She pictured Edwin at the front door with Imogen in his arms,
confirming, beyond doubt, beyond reason, what Ralf had been
trying to tell her. She could not forget that sight either.
Without really knowing what she was about, Anna returned to
undelivered, or still being built in your workshop. Essentially, all
that has gone is the house. While Id rather not have lost thirty
marks, it was my own fault. I should have thought about the dike
We all should.
Quite. Anyhow, were going to
Linsell did not answer at once, making her turn to look at him.
Yes, he said. We dont have to pay.
She was too surprised to speak.
Linsell gestured at the fire. He burned his contract. Says Im
not worth suing.
They had been reprieved. An immense weigh
not known how well regarded his sister had been.
She was an angel, Bernard told him, when he came to make
his condolences, too good for this world, and, for once, the
stale form of words was true.
Ralf had risen that morning with a painful sore throat. Du
whim, he gave himself the pleasure of making his co-signatorys
eyes follow the document to the fireplace. He put it on the
That doesnt change a thing.
Were going to have a tide mill. We want you to build it. If
you wont, well get somebody else.
own way, and these were not easily attained in a state of
honourable poverty. The scheme he had just dreamt up was
doubly meritorious. It produced a glow of selfless satisfaction
and it also promised all the benefits the mill would bestow.
He found h
This was a conclusion Gervase had reached before hearing
how much the storm had cost him.
Let me think for a minute, he told Walter.
Without the mill, Eloise would have no duke and the manor
would have no future. But, at a compound rate of fifty per
signatures, like the neatly inscribed clauses, becoming foxed,
negatived, and consumed by flame.
Linsell did not want to stay in Mape. Nor did Ralf, and nor did
she. Everything here would remind them of Imogen, especially
the mill, for it was during its c
after Christmas, not long after the tragic conclusion of the search
for her friend.
The death had hit her very hard. He had not realized the two
had been so close. Eloise had taken to her room, emerging for
little but meals. Godric had spent much time wit
Even this far up the estuary, the water remained choppy. Ralf
luffed as tightly as he could, but what breeze there was, from the
north-east, forced wide and frequent tacks across the harbour. In
this his course was being opposed, but not by the ebb, which
morning when he had showed the women over the mill, he had
yearned to make her his wife, but there was a supernal will far
greater than his. Whatever it opposed could never come to pass.
He wanted her yet, but she was, as always, right. It was over.
of mankind. Walter. Why did the serfs not come out to help us
on Christmas Day?
Those we paid. But the others. Why didnt they come? And
dont say they were loath to break the festival.
Well, my lord. As they would see it, there was no reason
The physical setting of the Abbey was in itself an affront to
the Benedictine vow of poverty. The grounds, a place of sublime
beauty, were ornamented by a lake which had been enlarged and
landscaped by the monks and lay brothers, and by serfs from its
ventured along the dike. She would never have stumbled, or been
caught by the flood and washed off the path. Weighed down by
her skirts, perhaps flung again and again by the waves against
facing, she would have had no chance of survival. No one could
stained and soggy clothing.
Please God, no.
The bundle was foreshortened, lying lengthwise. Ralfs
unwilling retina now registered the pale sole of a feminine boot
and, beside it, the pale, awkwardly bent sole of a naked feminine
He dropped the sail,
proud of the mud. It had lost most of its netting and sandbags.
Beyond it and to the left, a few broken timbers jutting skywards
were all that was left of the house. The thatch, the
the beams and rafters and floors, had been converted into
feelings of sympathy. He wanted to reach out to Grigg and make
physical contact, to demonstrate that, as a father, he was not
alone. He couldnt. Rank came into it, he supposed, and custom,
and a fear of reminding him that Eloise unaccountably lived
well as modern books like herbals and treatises on history and
geography. The library was said to be Bishop Williams
particular pride. It formed part of the Benedictine monastery. The
monks had made many of its more valuable books in their
home. The Abbey was hateful to him. The life there had drifted
far from the regula of St Benedict, who in the sixth century had
prescribed the ideal pattern for a monastic community. The
Abbot was supposed to be elected by the monks, then nominated
his excellent son. Will you honour me with a favour, sir?
What sort of favour?
Talk this matter over with him before reaching a final
decision. When you judge him well enough. As soon as you can.
Preferably by Saturday.
After all your loving-kindness it i
to a raw howl of grief, or how soon he had been able to reach out
and touch the cold, livid flesh of her cheek. The morning had
stopped. Even the act of carrying her to the waters edge, of
going down on one knee and cradling her so that with one hand
tideline near the mill and carried it to higher ground. Much of it
was only fit for fuel, but a fair amount, especially of the
weatherboarding, could be re-used.
The rebuilding held no savour for Ralf. Since his third night
with Eloise he had known that h
Griggs voice was congested with emotion. Gervase had
silenced him by holding up a hand, fearful that either of them
might step outside the expected norms. My compliments to
Mistress Grigg. And please tell Ralf he has our prayers for a
and Edwin dragged the craft down the slope of the foreshore. Her
prow broke the water.
Edwin stood by while Ralf, as the lighter man, boarded first.
Holding on to the stern, Edwin was about to complete the launch
and jump in himself when Ralf said, No, Ed
revolutions a minute.
In recent days Ralf had been thinking about the overshot
wheels he had seen, especially the one at Priorsbourne. Such
wheels comprised an endless series of compartments into which
the water fell. They were driven by gravity as well a
work needed to fix it all together. Repairing the beach was a
matter of the utmost urgency. The freelance labourers for miles
around knew it. Their rates had gone up accordingly. They
charged by the day, but at this season there were, at best, only
Thats enough, Eloise said, slightly raising her hand. The
ladle was withdrawn. Elisabeth circled behind Aunt Mildred.
For you, madam?
Looking down, Eloise contemplated the unusual cinnamon
colour of the bisk and the contrast it made with the brown glazed
Im glad. My son told me as much.
Mr Godric has been very kind. And please thank Her
Ladyship for the tinctures. Grigg had aged. His face was grey.
And Mrs Grigg? Where is she?
Gone to the Creeches.
He was excused.
As the water on the weather bow thumped at her strakes, the
elderly Meg heeled her stoical way through the swell. Her
frame rose and sended, taking and absorbing each knock,
shrugging off each shower of spray, leaving the staith and the
Beadle, he rued the Bishop, but most keenly he rued the sunny
May evening in which his father, driving that ox-cart, had
brought the family here.
Once, and once only, with dripping oars, he again turned to
look at his sister. Head first, she was now prece