The Captain’s Bride — Episode 31

JACOB reminded himself of one very important fact. He was a deal older than she was. Maybe she regarded him with affection – he hoped so – but it might only be as a mentor, an older brother or even an uncle with her best interests at heart.

Soon they were following the stony track towards the house and as Will brought the trap to a halt, Edward appeared at the top of the front steps then hurried down them.

“My dear Jacob, come in.”

Jacob grasped his friend’s hand.

“I’m grateful for your kind hospitality. The hotel’s clean and tidy but it’s good to be with friends.”

“Excellent. My wife sends her apologies and she’ll see you in the morning. We’re expecting another child and Flora tires more easily these days.”

“My congratulations! I must say I envy you, old friend. I often wonder whether God might grant me a son or daughter, one day.”

Edward shot him a quizzical look.

“Your seafaring makes it difficult for you to find the right woman. But your letter tells me you’re contemplating settling here! I’m intrigued, and delighted, of course. Come, let me pour you some wine. Kitty has made one of her beef pies. I’m sorry to say she’s to leave us soon, but we’re to gain the services of her sister.”

“Why is Kitty leaving?”

“She’s marrying a farmer whose land adjoins mine. He’s a widower and a good man.” Edward poured wine into two tankards. As they settled themselves, Jacob longed to ask after Tabitha but waited for Edward to mention her. Annoyingly, his old friend seemed disposed not to.

“I hope everything works out well for everyone concerned,” Jacob said. “If my plans go as I hope, I‘ll have need of a housekeeper once I settle into my new life.”

“But that’ll take some while to happen, I imagine? It’s one of the reasons I offered you hospitality – so we could discuss the matter more easily.”

Jacob put down his wine.

“You look very serious. Do you disapprove?”

“Good heavens, no, Jacob. Far from me to tell a man his own business, even if I disapproved. I do wonder though, whether you’ll miss London society.”

Jacob stifled a chuckle.

“I think not.”

“In addition,” Edward continued, “I’m hard put to think how you’ll find yourself a wife in this area. You’d do better in Melbourne, I believe. The daughter of a rich industrialist would be delighted to become the bride of a man such as you.”

“You flatter me, but the life I long for wouldn’t appeal to most young women.”

Edward nodded.

“This is what intrigues me. What exactly do you have in mind? Prospecting? Import and export? The world is opening up for traders.”

“Indeed.” Jacob leaned forward, hands on his knees. “But I’m contemplating a scholarly life. I yearn to teach, help children learn their letters so they may write their names, draft a letter and read documents as well as the stories which have entranced me since my boyhood. I want to write my own book one day. I have a particular story in mind but that’s a very personal dream. Forgive me if I say no more.”

“I’m surprised you wish to become a teacher.”

“You don’t approve?”

“It’s not that. There is, I’m sure, a growing thirst for knowledge. The young woman you sent us is helping our children gain in knowledge every day. I’m aware Tabitha reads and continues her learning, always remaining one or two steps ahead of her pupils.

“I admire her for this, but there aren’t many like her in these parts. As for founding a school, it’s an admirable idea.”

Jacob rose and walked over to the window, to stand with his back against the glorious setting sun.

“I need a large enough house to contain a schoolroom, or maybe I can buy land to build upon.”

“I’d no idea you felt so strongly but I’ll help in whatever ways I can.”

Should he confide his feelings about Tabitha? Jacob could imagine her working beside him, helping him achieve his dream.

“It would take,” Edward said, “a very special kind of woman to share your vision.”


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!