Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 440
One chilly morning, Jakob Merrill, who lives nearest the Boundary Stone, runs out to shoo away a carter when he realizes that there is a body on the cart. Brand, the pantry boy from Bradford Hall, has returned with Maggie Cantwell, the cook, on the cart. Jakob sends his son Seth to notify the rector, and Michael Mompellion and Anna go out to help. It takes all their strength to get the large woman down from the cart, and when they do, they see the horror that has been inflicted on Maggie: the right side of her face is drooped, and she is covered in dried fruit pulp. Brand explains that once they arrived in Bakewell, someone recognized Maggie and shouted that everyone should beware of the travelers from the Plague village. They seized on Maggie, hurling fruit and then stones at her. Brand admits that he was afraid and since no one recognized him, he darted off and hid, thinking that he might be able to make it alone the rest of the way to his family. However, he was ashamed and went back to rescue Maggie from the onslaught. He put her in the cart and pulled her back to the village. Anna damns the Bradfords for having put Maggie in such a position.
Jakob Merrill agrees to take Brand as a lodger, and Anna agrees to take Maggie back to her own cottage, provided that she can find a way to move the woman there. Anna decides to go to the Miner’s Tavern to see if she might borrow their horse-trap for the task. Once there, however, she runs into her father, who is already drunk. He invites her for a drink, and Anna hastily responds with a quotation from the Scripture. Meaning to embarrass her, Anna’s father forces her onto her knees and threatens to make her wear a branks, an iron helmet used as a muzzle. Anna remembers when her father forced her mother to wear a branks around town after she cursed his drunkenness. After Anna married Sam, she told him about her childhood abuse, and Sam had walked right over to her father’s cottage and struck him with a fist to the face. Now in the tavern, Anna does not have Sam, and she fears her father’s wrath. She wets herself, and her father throws her onto the floor so that she lands in her own puddle. Anna runs home weeping and scrubs herself raw.
Later, Seth arrives at her doorstep to bring her to care for Maggie. But Anna's efforts are in vain, and Maggie dies before midnight.