On Distant Shores – Episode 61

Caroline’s fingers slackened on Ian’s and she stared at him in confusion.

“Resign? But why?”

“Because of the business with Wells. Warren doesn’t want any scandal brought to the hospital’s doorstep, and I suppose I can understand that.”

“But Wells attacked you! You were innocent of any –”

“He wouldn’t have attacked me if he had not known me,” Ian explained wearily. He could hardly credit he was defending Warren’s position, yet even in his disappointment and shame he recognised the truth of it. “I worked with him, Caroline. For years.”

“And he was clearly mad,” she answered stoutly. She shook her head and squeezed his hands.

“I am sorry for you,” he answered grimly. “You are the wife of a man without position or resource.”

“Without resource?” Her mouth curved in a surprising smile. “Do you really think so little of yourself? As for position . . . surely that is only temporary.”

“I do not know.” He let go of her hands to rake his own through his hair. “This city is closed to me, of that I am sure.”

He expected her to blanch at least, but she simply shrugged.

“There are other cities.”

“I do not know how far the talk and rumour might have spread . . .”

“You are not a man to be stopped by such things, Ian,” Caroline said gently, and reached for his hands again. “But I don’t think you would be happiest chasing opportunities in Philadelphia or New York.”

“What do you mean?”

She smiled sadly.

“For twenty years or more you’ve been tormented by the past and the mistakes you feel you made. Would not now, perhaps, be the time to finally set them right?”

He stared at her in bewilderment.

“I do not know how I would do such a thing.”

“I do,” Caroline answered and drew closer to kiss him, even thought they were here for all to see in Boston Common.

“Caroline –”

“Return,” she whispered against his mouth. “Let us return to Achlic.”

* * * *

Isabel was in love. It was a new feeling, heady and strange, exciting and yet also fearful. She had been in Moulmein for nearly a month, and just as John Braeburn had suggested and even promised, she had got to know him, and he to know her.

It was both wonderful and frightening, to be known. To have her opinions asked and listened to, and even more alarmingly, her hopes and dreams and fears. And to ask his in return. Isabel’s heart seemed to flip right over at the thought. After so many years alone, considered by all as a permanent spinster, this new intimacy was both unfamiliar and welcome.

John had made it their custom to take the hour after the evening meal to chat together in the parlour, and the Judsons discreetly left them alone for that sweet time. At first Isabel had been anxious as to how to fill an hour, and whether they would, in the end, have anything to talk about.

She found the minutes flying by, and that one short turn of the clock’s hands became the highlight of her day. John was sober-minded when it came to missions, but he had a wry sense of humour and a lightness of speaking that warmed Isabel’s heart.

She did not fear he was shallow or capricious, for he’d talked honestly and painfully of his dead wife, and how much he had loved her.

Now John had asked her to go for a walk through their neighbourhood, and while Isabel had been out in the streets of Moulmein before, she had never been so alone with John.

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one aspiring tip to new writers is to “write from your imagination”.