Wealthy widow Judith Perle still mourns her late husband but is pursued by numerous single townsmen. She has turned her house over to the abbey for the rent of a single white rose each year from the house's bush. But as one admirer is found stabbed, one of her workmen is found drowned, and Judith herself is kidnapped, she thinks entering a convent is her only avenue to peace. Cadfael must identify the killer in order to give Judith a chance of happiness.
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[Thomas sits on the riverbank in the pouring rain, staring straight ahead. Hugh and Sergeant Warden appear behind him
Sheriff Hugh Beringar
May we speak, Master Hynde?
You have saved my conscience a journey.