Kathryn woke with a start as strange images flashed through her mind and her eyes searched the room for any signs of Lord Christopher. She gave a sigh of relief when she realized it must have all been nothing more than a very bad dream. Raising her arms in the air, she began to stretch out her sore and achy muscles. Instantly, she winced in pain for she had pulled her shoulder. "It felt so much better today that I almost forgot it was even hurt," she said to herself, grabbing it with her other hand. "I'm getting really tired of laying here in this bed with absolutely nothing to do all day." Enough is enough she thought before she swung her legs over the side. As she did so she saw the red stain on her night dress, evidence that last night was not a dream after all, but reality! Shocked, she swung her legs back into the bed and threw the covers over them. "It's true, it all really happened!" She laid back to ponder this revelation. How could he do this to her? It all came back to her now, every last detail. How could my body respond to him like that? Even though my mind screamed otherwise! I never dreamed that being with a man could feel like that. Every inch of my being cried out for fulfillment!" Kathryn felt a blush spread across her cheeks when she thought of how on earth she was ever going to be able to face him again. He was so tender afterwards, at first that is. But then he mocked the fact that she was a virgin. Why was he so surprised? What made him think she wasn't? Would he come to her bed every night now that he'd had his way with her? How could she fend him off? He'd become so violent when she slapped him. Kathryn felt so confused and bewildered. Her own emotions were playing havoc with each other. On one hand something inside of her wanted him to come through that door, but on the other hand, he terrified her. He was so full of rage and determination.
Emma came in while Kathryn was still pondering her dilemma and startled her out of her thoughts.
"Good morning honey, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to frighten you," she said, apologetically.
"That's alright Emma, I just thought you were someone else, that's all."
"His lordship perhaps?" She replied, eyeing her closely.
Kathryn smiled sheepishly for Emma seemed to read her very thoughts.
"I've brought you some nice scrambled eggs and toast this morning. I thought you would be tired of broth by now."
"Oh Emma, that sounds wonderful! Could I possibly eat it at the table over there by the window? I'm so sick to death of this bed," she asked, totally forgetting about the spot on her night dress.
"Well, I think you're strong enough to get up, but let me help you just in case you have any difficulties." The food smelled so good Kathryn could hardly wait to dig into it. It seemed to her like a life time since she had any real food, when actually it had only been a few days.
Emma had set the tray down and assisted Kathryn to the table. She was a little wobbly in the legs at first, but after a few moments she was able to walk fine. With her charge settled down eating her breakfast, Emma decided this would be a good time to change the bedding. She retrieved some fresh linen out of the drawer and proceeded with stripping the sheets. Suddenly, Emma took in a deep breath. There on the sheet was a small blood stain. "No wonder the young lady was acting so strangely." She frowned when she thought about how much this poor girl had been through at the hands of his lordship. She decided not to let the girl know that she had seen it. As she glanced over at her, her heart went out to her. What did his lordship call her? Katie? She was sitting there so peacefully, gazing out the window in fascination. "Did you enjoy your meal, Katie?" She asked her while continuing her work.
"Oh yes, it was delicious. Thank you ever so much. I would love to be able to take a ride in those lovely woods over there!" She said, excitedly.
"Well, that you would have to get his lordship's permission to do that, honey. He's very adamant about who rides his thoroughbreds."
Kathryn frowned as her lips formed into a pout. "I don't think he would allow me to do so. He was very angry with me for borrowing a book from his library last night. I do so love to ride... If he doesn't allow me to, I'll sorely miss it."
Emma felt sorry for Kathie as she laid out a clean night dress and decided to leave her alone for a while. Before she left, she turned to Kathryn, "by the way, I thought you might like to know that Lord Christopher will be gone for just about a week or so. He left this morning with Constable Hawk to investigate the sites where three murdered girls were found over the past few months. Such a tragedy," she said, shaking her head in dismay.
"Murdered girls?" Kathryn said with a start, but Emma had already left the room before she could find out any more information from her. I'll have to ask Emma later when she returns, she thought.
Kathryn felt relieved that she didn't have to face his lordship for a few days, but that also meant she couldn't ask him about going riding. She spotted the clean night dress on the bed so she decided she might as well get changed and found herself something to occupy her time with until he returns.
It was dawn when Louise began preparing the morning meal for the Grey family and gathered up all the trays together to be loaded up with hams, eggs, toast and jam, juices and of course tea. They'll probably want a late breakfast this morning she assumed, since they all had attended the Denham ball last evening. She decided to take Miss Kathryn's tray up a little early, knowing she would be most anxious to tell her all about her first ball. When her tray was filled, she carried it upstairs and rapped softly on Kathryn's door. When she didn't receive an answer, she decided to enter anyway. "Miss Kathryn, are you awake yet, honey? I've brought you your breakfast." Louise saw the note on the empty bed and set the tray down on the table. "Where could that child have gone off to so early in the morning? And without any breakfast either!" She said with a snort. She picked up the note and read it quickly. A crease crossed her brow when she wondered what could have possibly happened at the ball last night to cause Miss Kathryn to flee in the middle of the night! Didn't she realize how dangerous it was to be on that road alone, and at night! The more she thought about it, the more scared she felt for Miss Kathryn's safety. "I must inform Squire Grey immediate!" She said, aloud and went flying out of the room.
