Above stairs, Miss Morwenna has taken in Monsieur’s apparent fascination with the Dowager’s companion; she’s unable to make any sense of it, and accordingly dismisses it; for sure she’s a pretty girl and Miss Morwenna has suspected her of Unbecoming Ambitions since she spied Miss making eyes at Lord Ynyr when she thought herself unobserved.
Miss Morwenna curls her lip at such a hopeless endeavour, and a seasoned rake like Ynyr’s cousin Emile would be an even harder goal to attempt.
After all, he only six months since lost the last surviving member of his family of origin; if Miss hopes to attract a reputable offer from him (and surely, the girl, who seems quite modest, wouldn’t consider anything else) then she is deluding herself; he’ll be on the look out for some catch.
After all, though still wealthy enough, half of his family fortune has disappeared in France and he owes it to the memory of his late parents not to bring down the family name.
Thus Morwenna, unaware of Monsieur’s adventurer as Gilles Long Legs, as a character fitting for the Beggar’s Opera.
She turns the conversation back to it’s proper course. “So it snows?!”
She claps her hands. “Ynyr – if so, can we go out on the sleigh tommorow, with the bells, please.”
Lord Ynyr exclaims, “An excellent idea, Morwenna!” The young men look delighted – as she knew they should be, as here is a opportunity to show off their driving skills – though Monsieur immediately looks back to his aunt’s companion.
“You will come with us, Mademoiselle?”
“I would be delighted, Sir…”
“I shall not, with Emile just united here with us, remind him of a sorry occasion half a dozen years since when he near overset me in a sleigh…”
Everyone laughs. “I should have known you wouldn’t let me forget that, Morwenna.”
Sophie stands in amazement, and dismay, too, hecause of the Unmaidenly Tinglings she had when Monsieur took her hand. Where does he imagine they have met since that long ago wedding? No matter. She waits until Lord Ynyr has taken them all to the window to see how hard it snows, and then leaves quietly.
She pauses in the chill of the dim passage, only to hear quick footsteps behind her.
“Mademoiselle Sophie!” As she pauses, he rushes up to seize her hands. “Ah, chérie, I cannot believe my luck!” He bends to kiss them passionately.
She sometimes makes up a fantasy where an attractive, rich, dashing young man takes one look at her and for some reason best known to himself, falls violently in love with her, once and forever. She never dares dream about Monsieur Émile, though, as she knows him and he is out of reach. It would just make it embarrassing should they ever meet again, as they have…
She had imagined that the emotion that would quiver in her suitor’s voice as he declared himself would stir her likewise to passion. Now, her reaction is horror; this despite finding him attractive, and his having been for so long her hero. She feels like running away.
She must look stunned. He goes on, “It is a shock to you. I could scarce believe it myself. I had given up hope of seeing you again. To meet you, my lovely girl, as Madame ma Tante’s companion! Alors, it will not continue so. You shall have my status, anyway. If you will take a rascal like Gilles Long Legs, that is? You look alarmed, Sophie. I hope you are not scared of me? You did not seem alarmed by me back then. Those innocent’s kisses that you gave me led me to hope that you forgave me for being a ruffian.” He squeezes her hands passionately, meanwhile staring at her as if he would swallow her up with his eyes.
She was speechless. She began to fear that he had been driven mad by his terrible experiences. All she could think of to say was, absurdly, “Oh, gracious!”
“But where did you go, chérie? Do you know how I have suffered on your account? I had men looking for you all night, but you were vanished. So many nights since I have been awake till dawn wondering what became of you. To see you here, and in the same dress, too!”