“Sophie, this is my nephew. I believe you met long since.”
Miss Morwenna has seen Monsieur Emile’s astonished stare at Sophie, and she watches Sophie with more interest than she has ever shown in her as Sophie makes her curtsey.
Monsieur, all gallantry, takes Sophie’s hand and kisses it as he hardly needs to do, with his aunt’s companion. He says he’s enchanted. All the time, his eyes are dilated, and he breathes fast. “But surely we have met before, Mademoiselle Sophie?”
She smiles happily; “Indeed yes, Sir, years since, when I was quite a child and you were perhaps twelve, at a wedding where you were teaching His Lordship the art of handstands.”
Everyone smiles, but the Dowager Countess says querelously, “That was the occasion when Ynyr ruined his breeches. His father was put out quite about it.”
“It would seem then, Mademoiselle, that my lessons were not of much use.” Monsieur Emile is over a foot taller than Sophie, smiling down at her with an expression that seems to verge on adoration. It is very odd! “I recollect me the occasion. Yet, surely we have met, since then?”
“Since…?” Sophie is in a quandry. For her rich releative to say that he remembers meeting her is a compliment in itself, and to indicate that she could forget a meeting with him an impertinence; yet she looked out for him at every large family occasion when he might possibly have been present (before the outbreak of the war with France, that is) and she was always disappointed that the lanky good-natured freckled boy wasn’t there.
So many times she had drawn him since their meeting at that wedding, as a hero, as Achilles, as Theseus, as Sir Lancelot, as Robin Hood…People were forever asking her why she drew them with those ridiculous freckles. Sophie copied a girl in one of her copy books, and ‘maintained a discreet silence’.
He has those same freckles now.