TABITHA stared back at Jacob.
“I can’t push my grandma’s employees out of their home. It may not be so easy for them to find another position at their ages.”
“It’s not impossible that tenants might keep them on. Meanwhile, you’ll need to ask the lawyer to arrange for wages to be paid regularly to each of them until such time as they either leave or become employed by the new tenants.”
“Thank goodness I’m married to you and not dealing with this alone. But Jacob, I’ve just realised, if our new school proves to be successful, we’ll be able to use the money I’ve inherited, to build not just another classroom, but a separate school building!”
One Year Later
Tabitha was sitting with Flora in the parlour of the Collins’s house. She finished explaining what troubled her then sat back and sighed.
“Dear Tabitha, you’ve had such a lot on your mind for months now. No wonder you’re concerned all isn’t well with you. But it seems to me this is no problem, but rather a blessing! You need to see Edward so he may examine you.” She paused and smiled mischievously. “Can you truly not guess what’s happening?” She patted her waistline.
“Really? You think I might be . . .”
“Expecting a baby? Yes, I think it’s highly possible, but I think you should see Edward as soon as he returns, then you can go home and tell Jacob your good news. Will shall drive you, even though you insisted on walking here.”
Tabitha still felt bemused.
“I do so hope you’re right, Flora. Jacob will be so very delighted. Between you and me, I thought perhaps there might be something wrong with me.”
Flora rose and put her arms around her.
“He’ll not want you to go on teaching, will he? Not if I know Jacob.”
“If I am with child, we’ll advertise for another teacher as soon as possible. Jacob has already spoken of the possibility of employing a British couple. He thinks there will be more free settlers coming here in future.”
“It’s true there’s a big need for people with all kinds of skills to settle here. I hope you’ll go on working for a few months longer though. My girls will be so sad to lose their favourite teacher.”
“I shan’t tell Jacob that!”
“You make an excellent team.” She raised one hand. “I can hear them coming up the drive. Edward’s been to the hospital to check on a patient. Before long, you’ll know whether I’m proved right in my diagnosis, or not!”
To Tabitha’s delight, Edward confirmed she was indeed expecting a child. He gave her some advice, told her to ask Flora if she’d any queries, as his wife was well-qualified to answer them, having borne three children.
Will Mackie drove her home. Jacob was sitting outside on the veranda, reading a book, when the pony and trap came through the gate. He rose and came to meet his wife.
“Thanks, Will. Give my regards to your lady wife, would you?”
“I will, Captain.”
They watched him drive off. Tabitha linked her arm in his and led him back into the house.
“I have something of interest to tell you.”
“What’s all this about?” He smiled down at her.
“I think I might make you guess! Sit down.”
He did what she said then pulled her on to his lap. She snuggled against him.
“Well, well. Flora’s found us someone suitable to help teach at the school?”
“Not yet, but she’s doing her best. Try again.”
He looked wary.
“She’s not . . . Flora isn’t expecting another child, is she?”
“No, but you’re getting warmer.”
“Tabitha? What are you saying?” He held her away from him, pushing a stray coppery lock away from her face.
“I’m saying you’re going to be a father, Jacob. Edward has examined me and confirms I’m with child.”
“What did you say?”
Patiently, she broke the news again.
“He can’t be absolutely certain, but he thinks the baby’s due in six and a half months’ time.”
She stopped talking as Jacob held her close again.
“On our wedding day, I thought I was the most fortunate man in the world. Now you’ve convinced me all over again!”