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Half of her suitor is a boy, ash-haired and soft-fingered, only a few years older than she is. Proserpina sees that he won’t enjoy this meeting and wonders why.

The other half is his father, whose hand, when Proserpina shakes it, feels hungry. But his eyes are warm.

“Proserpina,” says her mother, “this is Mister Buchanan! He’s an old friend of your father’s, a business associate from New South Wales.”

“That makes you very brave, Mister Buchanan,” says Proserpina.

“Odd choice of phrasing, gel,” says Buchanan, but he smiles. “This is my son Dacelo.”

“Oh,” says Proserpina, “that’s why.”