Nothing Quite So Exciting

Author's notes: yes, yes, I know it's rather silly. But even the most sensible women I know indulge in the occasional flight of fantasy...

What a horrid man! What a horrid, hateful man!

Hmm. He's got lovely eyes, though.

Now, I mustn't start thinking like that. After all, he insulted me... didn't he? 'Seemed like a good idea at the time.' Now just what is that supposed to mean?! That it wasn't a good idea in retrospect? That if he had it to do over, knowing what I was like, he'd rather have punched me in the face and kissed my brother instead? What an awful thing to say! No wonder he was in prison. I'm certain he deserved it. He probably did something horrible. I wonder if we can strike a deal with the warden to have him put back once this is over.

Oh, I don't mean that, of course. I'm being petty and childish, and it's going to stop this instant. I really ought to tidy up this cabin a bit, I've only been in here a short time, but it looks like a tip. I think Jonathan's been through my things. Someone has, at any rate, and I can't see the steward being so blasé. Blast! I told him I wasn't going to give him any money for his silly poker game! If he wants to go losing money to strangers, that's his look-out, but I refuse to foster his nasty habits out of my own pocket. If he's taken even a shilling, I'm going to--

I do hope it wasn't murder he was imprisoned for. I shouldn't like to think I could fancy a murderer... but of course, I don't fancy him. Not much. It's just that he's got such nice blue eyes. And such a charming smile. Ooh, and strong hands. And--oh, stop it, stop it at once, Evelyn! Just stop. There's no point in getting all worked up over a man, especially one you hardly know, just because he kissed you completely at random...

That's strange; the money's all still here. Perhaps Jonathan had a sudden attack of conscience and put it back. One can only hope.

I can't say I've had too many men decide to kiss me completely at random. Or any, really. It was rather... rather inappropriate, that's what it was. And that's all. I mean, the nerve of the man! You don't go around kissing people just because--well, just because they're there, and you're about to be hanged! Imagine what sort of world this would be if we all just went about kissing one another whenever the fancy took us! Although I understand that's what they do in France... Well, he was in the Foreign Legion; perhaps that's where he got it from. I suppose I'm just not very continental. I've hardly seen any of the world, come to think of it. Just England and Egypt, really. Well, and those two weeks Jonathan and I spent in Greece, but that doesn't count, I was sick the whole time and barely saw the rest of the hotel room, let alone anything of the country. And we wouldn't have gone at all, if he'd only had the sense to restrict himself to bets he could afford to back, with people who wouldn't threaten bodily harm to him when he lost.

It's a pity we didn't have O'Connell with us then. He's such a large man. He must be terribly strong. I'm quite certain he could lift me up with just one hand... not that I'd want him to, of course. Heavens, no. But he'll be helpful to have along if, say, I were to fall and sprain my ankle. Or if I need help getting up and down anything steep. Things of that nature. Just as long as he's a bit more gentle in handling me than he was the bags. And doesn't put his hands anywhere he shouldn't. I've read that you have to watch yourself with that sort of man, that they'll take all kinds of liberties if you don't make things clear right at the very start. And... well... there was that kiss. I certainly didn't give my permission for that. But, I suppose... the man thought he was about to die, after all. It isn't the worst thing he could have done. He could have tried to touch my--that is to say, he could have done something far ruder.

Still, I do hope I don't get a snake bite in a place I can't reach. I can't see him being very gentlemanly about it. Although I suppose if it were on my ankle, or my shoulder, or something, it wouldn't be as bad as all that. He's probably had lots of experience tending to that sort of thing. It would all be over very quickly. Besides, I have rather pretty ankles. My knees aren't half-bad, either. Hmm. Perhaps I'd faint. Just a little bit, of course. Not so he had to smack me, or anything. And I suppose he would bandage me up afterwards, and carry my books and tools, and do helpful things for me, until I fully regained my strength. My close brush with death would help him realize what a lovely person I really am, and he'd start looking at me in a new light...

