When Rainulf Fairfax first meets Constance of Cuxham, she is a raven haired beauty in the first stages of the pox. Rainulf is a teaching priest tormented by self-doubt and trying to leave the priesthood. He is drawn to the attractive, clever young woman. He does what he can to ease her suffering and returns to Oxford thinking she will recover from her illness. He is grief stricken when he finds out she died-- and overwhelmed with relief when Constance arrives in Oxford calling herself Corliss and dressed as a man.
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