The Captain’s Bride — Episode 40

GOOD day, Muriel, am I the first one up?” Tabitha stood in the kitchen doorway.

“Mr Mackie drove the doctor off to town just a short while back.” Muriel carried on kneading dough. “I’m sorry to hear of the captain’s illness. You must be sick with worry. Help yourself to tea.”

“I’m sure we all hope he pulls through. Not just me.” She poured her tea.

Muriel looked around.

“Just checking for little ‘uns with big ears. I do know you and the captain have an understanding, my dear.”

Tabitha gasped.

“How on earth . . .?”

“How do you think?”

“Kitty? Kitty always knows everything.”

“That’s as maybe but she doesn’t gossip. Nor do I, in case you’re wondering. I remembered the captain in my prayers last night.”

The morning flew by. Tabitha tried her best to concentrate on helping Edie with her lessons, now and then picturing Jacob’s handsome face, especially those eyes, deep blue and seeming to look right through to her soul.

After the midday meal, everyone took a rest, though Daisy was complaining about being stuck indoors. Still the doctor remained absent.

“Edward’s often out all day,” Flora reminded Tabitha when they met later. “That doesn’t mean you’ve reason to worry about Jacob.”

“I so wish I could visit him.”

“I doubt they’d allow that, my dear. When my husband returns, I’m sure we’ll find out how the patient is. Meanwhile, thank you so much for the way you’re coping with everything. Edward told me how calm you were while he was trying to bring down Daisy’s fever.”

“I was only doing what anyone would have done.”

Jacob was such a good man and it was a relief to know the real reason for his sudden suspicious, cold manner. It hadn’t been her Jacob speaking those words, but a Jacob attacked by illness. She managed a smile.

“I’ll take Edie down to the shore, shall I?”

“She’ll enjoy that.” Flora smiled. “And try not to worry, Tabitha. Take heart and remember Jacob’s in good hands.”

Much to her relief, Tabitha was summoned to the parlour that evening as soon as the doctor returned.

“He’s suffering from cholera,” Edward said, holding up his hand as the women gasped. “It could be far worse and he’s fortunate he mentioned his symptoms as soon as he noticed something was wrong.

“He needs to stay in hospital so we can keep an eye on him, but as he’s still a relatively young man with a strong constitution, I see no reason why he shouldn’t recover in a week or so.”

“Are we at risk of catching it, too?” Flora asked.

“I don’t think so, my dear. I’ve always instructed our staff in matters of hygiene and I’m satisfied both Kitty and now Muriel keep good standards. It’s possible Jacob contracted the disease while still on his ship.”

“Is it coincidence that Daisy became poorly?” Tabitha asked.

“Yes. Daisy’s illness isn’t connected to his and she seems to have recovered quickly. I’m keeping an eye on Edie, though I’m hoping she escapes being ill.” Edward turned to her.

“I handed your note to Jacob, but advised him not to write a reply, though with his illness, it’s believed to be spread by contaminated food or water. This convinces me he contracted the disease on board ship.”

Tabitha, though relieved to hear Jacob wasn’t in grave danger, wanted to ask a very important question.

“Forgive me, Doctor, but did he ask if he could write to me?”

“Yes. You may of course write another note to him, if you wish.”

Tabitha bit her lip, not wishing to be a nuisance. Luckily Flora came to her rescue.

“Edward,” she said, “the poor girl wants to be assured her fiancé misses her! Can you not put her out of her misery?”

Tabitha held her breath. Edward cleared his throat.

“I’m much better advising patients about defects of the heart rather than matters of the heart. Jacob’s face lit up when I handed him your letter, Tabitha, and after reading it, I needed to look away as he turned his head away from me . . .”

“Go on,” Flora said. “You’re doing very well – for a man.”

Edward stared at the window.

“He, um, he told me he didn’t know how he’d manage being unable to see you until he left hospital. Also, he said he’d behaved very impolitely to you after the wedding celebration and asked me to say he’ll make it up to you. And, oh yes, he said he, um . . . he loves you very much.”

Tabitha managed to stammer out her thanks before bursting into tears.

“You’re trembling,” Flora said, putting a reassuring arm around Tabitha’s shoulder.

“I think it must be relief. I’ve been suffering agonies. I thought I’d upset him so badly that he’d decide not to speak to me ever again.”

Flora chuckled.

“Lovers’ tiffs – they’re understandable and even more so now we know Jacob wasn’t his usual self.”

“I hated quarrelling. I hope it never happens again.”

“It probably will, my dear. But you should both be aware of the importance of saying sorry when you know you’re in the wrong. Jacob has shown how admirable and sincere a man he is. I think you’re well suited, you two. But I hope you don’t marry until after this baby is born, else how shall I dance at your wedding?”


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!