But what if a snake bit him in some place he couldn't reach? He'd have to look to me for assistance--either me or Jonathan, and I don't fancy he'd appreciate Jonathan's help in that sort of a situation... I wouldn't panic or flinch, I'd simply do what needed to be done. He'd be very grateful to me afterwards, of course, for being so cool-headed about the whole thing. He'd look at me with a certain new-found respect and admiration, and I'd accept his thanks with my customary grace and poise, and not trip over anything, even once.

But suppose I accidentally swallowed the snake-venom instead of spitting it out, like I ought? What would happen then? He'd have to rush me to a hospital, or perhaps a healer in the desert who could concoct some sort of ancient, little-known antidote, passed down among his people for generations... I'd be weak, and feverish, and O'Connell would have to look after me and bathe my brow... he'd be wracked with guilt, his blue eyes filled with concern, and--

Oh, honestly. I really must stop reading these lurid adventure stories. I'll just put this away, and find something more educational. Bother Jonathan, anyhow! I don't see why he had to turn everything inside out, he knows where I keep things... there we are, that's better. I think it's about time I got ready for bed. We've still got two more days of travel ahead of us. I wonder if camping in the desert is really as dangerous as Jonathan says? Sometimes I think he's afraid of his own shadow, silly man.

Imagine what would happen, though, if I were spirited away by a gang of sinister, black-clad desert raiders... there aren't supposed to be such things any more, but Jonathan says a few still exist, and I've yet to meet the man who has a better instinct for shady goings-on than my brother. Say they kidnapped me in the night, when the three of us were asleep--oh, but that doesn't make any sense, O'Connell would probably be up keeping watch. He's a soldier, after all. And he's brought all those guns along; he seems to think he's going to be facing something larger-than-life out there...

All right, then, suppose the raiders drugged him, or smacked him in the head and knocked him out, then threw me over the back of a horse in nothing but my white nightgown. I'd put up a tremendous fight, of course, but there would be so many of them that I'd end up being completely overcome. He'd have to come after me as soon as he woke up--he'd borrow or steal a horse from a sleepy village nearby and go pelting across the desert, very windswept and dashing, just like Douglas Fairbanks.

When he arrived at the raiders' camp, there would have to be a sword-fight. To the death. With the chief of the tribe, who was going to force me to marry him. O'Connell would be injured; not seriously, just enough that I'd have to tear a strip from the hem of my nightgown to bathe and bandage his wound once he'd defeated the leader of the desert men. Then we'd ride back to camp in the moonlight--or dawn, I suppose it might be dawn by then if the sword-fight took a very long time--and he'd help me down off the horse, and we would look deeply into one another's eyes, and I would whisper, "You risked your life to save me... why?"

And then he would smile, and say,

"I dunno, seemed like a good idea at the time..."

Ugh! Horrid man. Horrid, horrid, horrid.

Horrid, nasty, dirty--oh, all right, not dirty. Not any more, at least. A bit tousled, perhaps, but not in an unappealing sort of way. He's managed to clean himself up quite nicely, in fact. Nothing like a little spit-and-polish, as Jonathan would say. Ship-shape and Bristol fashion and... all that military nonsense. He does look a little bit like Douglas Fairbanks when he smiles. I wish he'd smile more often. He'd look very handsome in uniform, I think. Just like a recruitment poster. I wonder what rank he was? Did he resign, or was he discharged? Or he might have deserted... Perhaps Jonathan knows. I'll ask him first thing in the morning.

This will be a nice, peaceful trip. No one is going to get bitten by a snake, or kidnapped by desert raiders, or injured in a fight to the death, or fall desperately ill, or anything of the sort. Nothing quite so exciting ever happens to me. And that horrid man is certainly not going to fall in love with me. Hmph. What a simply preposterous idea.

I don't imagine snake-venom tastes very nice, either. Bleah.