“Oh, yes. Most of it was just lovely.”
“Most of it?”
He saw her wince. Obviously, she hadn’t meant to say so much. “Well,” she said slowly, catching her lip between her teeth and then letting it go before continuing, “one of the girls said some unkind words to me.”
“Oh?” He knew better than to be overly inquisitive.
And obviously, he was right, because when she spoke, she rather reminded him of his sister, staring up at him with frank eyes as her words spilled firmly from her mouth. “It was Fiona Bennet,” she said, with great distaste, “and Olivia called her a silly old cow, and I must say I’m not sorry that she did.”
Turner kept his expression appropriately grave. “I’m not sorry that she did, either, if Fiona said unkind things to you.”
“I know I’m not pretty,” Miranda burst out. “But it’s dreadfully impolite to say so, not to mention downright mean.”
Turner looked at her for a long moment, not exactly certain how to comfort the little girl. She wasn’t beautiful, that was true, and if he tried to tell her that she was, she wouldn’t believe him. But she wasn’t ugly. She was just…rather awkward.
He was saved, however, from having to say anything by Miranda’s next comment.
“It’s this brown hair, I think.”
He raised his brows.
“It’s not at all fashionable,” Miranda explained. “And neither are brown eyes. And I’m too skinny by half, and my face is too long, and I’m far too pale.”
“Well, that’s all true,” Turner said.
Miranda turned to face him, her eyes looming large and sad in her face.
“You certainly do have brown hair and eyes. There is no use arguing that point.” He tilted his head and pretended to give her a complete inspection. “You are rather thin, and your face is indeed a trifle long. And you certainly are pale.”
Her lips trembled, and Turner could tease her no more. “But as it happens,” he said with a smile, “I myself prefer women with brown hair and eyes.”
“I do. I always have. And I like them thin and pale, as well.”
Miranda eyed him suspiciously. “What about long faces?”
“Well, I must admit, I never gave the matter much thought, but I certainly don’t mind a long face.”
“Fiona Bennet said I have big lips,” she said almost defiantly.
Turner bit back a smile.
She heaved a great sigh. “I never even noticed I had big lips before.”
“They’re not so big.”
She shot him a wary glance. “You’re just saying that to make me feel better.”
“I do want you to feel better, but that’s not why I said it. And next time Fiona Bennet says you have big lips, tell her she’s wrong. You have full lips.”
“What’s the difference?” She looked over at him patiently, her dark eyes serious.
Turner took a breath. “Well,” he stalled. “Big lips are unattractive. Full lips are not.”
“Oh.” That seemed to satisfy her. “Fiona has thin lips.”
“Full lips are much, much better than thin lips,” Turner said emphatically. He quite liked this funny little girl and wanted her to feel better.