Miss Matty's house is full of life and bustle. Her dream of having a child in the house has been realised with the birth of Tilly, daughter of her maid Martha and carpenter Jem. Elsewhere, the shadow of the railway still looms, but the line has been halted five miles outside Cranford - a disaster for the town, in Captain Brown's view. As Lady Ludlow waits for her son Septimus to return from Italy, Harry Gregson is sent away to school. Meanwhile, as Mr Buxton returns to town with his son, William, and his niece, Erminia, Miss Matty becomes concerned about another young person - Peggy Bell - who lives in an isolated cottage with her mother and domineering brother, Edward. Miss Matty decides to intervene and engineers an invitation that will bring the four young people together.
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