Introducing the hat herself. She does not replace my Very Favorite Missing Hat, but nonetheless:
The lively story traipsing through my brain concerns a sister and her younger brother, Sylvie and Bruno. Intermingled with their whimsical adventures in Outland and Elfland meander crumbs and tidbits of what one might imagine were Charles Lutwidge Dodgson's own musings on Life, Love and All That Sort of Nonsense.
Sylvie and Bruno is divided into chapters with curious titles, for example: Less Bread! More Taxes!
Bruno, being a mischievous chap, once performed a phlizz on his nursemaid. But then he discovers that a phlizz doesn't work so well when it comes to fruit...
In one chapter, entitled The Magic Locket, Sylvie is given a solemn choice between two jeweled lockets as a gift from her (mostly absent, for reasons unexplained) father. A blue jeweled heart contains the words, "all will love Sylvie," while on the other red jewel, "Sylvie will love all" appears. She chooses the red one.
Sylvie whispered the words, several times over, with a thoughtful smile, and then made her decision. "It's very nice to be loved," she said: "but it's nicer to love other people! May I have the red one, Father?"
“It’s for you to keep you know” he said in a low voice, “not for other people to see..."
For any inveterate Lewis Carroll fan, the clincher of this tale doesn't even arrive until pages and pages later, at the conclusion of the next book, Sylvie and Bruno Concluded....when Sylvie's locket suddenly seems to have changed its appearance:
...Bruno carried it off to the window, and held it aloft against the sky, whose deepening blue was already spangled with stars. Soon he came running back in some excitement. “Sylvie! Look here!” he cried. “I can see right through it when I hold it up to the sky. And it isn’t red a bit: it’s, oh such a lovely blue! And the words are all different! Do look at it!”
Sylvie was quite excited, too, by this time; and the two children eagerly held up the Jewel to the light, and spelled out the legend between them, “ALL WILL LOVE SYLVIE.”
“Why, this is the other Jewel!” cried Bruno. “Don’t you remember, Sylvie? The one you didn’t choose!”
Sylvie took it from him, with a puzzled look, and held it, now up to the light, now down. “It’s blue one way,” she said softly to herself, “and it’s red the other way! Why, I thought there were two of them–Father!” she suddenly exclaimed, laying the Jewel once more in his hand, “I do believe it was the same Jewel all the time!”
“Then you choosed it from itself,” Bruno thoughtfully remarked. “Father, could Sylvie choose a thing from itself?”
“Yes, my own one,” the old man replied to Sylvie, not noticing Bruno’s embarrassing question, “it was the same Jewel—but you chose quite right.” And he fastened the ribbon round her neck again.
“SYLVIE WILL LOVE ALL—ALL WILL LOVE SYLVIE.”
Bruno murmured, raising himself on tiptoe to kiss the “little red star”. “And, when you look at it, it’s red and fierce like the sun—and, when you look through it, it’s gentle and blue like the sky!”
“God’s own sky,” Sylvie said, dreamily.
“God’s own sky,” the little fellow repeated, as they stood, lovingly clinging together, and looking out into the night. “But oh, Sylvie, what makes the sky such a darling blue?”
Sylvie’s sweet lips shaped themselves to reply, but her voice sounded faint and very far away. The vision was fast slipping from my eager gaze: but it seemed to me, in that last bewildering moment, that not Sylvie but an angel was looking out through those trustful brown eyes, and that not Sylvie’s but an angel’s voice was whispering
“IT IS LOVE.”
The full effect of this tale may be restricted to those as impressionable, naive and sentimental as myself--but when I think on Sylvie's changeable jewel -- I am reminded also of the humble forget-me-not--whose buds, when closed tightly, appear bright-pink--but then whose long-lasting flowerets deepen throughout the season from cerulean into powder blue and then fade altogether...