"Indeed," Lizzie said with an affectedly lazy drawl. She avoided raising her eyes and concentrated on nibbling at the piece of bread very slowly. "And what would that be, Tilney?"
He paused, the soup spoon still clutched in his hand. "What was the name of the sawbones who attended me?"
Lizzie felt herself relax a little. Was this all he was wondering? "M. Sangsue. He ought to be coming sometime today in order to examine you further. He has been quite confident of your recovery when I was quite concerned."
Tilney's face looked slightly clouded, as if he were trying to recall something elusive. "It was he who fished out the shot from my side?"
Lizzie nodded. "It was quite an exacting procedure. It took him a good long while to extract the ball from your wound. Quite a bit of delicacy involved. I'm sure you'll find monsieur le docteur to be a most trustworthy and painstaking task master."
Tilney sighed, setting the spoon back in the cooling bowl of soup. "Painstaking is correct. I say, Bennett, did you help with this procedure?"
"Indeed I did," Lizzie answered, trying hard to maintain her lazy drawl even as she rose in excitement. Oh, if Alice could only see her then! How she would marvel at her cousin and her ability to sustain such a painful and difficult procedure, to say nothing of the blood. No doubt at all: it was a fabulous encounter and no less. Lizzie took unaccustomed pride in her careful charade. She had portrayed the male not only in the casual wearing of the clothes, but in the midst of shocking adventures, had maintained the role with all aplomb. "It was quite horrifying, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world."
"You have been a good friend, Bennett and brave." Tilney nodded sagely, leaning back again the pillows.
"Why thank you, Tilney. You're most kind."
"Why it's no less than the truth," Tilney rejoined. "Quite a lot to withstand—horror, blanche and blood," he added, shaking his head as if in disbelief of it all."
"Especially when one is a girl, yes?"
Lizzie froze once more. He knew!