“But what did the honorable member mean by the inclined plane? …”
— Hon. Mr. Currie, Debates on Confederation (1865), page 46
“The Honorable Premier had stated we were on an inclined plane, and he (Hon. Mr. Sanborn) supposed that like Holland we must dyke ourselves up, lest we slide away into the sea of the great American Confederacy. (Laughter.) Whether we were liable to be hurled thither by an avalanche or gradually glide down, we could not prevent our going there except by Confederation, but Confederation would stop us, and that was something to be thankful for.”
— Hon. Mr. Sanborn, Debates on Confederation (1865), page 124
lice now found herself standing on a vast, Inclined Plane, with lightning forking all around. High above, suspended like a weather balloon, floated a huge angry looking Shape…
“How exactly like an Egg he is!” proclaimed Alice, unintentionally referring to him aloud and in the third person.
As if by reflex, Alice found her two hands reaching up and up to the sky, ready to catch the Shape, for at any moment she expected him to fall.
“It’s very provoking to be called an Egg !” said the Shape, glaring down at Alice, and wobbling in rage.
With a buzz like a short-circuit, a stray bolt of lightning seemed to speed from the Shape’s left ear, and he railed for emphasis: “Very !”
All around Alice, the lightning seemed to crackle in echo of his word.
Taking firm possession of herself, as the lightning crashed about, while the angry Shape seemed near to burst, Alice retorted: “But, I merely said you looked like an Egg, Sir”.
It was too fine a distinction, and the “Sir” added nothing to it. The Shape’s feelings had been hurt, Alice knew it. How does one cure the hurt feelings of an angry Shape?
Pursuing her appeal, Alice tried again: “But I didn’t say you were an Egg, I used a figure of speech, a trope, a simile… an image! It’s a linguistic rule!”
“Vexatious!” cried the Shape.
“But it is a rule!” importuned Alice.
“Quarrelsome!” cried the Shape, “Who cares what it means! I make the rules here!”
The Shape was clearly beside himself, for now he seemed to split in two, so that two identical Shapes hovered in the air.
Both Shapes burst into tears, wobbling and raging, raging and weeping. The more the Shapes wept, the more the sparks flew like tears from their eyes.
Lightning was flashing now in all directions: a dry tempest, thunder upon thunder, but no rain. Alice’s hair stood up at the roots as she cast about for an exit. But there seemed to be no way off the Inclined Plane.
There could be no better time than now to change the subject.
“But what is your name,” cried Alice, hoping to coax the Shapes out of their foul mood.
All at once, the two Shapes merged, and the single Egg-like face glared down again at Alice.
Slanting a look this way, and slanting a look that way, the Shape seemed to be contemplating. Finally he said, “StratasFear!” And at that, thunder rumbled over the whole horizon.
Then a wind from the North Pole (Ottawa) and a wind from the South Pole (Texas) sprang up and wrestled each other over the Inclined Plane, the two winds throttling one another in an effort to merge into one in the hot dry sky near the Egg-Shape.
The Shape struggled in the vortex, wobbling top-like.
Unequal to the wind, at last he toppled ball over keel like a weather balloon, pitching and staggering on the skirt of the revolution.
The rassling wind rotated ever faster, seizing the Shape that now shot daggers of lightning from his left ear and his right ear, protesting, but to no avail.
For, the merged wind collared the Shape and hauled him off top-first on the ridge of cloud that hung above the Inclined Plane.
– 30 –
UPDATED: 7 August 2018.