Daniel launches a poetry competition in his paper. Ruby Pratt, jealous of her sister Pearl's doting on their young lodger, puts it about that the contest is rigged and Laura, as Daniel's girl-friend, is set to win it. Laura withdraws from the contest but, after she has had a lace-making lesson and heart-to-heart with Queenie, Ruby feels guilty and urges Laura to re-enter, at the same time reconciling with Pearl, though the prize is won by Emma after Laura has entered one of her mother's old poems. Dorcas and Laura find, hidden in a book, a letter from Gabriel's late wife to her lover, claiming that she only got married for material gain and does not love her husband. They agree to keep it from him, although he is aware that there is another man who regularly puts flowers on the woman's grave.
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[Emma Timmins reads her poem "Gossamer Threads"
As I went on my way,/Gossamer threads spanned from bush to bush like barricades,/As I broke through one after another/I was taken by a childish fear./They are trying to bind and keep me here./But as I grew from girl to woman,I knew/The threads that bind me were more enduring than gossamer. /They were spun of kinship and love,/Given so freely that it could never be taken away from me.
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