“Maman, I need your help. I once promised Maxzyne I’d teach her some French. What do you suggest?”
“Oh, that is easy, ma petite.” Veronique makes a grand sweep of the silk scarf around her neck. She gives Maxzyne a knowing look.
“There are only two words that a French lady must know.”
“Really? Just two?” Maxzyne is unconvinced. “In the whole French language?”
“Oui, my dear.” Veronique puts her hand on Maxzyne’s shoulder. “Just two. The only two you need.”
“So what are they?” Maxzyne looks at Elise, who only shrugs.
“Bel esprit (Wit), of course! Go on, repeat after me.” Veronique closes her eyes, listening intently.
“Oui. Very nice.” Veronique nods her approval. She claps lightly.
“But what does it mean?”
“What it means to be French, my dear.” Maxzyne is confused. “Not just speaking French—non! One must have a fine mind, too.” Aloin nods approvingly. Veronique continues. “You see? To be French, is to be a cultivated, highly intelligent person. To have true bel esprit.”
“Like you, Maman?”
“Oui, ma petite. Like me, like you. And especially like our dear friend, Maxzyne.”
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