The Captain’s Bride — Episode 37

THE moment Will halted the pony, Edward jumped out, muttering an apology to the others.

“Don’t be silly. Go to your family,” Jacob called before getting out and helping Tabitha on to the ground.

“I’ll find Mrs Collins then come and tell you how things are,” Tabitha said, squeezing his arm.

It occurred to her how relaxed she was with Jacob now. Back in London, they wouldn’t have enjoyed such freedom and lack of etiquette.

Inside, she headed for the children’s room, halting outside the open door. There was no sign of Mrs Collins but her husband was bending over one of the twins and Tabitha couldn’t see which. She tiptoed away and met Flora in the hallway.

“Mrs Collins, what can I do to help?”

“Thank you, Tabitha. If you could make a pot of tea, that would be very welcome. And see if Jacob would like a cup, please.

“Daisy has a fever and I’ve taken Edie into our room. She’s asleep but I want to keep an eye on her as Edward thinks it likely she’ll get whatever it is.”

“I’ll make tea then, if you like, I’ll sit with Edie in case she wakes up. You must take care of yourself, ma’am.”

“Thank you, but you’re as bad as my husband! You’re a good girl, Tabitha. Jacob has told Edward and me about your engagement and I’m happy for you both.”

“Rest assured I won’t leave you for a while yet, Mrs Collins. If you’ll still allow me to be the children’s governess, that is.”

“There’s no question about that, my dear. And while we’re alone, you must call me Flora. Now I must go back.”

Tabitha went into the kitchen, her thoughts in a turmoil. Jacob appeared in the doorway.

“I heard you talking to Flora. I feel helpless – is there anything I can do to help?”

Tabitha was about to reply when Edward appeared in the doorway.

“Tabitha, could you assist me with my daughter? I need to sponge her with cool water to help reduce the fever and I need help to move her with as little disturbance as possible.”

“I’ll bring water and cloths.” Tabitha sprang into action.

“I’ll make tea for Flora,” Jacob said.

Edward looked from one to the other.

“Thank you, both of you.” He turned and left the room.

Tabitha shot an anguished look at Jacob.

“I can only imagine what this is like for him – for both of them. Dr Collins has the life of one of his children in his hands . . .”

“We must all pray,” Jacob said. “Call me if there’s anything I can do.”

* * * *

Next morning, Tabitha entered the kitchen, unsure how things were for the family. She’d been gently told to go to bed around midnight when Jacob informed her Edward intended sleeping on the floor beside Daisy’s bed.

Muriel greeted Tabitha.

“Is there news of little Daisy? I’ve not long risen from my bed.”

“I know nothing, either, I’m afraid. Does all seem quiet on the family’s side of the house?”

“Yes, I can’t make up my mind whether to take tea to the mistress or not. What do you think?”

“She may not have got to sleep until the small hours. Perhaps it’s best to wait a while.”

“I hope no news means good news,” Muriel said.

Tabitha was about to agree when Jacob appeared in the doorway. She still couldn’t get used to seeing him without his seafaring beard. But she didn’t mind whether he was clean-shaven or not. He was still Jacob, the man she loved with all her heart.

“Good morning, ladies,” he said. “Is there any news?”

“Not yet, sir,” Muriel said.

“What time did you get to bed, Captain?” Tabitha asked.

“Close to two o’clock. Then I found it difficult to settle.”

“It’s been a worrying time and we can only hope Daisy pulls through.” Tabitha moved across to the scullery. “I’ll brew a pot of tea and there’s porridge simmering. Probably fresh eggs and bread – is that right, Muriel?”

“Oh, yes. Kitty would have my hide for a saddle if I didn’t follow her good example.”

“Miss Westwood? Would you step outside with me for a while? As long as this doesn’t inconvenience you, Muriel?”

“Not at all, sir. Nothing’s going to spoil and if the master comes in, the tea will be brewed soon.” She shot Tabitha a meaningful glance.


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!