Dorcas was delighted that Flo had found her life-companion. She could see that Eb would be just just right for her. When she thought about Flo making a permanent home here in the Old Order, it gave her a feeling of warm contentment in the very middle of her soul. She was looking forward to the wedding.

It was just that – Dorcas felt ashamed about this – Flo had come to help her with the housework and the children in the weeks around the birth of her baby; and the way things had turned out meant she spent as much time with Eb and with Hannah and more recently down in the sewing room, as she did in the Lightfoots’ wooden house.

Dorcas struggled against resentment. Every morning, Flo got up before sunrise, helped with washes and breakfast and laundry and household chores. Most evenings she was there to sing songs and tell stories, help with supper and baths and tidying away all the debris of the day. She hadn’t abandoned her duties. But the times in the day when they could have sat and sewed, chatting and catching up on news from home – the nice bits that made Flo’s visits so special – that was the part that had been lost.

Dorcas could see there was no other way for it to be. For Eb Stilleschuyler to fall in love with Flo, she had to be at least briefly accessible; and the only time she ever came to the Old Order was when Dorcas had just had a baby.

Like most young mothers, Dorcas had become very handy at accomplishing several things at once. Outside of the times she was lying-in after childbirth, she could do all the work of the household and keep everything neat and peaceful; her house full of the smell of baking bread and brewing coffee, lavender drying and newly ironed sheets.