The Captain’s Bride — Episode 44

TABITHA was standing some distance away, but as soon as she saw him safely on the dockside, she started running forward, as he sprinted towards her. The mischievous breeze sent her hair flying out and her cloak streaming behind her. She’d never looked so beautiful to him and he knew he would hold that image in his mind and in his heart for the rest of his life.

He lifted her off her feet and whirled her round, each of them laughing and Tabitha squealing for mercy! Jacob placed her gently down, folded her into his embrace and kissed her, much to the delight of his sailors who began cheering and whistling, causing Mrs Learman’s cheeks to turn a becoming shade of pink.

At last he let her go and stood, holding both her hands.

“I never in my wildest dreams thought you’d be here to greet me,” he whispered at last. He hugged her. “I have to go, but I’ll see you soon. If Will’s busy, I can find someone to bring me to you.”

“I doubt Mr Mackie will let that happen.” She smiled. “Edward says he’ll reserve a room for us at the hotel tonight, but everyone will want to see you, of course.”

“I owe so much to my friends,” Jacob said. “What progress has been made on our house, darling girl?”

“That must stay secret until we visit it. We could walk there this afternoon, if you’re not too weary.”

“How could I possibly feel weary with my arms around my beautiful wife?”

She nestled against him and he kissed her again.

“Now, we can properly plan our future.”


One afternoon, a couple of months after Jacob and Tabitha moved into their new house, which they named Learman’s Croft, Muriel visited.

“I’ve brought you a letter,” she announced as Tabitha took her into the kitchen.

“My goodness! Who on earth is writing to me?”

“Maybe you’ll find out if you open it.” Muriel sat down while Tabitha filled the kettle. “Whoever it is has addressed it to Miss Tabitha Westwood.”

“I’ll open it in a while, but first tell me how you’re all getting on. I haven’t seen the doctor and his wife this week.” She busied herself with cups and plates. “You know our very first term begins soon? Are the twins looking forward to it?”

Muriel laughed.

“If they had their way, they’d come and board with you.”

“It’ll be good for the twins to learn with other children.

“We’ve only five names on our books as yet, but I’m hoping folk will recommend us once they realise how serious we are about our pupils’ progress.” She put a plate of oaten biscuits on the table.

“Cinnamon, like your recipe says.”

“Good girl. Anyone can see you’re happy.”

Tabitha beamed.

“More than I’d ever imagined.” She poured tea. “Now to see what this says.” She ripped open the envelope, frowning as she scanned the writing.

This was a momentous thing to happen and much as she was fond of Muriel, she wanted Jacob to be the first to learn her news. She folded the letter again and put it in her apron pocket.

Muriel glanced at the clock on the wall.

“I must go soon. I hope you’ve not received bad news, my dear. You know you can trust me if you need someone to talk to.”

“I do. Thank you, Muriel, but I need time to let this news sink in.”

Muriel smiled.

“Well, you know where I am. I got a ride over with Mr Mackie but the walk back will do me good. Where’s the captain today?”

“Working in the schoolroom. Best we don’t disturb him.”

“You’re a hard taskmaster.” Muriel grinned. “Be sure to give him my kindest regards.”

“Of course I will.” Tabitha hugged Muriel, waved her off and hurried into the schoolroom, using the door from the side passage.

Jacob was banging a nail into the wall behind the teacher’s desk. A framed map of Australia waited to be hung.

“Was that Muriel I heard?” He reached for his wife’s hand and kissed it. “I’m dusty and thirsty. Will you take pity on a poor workman?”

She ruffled the beard he’d decided to keep until term began.

“There’s tea in the pot and I have news from England. Come through to the kitchen.”

Jacob read the letter slowly before looking up.

“So, I’m married to an heiress?”

“I can’t believe my grandmother left me her house and most of her money. I’ve not heard one word from her – even since I wrote, telling her I was engaged to be married.

“Again, I put Edward and Flora’s address at the top of the page.”

“From what you’ve said, she probably had a guilty conscience.”

“I’m sorry to hear of her death, but it’s impossible for me to travel to Lancashire. Nor am I used to having lots of money. My goodness, Jacob, whatever am I to do?”

“I understand you’ve had a shock, my darling, but I’m convinced your mother and father would be pleased for you.”

“For us, Jacob.”

He nodded.

“And from the letter, we know Mrs Pinkerton is still in residence, with the cook.”

“Yes, Alice worked for my grandmother for years. Pinkerton and her get on and I trust them to take good care of the house.”

“I have a good lawyer in London, but I see no reason why you shouldn’t request your grandmother’s lawyer to act on your behalf. Why not write to Mrs Pinkerton and to Alice, asking them what they intend to do? You’ll want to let the property, I’m sure.”


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!