Year of Wonders

by

Geraldine Brooks

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Michael Mompellion Character Analysis

Michael Mompellion is Eyam’s vicar, an Anglican preacher who was appointed to the position after Charles II returned to England and ousted the Puritan clergy. In a town that is too small to have any governmental organization, he’s also the unofficial leader, especially once the plague breaks out and the local gentry flee. Mompellion is generally liberal and altruistic: he combats superstition among the townsfolk, disdains the nobility for their greed and selfishness, and embraces modern ideas like class equality and a scientific approach to problems like the plague. He’s also highly charismatic: he convinces the town to voluntarily quarantine itself, and only his strong leadership prevents people from completely succumbing to panic during the plague. His firm leadership and generous behavior make him an inspiration to Anna. However, after his wife Elinor is killed, he suffers a breakdown and loses the faith in God that has sustained him spiritually and guided his actions. Moreover, after sleeping with Anna (an act that ultimately leads to Anna bearing a child), he reveals to Anna that because Elinor had long ago sinned by having a premarital affair that led to an abortion, throughout their marriage he imposed a bizarre penance on both of them by refusing to ever have sexual relations with his wife. This admission causes Anna to repudiate him and shows that he (as well as the supposedly Christian values he promotes) is far less rational and progressive than Anna once thought. By the end of the novel, it is Mompellion who is inspired by Anna, as he sees her devotion to helping others despite her lack of religious faith to be a model for how he too should try to live.

Michael Mompellion Quotes in Year of Wonders

The Year of Wonders quotes below are all either spoken by Michael Mompellion or refer to Michael Mompellion . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of Year of Wonders published in 2002.
Part 2: Among Those That Go Down to the Pit Quotes

For Mr. Stanley had commenced to attend Mr. Mompellion’s services….and in the weeks since the Billings family and some others from among the nonconformists had begun to come as well. They did not join in all the hymns, nor did they follow the words of the Book of Common Prayer, but that they gathered with us at all was a wonder.

Related Characters: Anna Frith (speaker), Michael Mompellion , Thomas Stanley
Page Number: 166
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: The Press of Their Ghosts Quotes

Why, I wondered, did we, all of us, both the rector in his pulpit and simple Lottie in her croft, seek to put the Plague in unseen hands? Why should this thing be either a test of faith sent by God, or the evil working of the Devil in the world? One of these beliefs we embraced, the other we scorned as superstition. But perhaps each was false, equally.

Related Characters: Anna Frith (speaker), Michael Mompellion , Lottie and Tom Mowbray
Page Number: 214
Explanation and Analysis:

I was jealous of them both at once. Of him, because Elinor loved him, and I hungered for a greater share of her love than I could ever hope for. And yet I was jealous of her, too; jealous that she was loved by a man as a woman is meant to be loved.

Related Characters: Anna Frith (speaker), Elinor Mompellion, Michael Mompellion
Page Number: 229
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: A Great Burning Quotes

To be sure, our stocks were nothing so fearful as the Bakewell pillory. In that market town, where people came and went without deep ties to another, to be pilloried was to be a target of rotten fruit or fish heads or any noisome thing the mob could lay a hand to. […] Even Reverend Stanley seldom called for sinners to be stocked, and Mr. Mompellion had actively discouraged it.

Related Characters: Anna Frith (speaker), Michael Mompellion , Aphra Bont , Thomas Stanley
Page Number: 245
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3: Apple-Picking Time Quotes

His wife had been hacked down in front of him. My olive shoots had been blighted. Why? His unasked question roared in my head. Just such a why had nagged at my unquiet mined through too many sleepless nights. But that he, too, should be asking it…Let her speak direct to God to ask forgiveness…but I fear she may find Him a poor listener, as many of us here have done. Could he really have come to believe that all our sacrifice, all our pain and misery, had been for nothing?

Related Characters: Anna Frith (speaker), Michael Mompellion
Page Number: 269
Explanation and Analysis:

We live, we live, we live, said the hoofbeats, and the drumming of my pulse answered them. I was alive, and I was young, and I would go on until I found some reason for it. As I rode that morning, smelling the scent of the hoofcrushed heather, feeling the wind needle my face until it tingled, I understood that where Michael Mompellion had been broken by our shared ordeal, in equal measure I had been tempered and made strong.

Related Characters: Anna Frith (speaker), Michael Mompellion
Page Number: 271
Explanation and Analysis:

“I thought I spoke for God. Fool. My whole life, all I have done, all I have said, all I have felt, has been based upon a lie. Untrue in everything. So now,” he said, “I have learned at last to do as I please!”

