The Captain’s Bride — Episode 41

ON the day Jacob was allowed to leave hospital, Tabitha could hardly contain herself when the pony and trap pulled up outside. Will Mackie jumped down as she hurried forward, his kindly face splitting into a grin.

“Someone’s very pleased to see the captain,” he teased. “I wonder why! My that’s a pretty blush, Miss Westwood.”

She didn’t care whether her cheeks told tales, so relieved was she to see Jacob again.

“Hello, Tabitha.” Jacob smiled down at her then clambered to the ground.

Will reached for Jacob’s bag and headed for the front door.

“Let’s take a walk around the garden,” Jacob said. “Or are you in the middle of a lesson?”

“I can spare a few minutes. The girls are in the kitchen with Muriel.”

He reached for her hand and drew her close. Tabitha felt as though her heart might burst with love.

“I can’t apologise enough for the way I treated you after the wedding. Can you ever forgive me?”

“There’s nothing to forgive. You were unwell and not seeing things straight. The important thing is you’re better now.”

He bent his head. His kiss was tender. His arms around her made her feel safe and loved. But how long would it be before he left Australia again? As if reading her mind, Jacob stroked her bright hair lovingly.

“I’ve had a lot of time to think and I want to ask you a question.”

“What question is this?”

“Will you marry me, Tabitha?”

She laughed.

“You know I’ll marry you, Jacob. I said yes the first time and I’m saying it again now.”

He took her hand and led her across the garden to a sheltered spot.

“How wonderful it is to be in the fresh air, hearing the birdsong and seeing the colourful flowers.” He took both her hands in his. “I mean will you marry me before I return to London?

“I don’t think I can bear the thought of sailing there and back unless I know my wife is waiting for my return. I only wish you could accompany me, but I believe you’ll be safer here. I don’t like the thought of you being on board with the risk of illness occurring.”

She nestled against him.

“But I feel the same about you! If only you didn’t have to go back.”

“I need to deal with some personal matters and when I return, we may be able to move into our new home.”

She gasped.

“So soon? How can this be?”

“Before my illness, I made certain arrangements. Edward knows all about it and he’ll consult you about matters on which he thinks you should express an opinion. We could marry at the little church near the town hall,” he continued. “Can you arrange for a dress to be made without delay?”

“I expect Flora will help me, if you’re sure this is what you want.”

“It’s what I want more than anything else in the world, my angel.”

* * * *

“So soon?” Jacob and Tabitha stood in the parlour with the doctor and his wife. “Well, congratulations to you both,” Flora said. “Though I’m not sure we should forgive you, Jacob, for stealing our governess!”

Jacob chuckled, his arm around Tabitha’s waist.

“Don’t worry, she’s not deserting you yet.”

“I’m pleased to remain as the children’s governess,” Tabitha said, “but we hope the twins will continue their lessons when we start our school.”

“We’re aware they lack the company of other children,” Edward said, “and when our third child’s old enough, I hope you’ll accept him or her into the school, too.”

“At the moment I’m more concerned about the wedding!” Flora said. “We must arrange for your dress to be made, Tabitha. Shall I do that for you?”

“Yes, please. I intend carrying on with the children’s lessons meanwhile.”

The doctor glanced at his wife.

“I’ve said it before, but Tabitha’s worth her weight in gold.”

“And I couldn’t have better employers, or pupils. I should be honoured if you’d give me away, Edward.”

“I wanted him to be my best man, but I’ll stand back,” Jacob said. “If we time things right, I can ask one of my brother officers. The ship I’m to take back to London docks in a few days’ time.”

“Excellent. I’d be honoured to give you away, Tabitha.”

She was torn between happiness over marrying Jacob and sadness, knowing he must leave her soon afterwards.

Later that day, Flora whisked her away to the dressmaker while Jacob took the twins for a walk. He’d been pronounced fit to return to his duties so there weren’t many days left in which to arrange the marriage.

“I don’t care about a party, but does it worry you?” Jacob asked later while they sat in the garden.

“Not at all. We could always have one once you’re back for good.”

He kissed her hand.

“I look forward to that day.”

“Not as much as I do!” She chuckled. “Do you realise, we wouldn’t be allowed to see each other in private like this, if we were in England?”

“Remember how the padre gently put me right when he insisted on sitting with you during your reading sessions? It hadn’t occurred to me people might think my motives were, well, ungentlemanly.”

“He was very kind. But so were you, and if anyone had said anything about you to my face, I think Jenny would have punched them!”

He hugged her to him.

“I’d forgotten about your friend and how you first met. Would you like her to be your maid of honour?”

Tabitha shook her head.

“I thought about it but decided not. I hope she’ll join our celebrations later in the year, but I’ve asked Flora if the twins could accompany me down the aisle. This is a very private wedding and I think it’s better not to involve too many people.”




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!