Chapter 11

     Catherine knew something was wrong. The ache in her abdomen had grown into a more noticeable pain, and she found spots of blood on her underclothing. But she hid this as best she could, not just feeling the pain, but feeling tired and lethargic as well. She did not want Consuelo to know, fearing it would delay the girl's departure somehow. Even with Consuelo there, if it became known Catherine was having a severe health problem, they would call in a doctor, and she did not believe the servant girl would hide the problem if she felt Catherine's life was in danger.

     So Catherine pretended to feel better. She had no appetite at all, but at least she did not have the morning sickness the day Consuelo was to leave.

     "I hate to leave you, Doña," Consuelo told her in the privacy of Catherine's room. "I know you are having a difficult time."

     "I will be fine, Consuelo. Thank you for everything you have done for me. And for Francis. I will miss you terribly."

     The girl nodded, and Catherine spotted a tear rolling down her cheek. If she hadn't felt so awful herself, she might have grown emotional, too.

     "I am worried about you, Doña." She looked up. "You must trust him. I know he will understand."

     Catherine sighed. "We have been over this many times, Consuelo. And you are a good friend to be so concerned. I am leaving it up to God. It is all up to Him."

     Consuelo nodded. "Yes, that is true. I pray for you, and for Mister Barnard. I want you to find happiness together."

     "Thank you." Catherine felt the hopelessness rise in her. I am losing this child, she thought, but he will find out. And if it doesn't kill me, then his leaving me here will.

     She put her hands on Consuelo's shoulders. "I want you to be happy, too, with Emeliano." She turned and reached into her traveling bag, withdrawing a small box. "This is my wedding gift for you, since I do not think I will be here to give it to you then."

     Consuelo looked surprised, then more emotional. "Oh, Doña Catherine! You are so sweet to me." She took the box with a trembling hand and opened it. Inside was a slender gold chain with a small crucifix depending from it. In the center of the tiny Christ figure's chest a cut ruby had been set. The pendent was the product of superior craftsmanship, and had once belonged to Isabella, Catherine's mother. Catherine had not intended to give it away, but she wanted to give Consuelo something from her heart, and this cross certainly was that.

     "It is beautiful! Too beautiful for you to give to me," said Consuelo, holding it up.

     "No, it is not too beautiful to give to you. You are a lovely person, Consuelo. I could do no less for you. Please wear it. Close to your heart."

     Consuelo did not even try to hide her tears then. "Oh, Doña, thank you. I will miss you!"

     Catherine did not object to the girl's sudden embrace. She welcomed it, returned it, in fact. "I will think of you often, Consuelo," she said when they parted. "Let me put this on you. It will be safe if you wear it beneath your blouse."

     Consuelo acquiesced, and after a moment wore the chain and crucifix against her skin. She placed her hand over where it rested beneath her clothes. "I will never forget your kindness to me."

     "Nor I yours."

     "I pray for your happiness, Doña. Every day."

     "And I will pray for yours as well. Now you must go, finish gathering your things."

     "I will." She started for the door, then stopped and turned back. "Would you mind if I told Mister Barnard goodbye as well?"

     "Of course not. I am sure he will want to wish you well."

     Consuelo bowed her head, then left her, and Catherine sat down with relief as her strength gave out. "I do wish you well, Consuelo. I only wish I could do as you suggest."


     Out in the front drive of the manor house, the carriage stood waiting to depart. Standing at the entryway, Catherine saw Francis talking with the driver and one of the soldiers. She thought she saw him hand them each something, and she suspected it was money to ensure Consuelo's safe passage back.

     "He is a fine man, Doña," said Consuelo, coming up beside Catherine.


     Catherine did not feel like walking all the way down to the carriage. It would mean walking back and she just did not have the energy. And she was shivering from the cold already.

     "Take care, Doña. And thank you. You are the kindest mistress a girl could have."

     "You will do well, Consuelo. You will marry and have a good life. I pray your journey home is swift."

     "Thanks to your Francis, I will be comfortable in the carriage. I'll have the cushions and all the blankets. But it will be lonely without you."

     "Just think of where you are going. The trip will be over before you know it."

     "Yes, I am sure you are right."

     Catherine thought the girl was afraid, and she couldn't blame her. I would be terrified, she thought, to travel alone with six men I do not know or trust.

     Catherine gave her a brief hug, then, and let her go. She watched as Francis helped Consuelo into the carriage and shut the door. Not everyone would be so kind to see off a servant. Don Santoña was not there, but he had probably already spoken with the carriage driver.

