In her husband’s absence, Ewfame Grancourt presides over his house and lands. When Nativity Day arrives, she feasts his tenants on goose and beef.
She sees her children’s old nursemaid Margery among her guests. Ewfame will never forget the happy summer days they spent together by the lake. She calls the young woman before the dais, and tells her that should she ever want for anything —food, clothes, employment for her son—it shall always be hers at Havlock Hall.
Ewfame misses her children, but she is not lonely. She receives regular letters from her daughter Hilith and friend Alice Rostand, and on feast days she is often invited to Plumbob Hall. At home, her cook Adam and groom William take good care of her, and Parson Couer comes once a week to help her with the household accounts, as he did for her husband.
On New Year’s Day, she and William are Lord Snorwich’s guests at lunch.
Her husband seems happy in his new office, and it is no surprise: keeping order and discipline in such a large household suits his cavillous nature.
In the great hall, Ewfame embraces her son Thomas, now serving as the baron’s page.
Sir Thomas, Dame Joan, and Philip Clerinell are also present—although not Clerinell’s wife, who is recuperating at home after the birth of her fifth daughter.
Ewfame is proud to see her son serving at the high table and his father sitting at Lord Snordwich’s right hand side.
At her end of the table are Filbert Perroy, the baron’s new chaplain Segar Darcy, and his predecessor Henry Wereables. Ewfame admires Wereables immensely, and has many questions for him about the books she has been reading.
During the meal, the poet John Gillian recites a poem about the mysterious stone that landed in Plumville this time last year. Darcy is enthusiastic, but Ewfame thinks the treatment far too trivial.
After the feast has ended, Ewfame rides with Wereables so far as his new home.
He promises to come and see her at Havlock Hall.
True to his word, Wereables visits her twice that week. He lends her books from his collection and shows her a manuscript in his own hand, an account of the fall of the Plumville Thunderstone more accurate than Gillian’s fanciful version.
On Thursday, Parson Couer joins them for supper.
Friday brings a late snow that keeps Ewfame in doors all day.
She reads a devotional work carefully copied out for her by Parson Couer, and after it a gripping romance lent her by her Alice Rostand.
On Saturday, a message from Alice herself arrives when Ewfame is out at church. Its bearer is John Colbert, a friend of Alice’s husband. The young man hopes to reach Burdley by the following day so cannot wait for the mistress of the household to return, though he is grateful to accept a little bread and nectar in the buttery.
Ewfame is sorry to have missed the caller, but delighted to hear from her friend. The letter is full of good news: Alice has given birth to a second son, and would love for Ewfame to come and see him.
The very next morning, Ewfame and William prepare for the long ride to Advorton. It will be wonderful to see the Rostands, and perhaps they can even stop along the way at the convent to spend a little time with Hilith.