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The riding party

Christoph escorted Delphinia to the stable-yard.

"You look exceedingly pale," he murmured.

"I would not have come, but I promised Adelia."

There was only one thing Delphinia wanted to know, and as soon as it was natural that she should do so, she lifted her gaze to the other riders coming into view, strolling amongst the stable yards looking at the horses.

Her breath caught on a sudden hitch as in the gloom she saw the loose fall of Adelia's burnished hair. Her arm was lodged within the Markgraf's.

A flush crawled across Delphinia's face. She could not name the feeling that swept her, but it seemed a mixture of all the things that cause one to flush: shame, anger, desire. She ducked her head away.

"Miss Rumford seems contended enough," Christoph murmured. "I do not think that she will begrudge our return t England to plan our own happy future."

Delphinia was silent. Something had turned within her. Christoph was an emblem of all the old, the silent submission that had characterized her youth and girlhood. In his presence she felt the old obligation, which was like a shoe that no longer fit.

Adelia turned suddenly to greet them, her green eyes wide. Her laughter shimmered on the air. "I had almost given up on you."

"I told you I would come."

"Lady de Lyons is a woman of her word," Adelia told the Markgraf laughingly, lodging her arm even more securely in his own.

Oskar appeared suddenly on Adelia's other side, through the morning mist and stableyard dust that cast a haze around everything. "The good Markgraf too is a man of honor," he said, a metal-like glint in his eyes.

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