     Even though she was wanting to go back inside and lie down in her room, Catherine could not pass on a chance to have Francis' attention once more. He watched the carriage only a moment before he turned and saw her standing on the top step. He smiled that boyish grin that made him look all of twelve years old and stole her heart.

     "Catherine," he said, holding out his arm. "Would you care for a walk?"

     She thought about it, but was afraid she would do something to draw too much attention to herself like pass out. "Thank you, Francis, but I am cold. I want to go back inside."

     "Then I will take you there."

     She put her hands on his arm and walked with him back inside to the grand parlor. Even being with him was not enough to make her feel energetic. "I think I would like to go back to my room, please," she said, realizing he would be able to tell she had gotten a little out of breath.

     "You are not well," he said, and held her in front of him.

     Catherine looked up at his face, his ever-present frown. "I am just tired. I haven't slept well."

     "You were not at breakfast again this morning, and I have hardly seen you since we arrived. I am very concerned, Catherine."

     She wanted to tell him suddenly, but she couldn't bring herself to say the words that would likely drive him from her. "I know. I am sorry, Francis. But I cannot sleep at night," she lied. "Please take me to my room."

     He nodded slowly, then put his arm around her. "Of course. Perhaps you should see a doctor?"

     "No, this will pass. I am sure of it."

     He guided her out, and she wanted to lean against him. "Is there nothing I can do to help you?" he asked when they reached the top of the stairs and she was breathing fairly hard. "You are very weak."

     "I need to rest. That is all. But thank you, Francis."

     "I love you, Catherine." He opened her door for her, but did not step inside. "Should I send a servant to you?"

     "No, that will not be necessary. I am just going to lie down for a while. I will see you at supper."

     He nodded, but she didn't think he was convinced. "Call for me if you need anything."

     "I will. Thank you, Francis." Looking up at his earnest face, she could only smile sadly. "I love you."

     "Oh, Catherine—" He stopped himself from saying anything else.

     "I will see you later," she said and closed the door, then her eyes. "Oh, Francis, I am so sorry!" she whispered. "I love you so much."

     The bed beckoned, and she slipped off her headdress and lay down. The bed had been made, but Catherine didn't care. She pulled the cover from the other side over her and closed her eyes.

     A servant roused her for dinner, but Catherine did not feel up to going. She thought of Francis down there, worrying and made herself get up. The steady pain was worse, and she discovered her blood rags were soaked when she went to use the chamber pot. Worse still was the feeling that her insides were going to drop out of her when she used it.

     But she summoned all her strength and went down to dinner, pretending she felt fine, a pretense she wondered if anyone would believe.

     Francis held her chair for her. "You still look pale, Catherine. Do you feel better?"

     "Yes, I slept well. Now I am hungry." Another lie. The vegetables looked appealing enough, but not the meat. The very idea of eating any of it made nausea rise in her gut. But she pretended, trying to make lively conversation, oblivious to the look that passed between Francis and her uncle or her uncle and their host.

     "Catherine, won't you let me take you up to your room?" said Illora Palamos while they were waiting for the dessert to be brought out.

     Catherine realized then that she had been sitting for some time without speaking. It was as if there was a wall of thicker air between her and the room around her. Her mind drifted easily, and when she looked at Illora, she didn't know what the woman had said to her. The pain in her abdomen was worse.

     "I will take her up," Francis said.

     "I will send for the doctor," said Doña Illora.

     Catherine protested. "I do not need a doctor. I do not trust them." She looked at her beloved and knew he agreed with her. She felt Illora's hand on her forehead.

     "She does not seem to have a fever. Perhaps it is just rest she needs."

     "Yes, that is what I need."

     Francis had his hand on her elbow. "Let me take you up. I will carry you, if you—"

     "I am quite capable of walking." She stood up, and stepped around her chair.

     "Come. Lean on me if you need to," Francis said, his arm about her waist.

     "I do not, but thank you. I am so tired, perhaps I will sleep well tonight."

     "Catherine, you are ill. You slept all afternoon, and yet you are ready to sleep again? Your skin has little color. I am no doctor, but even I can see that something is wrong."

     "Just take me to my room, please."

     Catherine did not know quite how she made it up the stairs. She heard Francis say things to her, but she didn't answer because it was all coming in through a fog around her brain. A fog that had grown thicker as they ascended the stairs. He helped her to her bed, and left her after she assured him she was fine. A servant came a while after that and helped her undress and built up her fire. Catherine was aware enough to be careful to hide that she was bleeding, though the chamber pot had been emptied—perhaps they knew. But wouldn't they only think it was her time? Yes, she decided and lay down.

