The Dividing Tide – Episode 36

The afternoon slowly turned to evening as Jenna rested in her room. It seemed to take for ever for midnight to come. But, at last, she heard the pat of feet outside her room which she knew meant the maids were retiring for the night.

She crossed her fingers, fervently hoping that none of them knocked to see how she was, but her cousin must have done her work well for they all kept away.

She heard Nancy’s door click shut next to hers.

Beneath the blanket, pulled high beneath her chin, she was fully dressed. She watched the moon slowly rise above the sill of her uncurtained window, while the house creaked as it settled down for the night.

At last, when all was quiet, she eased herself off the bed and tugged on her boots, fumbling in the darkness to find the eyelet holes.

Finally they were done. Wrapping her cloak about her, she eased open the door. When she had passed through it, she closed it softly behind her again and tiptoed along the corridor and down the servants’ stairs, feeling her way along the cool plastered wall.

Once she was on the first floor landing, it was easy to find her way, for light from the full moon dropped through the panes of the end window.

She made her way towards it, tying her hood ribbons tightly beneath her chin as she went. Her heart beat quickly as she slipped the catch, easing up the sash an inch at a time so as not to make a noise.

There came the far-off hoot of an owl and a rush of fresh night air, then suddenly there was enough space for her to squeeze through. Before she knew it she was out on to the roof, pulling the window shut behind her.

Cold pinched her cheeks and nose as she felt for a foothold in the ivy, and the bruised leaves beneath her boots emitted a sharp earthy scent.

It was not as hard as she’d thought it would be to climb down, for the bristly twining trunk provided strong footholds for her feet.

It was not as hard as she’d thought to see, either. Milky moonlight fell on the frosted sloping roof of the conservatory and on to the verandah. She could even make out the shrubbery and the lawn beyond.

She landed with a little muffled thud, and immediately turned on to the path that led to the back of the house. Once she stopped to listen, but hearing nothing more than the bark of a fox, she carried on.

She ran swiftly down the path towards the copse, not stopping again until she reached the edge of the trees. There, panting from the run, she looked back at the house.

Immediately, she wished she hadn’t, for what she saw set her heart hammering hard. There was a light flickering in the drawing-room window. It was only the faintest of glows, but it seemed to her like a candle flame. Had somebody still been up and about when she’d thought they were all abed?

“Don’t be such a silly maid,” she told herself sternly. “It’s nothing more than moonlight upon the pane. Besides, you’ve come this far; you can hardly turn back now.”

And with that thought, she turned on her heel into the darkness of the woods.

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.