The Dividing Tide – Episode 29

The doctor finished examining Morwenna and stood up. His eyes held hers as she lay on the high four-poster bed.

“Lady Nankerris, I am not sure how you will greet what I am about to say.”

She pulled herself up into a sitting position but her forehead pounded all the more. She slid back down.

“I know I am of a certain age, Doctor,” she said curtly. “What else is there to know? It was not necessary for my daughter to have asked you to call.”

He smiled.

“You are with child, Lady Nankerris,” he said gently.

“Don’t be absurd!” She scowled. “Do not toy with me, young man. I am in no mood for it.”

He drew up a chair.

“I am not toying with you, I assure you.”

She tried to take in what he had said. With child? It was impossible.

“Doctor, I’m forty-three.”

“It is not uncommon,” he said, his smile widening.

Her fingers plucked at the green brocade coverlet.

“No, no, no,” she said, “it cannot be!”

She shook her head. Pain drummed in her temples.

“My husband and I always hoped to have another child, but after all these years? I’m sorry. You must be mistaken.”

“Lady Nankerris, I am absolutely certain that you and his Lordship will have a new arrival in early summer next year.”

Her mind was in a whirl. A baby! Was it possible? Twenty years after her first child, when she had completely given up all hope of another?

Suddenly, everything that had happened recently came together in a single moment of clarity and she knew it was true. The sense of nausea, the tiredness, the shortness of temper.

Why, she had been exactly the same in the early months when she had been carrying Lamorna.

She felt her lips stretch into a smile. She and Jago might have the son they’d wished so long for!

She brought back her attention as the doctor began speaking again.

“Lady Nankerris, there is also some news you may not wish to hear.”

“Is there something wrong?” Suddenly, she realised she wanted this baby above all else.

He frowned.

“Not wrong as such, if you follow my advice. I am prescribing complete bed rest for you for the moment. There are some indications . . .” He paused. “Let me say that it would be advisable to rest at this juncture.”

“Doctor Hopgood, I cannot take to my bed! Who will run the house, or accompany my husband to his business functions? And my charitable works – who will undertake those?”

He stood up.

“None of us is indispensable, not even you, Lady Nankerris,” he said. “The matter is simple. You must rest if you wish for a healthy outcome.”

She felt a knot of anxiety within her. Of course she wished for a healthy outcome. She wished for it more than anything.

She was about to say so when the door opened and Jago strode in.

“Morwenna! Whatever is the matter?” He looked from her to the doctor, and back again. “Lamorna sent word for me to return home. What happened?”

“Please be reassured, sir,” Dr Hopgood intervened. “Your wife has suffered a collapse, but she is much improved already.”

Morwenna had a lump in her throat as she looked up at her husband. She held out her hand to him, and he took it, sitting on the edge of the bed beside her.

“What is it, my darling?” he asked, his face pale. “Doctor, please tell me what’s going on.”

“Her ladyship will be quite well if she follows the advice I have given her.”

“What do you mean, man?”

“Listen, dearest.” She held her breath as she searched his face. “We’re going to have a child.”

There was a long silence with only the tick of the mantel clock to be heard. Then he smiled and suddenly he was holding her in his arms, his tears mingling with hers as their cheeks pressed together.

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.