By midsummer’s eve, Beatrice is ready to receive guests at home. The baker’s wife and daughters are making a strawberry tart to take to her. They combine fresh red berries with egg yolks and the crumbs of yesterday’s bread, then bake the mixture in a pastry shell.
The baby seems to be doing well.
Beatrice is grateful for the beautiful tart, but has another favour to beg. Her husband has gone to Crafthole for the day to buy supplies for their daughter’s naming feast, and she herself may not be seen in public until then. Would Goodwife Baker mind taking Jaclyn to the midsummer’s dance that afternoon, she asks. Avice is happy to oblige.
Their girls are always delighted to spend time together.
Back at the bakery, Tephna and Jaclyn fasten summer flowers in their hair.
Tephna’s father has been busy making the bread and buns for the dance.
Her little brother Adam helps by fetching their father the ingredients he needs.
When they are ready to head over to the village green, the family leaves a plate of the freshly baked food outside for passing travellers—a tradition on this night.
Adam looks thrilled to be out in the fresh air.
Tephna is glad to see old Robert Fowler still full of life, as he plays cheerfully with his little boy.
His wife, though, is in as ill a humour as ever.
The villagers spend the afternoon eating, drinking and dancing.
Tephna notices Ralf’s brother Richard staring at Jaclyn.
As twilight approaches, her father gets the bonfire going.
It burns throughout the evening, protecting the village from mischievous midsummer spirits.
Jaclyn stays at the bakery that night.
Tephna still keeps the lavender Ralf gave her by her bedroll.
The family awakes the next morning to find that the raspberries and blackberries have come in.
They will taste delicious baked into pies.
At church that afternoon, Margery Yates is blessed and named. It is such a warm day that her parents decide to serve the feast outside in the sunshine.
Over the week that follows, the villagers’ gardens continue to yield ripe summer fruits. By the roadside, wild chamomile is in flower, ready to picked by the younger girls and sold at Plumbob Hall.
Tephna spends most of her afternoons with Goodwife Jardine. Her mother usually insists she take her little sister Oriel to her lessons, but unfortunately she and Eda’s daughter Kinborough don’t always get along.
On Thursday, Tephna arrives to find the midwife making a raspberry cordial.
Too much of any fruit raw can cause insomnia and melancholy, Eda warns. But when boiled with wine and honey these precious berries are the best thing for women of childbearing age, helping to alleviate cramps and nausea, ease digestion, and promote fertility.
Tephna listens carefully to everything Eda has to say. What happened at the manor house was horrible; she cannot think of it without shuddering. But it has not frighted her from her chosen path. Now that she understand the stakes, she is more determined than ever to help mothers bring their children into the world.