14.6

25 May, 2009 by katelaity

“I can see nothing for it,” Lizzie said slowly, turning the thoughts over in her mind as she dared to say the words aloud, “but to continue as we have done. At least for the moment, anyway.”

“Do you mean–?” Tilney frowned. “As we have done?”

“I mean,” Lizzie said with the decision evident in her tone, even as she continued to sprawl luxuriously in the chair, “that we cannot change things here, certainly. And it may not be safe to alter our arrangements as we travel.”

“Travel,” Tilney echoed, seeming somewhat nonplussed.

“Think, Tilney,” Lizzie said urgently, sitting up in her chair to regard him quite seriously. “We’re in a bind now. We’ve gone with this masquerade for so long now that people have been taken in by it. We cannot change anything at present—it would cause too much confusion. So we need to continue to pretend. Otherwise we will be in for difficulties for sure.”

Tilney frowned, but nodded his head. He must have realised she was right. “But for how long shall we do this? Surely after we leave this place we can return you to your rightful situation. Whatever that may be,” he finished lamely, looking at her now with frank curiosity. “What is your rightful situation?”

Lizzie sighed. “I hardly know where to begin.”

Tilney leaned back, crossing his arms behind his head. “I have no immediate plans.”

Lizzie sighed again and thought about where to begin. “We were on the way to my cousin Alice’s father’s funeral,” she began, but paused. “Perhaps I need to mention the King of Naples?”

Tilney raised an eyebrow. “Miss Austen would enjoy your tale, I suspect.”

Lizzie could not entirely squelch the pleased grin that rose to her lips. “Let us begin with the funeral and add other elements as they come along.”

“Were you close to your uncle?” Tilney quizzed her as he settled into his pillow.

“If you are going to ask those sort of questions at every juncture,” Lizzie said with a narrowed eye, “this will take much longer than it need do.”

“I am quite contrite,” Tilney said with a yawn. “I will ask no more!”

Lizzie smiled. At this rate he would soon fall asleep and she need not expose all of her lively details of the story. Accordingly she made her voice as even and droning as possible as she began to tell the story of the funeral.

“It was a quiet day, very little in the way of plant growth or insect life,” she started and was pleased to see Tilney’s eye lids droop precipitously. “Alice and I were in our very finest mourning clothes and made sure that we had very neat and starched handkerchiefs in our pockets or sleeves, as that is certainly the most important part of funeral preparation.”

Lizzie noticed that Tilney’s eyes were closed now and so droned on in a similar tone. “We were riding along trying to recall what people had been wearing at the Assembly Ball,” which wasn’t entirely true, but seemed perfect for lulling Tilney into slumber. “I was trying to recall who had linen whereas Alice tried to recall who had worn silk and we compared notes on who had been the more raucous.”

Tilney was not only asleep, but beginning to snore. Thank goodness, Lizzie thought. Now I can do a little thinking!

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