The opening of the next Tallow-Wife tale, “A Stitch in Time” is below:
Cordelia is dying and there is nothing they can do. Her injuries from the fire, determinedly refusing to heal, have gotten worse. The arm and her face are the most troubling, suppurating, decaying, creeping across the live flesh and necrotising it too. The smell in the sick room is dreadful, and the windows are kept open though outside there is snow. Cordelia, when she speaks, tells Mrs B it is good, that the cold numbs her pain.
There is nothing they can do but wait.
Wait in the partially ruined house in the entirely ruined Singing Vine vineyard, which had once belonged to the patient’s parents. Wait with the gaily painted wagons of the carnival troupe drawn in a rough circle outside in what was once a grand garden. Wait in the hope that the woman will come, that she will be able and willing to help. Wait for the woman who works miracles with the living clay dug from cemeteries, replete with the juices of the once-living, redolent with the scent of rot.