The Dividing Tide – Episode 11

Jago arrived shortly afterwards.

“You’re back from your club early,” she murmured as he bent to kiss her cheek.

“I thought it only right that we should provide a proper family welcome for our relative.” He sat down and placed the account ledger he had brought with him upon his knee. “I shall work whilst we wait.”

“As you please, my dear.” She bent her head to her crewel embroidery and Lamorna, tired of her game of Patience, put aside her cards and picked up a book to read.

It was nearly midnight when eventually Lamorna stood up.

“Please tell my cousin I’ll see her in the morning,” she said, stretching her arms and yawning. “I can’t wait up any longer.”

“That is a most unladylike action, Lamorna.”

“Sorry, Mama,” she replied, and stretched again.

As soon as the door had closed behind her, Morwenna herself yawned.

“Would you mind if I retired, too?” she asked Jago. “My indigestion has returned, and goodness knows how much longer they’ll be.”

“Of course not, you go along. I’ll wait up.”

But before she had finished packing away her stitching the door opened again and the butler ushered in a bewildered and mud-spattered girl of about twenty.

“Miss Goss!” he announced. “Mr Inch has asked me to inform you, sir, that in view of the lateness of the hour he will call upon you at your office in the morning.”

“Very good, Roach, thank you.”

Morwenna stared at the newcomer. The girl’s eyes were shadowed with tiredness and her fair hair had come loose beneath her bonnet. But despite her dishevelled appearance and even in the dim light of the oil lamps, Morwenna’s fears had come true.

The girl, fair as Lamorna was dark, was as lovely as her own daughter was plain.

Jago walked towards Jenna, smiling a welcome.

“You’ve arrived at last!” he said, placing his hand on her elbow and drawing her forwards. “Come and meet my wife.”

Morwenna acknowledged the girl’s tired curtsey with a stiff nod of her head.

“We are cousins, of course,” he continued, “but as we are considerably older than you it might be more appropriate if you called us ‘aunt’ and ‘uncle’.”

Jenna nodded, trying to stifle a yawn.

“Take Miss Goss’s cloak, Roach, and inform them downstairs that our guest’s supper tray is now required.”

“Yes, your Lordship.”

“My dear,” he said when Jenna had divested herself of her outer garments. He took her hands in his own, and gazed at her face. “How very like the portrait of my dear aunt Zelah you are. Wouldn’t you say so, Morwenna?”

“Indeed.” Involuntarily, she flicked her eyes at a painting of a beautiful young woman which hung upon the wall.

There was a moment’s silence, and it seemed as if Jago wished her to say something more.

“Did you have a comfortable journey?” she added.

Jenna’s voice when she spoke was not what she had expected. It had the broad inflection of the south Cornish, it was true, but her tone was not at all submissive.

“I wouldn’t exactly say comfortable,” she confessed with a smile. “I’m not used to riding, except sometimes on the mules at Bidreath. To tell truth, I’m bone weary.”

Jago, whose eyes had not left her since her arrival in the room, now spoke again.

“What a shame it is that Father never got to meet you,” he reflected sadly.

Morwenna drew in her breath at his words. If there was one thing she hated, it was excessive sentiment.

“Well, she’s here now,” she said tersely. “So if you will excuse me, I will bid you both good night.”

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.