Related Characters: Michael Mompellion (speaker), Anna Frith
Page Number: 280
Explanation and Analysis:

In lying with him, I had sought to bring her closer to me. I had tried to become her, in every way that I could. Instead, in taking my pleasure from his body, I had stolen from her – stolen what should have been hers, her wedding night.

Related Characters: Anna Frith (speaker), Elinor Mompellion, Michael Mompellion
Page Number: 281
Explanation and Analysis:
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Year of Wonders PDF

Michael Mompellion Character Timeline in Year of Wonders

The timeline below shows where the character Michael Mompellion appears in Year of Wonders. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: Apple-Picking Time
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Anna cuts up an apple and takes it to her employer, the rector Michael Mompellion, who spends all his time sitting silently in an upstairs room. She offers to read... (full context)
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...grave in the last few years. She compares his death in the dark mine to Mompellion’s habit of spending all day in a dark room, and says that she tends to... (full context)
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...Elizabeth Bradford, the daughter of a local family of landed gentry. Elizabeth demands to see Mompellion, pushing aside Anna’s excuses that he is too unwell to perform pastoral tasks and resenting... (full context)
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Elizabeth pushes past Anna and ambushes Mompellion on the rectory stairwell, demanding that he come to her mother, who is dying of... (full context)
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...is concerned by the sudden turn in the Bradfords’ circumstances, but even more so by Mompellion’s blasphemous speech to Elizabeth, which she sees as evidence of mental instability. She returns to... (full context)
Part 2: Ring of Roses
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...at the rectory, where she works as a housemaid in the mornings, Anna finds Elinor Mompellion working in the garden. Elinor is a rare example of a well-born woman who doesn’t... (full context)
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...to take her children and leave the house; but Anna stays to nurse him, fetching Mompellion to console him spiritually. Before George dies, he exhorts them to burn all his possessions... (full context)
Part 2: The Thunder of His Voice
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...belittles as fools everyone altruistic enough to stay in London to fight the plague, and Mompellion takes issue, asserting that if “all who have the means” flee the plague, they just... (full context)
Part 2: Rat-Fall
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...of her sheep deliver a lamb and bathing naked in the creek. She runs into Mompellion, who is out enjoying the weather with a book and, to her astonishment, stops to... (full context)
Part 2: Sign of a Witch
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Elinor helps Anna nurse Jamie. She brings letters from Mompellion’s colleagues at Oxford, doctors who recommend complex poultices that do nothing to help Jamie’s growing... (full context)
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After five days, Jamie dies, attended by Anna and both the Mompellions. He is buried alongside a growing number of plague victims. In a fog of grief,... (full context)
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Warned by Mary, Mompellion arrives and excoriates the villagers for killing Anys. When they argue that she confessed to... (full context)
Part 2: Venom in the Blood
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...risk contagion by visiting the town and no jails will hold prisoners form Eyam. Instead, Mompellion makes the members of the mob attend church barefoot and wearing penitents’ robes. Anna notes... (full context)
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Anna is expecting a harsh sermon from Mompellion, since he’s been working diligently all week, as well as conferring with the old Puritan... (full context)
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In fact, Mompellion gives a charismatic sermon about God’s powerful love, saying that God sometimes requires people to... (full context)
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Mompellion outlines an elaborate plan to impose a voluntary quarantine on the village; supplies will be... (full context)
Part 2: Wide Green Prison
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Mompellion arrives on his horse and excoriates Colonel Bradford for his cowardice. However, Colonel Bradford is... (full context)
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...says that this is mostly a mental adjustment, since she rarely leaves the village boundaries. Mompellion supervises the construction of designated holes in which to receive supplies and send letters and... (full context)
Part 2: So Soon to be Dust
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...with rotten apples. Brand returned to rescue her and carried her away in a handcart. Mompellion praises him for his heroism, while Anna curses the Bradfords for making their servants homeless... (full context)
Part 2: The Poppies of Lethe
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...become sick in one day, and Anna and Elinor travel between houses nursing them,  while Mompellion performs rites over the dead. One of the afflicted is Anna’s friend Lib, to whom... (full context)
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...of the poppy and says she might be addicted today if she hadn’t met Michael Mompellion. (full context)
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Elinor goes on to explain Mompellion’s backstory, which is also much different than Anna imagined it. Rather than being the son... (full context)
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When Mompellion returned from Cambridge he befriended the fragile Elinor, recovering from her encounter with unrequited love... (full context)
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Anna reflects on how little she knew about Elinor and Mompellion before this. Although she thought she had insight into their characters, many of her judgments... (full context)
Part 2: Among Those That Go Down to the Pit
