The Tanner’s Daughter – Episode 46

Jane is in a quandary Ilustration: Mandy Dixon

Will’s mind swam. The altercation with Jane had been fierce and the hurt had gone deep.

Jane had not trusted him. She had believed the tattle of a stranger rather than him.

And where did Glasier come into this?

Could Jane, in a weak moment, have confided her woes and Glasier – the rogue – seen his chance?

“Will, what say you?”

“I shall think on it.”

Margery sighed and stood. She placed the empty beaker on the desk and went on her way.

Alone, Will fretted. What should he do?

Would he deny his and Jane’s chance of happiness together, perhaps subject Jane to committing the very act she hoped to avoid by entering into marriage with Glasier?

The fellow would be father to Will’s child! It was unthinkable.

Then again, Jane’s attitude towards him had been wounding. She had refused to hear him out.

Will hardened his heart, went to his desk and, opening the strongbox, began counting out the week’s wages for the men.

Margery headed next for Hatton’s on Eastgate Row.

“I wish to speak with Mistress Leche. It is a matter of some urgency,” she told the man who answered her summons.

He was young, pleasant-looking and polite.

“I’m sorry, lady, Mistress Leche is not here. She is away on business and expects to be absent for some while.”

A business journey? Margery thought not!

“My name is Caspar Jarvis,” the man said. “I am in charge for the time being. Can I help?”

“I think not, thank you.”

Margery left. Outside the shop she thought fast. She had to find out what had happened to her mistress.

Martha Renfrew might know. A glance at her dishevelled reflection in the shop window showed she was not presentable; still, needs must.

She descended the steps of the Row and took the alleyway that led to the rear of the block of buildings.

She slipped through the garden gate, crossed the stableyard and arrived at the back door of the house.

Margery tapped lightly, hoping the cook was alone. It didn’t do to be seen here under any circumstances.

She was in luck. Martha welcomed her with open arms into the kitchen.

“Lass, you look fit to drop. Let me get you a bite to eat and you can tell me what’s occured.”

“Martha, forgive me but I cannot explain. Do you know where my mi – where Mistress Leche has gone?”

“Miss Jane? Nay, none of us has any idea. A journey, we’s told. Business. She’ll not be back for weeks.”

“Who said this?”

“Why, madam. Very emphatic, she were. Lass, you’re not going?”

“I fear so. I must not be seen here. Should it come to madam’s ears there would be trouble. Farewell for now, Martha.”

Margery set off for home. Familiar smells of rotting refuse and open sewers assailed her nostrils as she entered the lowly environs of Pepper Street.

She climbed the stair of the lodging house. At her door, someone waited.

To be continued…

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