Sian laid on her bed face down. She hurt so bad, and no one was allowed to come and comfort her. Her father had called her horrid names as he whipped her. Whore, slut, tease, and he had blamed her for Cadell’s behavior. That she had lead him on. It was all her fault and if she’d been a right and honest daughter, she’d never have gone off with Cadell. When she had tried to explain that she didn’t know what Cadell had planned or that she had tried to get Cadell to bring her home, her father only whipped her harder. She cried softly trying not to move.
“Sian,…. are you awake?” a voice whispered from the side of the bed.
“Yyyes,” Her voice wasn’t very steady,and she was afraid to open her eyes. She knew it was her younger sister Cadi.
“I’ve brought some water and salve for you and some food. Father is drunk down in the hall, so I came up to help you.”
“She can’t come to help you. She tried earlier and Father slapped her. I don’t understand why he is so angry with you. I know it wasn’t your fault.” Cadi helped Sian sit up.
“Oww… I think I’d better stand.” She stood as they removed what was left of her dress.
Cadi looked at her sister’s back and legs as she started to sponge the bloody slash marks.
“My gods how he’s marked you. You’ll be lucky if you don’t scar.” The water turned red as Cadi rinsed the rag.
“Be quick! It hurts,” Sian winced as she ate bites of bread. She had never been hurt like this in her life. She hadn’t done anything wrong, but her father didn’t believe her.
“I’m moving as fast as I dare. These have to be cleaned and I’ll get the salve on quickly. I don’t want to be caught in here if Father comes. I love you, but I certainly don’t want to share your fate.”
“No, That wouldn’t be fair,” Sian got dressed carefully as she could and then turned to face her sister.
“Cadi, I need your help once more if you’re willing.”
Cadi looked at her puzzled and then nodded her head. Sian eased herself onto the bed and started to explain.
“While Father was beating me, he kept talking about giving me to the Christian house for women. That way I’d never tempt another man again. We follow the old ways, and I don’t want to live with a bunch of women for the rest of my life. I don’t want to grow old and die without family. But I’m scared he will do it. Will you help me get away?”
“Where will you go?” Cadi was as terrified of the idea of her sister running away or being locked up.
“I don’t know. Even if I did, I couldn’t tell you for fear that Father would try and beat it out of you.” Sian stopped as she heard a noise on the stair. “You’d best be off. That might be Father. Come to me in the morning when he’s gone off to the fields.”
Cadi nodded, gathered up the things she brought and left the room.
Sian was asleep when Cadi and her mother burst into the room. They were scrambling through the room and talking to her all at once.
“Sian! Wake up! Please wake up! You’ve got to get leave before your Father comes back.” Her mother was frantic.
Sian sat up and took in what her mother was saying. “Why? What’s happened?”
“Your father has it in his head to sell you to a Christian nunnery. He thinks you disgraced the family and wants rid of you. I can’t change his mind, but I can at least get you gone before he returns.” Her mother looked frightened.
“But, but what about you? Won’t he beat you for letting me go?”
“Not if you disappear from a locked room. Your aunty called me away before dawn, so with us gone, he thought he was clear to haul you off before we got back. One of the grooms brought us the news and we hurried back. Your father doesn’t know that we are here and never will know. Now get moving!”
They dressed Sian in warm clothing, sturdy shoes and her cloak. Cadi gave Sian a bundle with food, extra clothes and most importantly, the household money. It wasn’t much, but it would at least see her free of the valley. They fixed the window and a blanket so that it looked like she’d gone out that way. The door was relocked. Her mother and sister checked out the Hall before Sian moved.
“Come quickly dear.” Her mother said as she waved her on. “Know that I love you and wish I could have stopped him.” She gave Sian a kiss and a hug.
“Sian, be careful. If you figure a way to send us a message, give it to Aunty. Father never talks to her unless he has to.” Cadi hugged her sister goodbye.
Sian looked at her mother and sister, and then turned before the tears blinded her. She ran off across the fields the way she had come just the day before. Her body ached with the pains of the beating, but the fear of her father’s plan kept her moving. She headed for the only place she knew that might give her shelter and keep her from her father. A farmhouse across the ridge.