Egelric and his men had finished putting the new roof on the church, but in addition to the work he was doing for the Duke, he was also overseeing the construction of the house the workers were building for the new priest—whoever he might be.

Egelric thought he had found a new sort of happiness for himself. All the joy had gone out of his marriage, but Elfleda was a good housekeeper, always had dinner on the table when he came home, and didn’t complain when he spent the evening with Alwy or at Nothelm Keep.

His work, on the other hand, was no longer just something to escape to, it had become something to look forward to.

He closely studied the diagrams

Duke Alred had even loaned him a treatise on architecture, and lately he had given up going out after supper and spent the hours before bed reading. Most of the words were foreign to him, but he closely studied the diagrams.

Meanwhile Elfleda would be in the other room. Egelric no longer asked himself what she might be doing out there, nor whether she was lonely or needed anything. If he thought he heard a sob, he would tell himself it might have been one of the animals outside. He wasn’t a hard-​hearted man—hadn’t always been, anyway—but he knew that if he went out there and showed the slightest sympathy or concern, Elfleda would turn on him, snarling like a wounded cat.

He would fight no more with her.

He would fight no more with her.