At church the following morning, the villagers get their first glimpse of the latest Cecil child.
After the service, they make their way up to Plumbob Hall for the baron’s Nativity Day celebrations. Beatrice is overjoyed to see her family.
Girls of Jaclyn’s rank, if admitted to the hall at all, would usually be seated furthest from the dais, but Sir Thomas squeezes Jaclyn and her friend Tephna in beside Beatrice.
Next to the time spent with his wife, Henry’s favourite part of the feast is the mumming. In the faithful Cecelia, he sees his own beloved Beatrice. The happy reunion at the end reminds him that in just ten days her service at Plumbob Hall will be over.
The mumming captures Jaclyn’s imagination too. Back at home, she asks her father to tell her another story about Cecelia’s adventures.
For the Cecils and their friends, the feasting up at the manor house will continue for the next few days. On New Year’s Eve, the villagers throw their own celebration in the tavern.
The girls are happy to be surrounded by friends and family. Tephna pretends she is a great lady, presiding over her court.
They stay up late playing with the Brewer twins. Richard loves Jaclyn’s little whale.
On Wednesday morning, work begins again. Jaclyn still spends most days at the bakery, learning to sew, clean, and cook from Tephna’s mother.
The girls like to talk to the village wives when they come in.
Jaclyn returns every evening to serve her father’s supper.
Often there are unsold ends of bread for them to share.
Every night, he invents more stories about his daughter’s heroine Cecelia. She likes the funny ones the best.
As Jaclyn is hurrying home on Thursday evening, the snow starts to fall.
She and her father warm themselves by the fire.
After supper, they tuck themselves up in their bed, where they feel safe and snug. But outside in the dark, a thief creeps through the village. He makes his way through the Yates’ front door and down into their cellar.
He has his sights set on their nectar.
Hearing the noise, Henry climbs down to the cellar to investigate. He gives the intruder a sound beating.
The thief, bruised and frightened, runs off into the night.
Jaclyn is relieved that her father has not been hurt.
She eventually gets back to sleep, but Henry keeps watch for the rest of the night.
In the morning, he heads out to warn the his neighbours. The tavern and bakery are closed for the Friday fast, so he goes from house to house to spread the news.
Eda gives Henry a big bowl of vegetable stew to thank him for seeing off the thief.
Jaclyn tells Tephna all about it.
Snow falls again that night, and at daybreak the girls find it is deep enough to play in.
By the afternoon, the sun is shining brightly in a crisp blue sky. William suggests that he and Henry take a boat out onto the river to fish. Eda is pregnant with their second child, and he wants to stock up as much food as he can before the baby arrives.
Sunday marks the final day of winter, and the villagers can already feel the weather turning milder. But while they are outside enjoying the sunshine, they hear a thunderous noise from above. William spots something in the sky, plummeting towards the village.
The meteor hits Henry’s cow field, just narrowly missing the house.
The villagers rush to examine the mysterious object that has fallen down from the heavens into their lives.