“Aye, I knows ’er all right, but ’er be dead!”
“Surely not?” Anthea exclaimed. “You must mean her sister, Mrs. Cosnet, who I knew was ill.”
“They both be dead,” Billy insisted. “Missie Tuckett, ’er be buried two weeks ago come Thursday.”
“I cannot believe it!” Anthea exclaimed in consternation.
She had known that Nanny’s widowed sister was very ill when she had left Yorkshire to nurse her, but she had written several times to say she was better in health.
Nanny had written to congratulate her on her approaching marriage and she had written back to thank her and say how much she wished she could be at the ceremony.
When she fled from London, she had thought childlike that Nanny would always be there to look after her.
It was an unhappiness she could hardly bear to know that Nanny was dead and she would never see her again.
“What am I to do?” she asked helplessly of the small boy beside her.
“Mrs. Weldon, ’er who lives next door, ‘as the key,” he volunteered.
“Then I will go to the cottage,” Anthea decided.
She was to learn in the next few days that the whole village had in fact been expecting her to arrive.
“Your Nanny and a wonderful woman she was, wrote a letter to you,” the Vicar said, “saying that she was ill and telling you that if anything should happen to her the cottage and its contents were to be yours and your sisters.”
He paused to add,
“She was a little rambling, but I think I am right in saying that you are Miss Anthea and your sisters are Thais, Chloe and Phebe?”
“You are quite right,” Anthea answered.
She realised, as the Vicar went on talking, that Nanny had not mentioned the fact that she was to be married and he had no idea that she was not still Miss Forthingdale.
She was relieved that she did not have to tell him her real name and surreptitiously, when he was not looking, she removed her wedding ring.
“I am quite certain you would not wish to settle in Cumberton, Miss Forthingdale,” the Vicar was saying, “but it is a nice little cottage and, if you should wish to sell