The Dividing Tide – Episode 08

With the wind behind her Jenna made good progress, and less than 20 minutes later arrived at the tiny ravine at Merrick Cove. She ran up the steps carved into the steep incline to the tiny stone cottage where she lived with her grandmother.

Fragrant smoke caught at her nostrils, urging her on. If there was one thing she loved most about home, it was the scent of furze burning, for it meant warmth and a cheery fire inside.

She was nearly at the top when she heard a horse whinnying. Her footsteps faltered and she stopped for a moment, listening. Yes, there it was again, quickly followed by the soft thudding of restless hooves.

She peered through the rainy semi-darkness and was astonished to see, tethered to the stunted hawthorn tree that grew at the side of the cottage, not one but two horses. Fine thoroughbreds, too, judging by the height and girth of them.

Who could possibly be visiting at this hour, and in this weather? She knew no-one who owned such fine beasts.

Reaching the cottage door, she pressed down the iron latch and pushed it open. Apart from the bowls laid out to catch the rain dripping through the thatch, the scene was a cosy one, the flames in the fireplace casting dancing shadows upon the walls, while the oil lamp filled the small room with soft, welcoming light.

But what took her eye was the portly gentleman who stood looking at her. He seemed to fill the small room. His iron-grey hair fell in untidy curls to his collar and side-whiskers of a similar hue were so long that they seemed almost to mingle with it.

“Here she is, sir!” Sarah cried.

She had discarded her workaday apron and had donned her Sunday-best lace cap.

“Thank goodness you’ve come, child,” she said to Jenna. “Now, perhaps, we can find out what this is all about!”

Jenna shut the door behind her, the action pulling a billow of smoke back down the chimney and into the room, making their visitor cough.

His long black frock-coat suggested that he was a man of importance.

His reason for calling must be an important one, she thought, looking at the rolled sheet of parchment the stranger held in his hand.

Her heart began to thump, harder and harder until it felt as if her chest must burst. Of course!

“My papa,” she said faintly. “Oh, sir, is there news of him at last?”

* * * *

Jenna’s heart was racing as she closed the cottage door behind her. Quickly, she bobbed a curtsey to the unknown gentleman. Could it be possible that there was news of her papa at last?

She glanced at Mamm-wynn, but Doryty only gave her a bewildered smile.

“Your father?” The man stared down at her and shook his head. “I know nothing of your father.”

Jenna placed the package of fish on the table, trying to hide her disappointment.

She took off her sodden shawl and draped it over the back of a chair, and for a moment the only sounds were the steady drip-drip-drip of raindrops as they pattered through the thatch into the bowls on the floor.

The gentleman waited until Jenna had disrobed before he spoke again.

“Allow me to introduce myself.” He inclined his head in a grand manner. “Obadiah Inch, lawyer to Lord Nankerris.”

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.