The villagers are on the green when the news comes. It is the first of summer, but there will be no dancing today. Tephna, shaken by what she has seen, cries on Jaclyn’s shoulder.
Gradually, they disperse to houses about town. The baker and his family go with Henry and Beatrice to their home. Beatrice gives Tephna a cup of spiced wine and puts her to bed.
Eda is sleeping too, her husband tells them when he brings the children round. It was a long, difficult night up at Plumbob Hall.
His son Gilbert settles down to play with little Walter.
That evening, two of his lordship’s own men come down to the village with bundles of soft, black linen to give out. The funeral will be tomorrow noon, they say.
Beatrice thanks them humbly for the gift. She understands what is expected in return: to come smartly dressed to church, there to offer up prayers for Rohesia Cecil’s departed soul.
Feeling a chill in the air, she hurries back inside to get the fire going.
Walter is already tucked up in bed and Henry’s labour for the day is done, but she and Jaclyn now have hours of sewing ahead of them.
As she works, Beatrice tries to think of the late Lady Snordwich, so bright and gentle. Her mind, though, keeps drifting to the girl she nursed, Marian Ros, wondering how she is coping with her ladyship’s passing.
In the morning the bells toll, calling the villagers to church.
They wait at the back as the great folk take their seats.
In his sermon, the parson reflects upon the transience of all earthly things and the consolations of the life to come. He praises her ladyship as a defender of the poor, patroness of the arts, and mother to five children, Roger, Fabyan, Alidytha, Linyeve, and now little Geva. After the hymns and readings, he ends by reminding the living to pray for those who have passed from them.
As the villagers file out, a smartly dressed page hands them each a bottle of nectar, another of his lordship’s gifts. They take the bottles over to the tavern, to have with the sweet buns meant for yesterday’s summer feast.
Jaclyn stays by Tephna’s side all afternoon. Beatrice is glad to see her daughter looking after her friend so well.
The girl has the other children about her too. Hugh Cotter brings her plates of bread and buns.
Tephna’s parents report that their daughter is doing well, considering. She had to sleep in with them last night, but this morning was up early to check on the strawberry patch.
It will be just a few days now until the first berries come in. That will please the girls, Beatrice thinks. Their own garden is already in fruit with cabbages, mint and cucumber.
She and Jaclyn use them to make soups and stews.
On all but fasting days, they eat these with bread, and sometimes a little cheese. The other wives send their children out to buy the loaves, but Beatrice prefers to go herself. The short walk gives her an excuse to say hello to the brewer’s horse.
She likes to stop in to check in on Eda too.
Jaclyn is always happy to watch Walter for her.
She even lets him have her treasured whale and dragon toys.
At bedtime, she makes up stories to tell him, like those she used to love. For almost a year now Jaclyn has insisted that she doesn’t care to hear about the adventures of Cecelia any more, but her mother often overhears her sharing them with Walter.
After a story from his sister, he always sleeps right through the night.
Work on the farm continues throughout the summer, but this is definitely one of the less challenging times of year.
On Thursday afternoon, Beatrice and Eda take their families to the river bank to enjoy the sunshine.
Eda lets Jaclyn hold her youngest, Agnes.
The little ones love the water.
As midsummer approaches, Beatrice falls pregnant. Following so closely on from last week’s tragedy it is a worrying time, but her dear husband keeps the whole family merry.
Even Tephna is eager to help in any way she can.
To everyone’s relief, the delivery is as smooth as could be. By Sunday morning, Beatrice—safe and happy—is holding a smiling baby girl. Margery, she will call her, for her own mother.