Monday, August 23, 2010

Castle: Chapel

We continue our tour of Hagenheim castle...

~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by Melanie Dickerson
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The door of the chapel is closed. That means someone inside is praying. We will carefully push the door open a crack. Duchess Katheryn is kneeling near the altar, her figure lit up by several candles flickering beside her. The chapel itself is ornately decorated, though not as ornately as the Hagenheimer Dom, the cathedral in the center of town. Gold filigree enhances the background like a halo around Her Grace. Although she is past her fortieth year, she is still a graceful and beautiful woman.

The chapel is where we often find the dear lady these days. Her husband is gone, died these many months ago, and her two sons are both married. She must make a good match for her remaining child, Osanna. But perhaps she isn’t praying about any of those things. Perhaps she is praying about something entirely more personal.

Another person rushes into the room from the private entrance at the balcony above and to the right. Duchess Katheryn refuses to look up as the man clatters noisily down the stone steps to the floor of the chapel.

At the bottom of the steps he stops and crosses himself, hesitating as he gazes on her kneeling, reverent form. It is one of the old duke’s knights, someone who has served the Gerstenberg family for many years. Has danger come to the peaceful walled town? Or are his intentions of an altogether different nature?

He squares his shoulders, adjusts his sword so that it doesn’t bang against the floor, and steps determinedly toward her.

He stops only two feet away from her and seems to be waiting for her to look up at him. She doesn’t acknowledge him but went on praying, only her lips moving.

Finally, he kneels beside her, facing the altar, and bends his head, as though joining her in prayer.

The rustling of silk on the stone floor makes him turn his head and open his eyes. Lady Katheryn was rising to her feet, her lips pressed tightly together.

He stands and catches her elbow. “Darling, please—“

“You dare call me that?”

“I do. What else can I call you?”

She turns away from him, but he pulls her back to look into her eyes. They are swimming in tears.

“Katheryn, please believe that I love you. I know that I am only a knight. Believe that I’m unworthy of you, that you deserve a duke, a king, but also believe me when I say I love you and I want to marry you.”

Two large tears spilled down her cheeks. “Me? Someone who was so against my son marrying a poor woodcutter’s daughter? My family will say I am a hypocrite, a fool.”

He reached out and wiped her tears away, one at a time, with his fingertips. “Perhaps they will say that. Perhaps they will also call me a mercenary and say I only love you for your money. But I love you and I don’t care what anyone says. Are you willing to throw off society’s rules to take the love and happiness I’m offering?”

He stares into her eyes for a long moment. Then he pulls her into his arms and kisses her.

“Marcus! Not in the chapel.”

“Why not? God knows I love you. He’s probably smiling down on us right now. Or maybe he’s waiting, just like me, until he hears your answer.” He drops to one knee, clutching her hand in his. “Katheryn, will you marry me?”

Finally, her chin trembling, she nods.

He leaps to his feet and swings her around.

Now, I am sure, God is smiling.


The Chapel by Melanie Dickerson
Based on characters from The Healer's Apprentice © 2010. All rights reserved.

~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by Melanie Dickerson
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~

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The Healer's Apprentice
by Melanie Dickerson
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