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When Elinor and Anna return to the rectory, they find Mompellion in the churchyard, furiously digging one grave after another. He’s exhausted, but he refuses to... (full context)
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Mompellion performs rites over the dead and immediately leaves to attend those who are sick that... (full context)
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The next day, Anna accompanies Mompellion to the Merrill farm, where Jakob Merril is dying. Brand, still living at the farm,... (full context)
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Mompellion comforts Jakob, telling him that even sins and “low ways” originate with God. Even the... (full context)
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On a more earthly note, Mompellion says that God has sent Brand to Jakob as a gift, to protect and take... (full context)
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That night, Mompellion has to dig two more graves without even a pause for dinner, and Anna knows... (full context)
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However, in March Mompellion closes the church, since the plague thrives in warm weather and large assemblies are an... (full context)
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...having to give up one of their few sustaining rituals – even more so when Mompellion says that, to stop the spread of disease, they must bury the dead immediately on... (full context)
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While Mompellion continues to attend to the dying, Elinor and Anna take on the case of nine-year-old... (full context)
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...cause bad luck. However, Elinor is set on undertaking the task and even lies to Mompellion about their whereabouts, so he doesn’t do it himself and die of exhaustion. (full context)
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...Barmester (a local judge), who is stunned that two women have achieved this feat. When Mompellion arrives Anna worries he will be angry, but instead he laughs and proudly embraces his... (full context)
Part 2: The Body of the Mine
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...noon, and he callously digs graves right outside the windows of the ailing. At this, Mompellion and Anna visit his cottage to ask that he be less greedy. Joss is unmoved;... (full context)
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...Unwin, who’s been sick with the plague for several days, believes himself near death. Although Mompellion hasn’t even eaten breakfast, he immediate sets off with Anna. As they walk, they pass... (full context)
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When Anna and Mompellion arrive at the Unwin house, they find that Christopher isn’t dead or even likely to... (full context)
Part 2: The Press of Their Ghosts
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...house, which Margaret said she obtained from the ghost of Anys Gowdie. Elinor confers with Mompellion, who has seen other villagers clinging to the fake charms. In fact, Mompellion has just... (full context)
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As Anna walks home she begins to wonder why everyone, from Mompellion to the Mowbrays, attributes the plague to a divine entity, whether it’s a test from... (full context)
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...a cane, flagellating himself with a handmade scourge and praying as he walks. Anna alerts Mompellion, who says he has feared the spread of flagellation, an extreme practice that often gained... (full context)
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Mompellion and Anna set out to confront the Gordons. On their way they come across an... (full context)
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Arriving at the Gordon cottage Anna and Mompellion find every wall covered in crosses and Urith starving under the fast John imposes. Urith... (full context)
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The next Sunday, Mompellion preaches about John, saying that he “sought to please God even as he embraced conduct... (full context)
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Elinor also does much to soothe Mompellion, telling him he always does what is best for the village. One night, Anna stumbles... (full context)
Part 2: A Great Burning
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...Trying to be reassuring, Elinor tells Anna briskly not to worry and not to inform Mompellion that she might be ill. But she won’t show Anna her handkerchief, which suggests she’s... (full context)
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In the next few days, Elinor’s fever rises. While Mompellion tries to spend as much time with her as possible, Anna stays at the rectory... (full context)
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...God’s punishment for considering Elinor a friend and for being jealous of her relationship with Mompellion. At the same time, she becomes more and more protective of Elinor. Whenever she has... (full context)
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...moment of lucidity, Elinor says she’s lucky to have been blessed with a husband like Mompellion and a friend like Anna. She says that the plague has changed Anna, making her... (full context)
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Elinor becomes delirious and cries out first for her erstwhile lover, Charles, and then for Mompellion, speaking in such an intimate tone that Anna is embarrassed. Mompellion appears and dismisses Anna... (full context)
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Mompellion returns to his duties with fresh energy, and is playful and intimate with Elinor. He... (full context)
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Mompellion tells the town that they must make a great bonfire and burn as many of... (full context)
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Mompellion dramatically starts the fire, calling on God to accept their sacrifice and deliver the town.... (full context)
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...preying on the villagers’ desperation. Enraged, people start to throw mud; Anna fears that if Mompellion doesn’t do something quickly, they will become a mob. (full context)
