She’d been here for a month or more. The job of separating rope fibre was becoming more durable, and she was getting used to the dry old food given daily. Spring was coming, and she was determined to keep hope. She would escape, she didn’t know how yet, but she would. The work was tiring, and she hadn’t much time or strength at night to work up a plan. But on a clear sunny day, her life changed.
“Who is that young woman over there?”
Catalina looked up. A young man was gesturing toward her. She returned to work, guessing that this was one of the guards of higher rank, trying to sound as if they actually cared about what went on inside the prison.
“Catalina Sinclair, 17 years old, arrested for inappropriate knowledge of Latin, Greek and of other subjects only known to men.” the other guard read from the records book.
“Knowledge of Latin, Greek and other subjects did you say?” the young man enquired.
“Yes, Doctor Grifton,” the man replied politely.
Catalina was suddenly interested. A doctor, a man of great knowledge. She turned slightly and listened.
“I am in need of an apprentice right now. She will do just fine.”
“But she is a female, Doctor. It is illegal for female to work in this field.”
“I need someone with experience, and fast. All the men I’ve seen so far aren’t up to scratch. You should all be ashamed, beaten by a young lady.”
“But…” the guard didn’t finish his sentence. He fumbled with his pouch and slipped in the silver coin he’d received from Doctor Grifton. The Doctor nodded, satisfied, and turned towards Catalina.
“Would you do me the honour of becoming my apprentice?”
“If it meant getting out of here, then yes, absolutely! Doctor.” She added hastily after a warning glare from the guard.
“Unfortunately I cannot interfere with the law to release you, but I will do all in my power to remove you to a more comfortable quarter. I will see you tomorrow at 7o’clock in my drawing room for our first lesson.”
She stood up and swept a low curtsey to the Doctor. “Of course, Doctor Grifton.”
He turned to leave. Remembering that she didn’t know where he lived, Catalina ran after him, skirts trailing.
“Excuse me, Doctor, but where exactly is your quarter?”
“Oh yes, I forgot to tell you. It is in the east wing, the last door on the corridor to the right of the stair on the second storey. Just ask for Doctor Grifton and they’ll show you up.”
“Thank you, Doctor.”
He left. She returned to her work, heart beating fast at the prospect of working for such a knowledgeable man. In her head she was already planning her outfit for the next day, and what she would say and do when she arrived there.