“Miss Fenwick, this is excellent. I now understand what you want for the stone on the exterior walls.”
“I know it is simple.”
“Quite to the contrary. Each item on the page is in perfect proportion with the rest of the plan. I see that, unlike the high boxes around the pews in the previous church, you designed lower boxes.”
“That’s so the congregation can see each other as well as Gregory when he leads the service.”
“From this raised pulpit.” He tapped a small inset box which showed where the pulpit with its octagonal sounding board would be placed along with the repaired font and a lectern shaped like an eagle. “It says here that the lectern will be made of brass.”
“I thought it would be simpler to obtain a brass one,” she said. “I wouldn’t know where we could find anyone with the skill to carve a wooden one like we had before.”
“I may know someone.” He straightened and smiled. “My predecessor ordered a billiards table, as you may recall.”
She nodded. “Your cousins mentioned it to me.”
“Come with me.” Removing the books, he let the paper roll close before he picked it up. “Let’s see if it points to an answer to your wooden lectern dilemma.”
Vera regretted leaving the solitude of the wing to return to the main part of the house. For the past half hour, it had been as if she and Lord Meriweather were alone in the world, working toward a common goal. He had treated her as an equal. Not like Gregory, who gave her a perfunctory thanks when she handed him a finished sermon she had written for the next service. Her brother seemed to believe she was only doing her sisterly duty.
Lord Meriweather led her into a room she had never entered. It was close to the dining room, but it had been decorated as a place for gentlemen to withdraw while women chatted together in the drawing room. The walls were covered with dark green fabric and wood almost as dark as the table in his haven. The great billiards table, carved with the family crest and scenes from both the high moorlands and the curve of the bay, commanded the room.
“Look here,” he said, squatting beside one of the thick, curved legs.
She knelt and ran her fingers along the carved leaves that looked like frozen vines climbing the wooden legs. “This is beautifully made.”
“I agree.” He offered his hand and waited for her to stand before he added, “If you would prefer a wooden lectern for the church, I can contact the artisan who made this and find out if he would carve a new lectern for us.”
“That is wonderful! I know it would mean a lot to the congregation to have something else that looks familiar when they come into the new church for the first service.” She halted herself. What was she thinking? She could suggest ideas for the church, but the ultimate decision was not hers. That belonged to her brother.
“Excellent! I will contact—”
“Not yet, please. I must check with Gregory first.”
“On such a small matter?” His eyes widened.
She realized her voice had sounded a bit panicked. Before he could ask the questions she could see on his face, she took the rolled page that he had placed on the table. She opened it and began pointing out various design elements she had selected. She began talking about each. She was babbling, but that was better than having him ask questions she needed to avoid.
Lord Meriweather did not move for so long that she thought he was going to wait for her to explain herself; then he leaned on his hands on the edge of the table. He listened while she pointed out more details. When he asked a few thoughtful questions, she began to relax again while she answered him.
“Why did you put the pulpit in the front of the church?” he asked. “There seems to be a movement toward having them in the center of the sanctuary so that everyone can hear.”
“We are traditional here in Sanctuary Bay, and there are enough other changes that I wanted to lessen them where I could. Gregory suggested a trio of pulpits like those in—” She gulped hard, and he stared at her. She pretended a cough and apologized.
“Go on,” he urged. “A trio of pulpits like those in...?”
“A church not far outside York.” She fingered the page he had spread out again on top of the billiards table, staring at her drawing. She almost had slipped and mentioned the church in the parish where Lord Hedgcoe controlled the living. “Gregory was invited to preach there, and he was fascinated by how they were used.”
“I’m not familiar with them.”
“Three pulpits are set one above the other with a set of stairs along one side.”
“But what is the purpose?”