- 4 . The Dividing Tide – Episode 04
- 5 . The Dividing Tide – Episode 05
- 6 . The Dividing Tide – Episode 06
- 7 . The Dividing Tide – Episode 07
- 8 . The Dividing Tide – Episode 08
- 9 . The Dividing Tide – Episode 09
- 10 . The Dividing Tide – Episode 10
Obadiah’s monotonous tones droned on, but Morwenna hardly followed a word, for her thoughts were upon the condition of the will. The old man had kept that quiet!
She looked across at her husband and brother-in-law. A look of surprise, reflecting her own feelings, was etched upon their faces.
As soon as the reading was finished, Arthek jumped up and snatched at the will.
“You’ve invented this as some sort of vile joke!” he exploded. “Surely a condition of this sort is illegal?”
“Conditions are neither illegal nor uncommon, sir, I assure you,” Obadiah replied, standing up also and bowing deeply. “It was his late lordship’s greatest wish that the family be reunited again. The rift with his sister grieved him deeply.”
Morwenna fixed the lawyer with a stare as the reality of the situation hit her.
“Mr Inch, am I to understand that this young person is to reside here under my protection for an entire year?” she asked indignantly.
“Under the protection of both your ladyship and his lordship,” he confirmed.
“Do we know where the girl is?” Jago asked, stroking his whiskers thoughtfully.
“We do, sir. Upon learning of his late lordship’s wishes, I took the liberty of discovering her whereabouts. She lives in Merrick Cove, near Bidreath.” He paused. “Bidreath is a small fishing village in the south of the county,” he explained.
“I know where it is, man!” Arthek exploded. “I have business connections there.”
“My apologies, sir. I meant to be helpful.”
“And so you have been, thank you, Inch,” Jago intervened with a small smile. “It’s just that it’s come as a bit of a shock to us to find a condition attached to our inheritance. I’m sure you understand.”
Obadiah inclined his head.
The room was silent for a moment.
“You must go and fetch her,” Jago announced.
The lawyer’s face remained impassive.
“Certainly,” he said. “When would you like me to leave?”
Obadiah glanced at the darkening window-panes that were glistening with raindrops.
“This very day, your lordship?”
“This very minute, Inch. The sooner this matter is settled, the better for all of us. Take her ladyship’s mare with you for the girl,” he added. “If she can’t ride, you’ll have to lead her. I’d send you in the carriage, but the lanes south will be wheel-deep in mud in this weather.”
“Very good, sir,” Obadiah said, and turned obediently to go.
* * * *
The afternoon was merging with evening when Jenna left the fish palace after her day’s work. A wild south-westerly whipped rain into her face, and she shivered.
Tying the ribbons of her bonnet securely beneath her chin and gathering her thick woollen shawl around her, she set off along the quay, retracing her steps through the streets and alleyways, and was soon being blown along the coastal path in the direction of Merrick Cove.
Beneath her shawl, she clutched a package. It was their evening’s supper, two silver herrings carefully wrapped in paraffin paper. Her mouth watered as she imagined the aroma of them frying with a knob of butter in the pan over the fire.
I hope Mamm-wynn has remembered to bake a fresh loaf to go with it, she thought. Herrings with fresh bread and butter, why, that was surely one of the best foods in the world.
Their supper seemed all the more precious in the light of the dilemma facing the drift fishermen. But it wasn’t just that which was worrying her. It was also the fact that the pilchards hadn’t arrived. What would happen if they didn’t come at all?
She knew the answer perfectly well, and the prospect was a black one. No pilchards would mean a hungry winter for everyone. It would also mean a reduction in employment for men and womenfolk alike.
She thought of the repairs to the cottage that they so desperately needed, and sighed deeply. They would just have to wait another year. There was nothing anyone could do about the situation except hope and pray.