     It was during the night when she woke to a sharp cramping pain in her womb. Oh, what had been happening before was merely a precursor to this, she realized, suddenly lucid. She tried to make it out of bed as she felt an inordinate amount of wetness on her legs. She managed to slide off the bed over the pot and the worst pain hit her then.

     Catherine gasped, her fingers clawed into the bed covers as she felt an immense tearing, burning sensation below. It was too much, too intense to stand in her weakened condition, and she felt the darkness of the room descend upon her. She slid to the floor, unconscious.


     Francis had tried reading when he retired to his room shortly after dinner was over, but he could not concentrate. Instead he paced across the floor in front of the fire and thought about Catherine. She was ill. She smelled faintly of womanly blood, and he thought it must be that time for her, and it was causing her to be ill. He vaguely remembered from his childhood when Elizabeth had taken to her room for days at a time for then mysterious female reasons. It could be the same for Catherine, and because it was so personal, she could not explain what was wrong with her.

     Yet, that would not explain her sadness, the look in her eyes when she told him she loved him. The last few times, he had sensed that something was very wrong. It couldn't just be what had happened to her brother. There had to be more to it. Perhaps it was all related to what she was going through physically. Women's moods, he thought, can be so unpredictable. She is merely having one of those spells women have.

     But he didn't believe it, and he was awake, though no longer pacing when he heard the sounds of commotion in the hallway. He had not dressed yet for bed, though he had removed his doublet.

     A look in the hallway found two servants outside Catherine's door, holding lit candle sconces. Francis stepped up to them. "What is the meaning of this?"

     A young woman looked at him and quickly dropped her eyes. The other servant was older, and she was dressed for sleeping, but had her robe pulled about her. "Mister Barnard," she said, "it is Doña Catherine. Juanita found her by her bed. She is very ill. We have sent for the doctor."

     "What . . . what is wrong with her?" Francis had to restrain himself from pushing past them and opening the door to Catherine's room.

     "I do not know. There was much blood. Doña Illora is with her now, and Aurora who is good with healing herbs."

     Francis felt the shock of it go all through him. She was bleeding badly. Had she cut herself? Fallen perhaps on a knife? But no, he knew that was not the case. It was something else, something only a doctor would be able to help. He felt panicked at the thought of a Spanish doctor even touching her. His experience with them had been so bad, he did not believe they were capable of doing anything but harm. Hadn't she been put in that terrible asylum by a Spanish so-called doctor? And wasn't Doctor Charles Leon guilty of mis-diagnosing Elizabeth's death? Thinking of that only brought up the questions about the bodies found in the castle, and he couldn't let himself be distracted by those.

     He paced in the hallway then, looking toward her door each time he passed it. Fernando Santoña came from his room after a little while and seemed shocked and concerned about his niece.

     "What are they doing in there?" Francis wanted to know after some time had passed. "When will they let us know what her condition is?"

     "I do not know, sir," said the servant who had told him Illora Palamos and a servant were with Catherine.

     "Here," Don Santoña said, holding out a glass of some dark beverage. "It will calm you, sir."

     Francis looked at the glass, then the man. He did not want to be calm, he wanted to know how Catherine was.

     "Come away. Downstairs. Christopher has had a good fire built in the hearth. It will be warmer and you can do nothing here."

     Francis looked again at the glass, but didn't take it. "I want to be near her."

     They both turned at the sound of heavy boots on the stairs. A man appeared, followed by a woman, both dressed in warm traveling clothes.

     "I am Doctor Franco, where is the young lady?" he asked them.

     Francis could not bring himself to say, not when he saw the swarthiness of the man's skin and his huge hands. The memory of the dreadful Doctor Zamora would not leave him. But Don Santoña had no such prejudices and took them to the door.

     Christopher Palamos came up the stairs behind them. Francis looked at him, frowning hard.

     "Doctor Franco is the best doctor in San Sebastian," Don Palamos said. "I would trust Catherine to no one else."

     Francis didn't say anything, but almost as soon as the doctor has his companion went into Catherine's room, Doña Illora came out.

     "Doña, how is she?" he asked the older woman. "What has happened to her?"

     She looked from Francis to her husband, then back again. "We know only that she has bled a great deal. Not why. She is very ill, and has remained unconscious." Her eyes on Francis made him feel slightly accused.

     "Do you think the journey was too much for her?"

