Part 2, Chapter 3 Summary

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The weather in the village following the death of George Viccars is lovely, but Anna’s son Jamie remains sad because he lost a good friend in Mr. Viccars. At the end of each day, Anna checks on her small flock of sheep, and she finds one of her ewes struggling in labor. Anna can feel the nose and one hoof of the lamb in the birth canal but cannot get her hand around the animal. Jamie slips his small hand in to help, and soon the lamb is born. They leave the ewe to clean her baby and go down to the stream. There, Anna feeds Tom while Jamie splashes and plays in the water. Suddenly, the rector appears, and Anna is mortified by his appearance at the stream while she is feeding her baby. But the rector seems undisturbed, and he comments on the goodness of God. Tom begins to cry, and the rector reaches for him. Tom burps loudly, and after the rector hands him back to Anna, he goes to play with Jamie. After they play, Mr. Mompellion seats himself again next to Anna and reads to her from his book. Anna thanks him for sharing such great thoughts with her, and Mr. Mompellion tells her that his wife has praised Anna’s intelligence and now he knows why. Anna walks home with her boys, and nearing their cottage, Jamie tells Anna to wait outside. When he calls her in, Jamie showers Anna from upstairs with rose petals.

The villagers prepare for the coming winter, and Anna helps her neighbors the Hadfields butcher a hog in exchange for a portion of bacon and headcheese to store for the coming months. During the preparation of the hog, Jamie and little Edward Hadfield find ways to shirk their chores to go off and play. Mary Hadfield finds the two playing with dead rats. The woodpile if full of them, so Alexander Hadfield goes off to clear the little corpses.

The weather begins to cool, and the damp weather after the heat brings a scourge of fleas to the village. Anna’s sons are covered in welts from the bites, so she burns their bedstraw and seeks a salve from the Gowdies. But Anna meets Mem on her way out the door, who says that she is on her way to the Hadfields because Edward is burning with fever. When the two arrive at the Hadfields’ cottage, Mary tells Mem that her service is not needed because Alexander has sent to Bakewell for the barber-surgeon. Mem has no respect for the barber-surgeons as they take high sums for ill work, but Mary is firm. Inside, Edward has been laid on a bench, and the barber-surgeon has covered him in leeches to draw out his poisoned blood. Anna asks the barber-surgeon whether he thinks Edward might have Plague, but he dismisses her with a wave of his hand, claiming that Plague has not been in the shire for many years. Anna tells him about Mr. Viccars, and the barber-surgeon leaves hastily, telling them not to call on him anymore.

Edward dies before sunset. Shortly after, his brother, Jonathan, and his father, Edward, become ill and also die, leaving Mary Hadfield widowed and childless. Meanwhile, Anna’s baby Tom also becomes ill. The fever rises in him suddenly and takes him without much complaint from the baby. Anna lies with his body and falls asleep; when she wakes, she realizes that the two of them are drenched in the fluids that have escaped Tom’s body. She gathers him up and runs into the street howling in her grief.

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