VIII

"Ms. Catherine, how did you survive that fall?" was a question Catherine received when Sir James arrived beside her.

Catherine smiled and looked up to answer the tall gentleman. "Years and years of practice, Sir James."

He puckered his lips but just frowned lightly. He was not at all convinced of Ms. Catherine's answer. "Were you not at all hurt?" asked he.

Catherine frowned. "Sir James, would you like me to tell you that I have gotten hurt?"

He answered a little bit stunned. "No! Absolutely not!"

Catherine frowned for a matter of seconds but suddenly laughed out loud. "Dear me Sir James! You are much easier to fool the any other person!" cried she, laughing.

Sir James frowned at that thought but a smile suddenly was fixed across his beautiful features. He looked up at the sky and realized that they should still be here until the rain stops. "Ms. Catherine," he started to say. Catherine looked up at him with her magnificent eyes. He almost could not proceed with his statement because of the mesmerizing view he was seeing. He shook his head from his thoughts and closed his eyes. He meditated for a while and when he finally opened his Cartesian blue eyes and he met a confused Catherine Campbell right in front of him.

"You look positively ill Sir James!" Catherine commented. "Are you alright?"

Sir James shook his head in disbelief and continued. "Yes. I am fine. I was going to tell you that we might be staying here for a while—"

Catherine broke off his sentence. "I know." She told him dryly and from the corner of her eyes, she could see one of his brows being raised. "I am feeling very distressed about that too but we must stay here until the sun rises. I do not think that Hero could travel at such evident timing."

"Yes—yes. Certainly" He commented, slightly nervous. He has never even talked to her for long.

Catherine gently patted Hero on her nose and got the big satchel which was hanging in the side of Hero. She carefully took the satchel and opened it.

James could hardly believe his eyes. As Ms. Catherine sat on the floor and opened the bag, she has managed to pull out: two cloths, a lamp, her extra clothing, water and some fruits. As James had mentioned it, Ms. Catherine was ready for any dangerous thing. He cleared his throat and Ms. Catherine looked at him, smiling hugely.

"Sir James, do not think me so weak." Cathy told him. "I have been prepared for the worst almost everyday. When I went out to the woods this morning, I have managed to pack a thing or two" He could tell from her expression that she was proud.

"I must say, Ms. Catherine that you are absolutely ready for anything." He commented, taking a seat beside her and picking up an orange.

Catherine seemed to blush for a little but seemed to control herself most severely. "I have been know about that in America"

"I must say that you seem too small to know how to ride a horse like that" He commented, smiling so hugely. He did not even know where his teasingness came from.

Catherine frowned. In her own opinion: She was never too small o ride a horse like that! "Sir James, I have been riding my horse sine I was still a very young girl of age fifteen" Catherine contradicted. "Forgive me but in my own opinion, I am a much better rider than you are." She added playfully. He suddenly laughed and it was the very first time that Catherine had to enjoy this to herself.

"I doubt that!" cried James.

Catherine looked at him, incredulous. "Well, when we get out of here this morning, we'll race." Challenged her, looking at him fiercely.

"You really must do that?" he asked her, sarcastically.

Catherine nodded and for sure, she was dreadfully serious about everything she just said. She had not been discriminated when she was riding her horse. It was one of the regular doing she had when she was still in the United States. She has also been one of the best riders when she was with her group of friends or with Sarah and Peter.

"Mother we cannot just leave them over there!" cried Ms. Carter at her mother who was looking at window of their great loon.

"We have to help them, madam!" added Reynolds.

Mrs. Carter paced over at the room and just sat at the sofa, still smiling. It was a few hours after her son James had gone over to help Ms. Catherine; although she had to admit that she was also dreadfully worried about her son and Ms. Catherine.

"Mother!" cried her eldest, bringing her back to her senses. "We should help them right away!"

It was a perfect timing when her own husband went into the loon. "I have prepared the carriage! We shall leave at once" he announced.

It was her time to step in the conversation. "My dearest husband, we shall not!" she commanded.

"What do you mean Rose?" asked her beloved. "Are you just going to let Ms. Catherine and James freeze over there without a lamp or even food and water?"

She shook her head. "I know Ms. Catherine. She would never leave without her satchel" she started. "And by the by, I would think that they have already found the forest pavilion by now"

"But they are not safe there!" demanded her daughter.

She strode out of the room as quickly as possible. "End of discussion!" She proclaimed before she got out.

"Sir James, do you think that they might be looking for us?" Catherine scooted closer to the fire that they have managed to build besides the cold rain. The lamp was securely lit and the fruits were enough for them to eat the whole night. Catherine was still feeling an intensity lying through them one by one. She could not have bear anything but feel almost guilty about everything that accured. Her thoughts were abolished when Sir James scoffed.

"I doubt that" he told her gravely.

"Why?" asked Catherine, suddenly curious.

"My mother probably told them not to" He told her.

In Catherine's opinion, Mrs. Carter was not like that woman. She wondered suddenly what he meant but shook her head from the thought and started freezing violently and her teeth started chattering.

"Good God! You must be freezing!" cried James at her.

Catherine, with her teeth chattering laughingly said, "I doubt that"

Sir James let it go for a moment but started talking to her. "Why did you still comfort your horse after you fell from her?" asked him.

Catherine chuckled and said. "I despise it when she gets lost."

After, James could say no more to this lovely lady in front of him but Catherine saved him all the trouble. "Sir James, do you remember the day I got in here and I told you that I cannot condone with such civility" she asked him.

