Fanny vigorously rips out the lining of her bonnet as Mr Keats settles into the chair opposite. She squints up at him against the sunlight; he smiles slightly, and opens his book.
She looks back down at the scraps of fabric in her lap, disappointed. He is always reading; she can appreciate why he likes it, but would rather that he talk to her instead. She lets the fabric flutter on the breeze to the grass at her feet.
"Would you - "
Fanny looks up, startled.
He shakes his head a little, still smiling to herself.
"Beg pardon?" she says.
He hefts the volume in his hands. "Would you like me to read to you?" he says. His brow creases. "While you work, I mean. It might pass the time."
"Yes," she says. It sounds too abrupt to her ears. "I mean, if you don't mind."
He flips back to the beginning of the book, and as he clears his throat, Fanny ducks her head, ostensibly to thread her needle but really to hide the flush rising in her cheeks.
"Achilles' bane full wrath resound, O Goddess," he reads, "that impos'd infinite sorrows on the Greeks, and many brave souls los'd - "
It is, she thinks to himself, never what he says, but the manner in which he says it, words rolling over his tongue like he is savouring every syllable.
She would have him speak that way about her, one of these days.