But Frances interpreted the comment in an entirely different manner. Half-eaten toast triangle dangling from her fingertips, she froze, staring at her governess in utter amazement. “Then why,” she finaly demanded, “are you making us study it?” Miss Wynter looked at her with impressive equanimity. “Wel, I could hardly plan a lesson about the Isle of Wight.” She turned to Daniel and said, “Honestly, I don’t know the first thing about it.”
“She has a very good point,” he told Frances. “She can hardly teach what she does not know.”
“But it is of no use,” Frances protested. “At least the Isle of Wight is close. We might someday actualy go there. The Isle of Man is in the middle of nowhere.”
“The Irish Sea, actualy,” Daniel put in.
“One never knows where life will take you,” Miss Wynter said quietly. “I can assure you that when I was your age, I was quite certain I would never step foot on the Isle of Man.”
There was something about her voice that was arrestingly solemn, and neither Daniel nor Frances said a word. Finaly, Miss Wynter gave a little shrug, turned back to her food, speared another kipper, and said, “I don’t even know that I could have located it on a map.” There was another silence, this one more awkward than the last. Daniel decided it was time to address the aural chasm and said, “Wel.” Which, as usual, bought him enough time to think of something marginaly more inteligent to say:
“I have peppermints in my office.”
Miss Wynter turned. Then blinked. Then said, “I beg your pardon?”
“Briliant!” Frances put in, the Isle of Man forgotten completely. “I love peppermints.”
“And you, Miss Wynter?” he asked.
“She likes them,” Frances said.
“Perhaps we may walk to the vilage,” Daniel said, “to purchase some.”
“I thought you said you had some,” Frances reminded him.
“I do.” He glanced over at Miss Wynter’s kippers, his brows going up in alarm. “But I have a feeling that I don’t have enough.”
“Please,” Miss Wynter said, spearing yet another little fishie with her fork and letting it tremble in the air. “Not on my account.”
“Oh, I think it might be on everyone’s account.”
Frances looked from him to her governess and back, frowning mightily. “I do not understand what you are talking about,” she announced.
Daniel smiled placidly at Miss Wynter, who chose not to respond.
“We are having our lessons outside today,” Frances told him. “Would you like to accompany us?”
“Frances,” Miss Wynter said quickly, “I’m sure his lordship—”
“Would love to accompany you,” Daniel said with great flair. “I was just thinking what a marvelous day it is outside. So sunny and warm.”
“Wasn’t it sunny and warm in Italy?” Frances asked.
“It was, but it wasn’t the same.” He took a large bite of his bacon, which also hadn’t been the same in Italy. Everything else one could eat had been better, but not the bacon.
“How?” Frances asked.
He thought about that for a moment. “The obvious answer would be that it was often simply too hot to enjoy oneself.”
“And the less obvious answer?” Miss Wynter asked.
He smiled, absurdly happy that she had chosen to enter the conversation. “I’m afraid it’s less obvious to me, too, but if I had to put it into words, I would say that it had something to do with feeling as if one belonged. Or, I suppose, not.”
Frances nodded sagely.
“It could be a lovely day,” Daniel continued. “Perfection, realy, but it could never be the same as a lovely day in England. The smels were different, and the air
“It could be a lovely day,” Daniel continued. “Perfection, realy, but it could never be the same as a lovely day in England. The smels were different, and the air was drier. The scenery was gorgeous, of course, especialy down by the sea, but—”
“We’re down by the sea,” Frances interrupted. “What are we, ten miles away here at Whipple Hil?”
“A good deal more than that,” Daniel said, “but you could never compare the English Channel to the Tyrrhenian Sea. One is green-gray and wild, and the other ground-glass blue.”
“I should love to see a ground-glass blue ocean,” Miss Wynter said with a wistful sigh.
“It is spectacular,” he admitted. “But it isn’t home.”
“Oh, but think how heavenly it would be,” she continued, “to be on the water and not be violently il.” He chuckled despite himself. “You are prone to seasickness, then?”
“I never get seasick,” Frances said.
“You’ve never been on the water,” Miss Wynter pointed out pertly.
“Ergo, I never get seasick,” Frances replied triumphantly. “Or perhaps I should say that I have never been seasick.”
“It would certainly be more precise.”
“You are such a governess,” Daniel said affectionately.
But her face took on a queer expression, as if perhaps she hadn’t wanted to be reminded of this fact. It was a clear sign to change the subject, so he said, “I cannot even remember how we came to be discussing the Tyrrhenian Sea. I was—”
“It was because I was asking about Italy,” Frances put in helpfuly.
“—going to say,” he said smoothly, since of course he’d known exactly how they’d come to be discussing the Tyrrhenian Sea, “that I am very much looking forward to joining you for your lesson en plein air.”