     "Perhaps. But now that Doctor Franco is here, she will be given the best care."

     "Please, Mister Barnard," said Don Palamos, "come downstairs. Have a drink. It may be hours before we know."

     "Yes, my husband is right. Someone will let you know when you may see her."

     Francis did not want to leave the near vicinity of his beloved. She could be at death's door, and he would not have a chance to tell her how much he loved her. He could not bear the thought that she would die.

     "I must stay near her."

     "You will catch a chill in this hallway, Mister Barnard. Just come downstairs for a little while. I promise you, you will know as soon as any of us how she is doing."

     Francis didn't even feel the cold air of the hall, though he wore only his shirt over his upper body. But he knew they were right about the chill. "I will be back," he said and turned to leave them, not caring what they thought of him. It was in his mind that Catherine could die, that she had been ill for days and no one knew. She had hidden it. Why?

     He snatched his doublet up and donned it hastily. Why would someone hide an illness? Was she dying? Had she been infected with something in that mental asylum? Did it have anything to do with that?

     He found the two men and Illora still in the corridor outside Catherine's room.

     Doña Illora looked at him in a manner he thought cold. "Mister Barnard, please come downstairs, I wish to ask you a few questions."

     "I do not wish to leave Catherine." He looked from one to the other, not understanding why his hosts seemed to be looking at him so coldly.

     "I insist, Mister Barnard," Don Palamos said. "It is a matter of great importance."

     "Pertaining to Catherine?"

     "Yes. Please come."

     Francis sighed, hoping he might get some answers because they seemed to know something he did not. "Very well."

     He followed them down to the ground floor and the grand parlor where they seated themselves near the fire. "Now please, tell me what you know. If it can help Catherine, I. . . ."

     "Mister Barnard, when did you arrive in Barcelona?" Don Palamos asked him.

     Francis did not like the sudden twisting of his gut. He knew suddenly that they thought he was responsible in some way for something wrong. To do with Catherine? What could it possibly be?

     "I arrived on January nineteenth." He looked at Don Santoña. "Why am I being asked this? You know when I arrived here."

     "Yes, that is true." He turned his gaze to his friends. "Catherine has been chaperoned since he arrived."

      The meaning was suddenly clear. They thought he had taken advantage of Catherine! Francis stood up abruptly. "I will have it known, I have not laid an inappropriate hand on Catherine."

     "I believe you," said Doña Illora. "The timing is wrong." She looked at her husband. "I see now that it could not be him."

     "What are you talking about?" Francis scowled. "What is the meaning of this?"

     "Sit down, Mister Barnard, please," Santoña said.

     Francis saw their grave expressions and lowered himself back to his chair. "I want an explanation, please." He had to consciously control his voice to keep from shouting.

     "Mister Barnard, Catherine's condition. . . ." Doña Illora began. "Until the doctor confirms it, I cannot be sure, but. . . ."

     "What? What is wrong with her?" Francis felt his patience snap.

     "It appears she has had a malparto."

     As well as he knew Spanish, Francis did not understand the words she used. "What does that mean?"

     "She has lost a child, Mister Barnard."

     Francis felt the impact of the news sink through him. It was like all the blood was draining from the upper parts of his body. "That . . . that is not possible." Catherine had been with child? How? Who?

     "I would appear so. I have lost two myself, Mister Barnard. I am quite certain that is what has happened to her. She has been ill for days."

     "And she has been ill in the morning since we left Barcelona," Don Santoña said. "I do not know why I did not see it."

     Francis felt a rush of heat to his face. How could she have been pregnant and not told me? he wanted to know. Why didn't she tell me? Who could the father have been?

     And then he knew. The image of her soiled and ruined dress, improperly fastened because some of the buttons were gone, the dark bruises across her white flesh. . . . Francis wanted to cry for her suddenly. She must have been ravished by someone in that evil place, and she had kept it from him. Why?

     "Mister Barnard?" Doña Illora said. "Are you all right?"

     Francis' eyes found Don Santoña's. "This is your fault. You sent her to that terrible place! You saw the condition she was in when we got her out." Francis didn't even feel his chest heaving. "You could've prevented this by believing her! If she dies it will be on your head, Don Santoña. Yours and your wife's and that charlatan of a doctor who put her there!" He was so upset he didn't even realize he had spoken English.

     He was on his feet, not feeling himself stand up, or caring that the faces looking at him were all shocked. "Well, you had better pray that she lives, because her blood is on your hands."