When she finally stood in front of Lord Robert's room, she hesitated for a moment before knocking because she knew his new wife would fly into a rage with an interruption at this time of the morning. "Well, this can't wait! That witch can get as angry as she pleases, but Miss Kathryn's life is in danger." After gathering up her courage, Louise knocked loudly on the door. She could hear Lady Cassandra's voice cursing inside as Lord Robert bade her enter.
"Begging your pardon sir, but I found this note on Miss Kathryn's pillow. Her bed hasn't been slept in all night and I thought you should read it right away," she said, glaring at Lady Cassandra's scowling face. Squire Grey read the note quickly with genuine concern. "She's gone to Grey Manor and had to have left sometime during the night."
"She what!" Cassandra screamed at him. "Why that little bitch. If she messes up my plans, I will beat her within an inch of her life!"
Robert stared at his wife, "your plans?" What plans are you referring to?" He asked her in surprised anger.
"For her to marry Lord Chatsworth, of course!" With him as our son-in-law, we'll have all the money and power we could ever want!" She said, with her eyes gleaming in anticipation.
"You're not the least bit concerned with her safety, are you, or the fact that maybe she doesn't want to marry him!"
"Not in the least! She will marry him, I'll have it no other way, Robert!"
He shook his head before climbing out of bed. "Louise, pack our bags, we're going to Glastonbury after Kathryn. Also, have James have the coach brought around front so we can leave as soon as we're ready," he said, to the faithful servant who was staring at him.
Robert waited in the drawing room for Cassandra to finish getting ready. He pushed open the heavy velvet drapes and stared out the front window and thought about Kathryn. Why would she run away like that? Was marriage to Lord Chatsworth that distasteful to her? Why any young girl should feel honored to marry an Earl. Maybe being raised out in the country all these years, especially without a mother, hasn't taught her the duties of her station. I have neglected her for far too long. I need to seriously discuss with her what is expected of a young lady of her position and what rank her prospective husband should be. She could do very nicely for herself to marry the Earl, let alone how much it could benefit Cassandra and himself. None of them would have any financial problems ever again.
"Sir, Lord Chatsworth is here and would like an audience with Miss Kathryn," Louise said, worriedly. "I have told him to wait a moment."
"Show him in immediately, I'll speak with him, myself." Robert replied and then tried to think of how he was going to tell him that Kathryn wasn't there.
"Good morning Lord Chatsworth, you're out bright and early this morning," he said, lightly when the Earl entered the room.
"I've come to call on Kathryn. We have a lot of plans to discuss with the upcoming wedding and I would like it to take place as soon as possible, so I've already secured the marriage license, now we just need to make the final arrangements at the church. So, if you would inform her I'm here, we could get this settled immediately," he said, dismissing Squire Grey like a servant to do his bidding.
"I would be happy to call her but... she's not here right now," he said, with a forced laugh.
"Not here? Where the hell would she have gone off to?" He said, in a very disgusted voice, his anger very apparent.
"Well... she had so much to think about, she went home to Grey Manor."
"Grey Manor?" He bellowed. Why did you let her go there? You knew we were to be wed soon. I thought I made myself very clear last night, but apparently not!" Roger's eyes became slits as Robert felt a foreboding feeling come over him under the staring eyes of the Earl.
"She ran away, didn't she? He demanded, realizing the truth behind her absence. "You better convince her to marry me or I'll see to it you're thrown into debtor's prison immediately, and I'll take her regardless if we're wed or not. She'll have no place else to go, except into my household as my whore!"
"I was just about to leave for Glastonbury when you arrived sir, to reason with Kathryn," he stammered.
"Good! Now you understand my intentions perfectly, I would advise you to make them crystal clear to your daughter!"
After Lord Chatsworth left, Squire Grey dropped dejectedly into a chair with his hands over his face. How can I insist my only child marry a man against her will?
Steven Hawk sat at his desk in the constable's office working on paperwork, he threw his pen down and stretched out his cramped fingers. His thoughts kept coming back to the third highwayman. She should be in our custody, not the Marquis's! How can he interrogate her properly? This amnesia she claims, has to be a hoax. Or is it all made up by the Marquis himself for some unknown reason. The only way to find out is to talk to her myself! With that determination in his mind, he rose from his desk and marched out of the office.
