The Dividing Tide – Episode 53

Thomas and Ahyoka stood on the deck of the Adventurer, watching the shoreline of New York recede. There was a brisk breeze blowing, and as they left the calm waters of the harbour the roll and pitch of the ship became more pronounced.

Foaming white horses streaked the grey sea, and as the prow struck against the waves Thomas planted his feet more firmly on the sloping deck and reached out to steady his wife.

Not for the first time, he wondered how she would cope with the journey ahead. She had been very quiet of late and he guessed it was because she was worried about it.

Ahyoka stood close beside him, wrapped in the blue woollen cloak he had bought her. Her eyes were fixed intently on the diminishing roofs and church spires.

Their fellow passengers milled around them, handkerchiefs that had been so frantically waved when the ship left its berth now hanging limply from their hands.

Seated on an upturned trunk opposite them, a young woman was sobbing. Was that how Ahyoka was feeling? Was she distressed to be leaving the country of her birth?

Thomas would understand it if she was.

Perhaps she was also dreading the constant motion of the ship? It was, after all, a long sea journey to England.

She had suffered from seasickness on the paddle-steamer from Savannah to New York and the journey ahead of them would certainly be more arduous than that.

He frowned. He would have spared his wife if he could, but the truth was, it wasn’t prudent for them to stay in America at the moment.

They had travelled a long way from the mountains, so far that even the climate had changed, but the fact remained that they were still in the state of Georgia.

The fear that constantly worried Thomas was that Ahyoka could still be taken from him by soldiers and forced to resettle in the plains with the rest of the Cherokees.

He took a deep breath of the salty, tar-laden air and let it out in a sigh.

Despite the discomforts the journey would inevitably bring, to leave was by far the safest course.

“How are you faring?” he asked, tightening his hold upon her waist as the ship shuddered against another wave.

“I am well enough,” she replied softly, turning to look up at him.

She drew her cloak tightly about her as she held his eyes with her own.

“But I have some news, Thomas.”

“If it’s that you’re feeling a little better, I can see that for myself,” he said, noting the soft blush of colour the breeze was teasing into her cheeks.

“It is true. I am feeling better,” she agreed shyly, “but have you not guessed the reason?” She reached for his hand. “I am with child.”

For a moment he didn’t respond and her velvet-brown eyes clouded with anxiety.

“Are you angry with me, Thomas? Please do not be! I did not tell you before we left in case it changed your mind about us travelling to England.

“It is important that we go, if not for our own sakes then for your daughter’s. She has waited too many moons already to see her father again.”

Thomas’s mind whirled. How could he have been so blind?

Slowly, he felt a smile begin. Then a bubble of delight filled him.

“A child!” was all he could utter. “Of course I’m not angry.”

He cast an anxious look around the deck.

“Shouldn’t you be sitting down?”

She laughed.

“There is no need, Thomas. I am all right.”

“But – a child!” He laughed aloud, and some nearby passengers turned to look at them.

He hugged her to him.

“We’ll raise the baby in your homeland, I promise. We must stay in England until Isaac writes to tell us it’s safe to return, but then we will come home.

“We cannot change the terrible thing that has happened to your people, Ahyoka, but if we start our lives again in Georgia and build our family there in the mountains, we will be righting the wrong in a small way.

“Our child will be a pioneer,” he continued, “not of land or gold, but of what is just and right.

“We will teach him about the past, and with God’s help he will create a better future. We must make sure that what has happened to your people is never forgotten.”

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.