Alred glared at the line he had just written into the journal.

Alred glared at the line he had just written into the journal. He didn’t like the line noting his daughter’s birth to be followed immediately by news of this nature.

“We shall find some good news to write after,” he said softly to the baby who lay on his lap and who gripped one of his fingers in each of her tiny hands. “Perhaps we shall christen my little lady soon enough. What do you say, Margaret? Shall we ask the fair Gunnie Hogge to be your godmother?” He smiled as he remembered the end to the long, dark night he had spent in the chapel.

“Well, good morning, my beauty,” he said, looking up at his wife as she quietly came in. “I didn’t expect to see you out of bed and prowling about so soon.”

He looked up at his wife who had quietly come in.

“I feel quite well. With whom were you talking just now, Alred?” she asked suspiciously.

“Perhaps I am beginning to talk to my own self in my old age.”

“Have you added Margaret’s birth to your journal?” she asked, glancing down at his writing table.

“I have indeed. In large, joyous letters.”

“You may add that last night was the new moon. I just passed Egelric, and he asked me, solemn as a scribe, ‘It’s the new moon, my lady, and what do we plant?’”

Alred laughed. “Does he expect you to remember all that?”

“He does, and what’s more, I do. ‘Peas and beans!’ I told him, and I was right!”

“Well then, I shall just add that right afterwards,” he said, picking up his pen. “‘It’s the new moon, and my lady says we plant peas and beans!’”

“Oh, you aren’t writing that!” she laughed.

“Why not? I like peas and beans. And my lady. Say, I shall just add that as well,” he smiled, writing again.

'I like peas and beans.'

“Oh, don’t you dare!” she laughed. “How our children will laugh at us when they are grown and read your journal for the year!”

“I hope they will, though it sounds more dignified in Latin. I shall just add that as well: ‘I hope my descendents are laughing—’”

Matilda plucked the plume from his hand. “Enough of your nonsense! You’re no better than a child!”

“I most certainly am better than a child—at least, my spelling is.”

She leaned over his table to kiss him, but then she spotted the tiny feet kicking his belly. “What is this!” she cried. “I thought this baby was sleeping in her cradle! No wonder she was so quiet!”

“I admit it!” he laughed, bringing the baby up to his shoulder as he stood. “I needed help with my spelling. And besides, her diaper is perfect for wiping one’s pen.”

“Alred, I think this baby spends more time with you than she does with her mother.”

'Why shouldn't she?'

“Why shouldn’t she? Her mother needs her rest.”

“You’ll spoil her—she won’t want to sleep anywhere but in your arms, and then you’ll be sorry.”

You don’t want to sleep anywhere but in my arms, and I’m not sorry!”

“Perhaps not, but I don’t want to share you.” She ran a finger up one of his shoulders and down the other as she walked behind him to the table, curious to see exactly what nonsense he had written just then.

“Oh, never mind that, dear,” he said. “I don’t want you to see my spelling mistakes.” He reached for the page, but she had already clapped her hand down on it to prevent him from pulling it away.

“What? ‘Lupi’? What?” she gasped as she read.

'What? Lupi?'

Alred sighed. “Egelric didn’t come to discuss peas and beans with me.”

“Oh, Alred! Again! Who is Gyfu Weard?”

“She’s the sister of the Evrard who lost his hand at Ely, the one I have minding the sheep.”

“That blond-​haired girl who used to hang around Egelric?”

“That one.”

“Oh, how dreadful! Where was she attacked?”

'Oh, how dreadful!'

“At the crossroads again. It’s always been at the crossroads, except earlier when they were only killing the animals. And even then it always seemed to be at the Hogge farm or the Ashdown farm, which are closest to the crossroads.”

“How dreadful! Oh, Alred, what can we do? We never even hear them!”

“We can stay inside at night. God knows what that poor woman was doing out at that hour.”

“But this is no way to live! We have to find where they hide and kill them.”

“I know, dear, but it rained this morning and washed the scent away. Egelric tells me he and Alwy are planning to go out with Alwy’s dogs, but I doubt they will find anything today.”

'I doubt they will find anything today.'

“The next time—God grant that there not be a next time, but if there is—you must send out men and horses and dogs the same night.”

“I shall, Matilda. I told Egelric that I should be woken immediately. We can’t allow this to go on. Now, perhaps you should take your daughter—I believe she’s getting hungry. She is trying to suck my earlobe, and I suspect that’s one part of me you won’t want to share.”

'I suspect that's one part of me you won't want to share.'