She wandered in the yard among the pot-herbs, loving the clean aroma of them that smelt of health and wellbeing. She brushed her hand along the tops of the rosemary and rubbed the lavender leaves in her fingers, picked a tiny sprig of thyme and crushed it under her nose. “Beautiful . . .” she murmured: “beautiful, Gode zij dank.”

Happy, she moved to where the sage bushes grew, vigorous and abundant at this time of year. With the kitchen scissors Harriet had given her, she snipped a generous amount of tops into her basket.

Eb came round the corner of the house into the yard with his sack of kindling wood, split small and chopped into neat lengths just right for starting the stove, to find himself face to face with Florence on her way back to the kitchen, carrying a basket of fresh-gathered herbs and smiling at him.

“God is good!” she greeted him; after the tradition of the Kindred of the Quiet Way.

Eb had met Florence before. People always remembered her, because of her pink hair. It sat a smidgin uneasy with the Plain folk. Blue hair, green hair, black or white; those were the really recollected colours; even red hair or shading out to orange went with the territory of all that it meant to be Plain: but, pink hair! There was something innately, undeniably, irrepressibly frivolous about pink hair. Pink hair had something incontrovertibly fancy about it, no matter how wise and sober the head it grew upon. Florence’s mother never told her so, but she thanked God in her private prayers that none of her sons had grown up with pink hair. You often got crazy colours in a baby, of course; that was only natural until they got some sound discipleship inside their heads – but though the red stayed red, you could hope the magenta might deepen to black and the cerise to purple as the child grew. Florence’s had stayed pink. Folks did wonder if that said something about her.

Eb stopped in his tracks. He recalled that this must be Dorcas Lightfoot’s cousin come for the birthing of the little one. He had seen Florence before when the Kindred gathered in the praise meeting, at those times when she’d visited in previous years for the same purpose; but she had sat with the sisters – they had never spoken.

A nice, neat girl – though her hair was a bit fancy, even and she couldn’t help it; not only the pink but it grew a little fancy-free withal. Eb couldn’t help noticing this; but he allowed no-one can help the colour of her hair. If ‘twas fancy, well it was fancy then in the Lord – since it was done of the Lord’s hand and none of her making (you had to wonder about the Lord at times, it would seem).

This was the longest Eb had stopped to ponder any troll’s hair in the whole of his life. Fancy hair, but plain heart he trusted; and anyway, he thought it looked quite pretty.

Florence was watching him. She felt self-conscious about her hair, and knew he was looking at it. She felt it might help to distract him.

“Eb? You are Eb? Well, I am Flo,” she said, laughing; and that made him look, as what she said to him sank in. The Lord had spoken – they were made for one another.

He smiled, she smiled, and a little effervescence of giggles rose up in her; he saw the laughter dance in merriment in her eyes – and quite suddenly, taken all of a startlement, so much that for one second he could hardly breathe, Eb knew himself utterly in love. A feeling like nothing he had ever experienced came over him. Suddenly his throat constricted and he could feel his own heart beat. In an overflowing confusion of gladness, Eb was glad above all of one thing: nobody but Flo was there to see him fall so consummately.

Florence saw what had happened. She was the child of an eldress, and she had the Seeing. For an instant, her insight perceived the rhythm of the blood and bone of the two of them, and she saw that their hearts beat as one. In general, that would be. Just now, Eb’s was going a bit quick.

“Mother Whichart says,” (Florence’s eyes were sparkling at him happily) “will you like to step in for a cup of spice tea?”

Eb nodded. He couldn’t take his eyes off her. He felt joy rising up inside him until he thought his chest might burst.

“Yes please,” he said.

'Oh my!' thought Harriet, glancing up with a smile of welcome as the two of them wafted through her kitchen door in a glorious fragrance of herbs: 'Eb Stilleschuyler, when you fall it’s plain to see, you do fall hard!'