The Dividing Tide – Episode 52

Morwenna’s voice cut across Jenna’s anxious reverie.

“Take Georgie for a while, will you, Jenna?” she called, for the baby had begun to grizzle.

Jenna stood up and held out her arms to take the wriggling baby, who stopped crying at once. There was a bright red spot on his cheek.

“Are those naughty teeth bothering you?” she crooned as she turned to make her way up to the ridge above.

“Really, you should have seen Firefly,” she heard Lamorna say as she passed her. “He cleared the fence down at the meadow with no trouble at all.”

Her cousin had taken off her bonnet and the sun caught upon her round, happy face as she laughed.

Lamorna was always so jolly. If only Jenna could be as resilient.

She walked slowly beside the furze that grew at the top of the ridge. Whether it was the regular rhythm of her steps, or the change of scene from his mother’s arms, she didn’t know, but soon the baby was cooing and gurgling. Gently, she pressed a kiss on to the soft down of his head.

“I do love you, Georgie,” she whispered. “I’d miss you dreadfully if I was to leave.” Her voice caught but she managed a smile as he reached out a chubby hand to clutch at her bonnet strings.

She walked him up and down, talking to him as she showed him the little flowers and the birds that flitted amongst the furze bushes. By the time she took him back, the baby’s eyes were closing.

“What would I do without you, my dear?” Her aunt smiled. “No, don’t give him to me, give him to Nurse.”

A few moments later, as she made her way to the picnic table with the others, Jenna realised something within her had changed. Perhaps it was telling baby George her troubles that had helped?

Whatever it was, the solution to her situation was suddenly as clear as the crystal glasses in the dining-room.

She would ask her aunt to release her. It was so simple she wondered that she had not thought of it before.

She smiled her thanks as the butler placed two slices of cold mutton on her place, and felt her appetite return. Had her aunt not mellowed in the past year? She was sure she’d understand.

*  *  *  *

“Leave?” Morwenna looked up from the crib in the nursery, frowning. “But we agreed that you’d stay!” she said sharply. “You gave me your word.”

“I did give you my word, Aunt, and I’m sorry,” Jenna replied. “That is why I need your blessing if I am to go.”

For once, Morwenna was unsure how to respond. She finished tucking a coverlet around the sleeping baby and eased a silver rattle from his hand before she stood up.

A shaft of sunlight was illuminating Jenna’s fair hair, setting off her pretty features. Normally such a sight would cause her irritation, serving as it did to accentuate her own daughter’s plainness. But as Morwenna looked at her she was aware of a measure of concern for her. The girl was clearly unhappy.

“Perhaps it was wrong to have made you promise to stay,” she murmured, turning to hand the rattle to the nurse. The movement set the silver bells tinkling.

“It will cause great inconvenience to me,” she added, reverting to her usual brusque manner, “but if you really wish to go, you may.”

Suddenly, she felt Jenna’s arms around her.

“Thank you, Aunt Morwenna. Oh, thank you!”

She stiffened, laughing awkwardly. Really, the girl was so demonstrative. It was such a common trait.

“That’s quite enough, child,” she said, disentangling herself from her embrace.

But the flame of warmth it kindled in her heart refused to be suppressed, no matter how she tried.

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.