     Francis had never been in such a rage. He was shaking all over, and it wasn't until he made it up the stairs that he realized he had shed tears also. He was filled with a blackness unlike anything he'd ever felt. It was fury and helplessness and grief. It tore at his heart, made it feel as though it had been pounded by a hammer. Catherine! he thought, oh my dearest!

     He looked at her closed door and the servant standing outside it, then strode to his room in long strides as he began to fall apart.

     "Catherine," he said, flinging the door closed behind him. "Why did you not tell me? I love you." He put his hands over his face. "I would never have made you come on this journey," he said in a broken voice. "We could have been married here. No one would know the child was not mine. How did you bear it? Oh, Catherine, you must not die!"

     Francis felt his heart breaking for her, and he put his head between his arms as brittle sobs forced their way from his chest. He did not cry easily. He could not have said the last time he cried, perhaps when his father had died. It felt like his lungs were barely functioning, and his face ached from the grimace of grief.

     He collapsed onto the bed in his dark room, thoughts tumbling through his mind in chaos—images of Catherine being raped, of her lovely face as it must have been, of her when she had looked up at him before he kissed her, the sound of her voice calling for help, pleading on his behalf, declaring her love for him. All of it jumbled together under a blanket of sorrow he could not shake off.

     She had not told him because she was ashamed, she must have thought he would reject her.

     "I would never reject you, Catherine," he swore, his hands clenched aside his head. "You must believe that. You must live. I did not come all this way to lose you. I cannot lose you now."

     A knock on the door startled him, and he got up quickly. "Yes?" he said in English, forgetting in all his panic that he was still in Spain.

     "El doctor ya salió."

     Hearing the words in Spanish, jolted him a little. Francis wiped his face with the bed cover and strode to the door. A servant stood in the hallway, and beyond her the Spanish doctor, the Palamoses and Don Santoña. Francis gave no thought to what he'd said downstairs. He went up to the doctor who was saying something to the others.

     "Is she all right?" Francis said, interrupting more rudely than he was used to.

     The doctor looked at him, and Francis knew he was being appraised. He didn't care. "She is resting, but I do not know if the bleeding will stop," the doctor told him.

     "You don't know?"

     "You are the young man she is to marry?"

     Francis did not appreciate the change of subject. "Yes. You have not answered my question."

     "When a woman loses a child this way, it is difficult to tell sometimes. My assistant is a midwife. She is well-equipped to care for her."

     So it was true. Catherine had lost a child. "I want to see her."

     "She is not awake."

     Francis glanced toward the door to Catherine's room and saw a servant carry out a heavy basket overflowing with linens. "I will not wake her. I wish to be with her. I need to be with her."

     Doctor Franco nodded and Francis did not wait another second before stepping away from them to go into the room.

     The room was lit by candle light, and Catherine lay in her bed, her color as white as the sheets upon which she lay. There was the distinct earthy smell of blood in the room, though there were no signs of it anywhere. Catherine's dark hair was spread out on the pillow in sharp contrast, and she was covered with blankets except for her arms. The woman who had come in with the doctor only glanced at him as she stirred something in a small cup.

     Francis went to the bedside, the one away from where the other woman stood, and knelt down, taking Catherine's cold, white hand in his. She didn't move, and were it not for the slight rise and fall of her chest, he would have thought she was dead. "Catherine, I am here," he said softly in English. "It is I, Francis. I will not leave your side. I know what has happened to you. It doesn't change how I feel about you. I still love you. You must not die." He kissed her small hand and put it to his forehead as he bowed it down. "We will be married. I promise you."

     She did not stir, and he just looked at her. How could I have not known you were so ill? he thought. You were so pale and so weak. You must have known what was happening to you. How long have you known about the child?

     Consuelo knew, he thought. She was very loyal to you. As I will be. "You must live, Catherine," he whispered. "You must."

     "Sir, here is a chair," said the doctor's assistant suddenly in strangely accented Spanish. She pushed the chair that went with the writing desk toward him.

     "Thank you," he said, in Spanish as well, as he pulled the chair to the bedside and sat down. He gestured to Catherine. "How is she? Is she going to be all right?"

     "It is difficult to say. She is very weak. She needs to be encouraged. There are women who lose the will to live after losing a child. Your talking to her is good."

     He nodded. "I will talk to her all night if need be."

     "No, and I will have to ask you to leave at times so that I may care for her." She smiled, a hard-looking woman who appeared to have spent much time in the sun if the leathery look of her skin were any indication.

