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23 June, 2008 by katelaity

It was the crushed hopefulness of young miss Forward that spurred Alice on to some kind of inspiration. She thought very hard about the options before them. It was a characteristically unfamiliar activity for Alice, but applying herself assiduously to the task, she soon found that indeed an idea appeared. “We shall go to the strand and talk to young men unchaperoned,” she announced with decision.

Constance gasped. Alice reveled in her delicious sense of alarm. It was indeed a daring thought. Although the two of them traveling together stood little likelihood of arousing much of any talk amongst the easy-going French or even the scattered English tourists, Mrs. Forward would certainly be scandalized beyond all composure.

That was a thought worthy of savoring, Alice told herself with some satisfaction.

Constance reacted with a glee she found hard to contain. It manifested in her jumping up and down, clapping her hands together and pressing her lips together to suppress a squeal of delight. “Oh, my, do you think we should — oh, we must! Won’t mother — do you think the gentlemen will speak to us? I couldn’t bear it if they did not speak to us!” Constance had gone from delight to terror in no time at all. All the bright color evoked by the delighted hijinks had drained away to a pale wanness.

Alice, however, was confident. “We shall even dare to speak first. Being gentlemen, they shall have to speak to us.”

Constance seemed convinced by this logic and flew at Alice to give her a rough embrace. “You are simply the most amazing young woman, dear Miss Mangrove.”

Unaccustomed to this level of hero worship, Alice experienced an untoward dizziness of inflated self-esteem. It was bound to propel them into a properly indecorous adventure. That realization caused Alice to briefly consider swooning with excitement. However, she gathered that firstly, Constance would not be of much use in the case of an emergency, but secondly, that finding herself in the newfound position of a leader, Alice sensed that it was necessary to maintain a sense of decorum.

Instead, Alice threw back her bonnet and let her luxuriant curls bounce in the sunlight. Constance gasped once more, then grinning a little too much like a lunatic Lizzie would have sure noted, threw back her bonnet as well. Unlike Alice, she was not able to keep from looking guiltily about the street for any observers. No one seemed to notice this bold move, however, so the girls giggled delightedly, linked arms and strode together down the high street in the direction of the strand.

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