- 32. The Captain’s Bride — Episode 32
- 33. The Captain’s Bride — Episode 33
- 34. The Captain’s Bride — Episode 34
- 35. The Captain’s Bride — Episode 35
- 36. The Captain’s bride — Episode 36
- 37. The Captain’s Bride — Episode 37
- 38. The Captain’s Bride — Episode 38
MUCH later that evening, when everyone else had gone to bed, the newly engaged couple spent a few minutes together in the kitchen.
“While the three of us were eating dinner, I broke the news of our engagement. Don’t look so worried, darling girl, everything will work out as we hope.”
“It must have been a shock. I worry about Mrs Collins as she’s in . . . in a delicate condition.”
“Flora was very surprised,” Jacob admitted, “but she was concerned over losing you, rather than disapproving of our engagement. That’s a great compliment to you. It’s not easy to find the right person to entrust with your children.”
“I must go to her in the morning and reassure her I’ve no intention of leaving until we marry.”
“Yes, much as I might want to whisk you off to a parson, I’ll need to spend time in London after my voyage, then return as soon as possible. By that time, I hope to have purchased a suitable house. I’m going into town tomorrow to meet with one or two people Edward recommends.”
“What did he think about our betrothal? Knowing my fate after I ran away?” Tabitha knew he must see her anxiety.
“Hush.” Jacob drew her towards him and kissed the tip of her nose. “He’s delighted for us. If he’d felt uncertain about employing you, he wouldn’t have let you stay, now would he?”
“I suppose not. If they only knew how I’ve dreamed about becoming your wife . . .”
“I’ll try to live up to those dreams, Miss Westwood. There will, no doubt, be trials and tribulations along the way, but I’ve no doubt whatsoever about marrying you.”
“Nor I you! But I must take my leave now. Tomorrow will be a busy day and I have my maid of honour duties to think about. Will you be attending the wedding?”
He shook his head.
“I wouldn’t have expected an invitation, though Edward has suggested the two of us spend some time at the festivities. He and the family will attend the marriage ceremony but Flora needs plenty of rest.”
They parted with a kiss.
* * * *
Kitty’s sister was now in residence. Muriel was as kindly as her elder sister, and Tabitha felt sure she’d soon become part of the household. At breakfast time, she found the sisters already in the kitchen.
“Good morning! I trust the bride-to-be slept well?”
“Eventually. After I stopped worrying about the bridegroom changing his mind and Archie losing the ring and the parson falling sick and . . .”
“Stop!” Both Muriel and Tabitha called at once and soon all three were laughing together.
“You should enjoy every minute of today. After all, you’re the most important person. The one everyone will be looking at,” Tabitha said.
“I don’t know about that. Archie won’t be looking at his new stepmother and that’s a fact.”
Tabitha puckered up her face.
“I thought you two got on well. What do you mean?”
“I mean Archie will be looking at you, that’s all. You know he has feelings for you.”
Tabitha felt herself go hot and cold.
“I thought I’d made it plain I wasn’t interested in finding a husband.”
“You seem to be getting on very well with Captain Learman.” Kitty was looking at her, head on one side, a faint smile on her face.
“He’s always been very kind to me. You know I wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t put a word in with the doctor and his wife.”
“I’m not trying to upset you, Tabitha.I don’t want to see you get hurt, that’s all. Especially when there’s someone your own age who’d make a good husband.”
Surely Archie wasn’t still carrying a torch for her? She’d done her best not to offer him any encouragement.
* * * *
“May I have the pleasure of this dance, Miss Tabitha?”
Archie was smiling down at her. He would think her very rude if she didn’t dance with him, but she was watching out for Jacob, even though she’d reminded him not to ask her to dance, for fear this caused comment.
Everyone knew why Tabitha arrived in Australia. It was no secret. Yet, she realised the situation might alter, if people suspected the doctor’s friend of taking an interest in her.
Archie was still waiting so she followed him on to the dance floor. This was a sedate waltz and as they progressed, Archie told her how pleased he was for his father and Kitty to have found happiness together.
“One day, when he decides it’s time to take life more quietly,” Archie said, “he’ll have a new, smaller house built for him and Kitty. That’ll leave plenty of space in the old one for me and whoever I marry.” He looked meaningfully at Tabitha who tried to think of the right thing to say.
“I imagine it’ll be a while yet before that happens,” she said. “He’s not that old, surely?”
“No, he’s not. But it’s good of him to make it clear he has my future in mind, don’t you think? And I expect he’s looking forward to grandchildren.”
Stunned, Tabitha was trying to think of a reply when Archie spoke again.
“I do have someone in mind, but I haven’t dared bring up the subject yet.”