Sunday, April 26, 2009


"You are awake," Lizzie said unable to conceal the delight in her voice, though she tried to smother the grin that tried to leap across her face. "How are you feeling?"

"Decidedly odd," Tilney muttered. Lizzie was encouraged to see that his eyes retained their focus if not yet enough of their accustomed sparkle. She dipped the flannel into the bowl and reached to wet his brow once more. He lifted a weakened hand to stop her.

"How long have we been here? Where are we anyway? What has happened?"

Lizzie paused before responding, wondering just how far she should backtrack in their adventures. It was most distracting to see his clever eyes scrutinize her face as if he suspected there were something that had not been entirely resolved between them.

"You were shot," she began haltingly, sitting on the chair ext to the edge of the bed. "And you have been suffering from a fever some days, which quite alarmed me, I can tell you."

"Have I alarmed you? I apologize my friend." His look was contrite and he laid his hand on hers. "And you have been tending me, Bennett? How very kind."

"It was nothing."

"Tut -- I am certain I was a great deal of trouble and I apologize for it most heartily," Tilney said with evident regret. "And where are we?"

"In a small village that goes by the name of Old Fénelon, although it is not clear that we are anywhere near what is known as Fénelon, which was the home of the author of Telemachus," Lizzie added with a frown.

"Geography, Bennett, not history and literature," Tilney said with a little more of his dry humour. "Where are we in relation to things I would recognize?"

Lizzie coughed to disguise her embarrassment and, she had to admit, slight annoyance. The thing about having been on her own the last few days, and treated like a man, was that she had not been questioned or corrected in that time. That was the power of breeches.

"We are not far from where you were shot. Indeed, we could not have traveled far from that place as you were too gravely injured."

"Do you think that wise?" Tilney asked, trying desperately to rise. Lizzie leaned down to try to help him gently to a sitting position, though he fussed and tried to do it himself. "Those men might pursue us. We ought to have removed ourselves more decisively from the area." His protestations were cut off by a violent fit of coughing.

"You should lay back down," Lizzie scolded.

"'pon rep, Bennett. It's not like I'm befogged," Tilney responded with considerable irritation, although he allowed her to help him back down onto the pillows. "Lud, I'm weak as a kitten. What does the leech say about my chances for recovery?"

"He says that you'll be feeling corky in no time," Lizzie said with every effort to conceal her discomfort in tossing off the cant Tilney used with such panache. "Not in such words of course," she added, hoping she had not gone too far, "But the sense is there."

"Do you think a fellow might get a bite to eat around here," Tilney said with studied laziness.

Lizzie took this to mean he was starving. "I will get some soup for you tout de suite." She hopped up to do just that but Tilney called to her at the threshold and she froze.

"And then there's a little mystery about which we need to speak, Bennett!"

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