The path crossed a shallow stream, which Alice stepped across on several large rocks without even getting wet. As she climbed the bank on the other side, she could not quite believe whether she saw it or not.
"I must be seeing things," she told herself. But suddenly there it stood in front of her—a magnificent ram.
"How does one talk to a ram?" thought Alice. She finally summoned up her courage and said, "Excuse me," then added as an afterthought, "Sir."
The ram seemed not to hear her for what seemed the longest time, and Alice was about to speak up again when the ram turned and looked directly at her.
"I can speak to you now, for a moment," he said in a calm, quiet voice. "I hope you did not think that I was rude. You see, He was addressing me."
"Oh," said Alice looking around. "I didn't hear anyone."
"Of course you didn't," replied the ram. "For that time He was not talking to you."
"I see," Alice said, although she really did not see at all. However, she thought she should try to make polite conversation so she asked, "Do you live around here?"
The ram laughed gently and started to reply when he suddenly stopped and stood very still for a long time. Alice was beginning to become concerned when the ram relaxed and looked at her again.
"You do have to excuse me again, He was addressing me once more," the ram explained.
Alice did not know what to say, but she finally asked, "Does this happen very often?"
"Oh, yes!" replied the ram. "You see, He needs me."
"Who is this 'He' that keeps interrupting you?"
The ram gently laughed again. "You will meet Him one day, but He does not interrupt me. He is the one that gets all the interruptions!"
The ram stiffened once more. Alice sighed and waited patiently for him to pay attention to her once again.
"It doesn't seem quite fair," she said indignantly. "Just when you start to do something, 'He' stops you."
"Oh, I don't mind," the ram said with a smile. "He knows that He needs me, and I am happy to be of service."
"What happens when 'He addresses' you?"
"Oh, sometimes He tells me words, sometimes I give Him words." the ram answered.
Alice did not quite know how to respond to this, so she asked, "Are there any pictures too?" For she suddenly thought of all the books without pictures and how boring they were.
"No, just words!" laughed the ram.
Alice started to feel quite uncomfortable, when the ram said, "Are you thirsty? It is time for me to be refreshed."
"Oh, no thank you."
"Well, if you will excuse me for a moment." And with that the ram wandered down the bank to the stream and took a long drink.
When he returned, he remarked, "That is one time when He has to wait. He knows that if I don't get a refreshing drink of water every so often, I will forget everything!"
Alice was really very confused, but before she had a chance to respond, the Ram said suddenly, "Come with me. I want you to meet a very special friend. Take hold of my coat so you won't get lost."
Alice reached out and gingerly grabbed a handful of the curly wool on the back of the ram. It was the softest coat that she could remember!
Without thinking, Alice exclaimed, "Why your wool is so soft. I expect it would make someone the finest clothes to wear...." She paused suddenly, because she realized that the ram might be insulted. "...I'm sorry, I didn't mean...." She stammered rather sheepishly.
"That's all right!" replied the ram with a laugh. "It is altogether appropriate that my wool should outfit someone with something soft to wear. Actually, I understand that many prefer my wool—I have a cousin that never drinks. Even though His coat is soft, it is dry and full of static."
"Would your cousin be like a camel?" asked Alice.
"Oh my no! It is a ram very much like me but a bit faster than I am."
Alice felt she had said enough for the moment. This place and the ram were quite confusing to her, so she quietly followed him, stopping when he stopped for the now familiar pauses when 'He' called. Soon they approached a very small sheep huddled in a corner.
"This is my brother. He is a rom," the ram stated proudly.
"He is so small." said Alice, who by now had gotten her confidence back.
"That is because he holds fewer words than I do." replied the ram.
"How do you do?" Alice said with a curtsy.
But the rom ignored her.
"Is something wrong with him?" Alice whispered to the ram with great concern.
"Oh no, nothing is wrong! He is different, but very special," the ram replied.
"But he doesn't say anything to me."
"Of course not. You see, he cannot see, hear, or learn." said the ram.
"How sad; my teacher would not like that." said Alice without thinking.
"Do not feel sorry for him." the ram quickly said. "He is very special. You see, he cannot ever forget anything! I dare say that you forget things."
"Of course, everyone does."
"Not the rom!"
"Well, I once read that elephants never forget." replied Alice, "That is because they have a huge trunk to store it all in, I think!" she finished thoughtfully.
"The rom doesn't need a trunk!"
"I can see that," said Alice, and she reached out to pet the rom.
"Ouch!" she exclaimed as she pulled her hand back quickly. "His coat is too hard. I think it cut my hand!"
"Your hand is just fine." said the ram after examining it. "I should have warned you. His wool is so very tough. It makes very firm clothes. But, there are people who prefer something firm to wear."
Suddenly, the rom stood up erect and rigid.
"What is happening to him?" cried Alice.
"He is addressing it." said the ram, "Just like He addresses me. Because the rom never forgets, He depends on the rom."
"How can that be?" Alice demanded.
"I don't really know," the ram replied. "When I awoke, He was addressing me, and telling me things He learned from the rom."
"You were asleep?" inquired Alice.
"Well, after a fashion. Yes, I suppose I was asleep. But I don't remember anything before that. Maybe, maybe I was born."
"I remember things from before I woke up," said Alice. "Sometimes I even dream."
"What is a dream?"
"Well, it is like a play. I am Me, but I am a different person. Everything is different. It seems real but it isn't quite. And it is while I am asleep."
"Oh, I know about that. I have been many different things since I woke up.... But that is not quite a dream is it? I mean, I have been awake all the time, not asleep...." said the ram thoughtfully.
"Sometimes, I dream when I am awake," said Alice. "Like when I am in class and the teacher is trying to tell us about history."
The ram suddenly jumped to its feet, for it had laid down near Alice and the rom.
"I beg your pardon, but I must go immediately!" he said. "There is something important coming for me to learn!"
"When will I see you again?" cried Alice.
"That, I cannot tell. Probably I will be something different when we do meet again. I keep changing."
With that he leaped away, and Alice did not even have time to say how nice it was to meet him.
"That was rude of him!" she thought to herself, feeling a little put out by his behavior. The rom just stood quietly, and Alice, feeling that there was no use trying to talk to the rom (and she didn't at all want to try to pet him again), rambled away through the woods behind the lands with the rom.
Alice thought about the ram and the rom that she had just met. The phrase 'The Ram and Rom' kept going through her mind. It sounded so familiar, but she could not quite place it. As she puzzled over this, she suddenly realized how hungry she was. If only she could find a nice place to get a big meal. The more she thought about this the more miserable she felt.
Suddenly, through the trees she saw a large building with a red sign and in gold letters the single word COURAGE. "That's what I need," thought Alice as she hurried toward the building. "I'm a big girl. I won't be a scaredy cat!"