Seventeen year old Katherine Bradford poured the beer into the large mugs for her father's guests. She brought it out on a fancy silver tray. She set it carefully down on the dark cherry wood table.
"Go clean up the kitchen, girl!" her father, Tom Bradford bellowed at her. The men all chuckled.
She didn't clean up the kitchen. She ran out of the back door and too the barn. Her twin brothers Seth and Stephen were inside. Seth was pouring some food into one of the cow's stalls. Stephen was leaning over the door and feeding, Georgina some hay.
"You have to milk the cows in an hour." Stephen said with out looking up. He patted Georgina and walked across the barn to get some more hay.
"Alright." Katherine said and clenched her teeth to keep quiet.
"What's wrong?" Stephen asked bluntly. He could always tell when something was wrong with her. They had always been closer then she and Seth. They had always had a very strong connection. Ever since Katherine was born. He would carry her around with him wherever he went.
"He thinks that I am here to serve him! I am not his servant! I am seventeen years old and I am not going to listen to him anymore! I shall never end up like mother. Serving a man everyday of my life!" she stopped to catch her breath. "I hate him!"
"Calm down." Seth said, absentmindedly. He ran a hand through his dark brown hair and rolled his eyes at her.
"You can go out in the woods for a few minutes." Stephen said.
Katherine loved going out into the woods that started at the back of there home. It was her place to hide. It was so peaceful. There was never someone telling her what to do out there. She would go out in the forest almost everyday. Sometimes for hours. Ever since she was a child.
She ran out of the barn door with out another word.
Seth stuck his head out the door. "Be back in an hour to milk the cows!" he called.
She was already gone.
Katherine came back just in time to milk the cows. Afterwards she went inside for dinner.
Her mother, Maria Bradford was, as usual serving her father, without complaint. Katherine kept quiet hoping not to anger her father. She had learned that from her mother. If not anything else.
Abby Johannsen came by to have walk with Seth. Katherine answered the door. She was not happy to see Abby. Abby had been insufferable girl ever since Katherine met her when they were just children. Her father was the towns only butcher and made a large amount of money at it. Making Abby a very spoiled child. Seth had been "in love" with her since he met her when he was only 10 or so years old.
Stephen wasn't jealous. He was secretly in love with Amelia Klawson. She was a store owner's daughter. He had never said a word to her. And she had definitely never said a word to him. He still held out hope that some day he would ask her to a town dance. But Katherine highly doubted it.
Seth and Stephen were both fairly attractive. Seth had striking green eyes and dark brown hair. He had tanned skin and muscles from his work on the farm. Stephen also had green eyes. His hair was jet black and intolerably messy, just like their father's. He was also tan and muscular. They had never had problems with girls.
Katherine didn't have a beau. She failed to go to town often. Some might even call her a hermit. All of the men in town stared interestedly at her. She had long flowing blonde hair that had grown to her waist and curled naturally at the ends. She had entrancing turquoise eyes. She had creamy porcelain skin and a thin waist. Most of the men in town had already spoken to her father. And been rejected.
Katherine sighed, as she was the last one to go to bed after doing many of her father's useless chores. She was to tired to argue and instead got a bucket and scalding hot water and started to scrub the floors.
The next day Stephen and Seth went to town.
Katherine's mother went to her weekly sewing-bee at Mrs. Kimball's home. It was the one thing that her husband would let her out of the house to do. As long as what she sewed was for him.
Her father drank a whole bottle of liquor and was very drunk.
"Go get me another bottle!" he bellowed drunkenly.
"No, papa. You have had to much already." She said, trying to be sweet, calm, and firm at the same time.
"Get me the damn liquor or you get it, girl!" he yelled at her.
She thought about it for a moment. He needed to stop drinking so badly. He used to be somewhat kind when she was a young girl. Then suddenly he had started drinking. It had ruined him.
"No, Papa. " She said firmly.
"Damn you," he said and grabbed her by the arm.
"Papa, please don't." she mumbled.
He slapped her across the face. She felt dizzy and sick.
Not this again. She thought. She was used to this. Yet every time she felt the same as the last. As if she would die and he would be happy about it. No one would care. Not her mother. Not Seth. Maybe Stephen. The men in town would be upset about losing such a lovely prospective wife but they would soon get over it. After all, they didn't even know her. She didn't care. She didn't care if he beat her. But she wouldn't die. She couldn't make him be that happy.
She felt the beating but didn't really think about it. She was in another world. Princesses and castles. When she was a child she had always dreamed of fighting with Pirates and owning her own Pirate ship. Now she dreamed of being a Princess in a castle. Guarded by knights who would protect her.
She felt the beating suddenly stop.
She was out the back door and down the wooden steps onto the rocky ground.
She ran out into the forest without thinking. She felt her head bleeding but she kept running. Suddenly a man appeared out of no where. She jumped.
He had red hair and a beard. He looked like a mountain man to her.
"I'm sorry if I frightened you." He said.
"It…it's fine." She mumbled.
"I'm Jack Peterson." He said and leaned out his hand to her. He had large muscles.
"Well… What's your name?" he said shyly. His cheeks matching his red beard.
"Well, Katherine Bradford, are you hurt?"
"A bit." She touched her head and winced when she saw blood on her fingertips.
"Your eye is bruised."
"My father gets real drunk and angry." She said quietly and pulled her tiny shoes off of her feet. For some reason, she couldn't remember, her foot hurt terribly.
He frowned. "You can come to my cabin to get some bandages." He pointed to a small cabin about a quarter of a mile away.
"Surely you don't want to go back home." He said doubtful.
He smiled. "Miss Bradford, would you care to come to my home for a cup of tea." He said politely and bowed.
She almost laughed. "I'd love to." She said and hooked her arm with his.
He opened the door to his small but adequate cabin. There was a bed in the corner. It was covered with a sheet and a sturdy looking quilt with many colors. It was neatly made. There was a table and one rickety looking chair. He sat her down in the chair. She sighed and looked around.
He took the sheet off of the bed and started to rip it with his bare hands.
"Oh!" she gasped. "What are you doing with that sheet?"
"Not with a bed sheet!" she said very shocked that someone would even think of that.
"It's already ripped." He said.
"Fine" she sat back down.
He boiled some water on the fire. Afterwards he put a hot rag against her bruised eye. It felt nice and relaxing on it. She slouched down comfortably in the chair and closed her eyes.
"Don't fall asleep now." He said, teasing her.
"I wasn't" she said seriously and sat up straight in the chair again.
He wrapped the cloth around her head. He decided that she had also hurt her foot so he wrapped that too. He smiled at his work and asked if she was hungry.
"No. Not really." She said and stood up. "I'd better get home." She said and stood up.
"At least let me give you the tea I promised." He said politely.
She smiled. "Of course. I couldn't force you too break your promise, Mr. Peterson." She said and sat back down, smiling at him.