10 August, 2008 by katelaity

Tilney seemed to awake from his momentary reverie, hastening to fill Lizzie’s glass, which alarmed her. She could tell the effects of the wine were already creeping into her thoughts and it would take some effort to control them.

To distract him, she pressed for further information. “What else, pray tell, do you do to win the hearts of the delicate ones?”

Tilney sighed. “I have not been much of mood to do so lately, Bennett.”

“Now, now,” Lizzie said, trying to keep the arch tone out of her voice, although the roguish effect of the wine inclined her toward that outlook. “You can’t let one bad experience color your actions, Tilney. Show a little spark.”

Tilney chuckled and gargled a little more wine. “You’re right, I suppose. But mind my words, young George, stay away from women with dimples. Dimples as a sure sign of a sensuous nature and a fickle heart.”

“What about men with dimples?” Lizzie said, taking care not to smile herself. “For I noticed just now when you laughed that you have dimples yourself.”

Tilney looked rather sharply at her, one brow arched high. For a moment, Lizzie feared that she had gone too far, but then the young man at last burst into laughter that was not without an edge of bitterness. “I suppose what is true of the goose must be likewise true of the gander. Damme, Bennett, but you’re too clever by half. I shall have to watch myself around you.”

Lizzie felt a giggle coming on and was at great pains to stifle it. Oh dear, she thought, this must be an consequence of the wine. I must get Tilney talking and distracted. She reached across to fill his glass with the last of the bottle. Better him than me, Lizzie thought. “Never mind that, Tilney, you were on to the next sure fire trick in your bag. Tell on, I need educating in the habits of fine women.”

“Oh, let us not speak of women any more,” Tilney said, the animation draining away from his face. “Let us speak of horses, trousers, banking schemes — anything but women. I am through with women for the nonce.” Tilney threw back the last of the wine and gestured for the landlord. Lizzie quailed at the thought that he might order more wine, but Tilney merely settled the bill and stood quickly to go.

Lizzie stood, too, and immediately felt how the wine had nudged her equilibrium off course. Swaying a little, she gripped the edge of the table and tried not to trip over her chair. Fortunately Tilney had not noticed her inebriation as he was already striding toward the door with his deliberate steps. Lizzie grabbed the last slice of bread to nibble as she followed tipsily in his wake. This will be an interesting ride, Lizzie thought.

As she passed by the table with the two young women, one surreptitiously caught her eye and smiled winningly. Lizzie smiled before she realized it and hurriedly even more quickly for the door.


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