The Dividing Tide – Episode 43

Jenna looked across the dinner table at Arthek. Since their adventure together on the night she’d climbed out of the window, there had been an unspoken bond between them.

She was glad he’d come to dine with the family. His conversation was never dull, and he always took special care to include her in it.

The April weather had taken a step back towards winter, but the room was pleasantly warm, with a large fire burning in the ornate fireplace, and candlelight twinkled on the silver cutlery.

As the servants brought in the food dishes and arranged them on the sideboard, Arthek leaned back in his chair and looked down to the empty place at the end of the table.

“Is my sister-in-law able to join us?”

Jago shook his head.

“Unfortunately she is not, brother,” he replied. “But the good news is that the doctor has said she will be able to get up for a short period each day now.

“Her condition has become stable and he would like her to gather strength for when the time comes for her confinement.”

“That is good news indeed,” Arthek responded. “She’s done everything the doctor has told her to do. I’m sure all will be well.”

“I trust you are right.”

Jago was quiet for a moment before he turned to Lamorna.

“How is Prince this evening, my dear?”

Prince was a young colt who had shied at a hedge and fallen, grazing its foreleg.

“I think he’s going to be all right, thank you, Papa. We’ve put a poultice on, but he’ll need to be stabled for a while.”

She chattered on, and Jenna was left to her own thoughts. They turned, as they so often did, to Garren, and she wondered what he was doing, and who he was with.

If only I were back in the cottage, she thought.

In her mind’s eye she was back with Mamm-wynn. In her daydream Garren was there, too.

He always came to supper on a Wednesday and she was making stargazy pie, for that was his favourite.

Little clouds of flour rose from the table as she dusted the scrubbed surface with flour before rolling out the pastry . . .

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of laughter, and she looked up to find three pairs of eyes gazing at her.

“Dreaming again, young Jenna?” Jago asked.

“I’m sorry, Uncle.” Blushing, she rearranged the linen napkin on her lap. “I was thinking of home.”

“I’m sure that if I were away from Nankerris, my thoughts would return homewards, too,” he said kindly.

Nancy stepped forwards from her place at the serving table and ladled hare soup from a large tureen into their bowls. Silence descended as they ate.

“Oh, I almost forgot,” Jago said, looking up from his bowl. “A friend of yours has been working for us at the mine.” He exchanged a look with Arthek before letting his gaze settle back on her.

Jenna was taken aback.

“A friend of mine? You must be mistaken, Uncle, I know no-one hereabouts.”

“Well, he certainly seems to know you. A young man by the name of Quick.”

Her heart leapt.

“Garren?” Her spoon clattered against her bowl. “He’s here?”

Her mind began to spin. What was he doing at St Austell? And why on earth had he had cause to speak to her uncle?

Jago gave a small cough.

“He has asked me to convey a message to you. I am not in the habit of playing at messenger,” he added, raising his eyebrows at her, “but we rather owe him a debt of gratitude, do we not, brother?”

Arthek inclined his head in affirmation.

“Was he the worker who lifted the phaeton off you?” Lamorna asked, for everyone knew about his accident.

“The very same,” Jago replied. “In the circumstances, I considered it churlish to refuse.”

Jenna clutched the sides of her chair until the edges dug into her palms.

“What was the message he gave you, Uncle?”

He waited until his bowl was removed before he answered.

“It was nothing of great importance. He simply asked me to bid you farewell.

“It seems mining is not to his taste and he is returning home, that is all.

“Ah! Baked pigeon, Nancy. My favourite.”

“There’s burnt cream for dessert, too, sir.” She beamed.

But the conversation had become a distant hum to Jenna. Her mind was reeling. How long had Garren been here? Why hadn’t he contacted her?

She frowned. And why was he leaving?

She looked up.

“May I see him, Uncle?”

Jago shook his head.

“I’m afraid not, my dear. He has already gone. But he asked me to give you this, I almost forgot.” He put his hand into his pocket and drew out the locket.

The blood in her veins turned to ice when she saw it. He was breaking their troth, there was no other interpretation.

She felt her heart contract. Why had she agreed to come to this wretched place? If she had left well alone, they’d still be together, and she’d be happy.

Now her world had crashed down around her. Everything between them was ruined, and it was all her fault.

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.