The Tanner’s Daughter – Episode 43

Jane is in a quandary Ilustration: Mandy Dixon

The guildsman listened intently as Jane told her story. “So there you have it.” Her voice was even. “I am in the position of bearing a child to one who is not my legal spouse.

“Sooner or later the truth will out. How shall I manage? I have a business to run, people to face…”

She pressed her fingers to her temple, her green eyes dark with pain.

“Forgive me, sir. One of my megrims.”

“My dear, can I get you a cup of wine?”

Thomas Glasier indicated a flagon and goblets on a cabinet in the office.

“No, but do avail yourself,” Jane said.

Thomas rose and poured himself a measure. He sat again, goblet in hand.

“This situation is no fault of yours. We must consider what is to be done.”

His thoughts were mixed. At one level he was rejoicing. Was this his chance to win Jane?

Long a widower, his daughters wed and living afar, his home was solitary. Jane was a woman any man would be proud to call wife.

“Doubtless your mother is aware of this?”

“Yes, she is.”

“And her reaction?”

“Mother wants me to sell Hatton’s so we can leave the district.

“I cannot. Father entrusted Hatton’s to me. I would not let him down.

“I would be grateful for any suggestions, sir.”

Tread carefully, Thomas cautioned himself.

“In one respect your mother is right – you must get away.

“Lie low until after the child is born and you are in a better position to decide what is best.”

“To leave is not easy.”

“But possible. Have you anyone who could manage the firm in your absence?”

“Jarvis, my clerk of work. He is trustworthy.”

“Then I suggest we put it about that you are embarking on a business trip that will take you away for several months.

“In fact, you will stay at my country residence in Mollington village. I have there a small staff who would not tattle.”

Jane stared.

“Stay at your house?”

“Indeed. My dear, I appreciate your feelings over your father’s plans for you, but consider. What if I were to buy Hatton’s?

“We amalgamate it with my own leatherware company but run it as a separate enterprise, so the firm continues under the Hatton name – with you still at the helm.”

“But I would no longer be the owner. Oh, I confess I am fuddled.”

“Jane, I have a deep affection and admiration for you.

“Once word of your condition becomes public, along with the unfortunate marital situation, life could become intolerable.

“Suppose we were to wed? As my wife you would gain my protection and have a father for your child.”

“Your wife!”

“Aye, Jane. It would do me a great honour.

“There is no rush. Wait until after the child is born, if you prefer.

“These things can always be explained away – none would question my word.”

Jane spread her hands.

“I am at a loss. I… I do not know.”

“Take your time. You are under no obligation to fall in with my wishes.

“Whatever your decision, the offer of sanctuary under my roof still holds.

“It might be best not to linger. Sort out what is needed in the office and come to Mollington.

“You will need to take your mother into your confidence, but no-one else. The fewer who know, the better.

“Failing that, we shall try another course of action.”

“You are most considerate, sir.”

“Your late sire would have expected nothing else. I shall leave you now to your thoughts.”

Thomas Glasier rose, gave a bow and departed.

Jane sat on, trying to call her thoughts to order.

What she had been offered was a solution, of sorts. Thomas Glasier was kindly and generous, if old and set in his ways.

He would be a caring husband and a considerate father to her child.

But she felt beleaguered. Hatton’s, her mother, and now this! She did not know which way to turn.

All she really knew was, despite everything, her heart ached for the man she inwardly still called husband and always would.

To be continued…

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