"Where the devil are we?"
Lizzie paused at the open door of the carriage. "I take it you have awoken from your nap, Tilney." He looked tired nonetheless and she worried again about the toll the trip was taking on him.
"And I asked question, Bennett," he continued irritably, rubbing his hair in such a manner that wisps of it stood up in a most amusing and undignified way.
"We are much further south than we were the last time we stopped, but still a rather long way from the border with Italy. We are angling to the east, if you would really like to know."
"Indeed, for I cannot be certain that you would not lead us all the way to Zürich without my careful guidance," Tilney said with a return to his familiar drawl. More than anything that tone cheered Lizzie for he sounded once more like himself. Now if only they could deal with the problem of the cousin driving the carriage and her own identity once they arrived in Italy.
"You should be grateful, you mountebank," Lizzie scolded. "I've secured a most appetizing lunch of fine smoked meat and the freshest goat cheese in the market square."
Tilney raised one eye suspiciously. "I do not think it right somehow that goats produce cheese. I'm not saying it's unnatural, mind you," he said, peeking into Lizzie's parcel, "But when a chap is accustomed to cows as the source of dairy, goats open up new vistas that boggle the mind."
"Don't be an idiot," Lizzie laughed.
"What's next?" Tilney continued with mock seriousness even as he spread the warm soft cheese across a baguette. "Horses? Dogs? Hedgehogs? Beavers? It is against nature, I am certain."
Lizzie could not eat her lunch for the hiccoughs of laughter that poured out her mouth. Since Tilney had recovered, life had become once more fun and entertaining. It was only in the last day or so that he had begun to question and argue with her, but Lizzie felt an immense weight lift from her shoulders as Tilney returned to his old self.
The wound of the bullet had been considerable, but she was grateful to think that his heart and mind were strong. "I find this goat cheese to be quite mild and flavourful," Lizzie said with mock umbrage. "If you are not willing to eat what is put in front of you, then you, sir, will have to go do the foraging."
"I certainly shall," Tilney retorted, poking with suspicion at the sausages in the basket. "Are there no peas here after all?"
"We are still in France, I must remind you, good sir," Lizzie said with emphasis on the latter two words, "where good food is required for every meal and people do not accept bland comforts in their place."
"Bland comforts!" Tilney said, throwing his head back with haughty scorn. "English food is the finest in the land."
"Ah, but we are not in 'the land' at present," Lizzie corrected him. "And when in Rome --"
"Eat anchovies, eh?" Tilney grinned and Lizzie felt that unpleasant leap in her heart. "After that, goat cheese will not seem so bad."