Follow the Steam Rabbit
She sighed, made a mental note of her page number, 345, easy enough to remember being half as large as the sum of its proper divisors, and put the book down on the root of the tree that shaded her reading spot, before setting off in pursuit.
It was obviously one of Uncle Charles’s inventions: a steam-powered, oversized mechanical rabbit indeed. But without a closer look, she couldn’t tell if it was malfunctioning or merely following its creator’s increasingly bizarre instructions.
When she had been younger and not much taller than that fur-covered automaton, she’d delighted in her uncle’s flights of fancy and in the marvelous inventions that came out of his underground workshop. Indeed, it was this inspiration that had turned her inquisitive young mind to the pursuit of science and to mechanical textbooks such as the one she had just abandoned on the riverbank.
But her uncle’s genius never seemed to go anywhere; he might as well have been a mere toymaker. That would have suited his childish delight in getting each new clockwork or steam-powered device to work. Such a waste. For Professor Charles Dodgson, engineering was merely an enjoyable diversion, a way of entertaining his mind while not engaged on the latest arcane mathematical challenge. Whereas it seemed to Alice that his dusty dry mathematics ought to be relegated to his moments of leisure and he should give himself over fully to his inventions, he seemed blind to his own genius, to the concept that his mechanical marvels could in a very real way free mankind from its arduous toil, from the dangerous and menial burden of manual work.
Alice would not make the same mistake.
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