The Captain’s Bride — Episode 39

TABITHA only knew if Jacob decided to break their engagement, she would never, ever, consider marriage to any other man.

She pulled herself back to the moment, as Edward told Muriel he’d join his guest in the dining-room for breakfast. Tabitha, stifling a sob, began eating her porridge, listening to Edie, who appeared to have become almost as chatty as her twin now she had their governess to herself. Half-listening, she wondered how Jacob felt now and whether he’d seek her out later. She desperately wanted to reassure him properly, having been too shocked earlier when he voiced his feelings so unexpectedly.

Lessons began. Soon, Tabitha became aware of Will Mackie’s arrival and the sound of masculine voices followed by silence, so Tabitha supposed both the doctor and his guest must have gone to town together.

The hours passed. Muriel took food and drink to Flora and Daisy, while Tabitha kept Edie amused, reading to her after lunch. Soon, Edie’s eyelids were drooping and Tabitha draped a shawl over her and tiptoed from the room. The house seemed quiet but she felt no desire for company. There was only one person she longed to see.

Tabitha had no way of knowing what the captain might decide and it irked her that he could be so careless of her feelings. It was so unlike his usual manner, yet how did she know anything, given her lack of knowledge regarding the masculine character?

By late afternoon, Flora was in the parlour spending time with Edie, while Daisy slept again, Tabitha beside her, reading a book. Sounds from outside floated through the open window as Will returned, bringing, she presumed, his two passengers. She heard the sounds of the pony trotting away and the rumble of the wheels fade into the distance but couldn’t detect any more conversation.

It was none of her business what Jacob did, but she wondered whether he’d been spending time in town, discussing possible houses or plots of land suitable for creating his dream. Was she still part of that dream?

Hearing a tap on the bedroom door, Tabitha jumped to her feet and went into the hallway. The doctor’s expression was so serious, she stared at him, fearful of what he might say.

“I’m afraid Jacob is not very well. Not well at all.”

“Where . . . where is he, doctor?”

“In the hospital. I thought it best to take him there as he complained of certain symptoms to me as we were waiting for Will to collect us from the hotel. I have concerns over Jacob having contracted some illness while on his ship. There’s so much we have to learn about these different maladies and how to treat them.”

“I’m afraid this might be my fault!”

“Why do you say that?” He was looking at her in puzzlement. “Has something happened? I only ask because Flora and I are fond of you both, you know. We don’t want to lose you, but we rejoice for Jacob and his wife to be.”

His kind remark brought tears to Tabitha’s eyes.

“Thank you, but we had a disagreement yesterday evening. Jacob was angry because he heard silly gossip about Archie Gingham and me being fond of one another.”

Edward Collins looked thoughtful.

“That doesn’t sound like Jacob, which makes me think his outburst was connected with whatever ails him. I’ll return to the hospital after supper and see how he is.

“Meanwhile, we should keep ourselves to ourselves as well as we can. This doesn’t necessarily mean Jacob’s malady is the same as Daisy’s. Nor does it mean that anyone else in the household is bound to be affected.

“If Jacob knew how upset you were, he would, I’m sure, be saddened. Have you any message for him? Better still, could you write a note for me to hand to him?”

Tabitha hurried away to find paper, pen and ink, praying her beloved would be in a fit state to read her message.

My darling. How can I find words to express my sorrow on hearing of your illness? I hope, by the time this letter reaches you, you feel well enough to read it. Ever since we parted last night, I have felt saddened, knowing, although I never intended it, I have caused you distress.

Please believe me, Jacob, when I say that during the time when I never dared hope your feelings for me might match my own, I showed only courtesy and friendliness towards Archie Gingham.

Nothing untoward ever took place between us and indeed, it was a relief to me when I saw him with my friend Jenny at the wedding celebration.

There is no other man in the world for me but you, Jacob. I offer you my wholehearted love and devotion for as long as we are granted. For I truly believe, as you do, we are destined to be together.

With sincere wishes for your speedy recovery,

Your loving fiancée,



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!