The Dividing Tide – Episode 50

Jenna stared at her Aunt.

“Stay on? Forgive me, but I had not thought you liked me being here. My understanding was that you were only tolerating my presence because it fulfilled the requirement of the late Lord Nankerris’s will.”

Morwenna gave a slight moan.

“That was true at the beginning,” she admitted, rubbing the small of her back, “but I have changed my mind of late.” She moaned again, leaning first a little backwards then forwards. “Come, let us continue.”

“Indeed, I think we should,” Jenna replied, eyeing her with alarm.

Neither of them spoke again until they reached the dairy abutting the rear courtyard. A chair had been placed beside the door of the tiny building to prop it open and on instinct, she led Morwenna towards it.

Through the open doorway she could hear the soft thud-thud-thud of the butter churn.

“Well, what do you say about staying?” Morwenna persisted, reaching out to grip the back of the chair.

“I’m very grateful to you, Aunt,” she replied, wishing to be honest, “and I thank both you and Uncle for your offer, but the truth is that I miss my home. My grandmother needs me,” she added as she helped her to sit down.

“Do we not need you, too?” Morwenna stiffened, reaching out to clutch Jenna’s hand. “Oh!” She gasped. “I think my pains have begun.”

She took several deep breaths, her contorted face slowly softening.

“You must say you’ll stay, Jenna,” she said, her voice growing urgent, “you must.” Her voice rose as another contraction gripped her. “I cannot do without you!”

“Of course I will, Aunt,” she soothed, stooping down beside the chair and staring into eyes dark with pain.

Could she say otherwise in such a situation?

“Nancy!” she called out.

The thud of the butter churn stopped, and a dark head appeared.

“What is it, miss? Oh, Lady Nankerris, I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there,” she added, bobbing a curtsey.

Jenna stood up again.

“Nancy, please stay with her Ladyship while I go for help,” she said, keeping her voice calm. She turned to Morwenna. “I’ll be gone a few minutes. I’ll come straight back with help and we can get you indoors.”

A movement caught her eye and she looked up, to see Lamorna on her horse trotting across the meadow towards the stables.

“I’ll ask Lamorna to ride over to the mine and fetch Uncle, too,” she added. “Don’t worry, Aunt, everything will be all right.”

As Jenna raced from the dairy into the house, the full implication of her hasty promise hit her. She’d said she would stay, so now she would have to.

A person’s word was their bond, after all. Her father had always taught her that.

But for the time being there were other things to think of. She reached the kitchen and rushed in.

“Mrs Mundey!”

The cook was breaking eggs into a bowl. She stopped in her task, half a shell in each hand dripping raw egg on to the table.

“What’s the matter, miss? You look white as a sheet.”

“It’s Lady Nankerris. Her pains have started. I’ve come for help.”

The cook gasped.

“Mrs Simpson’s in the parlour,” she said. “Go and get her. Where have you left her Ladyship?”

“Up at the dairy. Nancy’s with her.”

Cook gave a loud snort.

“That girl won’t be any use. I’ll get up there.” She wiped her hands. “Hurry now,” she urged. “We need to get her Ladyship indoors. With all the problems she’s had, we can’t afford to take any chances.”

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.