When the vicar is indisposed young curate Benedict Marley assumes his duties,including running the church bazaar,to the annoyance of staid Thomas,who regards Benedict's free,enlightened interpretation of the Bible as ungodly. Seeing a snake the uptight Thomas totally over-reacts and sees it as a demonic sign. Emma is also troubled by the sight of the snake as it makes her feel vulnerable as a woman temporarily without a husband. Benedict is seen leaving her house after dark and tongues wag,but Emma explains that the relationship is purely one of pastoral comfort and takes her children to the bazaar. The snake reappears but Thomas now sees it as one of God's creatures and nobody fears it. Gabriel discovers his wife's letter,thanking Dorcas for her diplomacy and,on her advice,burning it.