The Dividing Tide – Episode 10

Obadiah raised his brows.

“What? You agree?”

“As long as I can have the money straight away,” she bargained, meeting his eyes, stare for stare.

“One half now and one half next Michaelmas,” he countered firmly. “Those are the terms.”

“Jenna, no!”

“It’s all right, Mamm-wynn,” she said quietly. “Please trust me.”

She reached out and gave Doryty’s hand a squeeze.

“One year, Mr Inch?”

He nodded.

“Then I agree.”

As she uttered the words, doubts began to invade her mind. What would happen to her job at the fish palace? Betsey couldn’t be expected to keep it open for her for a whole year.

And Garren? There were plenty of maids only too willing to set their cap at him, given half the chance.

Obadiah, however, was already counting out several large white bank notes on to the table. He placed the final note down with a flourish.

“Now, we must make haste if we are to reach St Austell tonight. Lady Nankerris has sent her mare for you to ride.”


Her stomach was churning. It was all happening so quickly.

She sighed and reached up to unfasten the ribbon she wore around her neck. She had made her decision, and now must keep to it.

“Tell Garren the news, Mamm-wynn,” she begged. “Give him this.”

Threaded upon the faded red ribbon was a silver locket which contained a miniature portrait of her mother. It was her dearest possession, and she hoped he’d understand she was telling him she’d stay true.

“Now, I must gather my things together.”

The kettle began to sing. With a deep sigh, Doryty stood up.

“I’ll do the tea,” she said. “And I’ll cook some supper, too. I can see you’ve made up your mind to go, but you’ll not leave without having something to eat.”

“Thank you, Mamm-wynn.”

Jenna tried to make her voice cheerful, but as she turned to go through the curtain to the tiny bedroom beyond her eyes stung with tears. A whole year away from this place and the people she loved. How was she ever to endure it?

*  *  *  *

Morwenna sat on a chair in the drawing-room, tapping her foot as she waited for the housekeeper to answer the bell.

She glanced across the room to where Lamorna sat playing Patience, a game that had recently reached their shores from France.

Her thoughts were not upon Lamorna but on Jenna Goss. What if the girl was a working maid? Zelah had married a commoner, after all.

How could Morwenna give such a person the status of guest at Nankerris House? It would be impossible to introduce her into polite circles. What would people think?

She might be comely, too. Country girls often were. That would mean Lamorna would be shown to disadvantage, just when she was trying to find a husband for her, too. Impatiently, she reached to pull the bell sash again.

The problem was, they depended upon the income from the mine. Wheal Daniel must pass to Jago and Arthek. Morwenna had no choice but to do as her husband asked.

There was a tap on the door, and a thin woman in her middle years, dressed in black, entered the room.

“You’ve taken a long time to answer my summons, Simpson!”

“I’m sorry, madam. I was making up lavender water in the stillroom.”

“Well, you must stop. I wish you to prepare one of the attic rooms.”

The housekeeper raised her dark brows.

“Are we to have another servant, madam?”

“Not in the strictest sense.” She paused. “You may think of Miss Goss as you might a governess, although we have no young persons in the house.”

Lamorna looked up from her cards.

“Really, Mama!” she cried. “She is a guest, Simpson. To be more precise, she is a relative.”

“Kindly leave this matter to me, Lamorna.”

“I’m sorry, Mama,” she replied, “but it’s better understood at the outset.”

“Excuse me, madam, but if the young lady is a guest, as Miss says, will she feel quite comfortable with the servants?”

Morwenna frowned.

“Are you questioning my orders?”

The housekeeper blushed.

“No, madam. May I ask where she will be taking her meals, madam?”

Her meals? Morwenna thought for a moment. She’d have to be careful not to go too far otherwise her husband might intervene, and she didn’t want that. If she was to manage this situation to her advantage, she must keep control of it.

“When Miss Goss arrives this evening, she can have a tray of supper in her room,” she decided. “Thereafter, unless we have company, she will eat with the family.”

“Very good, madam.”

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.