The ride out to Crestwood Hall took about twenty minutes in duration, so he let his horse leisurely canter the distance, which gave him plenty of time to think about what he was going to say to this young woman. He rode through the gates and pulled his horse to a halt outside the front door where Edward, the butler, was standing for he had heard him ride up.
"I wish to speak with the young lady that was brought here the other night," he said, as he dismounted.
"Sir, Lord Christopher is not here right now and won't be back for a few days. Maybe if you come back then you can ask his permission to speak with her."
"I know his lordship is not here you idiot, he's out with my father, Constable Hawk, investigating the recent crime scenes!" He said with frustration. "I am Steven Hawk, First Assistant to the Constable. I am here investigating the highway robberies, and this young lady is a prime suspect! "Now, if you would be so kind as to escort me in to see her, I can do my job!" He said, sternly hoping this approach would convince the servant to let him in.
Edward hesitated for a moment before he showed the man in. He was after all, the Assistant Constable. How his lordship could be disagreeable about him speaking to her, he reasoned to himself.
Kathryn was leisurely going through all the drawers and coffers admiring the beautiful clothes that were there. Some were severely out of style, but in good condition. Others were fairly new. She wondered who they could possibly belong to when she heard someone knocking at her door.
"Come in," she said, thinking it was Emma and moved away from the coffer, closing its doors so she wouldn't be caught going through it. She stared at the man standing in front of her. Something seemed so familiar about him.
David?" She questioned doubtfully, for some unknown reason, this name came to her mind.
"No, I'm sorry madam to disappoint you but my name is Steven. Steven Hawk and I'm the Assistant Constable here in Dartmoor. I would like to ask you a few questions if you would have a seat please, motioning to the dark blue, velvet cushioned chairs in front of the fireplace.
"Let me get a wrapper first," she said, embarrassed at him seeing her in only her night dress. She quickly reached into the coffer and pulled out a satin brocade wrapper she had seen earlier and donned it as she took her seat across from him.
He eyed her closely, taking in every detail of her appearance for she sat there across from him with her hands folded tightly in her lap.
"What's your name and what is your connection with the other two highwaymen?"
"Sir, as I have told the Marquis, I don't remember anything. I've already been over all of this with him."
Steven leaned over in his chair, his scowling face only inches from hers. "Well, I don't believe you, madam!" He spat. "And if you were in my custody, you would remember. How nice for you to have such a pleasant jail cell," he said, holding up his hands and showing her the room. "Maybe, you would want to talk if you were thrown into prison and interrogated properly!"
Kathryn's eyes widened when she thought of this man taking her away, putting her into such a place as he had just described.
"Fortunately for you madam," reading her thoughts exactly, "you have the Marquis as a protector, for the moment that is," he sneered. "My hands are tied!"
As Steven started to leave, Kathryn's curiosity got the best of her.
"Assistant Constable Hawk, what is the punishment for highway robbery?"
Pausing for a brief moment, he grinned, matter-of-factly at her and replied, "Hanging of course!"
Kathryn stared at him despairingly after he closed the door, trying to still the panic that was rising up inside her. "Hanging," she whispered hoarsely, placing her hand gently against her throat and swallowed hard.
The days went by slowly as Kathryn's boredom became very apparent. She would wander around her room aimlessly searching for something to do. Her shoulder though was heeling nicely and she gained more and more use of it with each passing day but her memory was still at a loss to her with only a few brief moments when faces would flash before her eyes, staying only seconds, before they would disappear again, leaving her feeling frustrated and confused. Steven Hawk's face fascinated her though for she felt she knew it, recognized it but with a different name.
Emma would come and go whenever she had a spare moment to visit with her and Kathryn would look forward to those times they spent together. Even something about Emma sparked some kind of recognition but what it was evaded her also. The housekeeper told her she was trying too hard and if she would just relax, her memory would come back on its own. She would pat her hand in a motherly fashion and tell her not to worry so much.
Sitting in front of the fireplace on one of the dark blue, velvet cushioned chairs she glanced around the room taking in the beautiful furnishings that were there. She hadn't really paid much attention to them before now, because she was so caught up in her own problems and injuries to have noticed. The four-poster canopied bed was made of the finest rosewood and draped in a heavy pale blue crushed velvet with gold brocade adorning its edges. Against the two outer walls were two rosewood coffers and a matching ornate chest of drawers. The table and chairs where she would take her meals were also made of the finest rosewood and were placed in front of the sixteen pane window which was draped in the same pale blue, crushed velvet to match the bed.
Kathryn rose from her chair and made her way to one of the coffers deciding to put on her own meager blue and white flowered day dress that was hanging there and go exploring. This may be her only chance, she thought because Lord Christopher would be returning any day now and she doubted he would allow her out of this room let alone go anywhere else in the home.
