The Tanner’s Daughter – Episode 19

Jane is reunited with Margery Illustration: Mandy Dixon

Jane studied her reflection in the looking-glass her grandfather had once brought back from his travels many years ago.

Her face was drawn and pale, the eyes shadowed. The hair that Will claimed to be the colour of faerie gold seemed to lack some of its fiery glint.

Thinking of Will, Jane’s lips curved into a smile. The green eyes deepened with love for the dashing young husband who had brought meaning and laughter to her life.

If, at the start of the year, anyone had told her that by summer’s height she would be wed to the most handsome man in the city, she would never have believed it.

Nonetheless, the face in the glass was not that of a happy new bride and, try though Jane might to prevent it, an unsettling wave of doubt swept in.

Was their marriage doomed?

Had not tragedy and ill favour dogged their steps since the day they had made their vows?

Jane was at a loss to understand how this could be. Surely, she thought, grappling for reason, their love for each other must count for something?

Take heed of a man on a chestnut horse.

Margery’s words blossomed in her mind. Advice or caution: which had it been?

There was no way of knowing and now, with Margery gone, she was feeling the loss of her maid and confidante in more ways than one.

The bedchamber door opened to admit Will, elegantly attired in his tawny, a mismatched cap in his hand.

His eyes were bright, his brown curls rumpled by the blustery outdoors.

He brought with him the masculine whiff of horses and leather, faintly laced with the woodsmoke scents of autumn.

“Ho, there, sweeting. Not ready yet? Falada and Monarch are saddled and eager to be off.”

Always swift to notice her mood, he pulled shut the door behind him, strode across the room and took her in his arms.

“You are pensive. What is it?”

“Oh, nothing – and everything. Ah, Will, I was thinking of all that has happened since we were wed.

“Why was it that Father drew his last breath so soon afterwards?”

“Only a higher order than I could answer that, my love.”

“Yes, you are right. Would that Margery were here. I miss her more than words can say.

“Where can she be? Is she well and in good cheer? She’s a woman alone and I fear for her safety.

“It has been weeks since her banishment from the house, and never a word from her. Could she have met her end?”

Jane’s voice shook and Will tightened his hold of her reassuringly.

“Nay, don’t think it. A talented and resourceful creature like Margery Denny?

“Margery is a survivor. She’ll come to no harm.”

“I pray that you are right.”

Will gave her shoulders a playful shake.

“What’s this? Barely five months wed and already you doubt my word? Fie, wife, are you becoming a shrew?”

Merriment danced in his eyes and Jane’s mood lifted for a moment.

“Fool!” she said fondly.

“Aye, I’ll give you that! Seriously, Jane, you must try not to fret so much.”

“I cannot help it. Would that I knew where Margery was.”

“I’d feel easier myself on that score. Best leave the matter with me, eh?

“Meanwhile, the horses will be growing restless. Come, Jane, a gallop on the meadows before we see what awaits us at the office will be beneficial.

“Wait while I seek a better cap. This violet one will not do at all with tawny.”

Will pressed a kiss on the top of her head and, tossing the ill-favoured headgear on to the settle, took himself off into the dressing-room to find a more acceptable garment.

A slight noise from beyond the bedchamber door caused Jane to look up with a start.

When she flung open the door, the corridor was empty, with only a waft of movement in the shadowed dimness ahead to suggest that somebody had been there.

To be continued…

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