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By Rohana Darlington

Copywright 2012 by Rohana Darlington

Published at Smashwords


From lightening and tempest, from plague, pestilence and famine, from battle and murder, and from sudden death, Good Lord deliver us.’

The Litany, The Book of Common Prayer

Thursday 22nd September 1642

One cheerless September morning in the ancient city of Chester Sarah Astbury sat by her fireside in Trutina House waiting for her husband to come home. When at last she heard his boots clacking on the flagstones as he approached the parlour she rose to greet him, preparing for the worst.

The handle turned and she saw him framed by the doorway, the feather in his dark high-crowned hat just touching the lintel. His scowl increased her misgivings as he stalked into the room, tugging off his stiff riding gauntlets and complaining: ‘Is the meal to be late again?’

Disregarding his irritation she forced herself to smile in welcome and reached out to take the gloves from him. ‘Darity’s just about to serve it.’ She decided to wait until after he had eaten before confronting him. Perhaps his humour would improve after the mullet pie. ‘Come, rest by the fire and warm yourself, husband. The wind’s bitter today.’

Ignoring her, he strode over to the small table by the window. With rising alarm she watched him as he pulled off his black Geneva cape, folded it carefully, laid it on a chair and placed his hat and gloves on top. Tall and powerfully built, with his observant heavy-lidded eyes, silver-flecked iron grey hair and taciturn presence he looked every inch the distinguished physician. He sat down, gazing out at the orchard beyond, waiting in louring silence for the food to arrive. His rejection of her always hurt but as usual she hid her feelings. Since her miscarriage in the summer she had learned the futility of expecting warmth or even courtesy from him.

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