Beatrix had only ever progressed slowly at the things she was supposed to be able to do. Her embroidery was horrendous, her knitting invariably a tangled mess, she had little interest in playing cards, her aim when it came to boules was way-off, her drawing was passable and she enjoyed sketching, her writing neat (although she never wrote anything save her diaries and the small fantasies she used to amuse herself by composing), her singing was unmusical, she was ill-talented when it came to the piano forte and the harpsichord - in short, she was not the perfect lady. For a long time in her life, it had seemed that she had an aptitude for nothing (save for horseriding, which she adored), and found everything difficult and dull.
And then, by chance, she’d discovered her academic abilities. Unable to do the normal female jobs, she excelled at languages, both ancient and modern, history, mathematics, a little science, and, above all, politics. However, she was born female, and so her intelligent mind was denied free reign. Her uncle employed a few tutors to coach her in a few subjects, but most of what she gleaned was from the extensive library. She had found all these things easy, she’d learnt them fast, devouring whole bookshelves on subjects most men found impenetrable.
And now she discovered that it was the same situation with swordfighting. Deemed ‘beautiful’, ‘precious’ and ‘fragile’ , she had been unable to stretch herself physically as she longed to do mentally. But now she found that , although she wasn’t a ‘natural’ (as Keiran put it), she wasn’t as completely clueless as most girls in her position would be. She was eager to learn and caught on fast, pleasing both herself and Keiran with her progress.
‘It’s been only a week,’ he told her one day, ‘but already you can handle a sword with a goodly amount of confidence. Usually it might take months to get to this stage.’
‘You’re a good teacher,’ Beatrix said, only half teasing.
He laughed. ‘And you’re a good pupil! We work well together, Beatrix.’
She was surprised at the sincerity in his voice, and he seemed to be about to say something more. But somehow he was unable to say it, and Beatrix, suddenly frightened at the strength and confusion of her feelings, didn’t prompt him. And so they stood, locked in an awkward silence, until Keiran was called away, leaving Beatrix alone with her thoughts.