Sunday, October 25, 2009


As she stepped into the dining room of the inn, Lizzie found herself wistful. Contemplating her escape from this place suddenly made it seem so much more homey. The dingy interior and well-worn accoutrements took on a nostalgic air as she tried to force herself into thoughts of escape.

Well enough to know she had to go away -- for Tilney's good as well as her own -- but more difficult to actually act upon the knowledge. I can easily ride away, today or even tomorrow, Lizzie told herself.

But who would take care of Tilney?

Stop it, Lizzie thought with a shake. Tilney is well enough now, clearly on the way to recovery. He doesn't need you, she scolded. Lizzie did her best to ignore the stabbing pain in her chest. It didn't mean anything at all.

"Monsieur," she asked the landlord, lowering her voice mid-word as it had crept up to a higher register than usual. "If I could trouble your for some sustenance for my friend--"

The kindly landlord turned from his attentions to the glasses with mild surprise. "Ah, oui, oui. I have some lamb stew that is magnifique, even if it is I saying so." His smile was superceded almost at once by a more serious look, however.

"I have some news to share that you may not find so palatable, monsieur."

Lizzie started. "What is it?" The last thing she wanted was more surprises.

"The magistrate has arrived."

"The magistrate?" That didn't sound good, Lizzie thought.

"Oui, he arrives periodically to review local disputes and such like. He has come a bit earlier than usual, however. I do not know for certain, but I fear that perhaps someone may have told him about the duel. One suspects that he may be more interested in the principal duelists themselves, of course," and he gave a little Gallic shrug at this, "But one can never predict the actions of petite bureaucrats."

"Indeed," Lizzie answered, her voice ringing hollow in the empty room. She watched the landlord bustle around scooping some of the stew into a tureen while her thoughts ran like spring colts around the corridors of her mind. Magistrate! Law, bother, difficulties -- exposure! For both of them no doubt. This could not be borne.

"Merci, merci," Lizzie muttered as she took the tray from his hands. She made her way up the stairs as swiftly as it was safe to do, testing a wide variety of scenarios in her head as she struggled up the steps trying to keep the tureen level.

She burst through the door, startling Tilney who had a book open in his lap.

"We must depart today!"

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pigeon Flu

Your esteemed authoress believes that she may have come down with a fashionable disease of some kind, which her gentlewoman's gentlewoman has declared to be the au courant sniffles otherwise known as pigeon flu among the haute ton (seemingly indistinguishable from a head cold by all but the most perspicacious). For that reason, your humble narrator of these exciting adventures begs your pardon while she recovers from this malady, for it will delay the latest episode of this most enthralling serial adventure, which ought to continue with regularity next Sabbath.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


"I must say," Tilney drawled from far too close to Lizzie's ear, "that I find this unexpectedly comfortable."

Lizzie's eyes popped open and she sat bolt upright. After a moment's confusion she realised that she was lying in the bed next to Tilney. Were it not for the fact that he lay under the duvet and she on top of it, Lizzie might well have fainted with alarm right there.

"I-I—" she began stammering as she slipped off the bed. "It was the surgeon. He insisted I rest. I did not wish to make him suspect anything was amiss, so I followed his orders." She feared that her face had probably turned scarlet.

Tilney stretched and yawned. "Well, I feel unaccountably better. And hungry. Do tell me I will be able to eat something now. Don't want that infernal sawbones to be forbidding me to put on the feedbag."

"No, not at all. In fact, he was telling me to be sure to make you eat. Let me run down to the landlord and ask him for your supper." Lizzie stepped toward the door, whisking away the lock of hair that decided to cover her eyes.

"Wait, Bennett," Tilney said, his voice softer than before. "Don't run away just yet."

Lizzie paused, attempting to compose herself before she turned her face toward his. "What is it, Tilney?"

To her surprise, his face did not reveal the usual lazy grin, but a rather more serious expression. "I knew I fell asleep like a child while you were telling me your life story, but I do hope you will enlighten me to the cause of your present ticklish situation. I do want to know."

