The Dividing Tide – Episode 25

“Are you now? Not that it matters, because you’re going to be disappointed, my lad.” She thudded the butter against the side of the bowl with a wooden spoon.

“I’d be given my marching orders if I allowed Tom, Dick and Harry to come dancing in here demanding to see the folks as live here. Nancy, get me one of them pans! Size three.”

Garren waited quietly whilst Nancy left her sugar loaf and reached up to unhook a copper pan from the wall.

“Please won’t you reconsider?” he pleaded. “It’s very important.”

“I don’t doubt it is to you, but I won’t. And there’s no point looking at me with them big brown eyes o’ yours. No I said, and no I mean.”

He stood still as he thought what to do next.

“Will you give her a message from me, then?”

“I’m not passing on any billy-doos for you, either,” she told him sternly.

“It’s nothing like that, Mrs Cate, honestly. Just say that Garren Quick called and that he’s staying with Annie Medley in Clover Street in St Austell.”

“Answer’s still no. Her ladyship ’ud haul me over the coals if I started passing on messages to her guests.

“It’s more than my job’s worth! And don’t you go asking anyone else, neither,” she added, intercepting the glance that passed between him and Nancy. “Now, be off with you. We’ve got work to do.”

Reluctantly, he retraced his steps. At the gap in the hedge he stopped once more to look at the house.

My Jenna’s in one of those rooms, he thought, and I’m not even allowed to see her. In his frustration, he kicked at a stone in the path and sent it bouncing along the path.

What on earth was he to do now?

*  *  *  *

From the window of her attic room Jenna stood staring out at the lawn below. Suddenly, a movement halfway down the edge of the lawn caught her eye and she peered closer to the tiny glass pane.

Someone was there, a man. And the way he was standing, with his head slightly cocked, made her heart race. If she didn’t know otherwise, she’d have sworn it was her Garren.

“It can’t be him,” she told herself sternly. “He’s thirty miles away on the other side of the county.”

But the very thought of him made her heart ache so terribly she had to sit down again. She didn’t know it was possible to be so homesick.

There was a light knock on the door. When it opened, a cheerful face framed by bouncing dark curls appeared.

“May I come in?”

“Of course, cousin. You know you have no need to ask that.”

Lamorna edged into the small room. She was carrying a gown of forget-me-not blue silk.

“Mother asked me to find you something from my wardrobe. For the ball,” she added.

“But I can’t wear that. It’s one of your finest gowns!”

“That doesn’t matter. Go on,” she urged as Jenna hesitated. “It’ll suit you much better than me.”

Jenna watched as she laid it on the narrow bed beside her.

“It’s very beautiful,” she said, gingerly touching the short puffed sleeves which were trimmed with lace. “But really, Lamorna, I’d rather not go to the ball at all.”

“Well, I don’t blame you for that!” Her cousin’s smile turned into a laugh. “I’d rather not go, either. But Papa says you must and now Mama does, too, and there’s simply no getting out of it.”

As she spoke, Jenna felt her stomach churn.

“I won’t know how to behave,” she said. “I don’t have fine manners like you. Mine are bound to let me down.”

“Your manners are better than mine, I’d say, cousin.” Lamorna laughed. “You know how often Mama says I’m no better than a stablehand.”

Jenna smiled.

“I won’t know how to address people, though,” she persisted, “nor how to dance. The only steps I know are country reels.”

“Well, that’s a good start, and I’ll help you with the rest. We’ve got time enough to practise. I say, why don’t we start now?

“Mama’s lying down, and Papa’s at the mine. We’ll have the drawing-room all to ourselves. Come on!”

She held out her hand and pulled Jenna along behind her.

“Having you here is like having a sister at last,” she said over her shoulder as they made their way down the narrow staircase. “Honestly, cousin, I’m beginning to wonder how I’ve managed without you all these years.”

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.