In the silence that followed, Doryty picked up the garland of flowers, threaded in the last spray of hawthorn berries and held it up.
“There,” she said, holding aloft the beautiful circlet that was to adorn Jenna’s hair.
“It’s beautiful, Mamm-wyn,” Jenna whispered as she reached out and took it from her.
She stooped to give Doryty a kiss on her weathered cheek before taking it through to the bedroom.
When she returned, she raked the fire and placed another log on the embers.
“Forgive me, Papa, but I must get on or there will be no wedding feast!”
She cleaned her hands and wiped the end of the table, bringing out the pastry she’d made earlier and beginning to roll it out.
Doryty cleared away the remains of the flowers and began to chop vegetables beside her.
As they worked, Jenna told Thomas all that had transpired in the past year, about Morwenna and Jago, Arthek and Lamorna and baby George.
“Well, well, well,” he said quietly. “How pleased your mama would have been to have those old rifts healed.”
“You’ll meet them all today, Papa,” she said. “They’re coming to the church for the ceremony, though Aunt Morwenna says they must hurry back afterwards for Georgie’s sake.”
She was quiet as she concentrated on placing the fish tails down in the pie dish. Carefully, she placed the pastry lid over the pilchards, making sure the fish heads poked through as was the custom for stargazy pie.
“Will you and Garren come and visit us in Georgia one day, when we return there?” Thomas asked. “You, too, Mother, if you can manage the journey.”
“Our people call the mountains there ‘the great blue hills of God’,’’ Ahyoka whispered.
Thomas reached out to place his hand on hers.
“It’ll be much easier to get there when the new steam ships start making the crossing. Steam’s the future,” he said enthusiastically. “Why, soon the tide won’t divide us at all!”
“One day, Papa,” Jenna promised with a smile. She placed the dish beside the clay oven. “There,” she said. “That’s ready to go in as soon as we get back from church.”
* * * *
Garren strode along the cliff path, trying to calm his nerves. His mother and Tansy and a few of their friends were going to Merrick church by way of the little lanes and a couple of donkeys and carts he’d hired for the occasion.
But he had not been able to sit still since the hour he had awoken that morning, and had taken his mother’s advice to stretch his legs by walking.
He soon reached the cove and turned up the steps to the cottage. The door was open and the sun slanted across the stone threshold with its jumble of withy pots Doryty had made for the fishermen.
Jenna was wiping flour from her hands as he stepped inside.
“Trust you to be busy, even on our wedding day.”
Then he stopped in astonishment.
“Mr Goss? Is it you, sir?” he exclaimed.
As he stared, he took in the changes the years had wrought, the slight stoop of the shoulders, the lines upon his face.
Jenna ran to him, pulling him forward.
“Papa arrived this morning,” she told him excitedly. “He has brought my stepmother, too. Come and meet her.”
Garren was introduced to Ahyoka, and soon the room was full of happy chatter.
It continued gaily until suddenly, through the open doorway, came the deep sounds of the church clock.
Bong. Bong. Bong.
Jenna lifted her eyes to his, and they gazed at each other as the importance of the hour struck them.
“Make haste now and get ready, my Jenna,” Garren said, his voice deep and soft with tenderness. “’Tis time to be wed.”