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Mompellion manages to quiet the crowd, and says that they will formally bring charges against Aphra... (full context)
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...other. Accordingly, even the people Aphra deceived are unwilling to inflict anything further on her. Mompellion declares that Aphra will give back the money she extorted when she is well. (full context)
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Aphra continues to dance and chant all day, while Mompellion attempts to remonstrate with her and prays outside her door. He considers sending men to... (full context)
Part 2: Deliverance
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...for the first time in a year, they have gone several weeks without any deaths. Mompellion preaches hopefully about the resurrection, and Andrew Merrick returns from his self-imposed exile to his... (full context)
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Mompellion and Elinor have a rare argument. Elinor wants to hold a service of formal thanksgiving... (full context)
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A few weeks later, in August, Mompellion holds the Thanksgiving service in the Cucklett Delf. He and Elinor wear all white and... (full context)
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In the crush, Faith’s skull breaks away from her body and rolls on the grass. Mompellion is startled and releases Aphra, who is roused to new anger. She slashes Elinor’s throat,... (full context)
Part 3: Apple-Picking Time
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...novice mason misspelling her name on the tombstone. Mr. Stanley presides over the funeral, since Mompellion is incapacitated by grief. (full context)
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Anna feels that it’s not in her power to “be a friend” to Mompellion as Elinor had asked her, but she takes care of him diligently, attending all the... (full context)
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Worrying about Mompellion distracts Anna from her own grief at the loss of her friend. Instead of allowing... (full context)
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The next day, Anna finds Mompellion in Elinor’s room, sweating from standing by her bed so long. She gently leads him... (full context)
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Anna asks Mr. Stanley to console Mompellion, but Stanley is agitated after their interview. He says that Mompellion laughed when he “advised... (full context)
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...and no one from neighboring towns has the courage to come to Eyam. Mr. Holbroke, Mompellion’s colleague, visits, but Mompellion will not see him. Anna brings Mompellion news of positive developments,... (full context)
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Anna tells Mompellion that the villagers need his comfort and support, but then realizes this isn’t true. Some... (full context)
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Anna resumes her narrative where she left off in the prologue, after Mompellion drops the Bible. As she walks to the stables, she ponders the irony of the... (full context)
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Anna pets Mompellion’s horse, Anteros, and confides her belief that Mompellion has lost his mind. She’s saved a... (full context)
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...her that “I was alive, and I was young, and I would go on.” While Mompellion is “broken” by their experiences, she has emerged “tempered” and stronger. For the first time... (full context)
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When Anna returns, Mompellion has noticed her absence and is waiting for her. He asks if she has lost... (full context)
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...stable boy disrupts their kiss. Anna returns to the kitchen and tries to compose herself. Mompellion follows to apologize for his behavior, admitting that for the past months he hasn’t been... (full context)
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Mompellion helps Anna with her evening chores, telling her that the hay reminds him of his... (full context)
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In the morning, Anna thinks of Elinor and asks Mompellion if having sex with her reminds him of his dead wife. Mompellion confesses that, in... (full context)
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Mompellion goes on to explain that in order to help Elinor atone for sinful lust that... (full context)
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...and forgives them for it, and that he regretted his outburst over Jane Martin’s lust. Mompellion said that he was just trying to comfort Jakob, knowing that his death was near,... (full context)
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Anna asks how Mompellion suppressed his own sexual desire, and he says he imitated Catholic priests, who apparently combat... (full context)
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Mompellion then admits he no longer believes God exists. Rather, he thinks he was wrong to... (full context)
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Anna stumbles into the churchyard and throws herself on Elinor’s grave. She is angry that Mompellion made Elinor feel guilty for her natural character that was “made for love.” Moreover, she... (full context)
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Anna hears Mompellion calling for her, and feels a deep repulsion towards him. She runs into the abandoned... (full context)
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...packs up her few remaining possessions: Jamie’s jerkin, Elinor’s medical books, and some herbal remedies. Mompellion arrives, having gone to Bradford Hall and been informed of Anna’s plans to leave town.... (full context)
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Mompellion says that Anna’s life is in danger from the Bradfords, because she knows both of... (full context)
Epilogue: The Waves, Like Ridges of Plow’d Land
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...With Aisha is Anna’s younger daughter, to whom she gave birth in Oran. She has Mompellion’s gray eyes, but Anna has named her Elinor. Anna takes one daughter in each hand... (full context)