The wages Beatrice sends home are more than enough for Henry to pay the baker’s wife to care for his daughter. Fast times are not good for the bakery, so the family is thankful for the extra income.
With his own wife away, Henry has even more to do than usual. But the couple were at least able to get the planting done before Beatrice left, and spring showers will help keep the garden watered.
Whenever the weather is fairer, Henry sees his friends fishing on the river. He would like to join them, since fish is in high demand at this time of year, but every day from sunrise to sunset he is kept busy feeding the cows and weeding his plants.
He takes his supper each night with Geoffrey and Avice – usually stews of pickled vegetables, with a little fish when there is any.
Avice tells him that, any time the sun is out, Jaclyn and Tephna love to play together among the newly hatched chicks.
On Wednesday, the holiest time of year begins, as the Spring Penitence is superseded by three whole days of feasting and jubilation, known collectively as the Feast of the Watcher. On the morning of the first day, the villagers gather in the churchyard and sing joyful hymns as the sun rises over the mountains.
Inside the church, the somber colours of the penitential season are replaced by brilliant white and gold, and the altar is surrounded by spring flowers.
Lord Snordwich always begins this festive season by feasting his servants and their families. Henry and Jaclyn are reunited with Beatrice in the great hall just before they take their places.
She is delighted to see them.
The family is seated with Mabel, nurse to the Cecils’ son Roger.
Roger himself is displayed for all the guests to see, lying in his mother’s arms as she eats her pie.
As evening falls and Henry is preparing to make his way home, Humphrey the Cook presents him with four bottles of creamy Effenmont gold. The nectar is a gift to the village from Lord Snordwich, who expects his tenants to drink to his heir’s health now that the fast has ended.
The baron’s household celebrates the Feast of the Watcher far more extravagantly than the lesser folk, visiting friends, holding tournaments, and feasting relatives from all over the country. But the villagers do at least refrain from all non-essential work during this time. When Thursday morning breaks clear and bright, they wander down to the river bank. Geoffrey and William even brave the chilly water for a brisk swim.
Eda shows off a new dress she has made for herself.
Henry picks a wildflower to give to Beatrice when he sees her next.
On the great feast’s final day, everyone gathers in the tavern for lunch. Fresh fruit and vegetables are still out of season, but Henry has slaughtered a calf for the women to cook, and there are three dense, chewy loaves, grape jam, and even a sweet prune pie.
They drink to their future lord, young Master Roger.
With the holiday at an end, Henry redoubles his efforts on the farm, through rain and shine.
He tends his garden carefully, knowing that in just a few days it will be dotted with the reds, whites and greens of its first summer crops.