"Yes." Said he. "I gravely remember that"

Suddenly, she chuckled. "You look worried, Sir James!" She teased.

"I am not" He told her, choking back a laugh.

"Shall I tell you what I have observed?" asked she.

He sighed and said. "Of course"

"Then I shall tell you that you are arrogant" she told him seriously.

He suddenly felt like a thousand bullets has attacked him and sent him flying over to the pacific. Is this what she has thought of him all of this time? Is this what the woman who bewitched him refers to him with?

Suddenly, Catherine laughed. "You should see your face, Sir James!" cried she. "I meant arrogant in a very kind manner."

He felt himself suddenly relax. "Ms. Catherine, what do you mean?"

She had a smug smile on his face them and said. "Well, you would not take no for an answer, you are too cold to everyone, you are unfathomably serious and I see your face turn into a grimace every time your father mentions your marriage"

He was shocked at how well she knew about him. "How do you know that I hate the marriage?" asked him.

"For instance you frown, James!" cried her and suddenly realized that she has called him James. "And I have been able to talk to your dearest sister about that. She has told me that if it was not fro the incident the last five years, you would not have agreed to this"

"The last five years?" asked him.

"Yes." Replied Catherine. After, there was a moment of silence between them before Catherine asked. "What exactly happened five years ago?"

He looked at Ms. Catherine directly from the eyes. He could not tell the story himself but somehow, her delicate brown eyes compelled him to. "Last five years ago, the devastating thing happened." He started, feeling stupid himself. "My sister announced to everyone that she was going to marry Henry Forster. My mother was delighted—of course but father was outraged. He did everything in his power to separate the two of them. Emily was outraged and she had attempted to elope with him. I, of all the other people, was the only one who knew where they went. My father watched my every move and it was very hard to sent letters to my dearest sister. Well, he then discovered where they went and knew that I have known all along..." He suddenly trailed off and Catherine knew the rest of the story just by looking at the gentleman's face. It was directly grave and cold. His father was disappointed of him and Sir James never wanted it to happen again. A sudden flash of pain was seen in the handsome gentleman's face.

"My apologies." Catherine suddenly said. She did not want to hurt him so she just started to stand up and said, "I should not have asked that." When she stood up, she was suddenly stopped by Sir James taking her hand. She was bewildered! They looked at each other's eyes for a second and Sir James finally broke it off and started shaking his head.

"You must not apologize, Ms. Catherine. I was the one who advertized the story." He told her.

Catherine smiled but looked down at their clasped hands. She quickly removed her hand from his and just sat beside him again.

Sarah Campbell was having dinner with the family until she heard the greatest tragedy happen. She has received a letter from Mr. Reynolds announcing that Catherine was lost in the wood with Sir James. She would have been very happy for her except that it was raining too hard. She was definitely hoping that her dearest sister would return to the Carter Estate safely. It was a very good thing that her family (including Mr. Buxton) was invited at the Carter Estate so she could see if her sister would be found by then.

That night, right after dinner was over, she was called over to the loon by her mother.

"Sarah dear, pray, tell me, is Catherine alright at the Carter Estate?" asked her mother to her.

Sarah started shaking her head with disappointment. "Mother, why can't you just talk to her?"

"I don't know" Mrs. Campbell admitted. "I am very distressed about it as much as you do and I have been praying that she would be safe right after you have received that letter from Mr. Reynolds."

"Mamma, with all due respect, Catherine despises Mr. Buxton!" She cried.

Her mamma waved her hand impatiently for Sarah to retreat from the room. "You have no idea how much I also despise this for my poor Catherine"

"That's horrible!" cried Catherine, barely containing her laugh. "So you pushed poor Mr. Archer's son to the bottom of the stream when you were just eight years old?"

Sir James tried to manage a sentence behind his heaps of laughter. He could not believe that Ms. Catherine was just this easy to be with. Right now, they were just in the middle of telling each other's stories of their past.

"Not as wretched as you pulling your poor older brother from a horse and making him bump his head directly to the grass" He demanded playfully.

"Well, he still can walk and dance and everything after that happened." Catherine told him. "You on the other hand, made poor Sylvester feel dreadfully scared of water"

"That is not my fault. Before I even pushed him, he was scared of water already. That is the very reason of why I had pushed him." He commented.

Catherine's eyes widened at that thought. "How devastating!" she cried. "Why would you, Sir James, push him?"

He cleared his throat for a moment to hide his laugh. "He has suggested telling my mother that I lost her horse's satchel"

Suddenly, Catherine let out an explosive laugh which made him laugh out loud too. "Sir James! You must be so naughty when you were a child!" Catherine grabbed an apple and took a huge bite into it and suddenly cleared her throat out loud for James to look at her. "Sir James, why are you not dancing?" she suddenly asked.

He looked down for a minute and said in a quiet voice. "I do not have the talent like most people in the world posses"

"What do you mean?" asked Catherine in a small whisper as if somebody could hear them.

"I do not know how to" He told her earnestly and instead of laughing, Catherine just grabbed him by his arm and started to walk him towards the other side of the pavilion.

"Then I shall teach you." Catherine mused.

"Why?" Asked him.

Catherine shook her head and secretly smiled. "I must admit Sir James; I am doing this for the lucky first girl you will dance with"

He looked at her softly and just grinned. This was invitation enough for Catherine so she grabbed his hand and started teaching thing gentleman waltz.

Even though they might be stuck at this horrid rain, Catherine was especially delighted with it.