When I was finally convinced to start our little masquerade, I was hopeful. Perhaps we could find some tasty tidbit, which would make the King and Queen leave us alone. In the end, that's all we wanted. We received a tidbit, all right, but it wasn't so tasty.
News from court was not good news. Our enemy was in the process of developing a new weapon, some sort of powder that they believed would change the direction of the war.
So far the war had been mostly skirmishes along the border with few lives lost, a majority of those being from the south. Neither side seemed to want to go to full scale war. The most recent news gave me a bad feeling that full scale was closer than I wanted it to be.
To ease my feelings, I read letters from home, most of them being written by my sister, Elizabeth. They were usually short and sweet, ignoring any serious matters going on back home. But, I could always tell when something was on her mind. Her writing would not be as neat as at other times. She would choose certain words that normally wouldn't be part of her diction, most likely an addition from our mother.
I suppose it's the man in me wanting to keep my feelings a secret, for I didn't talk about my family much. That would probably have to change if Katrina and I continued to grow closer. I wouldn't have chosen to bring it up so quickly, but I fell asleep without putting Elizabeth's letters away, and I was pretty sure Katrina saw them.
Nellie and the other spies were off attending to other business. Katrina and I were finishing up our breakfast.
"Have we heard from the other girls?" she asked between bites of scrambled eggs.
"Yes," I replied. I put my biscuit down on the chipped plate. "I've been mulling over the information myself before bringing it to your attention ... and the rest of the girls for that matter."
"That doesn't sound like good news, then," Katrina remarked, allowing me to take a bite of the biscuit, which actually tasted pretty good - much better than army rations.
Wiping my mouth with the cuff of my already dirty sleeve, I continued, "Yeah, there might be a new weapon for us to worry about. I was hoping we would find some scandalous morsel to exploit. Alas!" On that last word I raised both of my hands, shrugging my shoulders in a gesture of regret.
I took a few more bites of my breakfast in silence. Katrina didn't know what to say as well, it seemed. I decided that we couldn't go on like this for long, for usually she had much to say, the subject of no consequence.
"The news disturbed me so that I got some letters out from home," I said and quickly took a bite of egg. Katrina surprised me with an apology.
"I'm sorry, Jon," she whispered, keeping her head down, her hands in her lap. "Those letters were out, and I saw one. I was just too curious, so I read it."
"I figured as much," I replied, looking straight at her. "Is there something you want to ask me?" I placed my hand on her shoulder.
Slowly, she looked up and said, "I was afraid of who E.H. might be, that's all."
"No need to fear," I said as I stroked her cheek with my finger. "That's just Elizabeth." Her expression became more serious. "Elizabeth Hanway," I added, which only made things worse, and I smiled.