Index > Ongoing Stories > Mr. Fitzroy and Miss Nott Meet
Mr. Fitzroy and Miss Nott Meet
James Fitzroy stands in front of the building, eyeing it with suspicion before entering. Once inside, he wanders around, actually surprised at the large range of selection. After a while, he finds the philosophy section and starts perusing the shelves.
Christianna Nott makes her way briskly into the library and hesitates only slightly upon seeing an unknown gentleman in the section she is interested in. She pauses, then steps forward and reaches for one of the volumes Aria had asked her to collect.
Not having noticed the entrance of the young lady, Fitzroy continues his search. Finding Plato's Apology, he reaches for it at the same time as Christy. Surprised and embarrassed to find himself touching what is unmistakably a lady's hand, he draws a sharp breath and quickly withdraws his hand, turning around as he does so.
She jerks her hand back as well and flushes. "Oh! I-I am sorry sir. It was this one you wanted, wasn't it?" She takes the book, looking embarrassed. "I-if it were for myself I would gladly let you study it first, but I don't read Greek, I'm afraid. I was fetching it for a friend. Y-you don't mind, do you? If you do need it very urgently . . ." She looks conflicted.
He stares at her, unsmiling, his eyebrows rising at her explanation. "You are fetching this book for a friend? A lady? A lady reading Plato? And speaking Greek?" Each new question sounds more disapproving than the last.
Christy looks defensive and straightens her spine a little, meeting his eyes and saying as simply, as calmly as she can, "Yes, sir. I am a guest in her house, and it is the least I can do, I think, to oblige such a small request as to fetch one or two books for her when I visit the library for myself."
Still looking disapproving, he stares at her. "I am not criticising you, Miss, only pointing out that your friend's tastes in reading are unladylike. Fetching a book for a friend while staying with them, and being helpful in general, is on the contrary to be commended."
"I do not think it useful to criticize my friend to me, sir. Surely as I am acquainted with her I am more able to assess her 'faults' and more sensible to the virtues which might outweigh them." She looks at him directly and says softly, charitably, "Perhaps you meant I should not reveal such things about my friend lest she be judged on my description not her merits?"
Fitzroy continues to stare at her, stunned that the girl dared criticise him "No, I meant that no lady, no matter how virtuous otherwise, should be reading philosophy or understand Greek. That said, you definitely should not reveal such thing about your friend, as you are doing her a disservice. And since we are on the subject of ladylike behaviour, I do not think speaking so...candidly...to a gentleman you have just met would be considered so. Though maybe your young age might account for this lapse in good manners."
"Should a gentleman criticize a young lady whom he has never met to her friend with whom he is not acquainted either? I apologize if I have offended you sir. I felt I should apologize for taking the book you had hoped to examine, and then I felt the need to defend my friend." She blushes and adds unhappily, clearly a little intimidated and hurt by his harsh tone, "I did not mean to be over candid as you put it."
For a moment, he feels angry at her as she once again criticises his words but seeing her ill at ease and hurt, his anger quickly changes to shame, though he still sounds a little irritated. "You are right, Miss, I might have found your manners lacking but I am not without blame either. I apologize for my ungentlemanly behaviour. Maybe we should forget that whole conversation and start anew." He bows. "Since there is nobody here who could introduce us, I will take it upon myself to do so, if you will forgive this other breach in etiquette. My name is James Fitzroy. May I ask to whom I have the honour of speaking?" He is very formal and still unsmiling but his tone has soften slightly.
She curtsies gracefully and says politely, "Christianna Nott, sir. A pleasure to make your acquaintance."
"The pleasure is mine Miss Nott. In answer to your earlier question, I do not need this book, so I suppose you can borrow if. I shall try to find another suitable reading material for myself."
She gives him a shy nod.
He waits for a second to see if she will say something but as she remains silent, he nods and turns back to the shelves.
She goes to the botany section and leans down to select a few books on herbs.
He selects a book by Aristotle and makes his way to the exit. Noticing Miss Nott in the botany section, he nods to himself as plants and flowers seem more suitable for a lady than philosophy.
She hesitates after straightening, then says quietly but audibly, "I apologize once again, Mr. Fitzroy, for acting improperly towards you. I hope you enjoy your selection."
He looks surprised at being addressed but nods. "You are forgiven, Miss Nott. Let us forget the incident. And I thank you, I usually take great pleasure in reading this book." He hesitates, then decides showing some interest for her own selection might help him atone for his own rudeness. "Do you enjoy gardening, Miss Nott?"
She smiles warmly. "I find the cultivation of herbs especially to be both useful and attractive if done correctly."
Fitzroy nods in approval "I find that a suitable activity for young ladies. My younger sister seems to enjoy it."
Christy looks faintly pleased, and would like to inquire about his sister, but instead, sensitive to his apparently testy nature, curtsies and says, "Thank you sir. I should not keep you."
Fitzroy nods again even as he is looking around, suddenly wondering where her chaperone is. "Should I tell your chaperone to meet you here if I see her? She seems to have lost you."
A girl only slightly older than Christy, in maid's clothes steps out from behind a shelf at Christy's nod. "Thank you, sir, but I am not in the habit of going about unaccompanied." She says it a hint archly, wishing he would stop assuming her to be improper.
Fitzroy stares at her for a few seconds, then the ghost of a smile appears on his face. "My apologies, Miss Nott, it was rude of me to assume otherwise. I shall leave you in peace." He bows, the small smile still in place. "I wish you a good day. It was a pleasure to make your acquaintance."
She curtsies once more, smiling politely. "Thank you, Mr. Fitzroy. Likewise. Good day."
|Posted 5 months ago|