By Mary Balogh
A Masked Deception
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Additional info for A Masked Deception
After the meal, the men rejoined the ladies in the drawing room without much delay, as they wished to make a prompt departure for Vauxhall. Brampton immediately seated himself beside his wife on a love seat. " he asked, concerned. "Just a little headache, Richard," she replied, smiling wanly. " "We must stay at home, then," he said. " "Oh, no, Richard," Margaret protested, "it is really nothing. " "Your health is of more importance than other people's entertainment," her husband said decisively.
Her view was hampered by his black mask. But his lips formed a word. " Then she fluttered her fan more briskly, turned on her heel, and began to walk swiftly down the path away from him, swinging her wide skirts with provocative movements of her hips. The Earl of Brampton was in shock for a few moments. He thought he was having a hallucination. There she was before him, surely, exactly as he remembered her—his little angel of the Hetheringtons' masquerade ball. That vivacious little figure would be etched on his memory for all time.
This whole escapade seemed strangely mad to him. Like all the servants of the Earl of Brampton, though, both in London and at Brampton Court, he had fast acquired a fierce loyalty to the countess. With all her quiet and gentle ways, she treated the servants with unfailing courtesy and knew them as individuals. She never failed to inquire after Chalmer's gout, or to ask the scullery maid if she had recovered from her cold, or to comment on the youngest footman's new livery. Margaret was nervous as she climbed down from the coach.