Sunday, March 07, 2010


"So, Italy is still our destination?" Tilney asked with elaborate carelessness.

Lizzie, who had been caught up in the high spirits of their conversation, frowned. She had managed not to think too much about the road ahead, instead thinking only of the vaguely southward course as further away from trouble rather than toward a particular location. It was the direction they gave to the driver, but time was approaching when they must make a change.

"Italy, in one way or another," Lizzie said with an equal attempt at a drawling casual air. "I think we may need to make some changes once we get nearer to Nice."

"Our fine charioteer will want to return home, doubtless," Tilney said, tearing off another piece of fragrant bread and leaning back on the seat with a yawn.

"Do you think he will take us as far as that?" Lizzie asked, glancing toward the man in question who at present was letting the horses feed, too. It was a rather lovely day and she closed her eyes, imagining if this were only a day of relaxing fun instead of a brief respite on a troubling journey with an uncertain outcome.

"There is no telling what the man might do," Tilney said with finality. "He is French, therefore inscrutable and unpredictable."

Lizzie laughed and looked at her companion. "You are ridiculously closed minded about our sometime compatriots."

"That is because they are our sometime combatants, too," Tilney said, waving away the proffered goat cheese and taking up his glass of wine. "While I cannot fault the French when they turn their hands to the vineyard, I am quite resolved that they only take up other endeavours with an eye toward disrupting the ease of all Englishmen."

"And Englishwomen?" Lizzie asked a little tartly.

Tilney waved away the comment. "It is terrible to think of Frenchmen appropriating English women. Or foreigners of any kind," he added with a dark look.

Lizzie simply laughed. "If Englishmen were more worthy of the love of Englishwomen, they would seldom have need to set out in search of more winning beaux."

Tilney raised one eyebrow in a censorious arch. "Beaux? This influx of vocabulaire français is most unnecessary. It is precisely the way things get quickly out of hand. French wines are one thing, but it beyond the pale to mix in so many superfluous words in a foreign tongue merely for effect or because you are thinking what to say in English."

"What if there is no more exact word?"

"There is always a way to say something," Tilney said, waving away her argument with his bread. "And generally a better and more concise Anglo-Saxon way to say it."

"Sprezzatura," Lizzie said, allowing the syllables to roll off her tongue with delight.

"Oh, Italian now," Tilney said, taking a bite of bread.

"Don't stall for time," Lizzie grinned. "What would you say is English for 'sprezzatura'? Hmm?"

"Oh, I think it's far too warm to think of Italian. We will soon be forced to think on it, but I would rather not do so before we must. Or do you think otherwise?"

Lizzie had to admit to losing that particular maneuver, but wasn't willing to sacrifice the queen yet.

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