Once dressed, she carefully opened the door to the adjoining room, glancing inside to make sure no one was around before she entered. It was a very masculine room with a four-poster bed made of the finest red tinted mahogany with matching ornate chest of drawers and armoire. A green plaid high back chair sat in one corner that matched the coverings on the bed nicely. She could still smell the fine aroma of his lordship's cheroots lingering in the air. Realizing she was in his bedroom, she quickly slipped out the hall door and made it to the top of the spiral staircase. On each side she could see a long corridor with a row of bedrooms stretching along both wings of the upper floor. One wing looked like it was probably used for the servants' quarters. Seeing no one downstairs, she quietly went down the winding staircase into the main hall. On one side was a drawing room with a solid peach silk settee and a set of low back cushioned chairs with a doorway leading into a fine ballroom. On the other side of the staircase, was a study done in oak and leather furniture with an adjacent fully stocked library. She wanted very badly to go into the library but decided she better not, it would take hours for her to look through all the books by the popular authors he had there. She made her way to the back side of the manor where there was a kitchen and formal dining room with a long oak table that sat at least twenty and a beautiful crystal chandelier hanging over it.
There was a doorway that led her outside with a path going directly to the stables. Cautiously she walked down to the side of the stables and crouched down to scan the area until she saw the stable boy cleaning out one of the stalls. There was stall after stall of the most beautiful thoroughbreds she had ever seen. How she would love to fly with the wind on any one of their backs, she thought. In front of the end stall that the stable boy was cleaning, stood a haggard old chestnut mare. "Ginger?" She said, with surprise. "I know that's Ginger! My old horse I rode from London. What was I doing in London? She thought despairingly, not remembering anymore. Angrily she decided she better get back to her room before her luck ran out and would get caught. She made her way back to her room the same way she came and flopped down on the bed, exhausted from her little adventure and dozed off to sleep.
Emma was sitting in her room thinking about the young girl down the hall. Something had been bothering her about this whole business of her being a highway robber. "She just doesn't fit that class," she grumbled to herself. She's to refined, she has such lady-like qualities about her. The way she speaks and her manners. Her hands aren't even calloused! To top it off, with that beauty, she was still a virgin? She shook her head in wonderment and opened the door to leave her chambers.
A scream came from down the hall so she ran quickly to investigate it. It was coming from Katie's room, as she dashed in she saw her thrashing around on the bed caught up in some kind of nightmare. When she tried to awaken her, her eyes flew open wide with terror. "It's alright Katie, you're just having another one of those bad dreams you've been having," she said, trying to comfort her.
"Oh Emma, it was horrible, I thought I was in one of those prisons Steven Hawk talked about and they were going to hang me. I could see the noose from my cell!" She cried out in agony.
"There, there child, nobody's going to hang you. His lordship wouldn't allow that. I'm sure of it."
"But I stole from him!"
"You actually weren't the one who robbed him child from the way I understand it, you were just present at the scene."
"If only I could remember Emma," she said, feeling a little better. "I do hope you're right about his lordship."
"I know I'm right. He's a very fair and just man. He wouldn't have someone hung if he didn't believe they deserved it," she said, with confidence. "I have to go and start preparing for his lordship's return in the morning."
"He's coming home, tomorrow?" Kathryn queried, not sure if the news made her happy or sad.
"Yes, we received a message that he'll be home sometime in the morning."
After Emma left, Kathryn sat up in bed going over in her mind everything that had happened to her. How was Lord Christopher going to treat her when he returned? He kept her so confused all the time. And what about her feelings for him? How can I have feelings for him, I don't even know the man! A slight blush crossed her face when she thought about their love-making. No man had ever stirred her as much as he did. She hugged her pillow wondering if it would be like that every time. As she laid there dreaming of Christopher, another face brought her back to reality like a splash of cold water. Steven Hawk, he was so determined to see her hung for her crimes. How could the Marquis protect her from the law? A terrifying feeling crept over her. What if his lordship didn't want her anymore and turned her over to Assistant Constable Hawk? Then she would for sure hang by the neck until she was dead. She must leave here before he returned!
Rising from the bed, she entered Christopher's room. I must have some money to live on until I find work. If I could just borrow some from his lordship, I'll pay him back as soon as I can. Even if it takes me the rest of my life. I'll pay him back! In the top drawer of the chest, she found a small bag of coins. Taking them out, she replaced them with a note, stating her intentions. She returned to her own room and placed the coins in the pocket of her day dress just in time for Emma was bringing in her evening meal.
It was just before dawn when Kathryn woke and quickly got up dressed to carry out her plans. Quietly she took the same route she had taken earlier and made her way down to the stables. Finding an old saddle, she threw it over her aged horse Ginger's back and within minutes she was well on her way out the front gates of Crestwood Hall, destination unknown.