     "I will do as you ask. Anything for Catherine." Francis turned back to the sick woman and leaned toward her. "I will do anything for you, Catherine. Anything at all."


     The rest of the night seemed an eternity. Francis kept wishing Catherine would wake so he could tell her that he loved her no matter what had happened to her. He sat in the chair for hours just gazing at her, listening to the sound of a rain shower outside, and wishing there was something he could do to help. He had to leave several times, standing in the hallway alone while the midwife tended Catherine. Of the doctor, there was no sign. Francis resisted the attempts that the woman, whose name he discovered was Elisa Juárez, made to get him to get some sleep for himself. He did go and get a book to read to Catherine, which he did softly, while the midwife dozed. The translating from the written English to Spanish was a challenge for his mind, and helped the time pass more quickly, yet it still seemed forever.

     Dawn was a long time in making itself known because of the heavy clouds and rain. Francis took advantage of one of the midwife's treatments to go outside on his balcony and stand in the icy rain. It refreshed him somewhat, even as it chilled him and soaked his hair. He looked up at the turbulent blue and grey sky and said a prayer to God to heal Catherine. "I will honor her, Lord," he promised. "She is good. You must know that. You must know that it is only right for her to survive."

     He bowed his head, then and went inside as trickles of rain ran down his collar. A few minutes to dry himself and he was back at Catherine's door. He was surprised to hear the doctor's voice when he knocked for entry.

     "You may enter, Mister Barnard," the man said.

     Francis could not stop the mistrust from rising as he looked at the Spaniard. "How is she?" he said, thinking that if Elisa Juárez, who he thought was very skilled, was willing to work with him, perhaps he was a competent doctor after all.

     "She has stopped bleeding, but she has yet to awaken. I am concerned that she hasn't enough blood left. It will take time for her to come out of this state."

     "What should I do for her?"

     "Get some rest, Mister Barnard. You can do nothing for her right now. She will need you when she wakens."

     "I want to be here when that happens."

     The doctor's black eyes, set under his heavy brow, met his with sympathy. "She will not waken for hours. Please, you will not help her if you are too tired to be rational."

     "I am completely rational," Francis said hotly. "She is my betrothed. I want to be here for her."

     "Mister Barnard," said Señora Juárez with a gentle voice, "you will be here for her. I will come for you as soon as she shows signs of wakening. Doctor Franco is right—I can see the exhaustion in your eyes. Please, we will be with her."

     Francis was almost convinced, then he looked over at Catherine's fragile, unconscious form on the bed, and felt his emotions rising. He could not leave her. Not to strangers. "Give me a chair, and I will sleep in it then, but I will not leave her."

     The two healers looked at one another, and Francis realized his eyes were burning with fatigue and the possibility of tears.

     "Very well," the doctor said. "We will get a comfortable chair for you."

     "That is not necessary." But he did not stop Señora Juárez from leaving the room. Francis did not wait for her to return. He went back to his chair by the bed, picked up Catherine's cold hand and held it between his own.

     Behind him, a pair of servants brought in a plush, padded leather wing chair with a high back. An ottoman soon followed. Both were placed in the corner of the room, the chair facing Catherine's bed.

     "Now, Mister Barnard, please sit down over here." The woman touched his arm. "We will be tending her and watching her for you."

     Francis nodded, kissing Catherine's hand before setting it carefully back onto the cover. It took him at least ten minutes before the bruises on his back would allow him to lean all his weight on them as he sat in the chair. But once that hurdle was passed, he propped his feet on the ottoman and relaxed his neck, gazing at Catherine and praying she would waken soon. He had to tell her he loved her no matter what. He did not want her believing as she must have done, that he would reject her for being with another man's child. He had to tell her.

     And with that thought in mind, he drifted into a light slumber. It was certainly no way to rest because they roused him periodically to make him leave while they tended her. And once, a servant told him lunch was being served. Francis drank a glass of wine, which gave him a headache, and he asked for water. The water came along with a tray of food, and he found himself ushered to his room to eat.

     He was not ready to see Don Santoña again, or their hosts. Until he knew that Catherine was going to be all right, he did not want to see them, especially her uncle. So he agreed to have the meal in his room. The food was more bland than the usual spicy affair, and he grew terribly sleepy after finishing. It was his intention of going straight back to Catherine's room, but instead, he fell asleep at the small table in his room. He never suspected that his food may have been laced with something, and he barely woke when servants came in and moved him to the bed, pulling off his doublet and shoes and covering him with the quilt. He slept deeply and without dreams.