Life Without Life

Chapter 14:

"No, Katherine, what do you think of my manor?" the Baron asks, taking her for a walk through the great hall.

"I don't know, Uncle. It seems too quiet for me."

"What on earth do you mean by that, dear?"

"Well, if you ask me, this place needs a little adventure or spice. We should have some kind of a tournament!"

"Katherine, you know we haven't any time for a tournament. We have less than two months to plan a wedding."

"Oh, Uncle, I almost forgot to tell you. I cannot stay for the wedding."

"What?! Not staying?! Why on earth not?!"

"Well, the reason is quite clear. I do not wish to see two incompatible people be forced into a marriage that would most likely bring down the entire manor!"

"Must we start this again?"

"Aye, we must! It is true, Uncle, and you know it! You know Josette is not right for your son and yet you insist on their betrothal!"

"Remember, Katherine, you yourself were betrothed as well. And yet you are happy together."

"Uncle, because of that fiend I married, I am now barren! I can never have children and you knew how much I wanted a little boy!"

"I am sorry to hear that, Katherine, but that is not the issue here!"

"What is the issue here, Uncle?! That you will not give your son the opportunity that I never had?!"

"What opportunity are you speaking of, my dear?"

"I never got to marry someone whom I loved. I had to build up that love only because he was my husband and I his wife. Do you not see? He should not have to be made to build a love. He should be able to fall in love on his own and marry that girl."

"You know that would be out of the question and besides, we must keep to the Nottinghamshire tradition! Marrying Matthew to Josette would do just that and more! It would unite two kingdoms together."

"Uncle, I refuse to listen to this any longer! You know my opinion on this situation!" She starts to walk away, but then adds, "Oh, yes, and do not plan on having me here for the wedding!"

Katherine storms out of the castle and into the courtyard where she meets Josette, on horseback. Josette dismounts her stallion and brings her into the stables, not even noticing Katherine. She comes back from the stables, finally taking notice to her.

"Good morrow, Katherine. I guess I did not see you standing there. How long have you been here?"

"Oh, long enough to figure out that you were not home last night," she says.

"What are you talking about, Katherine? I was home in the guest room all night. I went for an early morning ride so I could watch the sunrise."

"You were with that Blacksmith's boy, were you not?" she points an accusing finger at Josette.

"How did you- -?! I mean, what would give you an absurd idea like that? What I told you was the truth. I went for a ride down by the creek because the view of the Western Mountains is extraordinary. And, furthermore, since when did I have to answer to you? You are not my mother or my father, for that matter!"

"You may be right. I will give you the benefit of the doubt this time. But let me warn you, Josette, I have my eye on you!" With that last remark, Katherine walks out the front gates of the castle.

As Katherine is advancing towards the town, she decides to pay a visit to the Blacksmith's. On the way there, though, she is sidetracked with thoughts of her own life. She had been betrothed to someone with a ruthless, tyrant nature at the age of sixteen. When she first found out she was going to bear a child, her husband became furious.

He claimed that the child was not his and tried to have her punished for adultery. When his plans failed, he used another, more forceful technique. By beating her with his bare hands and forcing her to miscarriage, she became unable to have children.

Almost in tears, she reaches the Blacksmith's shop. Standing before her, working with the hot-iron stove, hammering away, is Timothy. With every stroke of the hammer, Katherine could see his strong arm muscles covered in sweat. So this is who Josette has been with! she thinks to herself.

"Excuse me, sir, can you tell me where I may find Timothy? I am told he works here."

"Aye, he works here."

"Well, then, can you kindly tell me where I may find him?"

"Who wants to know?"

"My name is Katherine. I wish to speak to him on the matter of Josette of Cannock, the betrothee to my cousin, the Baron's son."

Timothy gulps before he speaks. "I- - I am Timothy. I have no idea who you are speaking of."

"Oh, on the contrary, Timothy, you know exactly who I am talking about!"

"I do not have time for this! I must get back to work!" He turns around, wipes his brow with his arm, and saunters out the back door.


chapter 15