As autumn draws on, the leaves of the valley turn from green to gold and start to drop.
Some things have not changed with the seasons: Henry’s field still bears the mark of the thunderstone’s fall.
He is thinking of filling in the hole and mending the fence to keep his cows from getting out, but if he does it will have to wait until after the harvest has been brought in. After a brief rest on Sunday, the villagers are back in the demesne each day from sunrise to sunset.
Henry and Beatrice notice that Eda is not among them. Her husband William tells them that she is still up at Plumbob Hall with Lady Snordwich and Dame Joan.
The higher ranking wives and daughters would usually pay a visit to the new mothers, but with their field-stained clothes and tousled hair they are in no state to appear before ladies. Instead, Jaclyn must be content to hear the news from Ralf at supper: the Ros’ baby is a boy, and her ladyship’s a girl. He has heard the names John and Aldiytha, and that all are in good health.
The births make Jaclyn worry that her mother will be taken away from her again. But back at home Beatrice reassures her that there are already nurses enough at the manor house to care for the newborns.
Together, her parents tell her a bedtime story. Beatrice has heard all about the brave Lady Cecelia and her adventures, and enthusiastically joins with her husband in filling out the world he has created for their daughter with dragons, wizards, and magical swords.
Jaclyn has her story in her parents bed, but she sleeps on the floor. Bedsteads are expensive, and the brewer’s is the only household in the village to own more than one.
During this busy season, no one gets more than a few hours rest: the whole family must rise while it is still dark to bring in their own crops. Jaclyn does not like the intensive manual work, but she endures it by imagining she is performing one of the labours of Cecelia.
After sunrise, things get a little easier. Jaclyn is able to chat to her friends on the walk up to the demesne, and once they are there she is usually assigned the less physically taxing task of caring for the younger children.
By Wednesday evening, the harvest is finally in. At supper that evening, Ralf brings the workers a special treat from his lordship—steaming bowls of sweet, spiced nectar, thickened with flour and ground pork. The dish is served with good bread, fresh apple pie, and, for the grown ups, generous cups of Plumville Purple.
Several villagers notice some changes at the high table: Lord Snordwich’s marshal has gone, and with him the baroness’ gentlewoman and young Master Roger. The marshal’s absence is especially notable, since he is always in the hall at mealtimes, even when the rest of the baron’s household is away. In his place sits a different gentleman, in a brilliant blue doublet.
This, Ralf tells his friends, is Master Grancourt, the new marshal. He is stricter than his predecessor, so they must keep their voices even lower.
His lordship has a new page too, the marshal’s son Thomas. He swore his oath of loyalty before the whole household that morning, but Ralf has not met him yet.
After supper, everyone takes turns to say goodbye to Ralf. Some of them will not see him now until the Feast of the Nativity.
With the difficult harvest season behind them, the villagers celebrate the Feast of the Angels. The morning sermon is followed by music, games and drinking at the tavern.
Tephna wins the apple bobbing contest.
Beatrice feeds some of the leftover apples to brewer’s horse.
While the other children chase around after one another, Jaclyn sits down to play a game with Ralf’s little brother Mark.
When a cold autumn wind rises, everyone retreats indoors for fruit pie.
The village parson stops by for a cup of Bishop’s Gold.
Just as the villagers are toasting their hard-earned leisure time, Ralf the Groom comes in with an offer of more work. He is no longer employed in the marshalsea, but as the personal groom of Chaplain Wereables, who is soon to retire. The baron has ordered for a cottage to be set up for the chaplain’s retirement, and Ralf has been sent to find men to build it. The tenants are not bound to provide labour outside of harvest and planting times, but since these orders come from Lord Snordwich himself it is difficult for them to refuse, especially when Ralf assures them that they will be well paid.
The site is an hour’s ride outside of Plumville, in the direction of Havlock Hall. Henry and the other men set off at dawn the next morning to begin the building work.
Beatrice and Jaclyn’s day begins early too.
The cows must be milked and the house tidied.
When the have completed their morning chores, they chop of some carrots and cabbage for lunch. They eat it without bread, in observance of the Friday fast.
In the afternoon, Jaclyn watches her mother crush grapes and apples together to make Farmer’s Harvest, a simple red or golden nectar that most wives are able to brew at home.
Henry stays at the construction site that night, so Jaclyn sleeps in the bed with her mother.
Early the next morning, Beatrice sends her daughter out to buy some eggs from Elvina.
While Elvina sends Aelfgiva out to fetch the eggs from the coop, Jaclyn lends a hand with little Rikilde.
Back at home, mother and daughter mix the eggs with milk and flour to make a thin cake batter.
Jaclyn is familiar enough with the baker’s oven, but the Yates’ home only has a stove. Beatrice shows her how to cook the cakes in a pan over the flame.
They take their pancakes next door to the Yates’, where Beatrice and Eda spend the afternoon chatting and knitting winter mittens for their children. Jaclyn likes to listen to them talk.
Henry arrives home late that night. The chaplain’s cottage has been built, and Ralf tells him that his master plans to move in after All Soul’s.
After the Sunday sermon, William and Henry take William’s son Gilbert and Jaclyn to see their handiwork.
Jaclyn likes the house very much. It is a two-bay structure, like theirs, but with more windows and a stable at the back. Her father tells her that inside there is an upstairs room, like the brewery has.
It has been quite a journey by foot, so everyone is glad to sit down to a loaf of bread before heading back. While they eat, they speculate about what kind of life the retired chaplain and his groom will lead in their new home, and how often they will visit the village.