Now that Anne’s home, she’s ready to start some projects!
Project 1: seduce Miss Walker. This one seems the easiest, since Miss Walker is already pretty enamoured of Anne, having been in awe of her since childhood. Anne begins spending quite a lot of time at the Walker estate, providing friendship and advice to a shy young woman with quite a lot of fortune hunting relatives and a deep need for approval.
Anne’s disappointed when she hears that Miss Walker is heading off on a jaunt to the Lake District with her cousin, Catherine. Catherine, when she arrives, takes it upon herself to warn Miss Walker about the rumours swirling around Anne and to ask if Anne’s ever acted inappropriately towards Miss W. Miss W denies it, but things have definitely gotten quite cosy between the two Annes.
Project 2: improve Shibden. Anne starts planning some cosmetic improvements to the park and gardens, despite her sister’s reluctance to engage. Anne also starts looking into the matter of this coal of hers.
Here’s where things start to get a little complicated, in a business way. See, there’s this other family, the Rawsons, who are also mining in the area. Brothers Jeremiah and Christopher are the ones we’re most concerned about right now. To give you an idea of the types of people they are, I immediately thought of George and Carey Warleggan from Poldark. Charmers, the pair of them. Also, they’re distantly related to Miss Walker, because this whole neighbourhood is incestuous AF. (Probably how it really was, though, considering gentry families who mostly lived in the country wouldn’t have had that many people to choose from, when it came to spouses.)
So, the Rawsons have a mine that’s very, very close to where Anne’s coal is, and they’ve basically been stealing her coal. Washington brings in a local expert who gives her some advice, and when Jeremiah Rawson comes asking to lease her land to mine the coal (on the up-and-up, before she finds out for sure he’s been stealing from her), Anne proposes an extremely high price that he’s not willing to pay. She goes into great detail as to how she came up with that price, so it’s not as if she’s just being a jerk here, it all sounds really legit. And she quotes the same price to someone else who wants to lease the land, so she’s being fair as well.
But the Rawsons lead us to Project 3: Find out who the hell caused the carriage accident that injured that poor little boy. The kid lost a leg because of it, which is really bad no matter what, but especially devastating when your only real future occupation is tenant farmer. Anne says pretty much the same thing I did, which is: there can’t be that many people in this area who can afford such an expensive carriage. She’s determined to get to the bottom of this, even though the local constable doesn’t seem all that interested.
Could it be, perhaps, because the person who totally did this was Jeremiah Rawson? Who’s now trying to cover up his tracks by getting rid of the carriage and insisting he never enjoyed driving the thing? Yes, it probably does have something to do with that. Christopher Rawson is, after all, the local Justice of the Peace, so no conflicts of interest there at all. He fobs Anne off when she makes inquiries into the investigation, but since Jeremiah doesn’t seem like the sharpest tack, I think it’s only a matter of time before Anne susses him out. And when she does, I hope she does something terrible to him.
Over in servantland, Eugenie is still pregnant and the subject of much gossip amongst the domestics. The housekeeper lets a local, John Booth, in on Eugenie’s little secret, and he starts formulating a plan to marry her, to save her reputation. He seems like a nice guy; she could probably do worse.
Anne receives an invitation to Vere’s wedding. She hems and haws for a while about whether or not to go, before deciding to go after all because she thinks it’ll look badly if she doesn’t. Off to London, then, to attend the grand ceremony and get a bit of closure. Afterwards, she hurries home and tells Eugenie they’re heading for the Lake District.