The Captain’s Bride — Episode 15

JACOB had at last written his letter. He sat back in his chair and reread his words, even though he’d taken pains with them.

At sea. Tuesday 2nd April

My dear Caroline.

I trust you’re in good health, also that your sister and the children are well. I expect George is at sea again by now. If your sister is writing to him, perhaps you would ask her to convey my good wishes for his well-being.

All goes as well as expected on board ‘The Lady Gwendoline’. She’s a favourite of mine, a vessel with particularly fine Captain’s Quarters. Our ship’s cook is a good fellow and rules his staff with a rod of iron.

There is evidence of the usual hardship and plights amongst the prisoners. I have knowledge of the unfairness that takes place within the judicial system. In particular I think of a man who claims to have been plotted against and blamed for the theft of a large amount of cash from the firm he worked for. There’s also a young girl whose full story I do not know, but she has confessed to being duped by a rogue she met while travelling, thus taking the blame for horse theft after he gave her a stolen mare.

Believe me, my dear, I have no doubt these sad accounts are true. I have, over the years, acquired some knowledge of human nature and will do my best to ensure these two people can make a better start in the state of Victoria, than they, as convicts, might have expected.

Now to the heart of the matter, to which I’ve given serious consideration since our first meeting.

I didn’t feel it was proper to ask the question I’m about to ask, whilst our acquaintance was still so brief. Now I (and I hope you) have had a chance to review our friendship, I trust you agree the time has come when I should make a certain declaration.

Before leaving London, I met with George to ascertain how he’d view me as a prospective brother-in-law and I’m pleased to say I met with a cordial reception. You, my dear, possess the perfect qualifications to make any man a loving, faithful wife.

As for myself, I’m no great catch, having spent so many years at sea. Yet, you have seen your sister adjust to spending time without a loving husband at her side, which is one reason why I dare approach you.

Would you, my dear Caroline, do me the honour of becoming my wife? You may, of course, wish to take time to ponder your answer. That is only fair and to be expected. I will wait to hear from you, at which point, should you consent, we perhaps could dare to select a suitable date for our betrothal to be announced and to decide upon a date for our wedding early next year or even later this year.

I shall close now, as we reach our first port of call very soon and I wish this letter to reach you without delay.

With warm regards, I remain your loving friend and suitor,

Jacob Learman

He sealed the letter carefully and placed the envelope in the middle of his desk. Rising, he walked across to the sideboard and poured a measure of port wine into a goblet. He felt relieved to have expressed his wish at last, yet didn’t experience the elation he knew he should. This wasn’t how a prospective bridegroom should feel, of that he was sure.

Relishing the mellow flavour of the wine, he savoured a further swallow. This was not too bad a life, but it could be a lonely one. He needed to keep his distance from everyone bar those officers he relied upon, but he realised he was missing female company. He’d enjoyed the hours spent with Caroline whilst on his last leave. That was a good sign, wasn’t it?

He shook his head in bafflement. He’d accomplished what he wanted. His match with Caroline was, he felt certain, an extremely sensible one.

Yet, why could he not put thoughts of young Tabitha Westwood from his mind? He was as good as engaged to be married and besides, she was only in her seventeenth year while he was in his thirtieth. But it wasn’t as though he wanted to marry the girl! She was probably one of only a few females on board who weren’t illiterate. She would probably enjoy choosing something from his small library, so why shouldn’t he invite her to select a book and maybe enjoy a few minutes of conversation?


Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, Tracey has found her perfect place on The Friend as she’s obsessed with reading and never goes anywhere without a book! She reads all the PF stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!