The rock is surprisingly cool to touch, but Parson Reviers counsels the villagers to stand back from it. Triston is sent racing up the hill to fetch someone from the manor house.
Sir Thomas is the first to arrive, though it is not long before Lord Snordwich and all his train are crowded round the cowshed.
After consulting with Wereables and Reviers, his lorship announces that, whether heavenly or diabolical, the strange stone should be moved to consecrated ground.
News of the Plumville thunderstone spreads, and soon people from Crafthole and nearby villages come to see it for themselves.
Some think the stone an ill omen or judgement from a wrathful Watcher; but its arrival on the holy eve of the Feast of the Candles and its relatively safe landing encourage most to interpret it as a sign of divine favour. The village tavern becomes a site of lively debate, with enthusiastic commentators drinking late into the night.
Henry, whose wife is due to return to him on Thursday, takes the preservation of his house as a sign from the Watcher that their marriage will continue to be a happy one. He keeps his theory from Parson Reviers and visiting churchmen, but never tires of sharing it with his friends.
Triston is sent out several times a day to buy bread for all the guests at the tavern.
But even amid this flurry of activity, the villagers cannot neglect the season’s work. Between kneading dough and feeding hens, Avice and her daughter find time to give the bakery a spring clean.
The family also has other things on their minds.
Tephna is looking forward to the arrival of the baby.
The heaviest share of her father’s workload falls on Tuesday and Wednesday, when the autumn crops must be planted in his lordship’s demesne. On these days, the labourers sup at Plumbob Hall.
At the high table are lords and ladies of neighbouring Effenmont and Burdley, who have come to see the thunderstone, and will stay for the Feast of Absolution.
Back at the bakery, Tephna and Jaclyn look after Avice during her lying in.
Tephna picks a wildflower for her.
The baby is due on Wednesday evening. The girls are eager to assist Eda with the delivery.
They find parts of the birth more unnerving than they expected.
But, with their aid, Avice is safely delivered of her child, a little sister for Tephna.
Geoffrey and Avice rise early the following morning to bake bread and cakes for the Feast of Absolution.
They take their baby girl to church, where she and her mother are blessed. The name they have chosen for her is Oriel.
The afternoon is full of merriment on the village green.
The villagers are glad to see Beatrice reunited with her family.
She has many questions about her daughter for Avice, who praises Jaclyn’s cheerfulness and determination.
The girls play catch with Robert and Elvina’s daughter Aelfgiva.
Everyone savours the feast, knowing these will be their last treats for six days.
On Friday, the longest fast of the year begins. The steady trickle of visitors to the Plumville thunderstone continue to demand bed and board at the tavern, but they no longer drink or eat rich foods. With bread and cake banned for the rest of the season, the bakery sells only spring buns—small, plain rolls made without eggs or butter.
These are usually served toasted and spread with jam or dipped in soup.
Rain keeps Tephna indoors for most of the weekend.
She resents the confinement, but her sister’s little gurgles and smiles always lift her spirits.