The warmth that flushed her cheeks made Lizzie even more eager to depart. "I shall," she managed to say, her voice higher than usual from the strain of suppressing her conflicting emotions. "Do let me get you some sustenance, first."

"Bennett," Tilney repeated. "I want to know everything." His smile returned but it was almost shy and his eyes had a kind of warmth in their gaze that made Lizzie blush further. She nodded her head, not trusting herself to answer with words and hurried out the door.

In the dark of the corridor, Lizzie exhaled with relief. Why oh why, did she have to be kidnapped from her uncle's funeral, exiled on a white slaver's ship, rescued by pirates and nearly drowned in a storm just so she could run into Tilney in a small coastal village of France. It was as if some guiding influence willfully threw her into one adventure after another for its own amusement.

If only she had not been thrown into Tilney's path! If only he had been a dullard and a fool! She would not be in the situation she was. Resolutely, she turned to head down the staircase. It would be best to get away from Tilney as quickly as possible. Lizzie could not bear to wrong him or herself. The less he knew, the better.

She would have to give him the slip, as they said, leave his side and go to the King of Naples. It was the only way. Yet her steps were heavy as she descended to the main floor.

Sunday, October 04, 2009


"What on earth do you mean?" Alice demanded. It was more than a little provoking to find that while she had been kidnapped, the ransoming process had yet to begin. "Very bad form," Alice added with a sternly disapproving look. "Very bad form."

"I don't think you comprehend—" Gilet de Sauvinage began to say, but Alice cut him off with an admirably peremptory gesture.

"I am displeased," was all she said, however. But she began to understand the commanding tone her rather diminutive mother had learned to adopt. It was surprisingly effective with many members of the public.

"I appreciate that," de Sauvinage began, but Alice interjected once again.

"You may appreciate that," she said with what she hoped was a studiously severe look, "but I do not appreciate it. Such a thing is not at all to be tolerated."
"I did not of course mean 'appreciate' in quite that sense, you understand—"

"It is immaterial," Alice continued, allowing herself a very brief time in which she reveled in the thought that the word had sprung so easily to her lips. "Quite immaterial. I have a reputation to maintain and a family who misses me to distraction, I am certain." Though it was likely to be something less than the case, and in fact Alice suspected that the one family member who might well miss her a great deal was also missing and in dubious company—oh, poor Lizzie!—she nonetheless thought it rhetorically important to maintain such a façade, even if she could not quite recall the word "rhetorically," the concept was certainly clear enough in her thoughts.

"If you do not manage to arrange for a proper ransoming, I shall not be responsible for the consequences," Alice warned with an admirable air of high dudgeon, before which her kidnapped quailed with surprising effectiveness.

"I don't see what you could possibly do," he retorted nonetheless, clearly unwilling to allow Alice to seize control of the situation.

Alice drew herself up to her entire height, which was less impressive than desired while she was seated for breakfast, but she did do her best. "If you do not properly dispatch with the necessary ransom note, I shall…" She paused.

After all, what ammunition had she?

A moment later, an imperceptible time for the tense circumstances, Alice smiled coldly. "If you do not properly dispatch with the necessary ransom note," Alice repeated, "I shall summon the ghost of that dead young woman and be absolutely certain that I set her to haunting you day and night so you receive no rest whatsoever. That is what I shall do." Alice folded her arms feeling rather smugly superior.

For his part, Gilet de Sauvinage gave every sign of having been beaten. "I will acquiesce," he said with obvious irritation in his manner. "But I assure you I will ask for a substantial recompense that will make all this folderol worthwhile."

Alice smiled. She might be forgiven for looking a trifle smug at that moment, but she had never quite triumphed in any kind of verbal exchange, so there was a quite an excuse for her gloating.

De Sauvinage bowed stiffly and backed out of the room. Alice felt a flush of excitement rise up to her cheeks, doubtless coloring them pink with delight. She had little time to relish her success, however, because a wispy voice rasped in her ear, " How shall we punish him, Miss Alice?"

There was no doubt about it: a ghost hovered at her side.