for the two wasn’t exactly pure new friendship. After experiencing Mr. Grahame’s Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, he felt a bit sorry for the man. And after seeing how Mr. Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland, had sicced the Jabberwock on the mean people… well, Lute didn’t want to risk his dislike. On the other hand, the ghosts exactly knew how Lute – a living boy – felt alienated and alone in their realm of authorial ghosts. The ability to read the minds and moods of the living was one of the few advantages to be had in their purgatory.