Mrs. Jones sucked in her breath with pleasure. Her cheeks were the faint tinge of apple-flesh. At times like this, the decades fell away and he caught sight of her old unobtrusive loveliness. As if her hoity friend Susan had ever been a patch on her!
'You'll share with the maid-of-all-work, Abi.' The girl nodded. 'I should warn you, she's a blackie,' he remarked, moving towards the door. 'No harm in her, though.'
There was no reasoning with country folk. They would hold to their charms and customs till the Last Trumpet. Now she thought of it, Susan Digot always used to throw salt over her shoulder, even when they couldn't afford to buy more. And once, Mary remembered, when she'd dropped a tiny mirror and cracked it, her mother had knelt down on the floor and wept for the seven more years' bad luck.